15 Instagram Hacks From Famous Photographers
If you want to step up your Instagram game, take better photos and curate an enviable feed, who better to ask for advice than professional photographers acing the game? Which is why we’ve reached out to 15 Insta kings and queens and asked for foolproof tips and tricks. Their advice is below.
Use your eyes before you use the lens.
“My first photography teacher used to say that the eye is just another muscle in your body that needs training. Unfortunately, most people don’t use their eyes first, but rather hold up their phones and immediately snap. Instead of taking over 100 shots to settle on the best one, take a moment to look. Use your eyes to frame the picture. Taking a few minutes to really observe what’s in front of you may open new ways of looking at it, and the perfect composition will likely present itself on the first or second try.” - @nivroz
Don’t get hung up on Likes.
“Stay calm, observe and find what you like. Don’t get stuck with what the Instagram community thinks is good, or what kind of photos get the most likes. Otherwise, you’ll end up chasing sweet but ordinary visuals, even thought your talent lies in storytelling, humor or compelling portraiture.
My three motives right now are calmness, surrealism and candidness.” - @skwii
Turn on the grid feature.
“I love the strength and beauty found in centering a strong piece of architecture. When I come across a scene like this, I work to align all the elements as perfectly as possible. Whether photographing with my iPhone or my Nikon, I shoot with the grid turned on to aid my composition. Often, I rock side to side on my feet, watching the overlapping elements of my subject carefully on the screen or through the viewfinder, until I’ve found that magic midpoint.” - @dankhole
Draw the viewer in with a clear point of interest.
“A good photo has a clear point of interest, whether that’s a person in the foreground or a landscape with leading lines that draw the viewer’s eye into the image. Great photos have multiple points of interest without feeling cluttered. Try and shoot photos that tell a story about the person or place.” - @samhorine
Don’t be afraid to use outside apps to create desired effects.
“Create the effect of a long-exposure by using an app that simulates a slow shutter to blur water and other moving objects. This is especially effective on large bodies of water or waterfalls, where you can show contrast between the smoothed water and sharp, still surroundings.
On iOS, CortexCam does this hand-held, while apps like Slow Shutter Cam and AverageCam Pro require a tripod or other stable support (similar apps exist on Android). In addition to this effect, they also allow you to shoot better images in low-light with less noise, and other effects like light-trails.” - @danrubin
Play with light from unexpected places.
“The lens of the phone camera absorbs light in a different way when compared to traditional cameras. It offers great possibilities to play with light coming from above or behind the subject. By moving around the subject while you’re looking through your phone, you will see the light changing until the rays of light become visible on your lens. At that point, the light confers a magical and spiritual look to your images.” - @matildegattoni
Take advantage of burst mode.
“To freeze a moment in sharp detail, shoot in a well-lit space or daylight to allow for fast shutter speed. Make sure to tap the screen to manually lock focus on your subject and perfect the exposure with the slide bar before the movement begins. Burst mode is a wonderful feature to help you choose the very best moment to save.” - @bythebrush
Play with props.
“Experiment with different objects and observe the way they enrich what your photo is trying to convey. Maybe it’s a Defender off-roading through the mountains or a pair of wooden rowboats about to be taken out on a fjord. Suddenly, the scene is no longer just beautiful, it is alive with stories.” - @kympham
Look for puddles after the rain.
“Reflections from puddles can make for interesting pictures so use use them to your advantage. I took this photo the morning after a rainy night.” - @paolofortades
White space gives your feed room to breathe.
“White space equals chicness. Think of those Pin-worthy homes, or the latest J. Crew catalog. What they often have in common is lots of white space. Look to bring the same to your Instagram feed so that it’s not so busy and cluttered, in the same way you’d appreciate a website that doesn’t have copy and colors crammed all over.
To do this, look for white walls to shoot in front of, if you’re photographing a person. Then pick up a piece of foam board from an art shop, or use the white window sill in your home to photograph an object. Or use one of the many font apps, like WordSwag, to put a quote on a white background which gives your feed a little breathing room.” - @hilaryrushford
Take advantage of light patches.
“I like to find patches of light from the sun or street lamp and use them to my advantage. The fun thing about using patches of light from the sun when creating a a photo is that you’ll always get something different, as time passes from days to seasons.” - @pauloctavious
Stay out when the sun goes down.
“Stay out even after the sun goes down. Even though our eyes can’t see that much after the sun goes down and the stars come out, cameras these days can pick up much more light than we have the ability to. It’s a whole other world out there at night and I find it so fascinating to see what the camera is able to capture that I can’t see with my naked eye.” - @shanemichaelblack
Get a waterproof case.
“My absolute favorite is the Catalyst Waterproof case — it’s cheaper than Lifeproof and can withstand greater depths. And always get phone insurance. I’ve had more than a couple cases fail on me in the waves in Hawaii. Catalyst has proven the most robust, but having the insurance on the side has been a good fallback for a quick and painless swap at the Apple Store.
Also, make sure you affix the case to yourself with a good wrist strap. A shoelace or a couple of hair elastics do the job just fine. I’d imagine most people wouldn’t enjoy snorkeling around the beach looking for their phone.” - @colerise
Keep your edits simple.
“Oftentimes, over-edited shots can be unappealing. When editing with filters, try to be conservative with which ones you use and how strong you make them. Pushing a photo far from its original state isn’t always as attractive as subtle tweaks and maintaining a natural look.” - @sendingstache
Use captions that encourage people to engage.
“Invite your audience to engage when using captions on social media. I use very short titles, usually song lyrics or what I feel the photo portrays. The caption is very important because it allows people to bring a part of their personal feelings into your post, making it more of a meaningful experience for them.
I will sometimes ask questions so I can get to know my followers better. I made the #createdoniphone hashtag to let everyone know which of my photos I edited and shot with my iPhone. I use this in the caption of almost all of my post.
Hashtags are equally as important. I look at the trending hashtags daily to see what others are talking about and use these when appropriate for my post. It’s a good idea to use as many hashtags that seem relevant to your photo. Your image will probably get lost in the sea of photographs in the trending hashtags, but for other, more specific words, your post may stay near the top for awhile. This allows for more people who search that word to find your work.
Lastly, I like to post the bulk of my hashtags in the first comment instead of the caption. I find that it can make your post look untidy if you put several hashtags in your main caption, or title.” - @misvincent
Comment your IG username below and I might follow you as an appreciation for reading this post! Singh, Kyli. "29 Instagram Hacks From People Who Take Really Good Photos." The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.