Rather than just snapping drunken shenanigans with pals, some Instagram users are creating mind-blowing pics with just a few taps on their iPhone. Want to know how some of the most popular users do it? We found eight easy expert tips you can use the next time you fire up the app. Check them out — along with their fantastic photos — and get ready to take your Instagram feed to the next level.
1. Learn to See Things in Different Ways
You probably see the world around you rushing by from the inside of a bus, car, or train, or even on foot, but Instagram helps you see things in a new way. Instagrammer Paul Octavious (pauloctavious with 502,000 followers and counting) explains why he takes photos of the same object multiple times.
"For me, photographing the same thing over time helps me evolve as a photographer. It helps me learn, and I start to see things differently."
2. Look Out For Symmetry
Getting the perfect crop or symmetrical shot isn't easy, but photographer Pei Ketron has it down to a science. The Instagram user (pketron) has more than 834,000 followers.
"In order to capture the symmetry in a scene, you have to center yourself, make sure all your lines are straight, and be a perfectionist when it comes to your square crop . . . Sometimes I'm in a hurry or I just don't get it quite straight and I need to use an app like PS Express . . ."
3. Underexpose Your Photos
The iPhone's native camera app does have some drawbacks when it comes to snapping the perfect photo. Chris Ozer — who has more than 570,000 followers on his Chrisozer handle —explains how he adjusts colors and light.
"I intentionally underexposed this shot — as I do with a lot of my shots — because if you don't, the iPhone will blow out portions of the photo, especially the sky, resulting in a loss of definition in elements like the clouds. To underexpose, you just tap and hold on a bright area of the frame, which locks the focus and exposure. You're then free to compose the shot however you want without having to worry about the iPhone shifting to an undesired exposure once you've lined it up."
4. Treat Photography as a Form of Exercise
Philip Park, or Komeda to more than 342,000 followers, was told by his doctor that he needed to get more exercise. Some days, the iPhoneographer uses his "photo walks" as a stand-in for gym time and gets some amazing images from his neighborhood:
"While I don't have a lot of time to take photos because of my work, every day I commute on a riverside road, and my workplaces are located near scenic places, such as the river, a palace, an urban park, and other places introduced in my photos. Most of my photos are taken during my lunch or on my way home, and sometimes I skip gym for a photo walk."
5. Take Self-Portraits, Not Selfies
With all of the flattering filters on Instagram, you can produce a lot of amazing images, including self-portraits. How does Martin Reisch (known as safesolvent to almost 38,000 followers) manage to appear in his Instagram photos? With the help of some simple tools, of course.
"I'm fascinated with the idea of being as far away in the shot as I can. This takes a combination of using Camera+'s 30-second timer delay, composing the shot, and then running at top speed to reach my mark. A tool that I have to say changed the way I shoot is my GorillaPod for iPhone, which lets me attach my phone to trees, ledges, and just about anything I can imagine."
6. Focus on Composition
Not only does it take some time to realize what some of dankhole's photos are (can you believe this is plastic?), but the photographer (Dan Cole with more than 447,000 followers) is a believer in composing your shot so that it's pleasing to the eye.
"I value composition, and my advice to others would be to pay attention to the rule of thirds. I believe there is something inherently pleasing to the human brain when elements align to the thirds. I also recommend straightening your photos — it helps ground the elements and gives strength to your shots."
7. Take Multiple Shots
Most iPhoneographers take multiple shots with their iPhone camera app and upload them to Instagram later. How many, you ask? Anthony Danielle (also known as Takinyerphoto to almost 187,000 followers) explains how many shots he gets before capturing the perfect candid.
"I'd say on average I take anywhere from 30 to 50 pictures a day in 90 minutes' worth of shooting. Out of that I turn maybe four or five into Instagrams I'm proud to show to the world. Not every shot is going to be good. This is especially true when you're first starting out, but with practice and patience, you can find your own style that works best for you."
8. Add a Lens to Your Phone
"When I take a macro picture, I always use the basic camera app because it's quick and simple. In order to get the perfect macro shot, I need to get down into positions that I'm not normally in . . . For this picture, I was right next to the blueberry. My lens was practically touching the water. I was crouched over the table, very uncomfortable, but it got me the perfect shot."