It’s the most common question I’m asked, “how do you take your photos? What filters do you use? What camera do you take images with?”. If you’re on Instagram regularly, then it’s a no-brainer that your have to be “somewhat” into photography. After all, that’s essentially what the Gram is all about. You have Facebook for ranting and updating people about when you last brushed your teeth, or walked the dog and then there’s Instagram. A platform purely there to scroll through and be entertained by other people’s candid or curated images.
I’ve put together my tips and tricks on how I personally prefer to take photos, edit and publish. I’ve also listed my top Instagram accounts with stunning feeds, to show case their advice on how to master the perfect image!
Advice From My Fave Inspiring Accounts
“My best advice would be to read your camera manual. Knowing how to use your camera makes a world of difference. From there I started googling how to achieve a certain photo and what settings I required. I’ve read a lot of blogs on photography and also been lucky enough to get taught some tricks from a couple of Insta friends. I love to take photos of interiors but find them to be quite a challenge with low light. So my tips would be: choose to shoot interiors when the light it at its best, always use a tripod so you can have a longer shutter speed, increase the exposure slightly and adjust your iso. The lower the iso the less grain you’ll get on your photo so try not to increase it too much. I always try to reflect a true representation of the products in interior shots so I don’t use filters or overlays on my photos when editing. To achieve my photos I will edit in Lightroom or photoshop cc : I increase exposure , increase whites, add in blacks, adjust the temperature to remove yellow , add pink tint to cancel out the green and lastly I sharpen the photo. I also always make sure everything is straight. Photography is an art so everyone’s final creation will be different and that’s why I love photography so much because two people could shoot the exact same scene, but produce a completely different image. So try not to compare to others and just appreciate what you’ve created.” @life.with.odeas
1. What’s a perfect photo you ask?
Lets be clear here, there is NO such thing as a “perfect” photo. There is however, different styles of photography and what is perfect, is based on YOUR own preference. You might prefer light images, or dark and moody. You might prefer styled and posed shots, or a more candid and natural feel. There is no right or wrong way to produce gorgeous images, regardless, there are still some great techniques to help you get to any style of photography you love. Be true to yourself, find a style that you love and roll with it.
2. Natural Light is your friend!
Once you master your camera settings and shoot in natural light, your whole world will change. I never shoot with the lights on indoors, I never use my flash during the day and I never shoot in the harsh sunlight during the day. For outdoor images I love shooting in golden hour in the arvo, usually an hour before the sun sets. These images are golden and warm and perfect for candid portrait style images. For interiors I shoot when the sun is at its strongest point in that particular room. I aim for as much natural sun light as possible. If it’s an over cast day, or the light just isn’t working for me, I’ll crank up my ISO on my camera settings to let as much light in as possible.
TIP: Play around with natural light indoors. It can be very artsy and creative to capture shadows and light flare. Don’t be afraid to have a go.
Three blowouts and three outfit changes for 👶🏻 2 accidents for 👧🏻and endless outfit changes “just because” and an oldest 💁🏻♀️who hates when a splash of water gets on her clothes and changes every three seconds……results in THIS endless pile of shit that I have to fold on a daily basis 🤦🏼♀️ who else is drowning in laundry today? http://liketk.it/2uaWr #liketkit @liketoknow.it // linked this great button front thermal from my stories today for you guys 🤗 and the laundry cart that makes my life just a smidge easier 🤦🏼♀️😂
“Capture the moments instead of posing them. They will captivate your audience much more than an image that took a second thought an they’re more compelling to the viewer.” @lynzyandco
3. But what camera DO you use?
Big Girl Camera. I’ve had several cameras over the years and as my passion increases and my skills improve, I slowly save my pennies to keep on upgrading. I’m a Canon girl at heart so I can’t give advice on other brands, soz! I started off with Canon EOS 1300D, retails at $499. This was a super basic cropped frame camera. Then moved to the Canon EOS 60D, retails at $1,399. This was a great entry level camera and was perfect for taking all types of photos. I then moved to the Canon EOS 80D, retails at $1,699. This took the same images as the previous camera, however it had a touch screen & wifi which were both amazing features to use. I’ve since upgraded to a full frame camera, my new baby, the Canon EOS 6D Mark 11, retails at $2,599 (body only). You’re looking at another $2,000 for a reasonably good full frame lense, so it’s certainly not a cheap transition. I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in the quality of my new images using this camera. They are clearer, sharper, more defined. I’m still no professional but it’s a really smooth camera to perfect my style with.
Tip: I believe it’s important to do as much research about the camera you have, knowing how to use its full potential is crucial. There’s no point in upgrading to an expensive camera just because you think it will make things better, you still need to know how to use the settings. The quality of the final product starts with the photographer using the equipment.
Using Your Phone. You’ll often find me using my phone to take candid images. The camera on today’s phones really are amazing. The only thing I find with phone images is that they aren’t as clear as what I can capture on my big girl camera. When I go to edit the image it’s really hard for me to perfect my consistency with how the images look. But in saying that, if you scroll through my feed, there’s still lots of phone images mixed in with the rest. You can still take quality images with a phone, there’s some seriously successful IG accounts who nail the i Phone snaps.
Tip: Phones are great to capture candid moments, quickly without any need to perfect settings. Use the portrait settings on your phone to create depth of field.
“I love using VSCO for my iPhone imagery. It helps me maintain consistency and honestly is built for Camera phone images. When I’m using VSCO I almost always copy the edits and paste it and now you can save them as a “preset”, it’s called a recipe. It also can be a great way to see other images you have edited up next to your new one to see if they match and have the same feel.” @emmylowephoto
4. Do I shoot on Manual or on Auto?
Manual all the way! Say it with me people! Shooting on “M” leaves you with the most majestic and perfect images, but only if you know how to use your settings. You have to continually adjust the settings for every different light situation. If a cloud comes over one minute and is sunny the next, your settings will be entirely different within seconds. You learn to be quick on the fingers and change things as you need. You’ll get to know what each button is so you can change settings swiftly, without needing to look. I still get frustrated when I can’t get the lighting perfect, but I’m still learning and it’s a slow process to master. Taking the leap from Auto to Manual can be very daunting at first, but you won’t regret it once you master this mode.
The type of lens you use makes a huge difference in the end result. I recommend using a 50mm Canon lens, or Sigma Art, as these will give you the most desired bokeh effect (the blurry depth of field).
TIP: YouTube your heart out. There’s some amazing videos online showing you exactly how to use the camera you have. If you want to know how to do something, anything at all, type your key words into YouTube, watch them over and over until you think you have the hang of it. I promise this research will be game changer.
“My editing process has been such a learning curve for me over the last 6 months. I made a choice to really invest and explore my creative side and have used Instagram as an outlet for that. I’m inspired daily from so many beautiful curated feeds and the women behind them and I have so much respect for them now knowing how much effort can go into a single image. From an outside view I think it can be really easy to question your ability or compare yourself to others because of the way your Instagram presents, it’s a sad reality but It’s one that relates to so many. When it comes to editing, I think it’s really important that your theme is a natural fit to your day to day and your lifestyle.
Think about your environment, the clothes you wear, your daily activities. If you live in a rural area surrounded by trees and bush land then trying to maintain a beachy vibrant theme is going to be really challenging for you, don’t force your theme. Your feed should be a representation of your life or at least how you’d like it to be perceived while maintaining authenticity.” @jessiikawilson
5. How Do You Edit
I’m very open about my feed being curated, so it’s clear that each image is edited to suit my ongoing theme and style. Editing is completely a personal choice. You either love it, or ya don’t. But either way is totally fine, you do what works for YOUR style. I think it’s easy to explain that there’s two types of photography; natural and artistic. I’m sure there’s plenty more styles but for the purpose of this write up let’s stick with the two. Some people prefer natural edits, and don’t apply any type of editing or minimal editing that’s not really noticeable. Then there’s the artistic style which involves using presets, editing colours, creating a story with the type of mood you’re portraying through the edit style. This type of photography is really fun as it enables you to tap into your inner creative and produce final images that reflect YOU, that tell a magical story just at a glance, that is essentially artwork in itself.
“My favourite time of the day to shoot is the golden hour. During golden hour, the light is spectacular, bathing everything in a beautiful, golden hue and making everything and everyone in it look dreamy and ethereal. I start my sessions an hour before the sun is due to set which can vary at different times throughout the year. There is an app I use called “goldenhour” which will show you exactly what time this will be on any particular day.
Just before sunset the sun is low to the ground and therefore produces more directional light and softer shadows. It’s soft, warm, dimensional, and just flat-out magical. It adds a quality to images that can’t be replicated no matter how many actions, filters, or textures you use. It is very flattering and gives that summer glow that everyone loves and wants in there images. There are so many different images you can create using the magical golden light during this time including; backlighting, front on, silhouette and rim lighting. Each one as stunning as the next so make sure you try them all.
Quick tips on shooting in the golden hour:Calculate your timing before you plan your session and head out.
Shoot fast – the golden hour doesn’t always last an entire hour, it can vary on when you live, your conditions on the day etc
Shoot wide open – and you will receive the most stunning bokeh!!
Follow the light – don’t stay in the one spot, move around, follow the light and get the most out of it.
The next time you have a sunny day, and some free time in the evening – why not head out with your camera? You’ll be amazed at how beautiful everything looks when it’s bathed in the evening sun.“ @kelliesinclairphotography
Stop rambling, how can you edit?
LIGHT ROOM BABY!!!
- When I use my big girl Canon camera, I edit through Lightroom on my Mac.
- I take all my images in RAW format which allows far more flexibility in editing the details of the image (a JPEG essentially is already edited inside your camera so it’s harder to edit on another program. It’s still possible but you’ll notice a difference once you switch to RAW format).
- RAW takes up A LOT of space so invest in a larger camera card
- I’ve downloaded the Lightroom app on my phone and created albums that sync from my Mac directly to it. This allows me to save the image to my phone without loosing quality and this is where I upload to social media.
- I use custom presets. Presets are literally a life saver, game changer, I’ve been mind blown!!! They make your editing consistent and all with the touch of one click. Depending what presets you trial, tweaking will always need to be made, but the time it takes you to edit an entire shoot will be a lot quicker with the help of presets.
- I’m not going to share exactly which ones I use because a magician never gives away all her tricks. But there’s literally millions of different presets available online to suit your personal style. You can either pay for these or there’s some great free ones too. Check out these presets to get you started: Embrace Nation, The Luxe Lens, Free Presets, Greater Than Gatsby, Top 50 FREE Presets.
- Once you’ve mastered the basics of light room (this is all I know too), then you’ll be able to adjust the settings to make the image work for you. Increase the exposure to brighten it up, decrease the shadows, increase the saturation, increase the clarity, even remove blemishes etc. These are all the magical things you can do in Lightroom that are honestly easy to do. I don’t always perfect my settings in my camera at the time of the shoot, but Lightroom editing saves me every time.
- I Youtubed how to use Lightroom, it’s actually extremely easy to use so try not to be too overwhelmed.
One and a half weeks Earthside and it's been a wild ride already. How to sum it all up? The newborn fog is extra dense this time, but the love and admiration from big sister and brother is beyond palpable and fills our home with more joy than ever. I don't remember when I showered last… who needs food anyways? I've never appreciated the fact that we live a block away from Target/Starbucks more than now. And having had my parents here has been a total god sent (the kids are fed and bathed, win!) Emotions have been sky high, and sadly also valley low… but we are just trucking on, because life is a gift and every moment is a present. #finnleystonegrows #finnincrib
“I am a huge lover of light and my biggest advice would be, always look for the light! Good lighting is the key to a good picture. I always shoot in available, natural light. To me the beauty of it is that it’s constantly changing and with that it adds so much depth and aids in making each image unique from the next. Capturing a sense of feeling is also important to me, wait for a moment to happen, when a person is truly in the moment and with that you will be able to create something that evokes emotion. I like to get the shot as close in camera as to what I want the final result to be. Don’t be afraid to move things out of the frame, or try different angles to remove unwanted objects etc also don’t be afraid to move yourself and ditch the zoom lens. I’ve found my creativity soar when I started using prime lenses solely and when I was forced to become the “zoom” myself. As far as editing goes, I use Lightroom, VSCO and sometimes Snapseed. I have a formula that I like to stick to with each image. It took me many months of tinkering and playing with tones and color schemes to attain the style that I feel embodies my aesthetics. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I might have to tweak my editing a little depending on the image, but I believe that consistency in editing is key. Above all else,don’t get discouraged, as anything in life it takes practice and commitment to improve your skill. Lots and lots of practice.” @christine_simplybloom
VSCO is good too! I’ve used VSCO for years and this is how I originally started out my Instagram page. I used filters to perfect my images and to create a constant flow.
- VSCO is a great app to use if you choose to use your phone to capture images as it can be done easily on your phone.
- You can pay an annual subscription to receive ALL the amazing filters for free as they slowly come in. Or you can just use the filters provided for free, however as these are available to everyone, the chances your images will look similar to someones else is going to be high.
TIP: The idea behind using filters and presets is to be able to create a unique style of imagery that stands you out from the crowd. You want people to be able to look at your photos and recognise you right away. Try not to blatantly copy someones work, not only is it a dick move, but it’s not authentic or genuine. Do you really want your style to be exactly like someone else?
OTHER HANDY APPS
- To get moving text on images HYPE TYPE
- To get still text on images WORD SWAG
- Sparkly light effect KIRAKIRA+
- Smooth out skin blemishes FACE TUNE
- Remove an object completely from image EASY ERASER
“Our first instinct is to compare ourselves to others. Photography can’t be copied. it’s all in the eye of the photographer. We can get so caught up in trying to get our photos exactly like somebody else’s, where in fact every bodies art is beautiful in its own way. I could tell you step by step what I do and 100% yours would turn out different. My tips would be: Learn your light. This is massive!! Play around.
I always have a thin sheet up on my windows to soften the light when shooting in my studio. Learn your manual settings. I’m self taught- so if I can do it- you can too!
I use a canon 5d mark iii and mostly a sigma 50 lens, I use acr and photoshop- and have made my own preset plus do a lot of hand edit. Editing really is your own personal taste. Make sure you edit your photos the same to match your feed!!” @kelliemac_x
So how do I perfect my Instagram then?
BUDDY UP: Find someone else on IG who’s as passionate as you are and become their photo buddy. Bounce ideas off each other, ask each other technical questions and research together. Find someone you won’t feel competitive with and make each other your go to when you need to know something, when you need honest feedback re your feed, or when you just need someone to give you an ego boost regarding photography aahahha #truth
JOIN GROUPS: Join as many online/ Facebook Photography groups as you can. These groups are great to learn from, so much experience in this group and they will often help out when needed. They are also great to draw insp from all the amazing different images posted. This is the same for Instagram, join as many INSPO pages as you can find. If they have a hashtag, USE IT. Not only is it great to draw insp from all these amazingly creative images, these accounts will often repost your images and that helps to generate more exposure for you.
PLAN: If you want to create a feed that flows and has some type of consistency, then planning ahead is key. I’m not suggesting getting out an old school diary and jotting down exactly what image you want on each day of the month. I just mean keep an idea in your head of what images you’ve already posted and follow on from that. Example; If I post an image of myself in front of the mirror, I won’t post a similar pic of that same setting for another few days. I try not to post the same thing after each other, my subject might be the same, but the image layout will be different. However if you choose to be a solely candid feed, then this doesn’t apply.
THEME: Find a colour scheme you love, and you can do this with certain filters or presets. And maintain this same look in all your images. When you look at your feed as a whole, it will flow with a gorgeous consistency. However if you choose to be more of a candid style, then this won’t apply to you.
IMAGE: Start thinking about how you take your images. Are the angles straight? Is there enough head room? Have you mastered the rule of thirds? Will the image fit into your IG square or rectangle? Is it out of focus? It seems a lot of things to think about, but if you’re passionate about taking quality images these are all things that come naturally to you at some point. However if you choose to be more of a candid style shooter, then these won’t apply to you.
QUALITY CONTENT: Try not to over post, not only is it annoying to some, but it’s important to post QUALITY images over quantity. I like to post daily, mainly because I take that many pictures that I have a huge back log of images I LOVE and want to share with the world, but also because I want to stay fresh in the new stupid IG algorithm. You can now post several images at once which is great if you have lots of images to post. This avoids to clogging up peoples IG feeds and allows you to still post all of your fave pics. You can also post rectangle multiples, just use your finger to zoom OUT to make the image bigger.
USE IG STORIES: If you have a shit load of images you still want to show off, put them in your stories. Screen shot the image so it fits into the screen properly.
BE GENUINE: Stay true to yourself. Be honest and open as you feel comfortable with. Remain light hearted and kind to others. Only follow accounts that inspire you, don’t be forced to follow to just to increase numbers. Be different, be creative and most of all, HAVE FUN!!! Try not to ask others where something is from, or how to do a particular thing, do the research yourself before you reach out.
FINALLY: Remember, photography is an art form. Don’t be offended if you reach out to someone and they don’t share the info you were expecting. It’s kinda like cheating on a maths test. Why should they give you the answers, when you should do the research yourself. And i’ll leave you on that thought xox
This post is in no way sponsored. All words, creativity, imagery & thoughts are completely my own.
Don’t forget to stop by my Instagram page for more inspo, shits & giggles.