How To Take Good Instagram Photos

March 12, 2015

I’ve been humbled, amazed and slightly terrified by how quickly my Instagram has grown. I’ve had in real life and on-line friends ask me to do posts on how to grow your Instagram account, but more specifically how to take good photos for Instagram. So here it is. Today, I’m going to show you how I take my Instagram photos, in particular how I take what has come to be known as flat lays.

Confession: Many people think I have a big white table or big white thing of some sort that I take pictures like the ones below on. The truth is I use my window sill which is only 27.5cm wide (and I know this because I just measured it for the purpose of this post). It’s long but not wide. It’s one of the few white surfaces in my home that I can use for flat lays.

I have two big tips on how to take good Instagram photos one of them is good, natural lighting and the other is the surface or background against which you’re taking the photo. I find that if I get the lighting and the surface right I need to do very little editing before sharing my photos on Instagram. I used my iPhone 5S for these photos.

Light: Everyone talks about light when it comes to photos. Through experience I have found that natural light works best. I never ever use flash, at all, ever, for anything. I find that I’d rather not take the photo than use the flash (but that’s just me and I’m not a professional photographer….) In addition to natural light I also pay attention to a few others things.

The consistency of the light (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this) I make sure that all the points of my photo receive equal amounts of light and that there aren’t parts with shadows or with less light. Having uneven lighting also makes it harder for me to edit my images.

The colour of the light (obviously this isn’t technical) but I have noticed at different times during the day my natural light has subtle hues. Over the past year I’ve paid attention to the light and its quality throughout my home. At certain points of the day the light is more blue (see photo with make-up above) than white. I like white, bright photos so I wait for when I know the light coming through the window and onto the sill is a nice white.

A note about lighting As I said I like white, light, bright photos, you might prefer moodier ones or softer ones. It all comes down to preference. Once you know what your style is you can start observing the light in your surroundings to determine where and when you get the best light for your photos.

Surfaces and Backgrounds: I prefer a white background/surface for my flat lays. This isn’t saying it’s the best option, it’s just the one I prefer. Try out a few different options and see what works best for you and your Instagram gallery. None of the above photos have been edited. I’ve used fabric, paper, wrapper paper and timber as surfaces for my flat lays, the options are endless. Vintage fabric from op shops also works quite nicely for flat lays.

Bonus tip: Now here’s where things get even more technical (not really) I learnt during a styling class many years ago that odd numbers make for better pictures. 1, 3, 5… items compared to 2, 4, 6… items. I looked back at my older images and noticed that I indeed prefer an odd number of items. Food for thought perhaps.

I’ll be back next week with a post on how I edit my Instagram photos. But in the meantime, a little treat for all of you for your support and kindness. I’m teaming up with Brand Strategist and Designer Kayd Roy to offer one person a one-on-one consultation with Kayd, an Instagram Class of sorts. I did with class with Kayd and my Instagram just flourished. All you lovely people need to do is:

a) follow Me on Instagram

b) post a photo on your Instagram, in the caption tell us what you hope to learn (as general or specific as you want, Instagram related or not, there’s no trick here) OR a big goal you have for 2015

c) tag a friend who you think could use some insight on how to better use Instagram generally or on how to use it to better market their business

d) don’t forget to add #LifeUnStyledGiveaway

The giveaway is open worldwide, only new photos please, but you can enter as many times as you want. The winner will be announced on 31 March 2015.

Related posts: the best Instagram communities | my un-styled life and Instagram | what I learnt being off Instagram | how to grow your Instagram | how to edit your Instagram photoshow I went on holidays and didn’t Instagram |

6 comments

  • Kellie

    I really love your Instagram photos – it's the little touches/accessories that make them extra fabulous 🙂

  • Tyne Swedish

    This series is great V. I love it. My instagram this year has been to have fun and post what I enjoy. I had to stop caring what others would think of my photos or of me. That said I can't wait to try out your tips.

  • Gabrielle

    Thanks for your post, it was very informative.

    http://www.blogsbygabrielle.blogspot.com

  • Michelle {Jarrah Jungle}

    Great tips, I've learnt the hard way to only take photos without a flash and in natural light. I cringe looking back through my old blog photos when I would use the flash, but I can't remove them as they're part of our renovating journey 🙂

  • Kristian

    A great post and interesting to hear knowing your thoughts on unstyled things- though you use a white background etc. as a professional would (I love how amazing your photos always look), I feel it is so very true to your blog's name/mission/whatever that it is a sill in your house.

    And, it is generous of you to share about taking better instagram photos and growing a following!

  • Kalyani

    Great post V! I would love to join the giveaway:)
    I've been experimenting a lot with Instagram photos too and I agree lighting undoubtedly is a very important factor, something I'm working on to improve..
    K

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