Instagram Photography Tips for Phone-tographers

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Ah… the elusive perfect shot. When scrolling through the cream of the crop of Instagram photography feeds, you’re likely faced with a plethora of responses: Marvel, delight, appreciation, inspiration and intrigue. Perhaps you’re even a tiny bit envious, especially if you’re the competitive type! Whether you’re casually wondering how they do it; feeling a little daunted by the stunning grids out there, or you want to master the genre of smartphone photography – we’ve put together easy Instagram photography tips to elevate your game.


Start clean


Instagram photography tip number one is not to be scoffed at. This deceivingly simple step can often be overlooked, especially when quickly grabbing your phone to capture an unexpected moment: Give your phone’s camera lenses a good clean with a microfibre cloth before taking a snap. Clear away smudges, blurs and dust spots.



Check your camera settings 

Turn HDR off 


HDR (High Dynamic Range) is designed to help you take better-looking photos, however, you may have discovered that in some situations it can actually make your photos look worse. Many Instagram photographers recommend keeping HDR off in the settings, as it’s easier to go back and enhance certain elements of a photo after you’ve taken the shot. HDR can result in a photo with too much detail, making your image look unnatural.


There is one particular setting where HDR works like a charm – high-contrast scenes with both dark and bright areas, such as a landscape with a bright sky and dark foreground. HDR in this case results in evenly-lit photos with amazing detail.


HDR can be a tricky beast. Lifehacker has some helpful guidelines.


Check the photo mode





A popular photo mode is “portrait mode”, which automatically detects a well-lit subject within a certain distance from the camera and creates a bokeh effect (depth of field). The most desired result is a dreamy, blurred background that looks very profesh.


Portrait mode is great for – obviously – portraits, but also for food and product shots. Where it’s not so great is when you’re shooting inside or in low light. It also requires a subject that is still. 


For incredible action shots of moving objects: On your iPhone, hold down the shoot button to enable burst mode, allowing you to sift through up to 10 photos and select the best. If using an Android, enable the burst feature by holding the shutter down.


Set the focus


Your camera’s autofocus doesn’t always sit where you want it to. Sometimes you’ll need to set the focus point manually by tapping the screen where you want to set focus, so the main subject of your image appears crisp and sharp.


Time to capture the perfect Insta shot




Shoot powerful images with incredible depth using leading lines:


  • Use leading lines to create depth of field (DOF). 
  • Leading lines are lines that lead from the foreground to the background of the scene, drawing the viewer’s eye into the image.
  • A leading line could be a path, a road, a river, or a railway line. It could be a fence, a wall, a bridge, or a row of trees. Perhaps even footprints in the snow or the water’s edge at the beach.
  • Frame the shot so that the line starts in the foreground and either leads into the distance or towards your main subject.


Get your composition on point:


  • Use the rule of thirds to compose beautiful mobile photos.
  • The rule helps break down your image into three portions.
  • The goal is to put the most interesting aspects of the photo in the intersections of the grid to create a balanced and natural-looking photo.
  • Both iPhone and Android cameras have an option to turn the grid on when shooting.


Another route to take is to simplify your composition for the most striking shots. Try to include only one main subject in your photo, and include lots of empty space (negative space), drawing attention to your subject. 


Adjust exposure for perfect brightness levels:


  • Photos can often turn out too bright (over-exposed) or too dark (under-exposed).
  • For iPhone users: Tap your phone screen when you’re taking the shot and wait till the yellow box appears. Then move the little sun on the right and you’ll see the exposure lowering. With Android, tap the screen on darker and lighter parts of the shot and it’ll manually balance the exposure.


Make it unique!


Experiment with different perspectives for that unique shot, instead of taking photos from chest height while standing. Some ideas:


  • Try crouching, kneeling, or lying on the ground.
  • Shoot straight up at a tall building, tree, or ceiling.
  • Get up really close to capture intricate detail.
  • Shoot through a “frame,” such as an archway, doorway, or window.
  • Flat-lays with interesting, textured backgrounds are ever-popular on Instagram and are great for food and product pics shot from above.


Edit to perfection




While Instagram does offer in-app editing solutions, it’s no secret that there are better-quality photo editor apps out there. Here are 20 that are perfect for brands. Have fun adding overlays, including copy and stickers.


Instagram photography tips aside, remember to alternate your still photos with video content. We all know that video is taking over the internet! Read more on the importance of video content marketing.


Pair your perfect pics with a solid Social Media plan


Now that your photos are ah-mazing, it’s time to engage the service of a professional Digital Marketing team to provide the most relevant, well-researched plan for optimised posting.


Seek a flexible, bespoke agency to work with you on telling the story of your brand, creating compelling copy to market your products and services. That way you’ll have more time to shoot and plan your photos using your newfound techniques!


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