Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Take and Post Great Instagram Photos

As many of you know, I recently joined Instagram. I resisted joining for a very long time because I didn't see the point in browsing bad photos of every tiny detail of people's lives that we don't really need to see. I still believe that a lot of the Instagram content is not so great and that you have to be careful about who you follow. However, there are a lot of really talented photographers who put together regular posts that are interesting and meaningful.

The following video is what finally convinced me to join.
I have been following this YouTube channel for at least a few months and think highly of pretty much all of his photography advice. If you've been on the fence about Instagram for the same reason as me, watch the video or at the very least, go check out his Instagram. I think you'll come away convinced that you can take and post great Instagram photos. So how do you do that? Here's my two cents on the topic.
(photo taken by my friend Steve)

Use a Good Camera
If you have an SLR and are serious about sharing high quality photography, use it for your Instagram photos. I know that this doesn't apply to a lot of people reading this post, and that's fine. Learn the settings for whatever camera you have, even if it's only your phone camera, so that you can maximize its potential. It's amazing what you can do with a high quality phone camera these days, such as an iPhone 5 or the newer Samsung Galaxy phones. Don't settle for shooting mediocre photos on the auto settings. You can do so much better than that!

Crop Your Photos to a 1:1 Ratio
It is really easy to crop photos to a 1x1 ratio in virtually any photo editing program. Cropping in a dedicated program ensures that you'll get a properly proportioned photo for Instagram every time. I choose to do this on my computer, but there are a lot of  photo editing apps, such as Snapseed, that work just fine, too.

Add Text, Borders, Etc. in Photo Editing Programs
There are a lot of other professional touches that you can make to your photos in photo editing programs before you ever head to Instagram. There are a ridiculous number of apps for any number of different photo editing techniques, such as Photo Grid, which allows you to make collages for your phone photos. It's not hard to add these details.

Limit the Number of Photos You Post
Resist the temptation to Instagram entire events. You can take as many pictures as you want, but don't post all of them. Pick and choose your favorite photos when you have to the time to edit before you post.

Use a Select Number of Relevant Hashtags
If you've spent any time on Twitter or Instagram, you know that I mean. Do not clutter your post with an excessive number of hashtags, especially when they aren't relevant. I feel silly explaining this, but I see a lot of photos on Instagram for specific places that have hashtags for additional places just to get views (i.e. a photo of the Chicago skyline with tags for New York and Los Angeles). A few relevant hashtags will bring in views from non-followers. A large number of irrelevant tags will send everyone running the other way.

Finally, the winners of my photo giveaway have been chosen. They are as follows:
1st Place - Edi
2nd Place - Paige
3rd Place - Natasha

Congrats, ladies! I will be in touch shortly about getting your prizes together.

Do you use Instagram? If so, do you have tips for creating and sharing great photos? Leave them in the comments!


  1. I just joined Instagram too, and I don't even have a mobile device (I just use my daughter's). It's one of those things that are on my wishlist, along with a nice DSLR camera. That being said, none of your great tips really apply to me, but they are great tips.
    Congrats to the giveaway winners. =0)

  2. First of all, YAY about the win! :-) It will probably take me 900 years to narrow it down, but I'll do my best.

    I love Instagram. I hopped on the bandwagon right away and I think it's worthwhile as long as you follow interesting people (or people you actually know). It's like a less annoying version of Facebook, if you think of it in terms of staying connected.

  3. I still haven't taken the plunge with Instagram, but I do appreciate the tips.
    And woohoo for the win!!! Thank you so much Rose! I'll be browsing your shop and FB to find my favorites (it might take me a while!)

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    1. My tip: Never take photos from inside the Instagram app. Even if you plan on only using the photo fro Instagram. There a a few reasons for this.
      One, it allows you to fine-tune your photos in Photoshop Touch or other photo editing apps if you wish.
      Two, you can then crop your photo to perfection inside Instagram. This is also helpful for zooming in on small subjects (to a point, cropping in TOO much looks pretty bad). Quality-wise, this works much better than using your phone camera's "zoom" feature when taking the photo.
      And three, it allows you to have an un-squared, unedited, original photo. This is likely just a crossover in mindset from shooting on dSLR where keeping original RAW files is a golden rule. You never know what the future will hold for your photos, so always hang on to your base work.

  5. I haven't started Instagram yet but I appreciate the tips! Congrats to the winners of your giveaway!

  6. Great advice for any photographers. I haven't done anything with Instagram, but I have seen lots of things posted. Congrats to your winners! Yay!

  7. Congrats to the winners!!
    I'm not on Instagram (yet), but if I join I will come back to this article! Great advice!

  8. Great info about instagram. I have been trying to get into using instagram, but not very successfully. You have inspired me to want to try again, thanks for the tips.
    Everyday Inspired

  9. I think it's great that you're so involved in photography. For me, I'm not that interested, but I like to edit my photos, especially the ones I use for my blog. Happy trails! {:-D


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