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6 Tips for Taking Amazing Instagram Photos (2018 Full Guide)

In Social Media by Adi W. GabayLeave a Comment

Whether you are a passive social media user just posting to stay in touch with friends and family, or want to make a full-time career out of it getting paid to shoot and more, taking and posting stunning photos for your followers is a really good skill to have!

However, taking a good photo is much easier said than done. Though you don’t have to be a professional to produce nice content, it definitely helps to have some tips to keep in mind while snapping a photo.

Below we’ll share some of our top tips for creating some ‘like’-able content (pun intended) and for creating a stunning feed!
how to take photos using your phone

1. Lighting

The first thing to consider when framing and taking a photo is lighting! This can make or break your image. First, make sure you have enough light in your photo. This means either stepping into a space with ample lighting, or maybe even using a flash if it is night time or dusk. Second, try to use natural light that is diffused and white to avoid harsh shadows and yellow tinting. If you are inside, you’ll want to turn off overhead lights and stand in front of a window, not too close, but close enough to use the natural light. If you are outside, step into a shadow and out of direct sunlight, try to shoot in the early morning or at sunset, and aim to shoot on cloudy days. Cloudy weather is the best and if it is very sunny

out because it diffuses the light! Diffused light is really important because harsh shadows can distort a photo and be distracting, especially when photographing a person, they can be very unflattering. For a selfie, an easy way to quickly check lighting is to hold your phone at a 45 degree angle above your head, and turn around facing different directions until you notice great lighting. Once you have found the best light, snap a couple photos or call your friends into the frame!

lights for a photos with a phone Image

2. Editing

While most people just slap on a filter and call it a day, if you want to step up your photo game, consider using the ‘Edit’ features on Instagram or downloading an app like VSCO cam. A good rule of thumb is to increase brightness, contrast and sharpness, and to decrease warmth and saturation, all by about 5, and then adjust from there depending on the photo. Studies have found brighter, cooler, and less saturated photos that look sharper and higher quality tend to garner more likes!

photo editing
Another tip in editing is to always, always, always make sure your photo is level. People don’t like looking at slanted horizons or slightly tilted images, so unless it is intentional and artistic, leveling your photo before posting it is a must. If you want to take your photo editing skills to the next level, considering taking to YouTube and searching ‘how to edit photos for instagram’! You’ll find an endless stream of videos covering the topic. It’s possible even your favorite instagrammer has created a video and you can copy their methods! Spend some time watching those and you will be an editing expert in no time.


Another tip while editing is to consider your feed and style. If you can, try to maintain a consistent editing style throughout your posts. Whether that means you always use the same filter, a popular choice is Instagrams Aden, or always edit your photos to the exact same warmth, this will give your feed an overall look of cohesiveness, and it is very appealing. It will also contribute to your branding, so people will be able to immediately recognize your photo when they see it on your feed.

taking pics with your phone

3. Angles

Making sure you are taking your photo from a thoughtful angle is key. For a plate of food, a straight top-down angle usually looks best. However, sometimes, if the food is 3D like an ice cream cone, or looks best from the side, like a sandwich, taking it straight on from eye level will show the viewer the most appealing drool worthy angle.

lights for a photos with a phone
Another type of photo that angles are important for is the selfie. When taking a selfie, hold your arm out from your body as far as possible, and angle your arm about 45 degrees above your face tilting your camera down. Also, consider turning your head to one side or the other, 45 degrees away from the camera, to give your face some dimension. This is a great rule of thumb until you find your best angle. A pro tip though is to never ever take a selfie from a downward angle. It is typically very unflattering and will not capture your face in a natural way.

Another type of photo that angles are important for is the selfie. When taking a selfie, hold your arm out from your body as far as possible, and angle your arm about 45 degrees above your face tilting your camera down. Also, consider turning your head to one side or the other, 45 degrees away from the camera, to give your face some dimension. This is a great rule of thumb until you find your best angle. A pro tip though is to never ever take a selfie from a downward angle. It is typically very unflattering and will not capture your face in a natural way.

photo editing
For full body photos, don’t be afraid to ask the photographer to kneel. Taking a full body photo at a slightly upward angle elongates your legs and is very flattering! However, you must make sure to tilt your chin down accordingly! Another quick tip for full body photos is to angle your body from the camera so it is not facing the lens straight on. This will often slim your frame and will give your body more depth, since photos are 2D creating depth is a good thing.

4. Background

Before snapping a photo, take some time to look a the background of your image. The background is anything that is behind the main subject. Make sure the background is not too distracting from the main focus of the photo, and that it complements subject. A couple rules to keep in mind are:

Always make sure nothing is ‘coming out’ of the subjects head, like a light post or tree for example. If the subject is lined up with something in the background in an unfortunate way, ask them to move or move slightly yourself so the background object is not directly behind your subject.

Avoid busy backgrounds or ‘eye-sores.’ A busy background, like lots of people or a ton of items, could make it hard to see your subject and draw attention away from the subject being photographed. An eye sore could be anything from trash to a cluttered closet in the background or even a photobomber! Keep these in mind as much as you can! Even something so much as an open door to your bathroom can be considered an eye sore and truthfully, these things can completely ruin a photo!

how to take great photos using your phone

5. Rule of Thirds

One of the first and foremost things they teach in any photography course is the Rule of Thirds. The rule entails dividing an image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you are left with 9 sections. This is the groundwork for any well balanced and visually appealing shot.

photo editing
The theory is that if you place focus points of your subject, like their face or the horizon, on the intersections of or in alignment with the lines, your photo becomes more balanced and natural looking to the viewer. To make this easy to see, go to the camera options on your phone’s settings and turn on the grid option.

photo grid
This will make it so you can see the grid on your frame when you use the camera on your phone. A situation you may find yourself in often that is applicable to this rule is when taking a photo of your friends, always align their eyes to the top line in the rule of thirds grid! This will make the photo super balanced and visually appealing and that they are not too close to the top of bottom of the frame.

Of course, one exception to this rule is when you choose to completely center an item, but even then, it is useful to consider the center section of the rule of thirds to give the focus of your photo some space between the object and the edges of the frame. In the photo below, you can see the horizon abides by the rule of thirds creating a very appealing and well balanced, natural shot.


6. Posting Photos

To post a photo to instagram you must first have created an account. After you open the account and are logged in, look for the bottom toolbar and select the middle option with the plus sign inside a square. This will open up a page with your camera roll. You could also choose to take the photo directly on Instagram, but it’s really best to take a couple from your camera or phone camera and select them after via your camera roll. From this page, scroll through your camera roll until you find the photo you want to post and select it. Use your two fingers to zoom the photo in and out, side to side and up and down, until you have your desired crop You can also press the two arrows facing each other on the bottom corner of the photo to adjust the photo to a non square crop if you desire.

Another option you have from this page is to post multiple photos in a slide format where people can scroll through up to 10 photos in one single post. This is a great option for a blog post type of post where multiple angles are needed or maybe you have a photo and a video to post. Even if you just can't decide between two photos, this is a great option to post both and make a witty comment about it in the caption.
Once you have selected your photo or photos and the crop you want, click ‘next’ on the top right of your screen. This will take you to the editing page. If you have already edited your photo, go ahead and click next again, at the top right of your screen. If you have not editd your photo yet, you can choose to add a filter by tapping on the desired filter and then tapping it again to adjust the strength on your photo. However, if you do not like the filters provided by Instagram, go ahead and leave it on original and then select edit at the bottom right of the screen. From here you can adjust each aspect of the photo from the alignment to the contrast and much more. To edit these aspects of your photo, refer to the number two paragraph in this article for standard settings that will enhance your photo. Otherwise a good rule of thumb is to use these features only to correct your photo, not completely change it, so try to keep it as natural as possible.

photo editing
Inspiration, Creativity, and Practice! Once you have all the above down, it is time to get creative with your photos! One way to get creative is first by getting inspired by following some amazing accounts that you want to emulate. Of course, you don't want to copy these accounts verbatim, but seeing what other are doing is a great way to get some good ideas on what to shoot. Now that you’re inspired, get creative with your ideas and start practicing. The more you practice taking amazing photos, the easier it will get. You will start to know what to look for and how you like your photos to look, and it will be a cinch!

Now you know the basic tips of taking amazing photos! We can’t wait to see your content, tag @AmityCreative and use the hashtag #ThisisAmity for a chance to be featured on our page when you use these tips! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out at: +1 818-570-1060

Amity Creative - Social Media Marketing and Branding Agency
Lake Balboa, CA
(818) 570-1060
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