Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Instagram is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows anyone to take a generic picture and cover up any shortcomings with a few filters, resulting in photos that are half-decent. On the other hand, there are so many photos that it can be hard to stand out. But the good news? It doesn’t take much to soar above average.
Once you’re acquainted with Instagram, these quick tips can help boost the popularity of your photos to the next level. It’ll take more effort than simply plastering your photos with a filters, of course, but I guarantee that the effort will be worth it. Ready to set yourself apart? Keep reading!
What’s The “Point”?
Before you even pick up your camera (or your smartphone), ask yourself: “What’s the point?” In other words, why are you taking a picture of that? For most people, the answer is no more than “I want to capture this moment,” which is absolutely fine and valid, but there’s more to a great photo than that.
What are you trying to achieve by taking a photo? Maybe you want to convey a message (“Look at this loving couple”). Maybe you want the viewer to smile (insert photo of a silly puppy) or maybe you want them to cry (insert photo of grief or poverty). Maybe you just want to bring attention to a particular subject or object.
The takeaway is that you should always have a goal in mind before you take and upload a shot. Without a goal, your photo serves no purpose and will hold no interest.
Keep It Simple But Stylish
When you’re ready to take the photo, remember that less is more in photography. Like all forms of social media, Instagram is fast and fleeting. The users have a short attention span, which means your photo only has a few seconds to grab their attention. If you try to do too many things in one photo, you’ll accomplish none of them.
Limit yourself to one focal point per photo. There should be one subject that you want the viewer to look at. It could be a mug of coffee, an open notebook, a swing set at the park, a female model, etc. Clutter divides the viewer’s attention between multiple subjects and diminishes the interest of the photo.
Get close to the subject so they fill up the whole frame. Or if you want a wider shot, position yourself so there are as few elements in the photo as possible. Clear out the background behind the subject so there aren’t any distracting pieces. There are other ways to cut clutter, but these are good starting points.
Throw Away Your First Few Ideas
Photography is a creative endeavor. Each shot is an idea and it takes creative energy to formulate an idea that works. You may end up taking dozens of shots before you find the one that does what you were hoping to do. Rarely will you get it perfect the first time around.
And that’s why you should always throw out your first, second, and even third ideas for a particular shot. The ideas that come most easily to you are usually the most clichéd, most generic, and most typical. How many photos have you seen of latte art? Of someone looking at their feet while lying on a beach? Of boring sunsets and bathroom selfies?
It’s okay if the subject is commonplace as long as you approach the photo with a twist. Try different angles, different locations, different props, and even different colors. If you want to stand out, then something about your photo has to be new and unusual.
Learn the Rules of Photography
Anyone can be writer, but not everyone is a great writer. Anyone can be an athlete, but not everyone is a great athlete. We could say this about any human endeavor, so why do we so often forget that it also applies to photography? There are real skills involved when taking a great photo.
A great place to begin is our free guide to digital photography. It’ll teach you the basics of digital camera control, give you a rundown of various camera accessories, and provide a few exercises that will sharpen up your photography skills.
You’ll also want to check out our top 5 photography tips for newbies. Do you know about the Rule of Thirds? Do you know how angles affect the mood of photos? What’s the difference between JPG and RAW? It covers all of that and more.
Practice and Keep Practicing
To reiterate, photography is a creative skill. Nobody is born as a world-class photographer. It takes time, knowledge, and practice. If you want to take stunning photos that don’t reek of amateur efforts, then you need to practice and experiment often. Take hundreds of shots and try something new with each one.
Don’t give up. Your Instagram photos won’t be an overnight success, but you’ll get better over time. More and more people will notice your photos as you get better and one day you’ll wake up and realize that your Instagram photos truly are unique to yourself.
At that point, you should check out these tips for getting tons of Instagram Likes.
Do you have any tips for taking awesome Instagram photos? What kinds of photos do you like the best when viewing someone else’s albums? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!