Insta-Wow! 5 Tips for Taking Great Instagram Photos

Carly Manning
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Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 11.53.26 PMAddicted to Instagram? Love snapping (and sharing) photos but want yours to look more like the ones you admire? We’ve got you covered. Read on for tips, resources and Insta-inspiration. Whether you’re into portraits, landscapes or foodie stuff, here’s what you need to know to make your Instagram photos the best they can be:

Prettify your pix. Looks matter when it comes to Instagram—just because you’re using your phone doesn’t mean you can get sloppy. It’s important to follow the rules of thoughtful photography composition, depth, lighting and angles; lighting, in particular, is crucial for successful Instagram photos. Click here and here for some great tips on capturing those to-die-for pictures that look like they came straight out of a scene from Amélie (or your local Anthropologie). And if you’re really serious, you can even buy additional lenses to attach to your phone which will up the quality of your pics.

There’s an app for that. There are some seriously beautiful pictures on Instagram, so go the extra mile to make yours stand out too. How? Apps, of course. A photo editing app will allow you to filter, crop, and otherwise doctor that image to perfection. Snapseed is often recommended, but there are others as well such as Afterlight, Camera+ and VSCOcam.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 11.56.14 PMUnderstand the filters and borders. Even if you don’t spring for supplementary filter apps (see above), Instagram provides 19 filters of its own. It’s important to consider your subject matter when you’re choosing a filter. For example, a sepia filter isn’t going to make your food look appetizing…just old. Click here for a fantastic breakdown of Instagram’s filters and when to use each one. In addition, Instagram offers various borders for pictures that can add even greater artistic flair. Play around with both, and you’ll have a work of art before you know it.

Edit thoughtfully. Nobody wants to see 15 mediocre pictures of your latest girls’ night out on Instagram. How to avoid this? Many experts will tell you to go ahead and snap photos with the standard camera feature on your smartphone and then process with Instagram afterwards. That way, you can take as many pix as you want but choose only the best ones to process and post on Instagram. This gives you more time to use your additional apps, play with filters and so forth. (Here’s a more in-depth take on this method.)
And last but not least…

Make it meaningful. Make it unique. In addition to simply making your photos look pretty and appealing, ideally the subject should go one step further. Whether they are designed to inspire, instruct, or make us all swoon, the people with the biggest Instagram followings have something to say with their photos…a brand, if you will, a mission up their sleeve, or a theme that has broad appeal but still some specificity. In other words, snap pictures people actually care about…not ten pictures of your latest latté.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 11.55.19 PMLooking for some Insta-inspiration? Check out these three amazing teens. Each has a massive Instagram following—and a message to spread.

Gigi Crouch, aka “Scolerina9247“: Go ahead, gush at this teen ballerina’s gorgeous photos. Then take a closer look—Gigi Crouch wears a back brace, which was prescribed due to her scoliosis. Nothing short of inspirational, this “Insta-lebrity” knows how to take beautiful photos with plenty of heart.

Carly Manning, aka “carlymanning10”: At the ripe old age of 15, Carly Manning has nearly 400,000 Instagram followers. Why? Because she’s a world-class athlete, that’s why. This high-flying (literally) teen documents her hard work and dedication to the sport of cheerleading via Instagram. Her videos are pretty amazing, too.

Antonia Eriksson, aka “eatmoveimprove”: Talk about brave. Swedish teen Antonia Eriksson has battled anorexia and found health again—and it’s all right there on Instagram. Her account includes before and after photos of herself, as well as inspiring images of healthy food and fitness selfies to keep her motivated (and us moved).

Want to become Insta-famous like these ladies? Here are some more tips on how to post wisely, and build your following!

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