In the last couple of years we have seen a boom in creativity of an ever increasing base of Instagram users. Although 8 out of 10 Instagram users you follow still posts endless selfies or flood your feed with successive images that would make you want to comment “can you just post it as an FB album,” the jewels among the rough in Instagram isn’t hard to find, as these are the users who command a large following. These photographers fill up their feeds with a consistent stream of spectacular images that quickly garner a hundred likes inside the first ten minutes of upload. Ever wonder how they do it? Well, aside from having the right skill sets to take amazing photographs, they also have quite a handful of tricks up their sleeves.
To cut to the chase, Resource Magazine has come up with a list of 20 Things You Can Learn From an Instagram Photographer.
1. Photograph What Makes You Happy
It doesn’t matter what type of subjects you photograph. The important thing is to stick with what you love taking pictures. Because, doing so creates a certain character that your followers associate with your images. “Don’t try to please followers because they clearly have many interests and you wont be able to make them all in a blink of an eye.” photographer Fauzi Putra tells in an interview with Printl.
2. Shoot Landscape and Underexpose. Then Edit Brightly.
Karen Grubb (@mrsgrubby), a travel photographer who currently has 129,000 followers has this to share when asked by Instagram Talk about her rules for shooting “When shooting with my iPhone, I always shoot landscape, rather than portrait, and always with the AE/AF lock on. I tend to shoot images underexposed and then I brighten them up when editing.”
3. Don’t go Full B/W
Photographer Jason Peterson (@jasonmpeterson) is known by his over 490,000 followers for his black and white images of the city of Chicago. If you think his images are produced through simple clickings of a B/W button then you are wrong. Jason shares his shooting tip with Instagram Talk ” I actually don’t do true B/W. Everything is actually color desaturated 90-98%. I have always found 4 color b/w to be much richer and gives you darker blacks.”
4. Post Consistently with Artistic Control
As you gain followers the urge to post more images becomes really enticing. Do not surrender to this temptation or else you will end up flooding the feed of your followers. Remain at your consistent and controlled pace. That said, do not also go missing in action for a week as your followers might think your instagram has become inactive. A good one or two photographs a day is just about the right amount of remaining consistent while retaining your artistic control.
5. Focus on Creating Engagement Rather than Chasing Follower Numbers
Don’t be like some Instagram users with thousands of followers but attracts minimum number of engagements. Make sure to engage your followers by writing a witty and informative caption. Better if you will ask them a question or make them laugh. This will invite more ‘Likes’ and ‘Comments’ making your feed more attractive to follow.
6. Do Not Bastardize the Use of Hashtags
Your followers would appreciate reading an insightful caption consisting of a line or two, but would be miffed if you bombard your image with dozens of hashtags. Just stick to the more important ones by being creative and specific, if it is a travel image you are positing just use #Travel #(continent) #(name of country) to highlight where you have taken the picture.
7. Remember the Importance of Composition
Instagram legend Janske Kaethoven (@janske) tells Instagram talk in a 2012 interview the importance of composition “as Edward Weston said: “Composition is the strongest way of seeing“. Few people take the time to think about the composition, by for instance applying the rule of thirds or placing the main subject off-centre. Also, balancing out the layers in a composition creates an image with much more depth. Of course, all of this only works with the right light. In my opinion using a filter to simulate a situation with extraordinary light is never as good as the real thing. Those who put more effort in their compositions and make clear choices really stand out on IG.”
8. Dare to Be Creative
Showinga unique creativity in your Instagram is the best way to attract followers. Murad Osmann‘s “Follow Me To” series is the most shining example of this. Last year, Resource Magazine featured Anton Charushin, who is known for his distinctive headstand travel photographs. “When I travel, I don’t want to post the same old ‘me-and-something-beautiful-in-the-background’ photos, I like to share something unique, so I use my ability to stand on my head.” Charushin explains.
9. Symmetry is Elementary
Making it a must factor in every photograph you take. “In order to capture the symmetry in a scene, you have to center yourself, make sure all your lines are straight, and be a perfectionist when it comes to your square crop” says San Francisco based Instagram user Pei Ketron (@pketron).
10. Photo-Walk is as Good as Gym Time
The most fascinating scenes are what usually happens in your immediate vicinity. Indulge in numerous photo-walks around your neighborhood every week. It is not only a good substitute to your gym time it also assures you a myriad of fascinating Instagram subjects.
11. Selfies are a Big No, Self-Portraits a Resounding Yes!
Incorporating a human subject into a photograph is one of the most effective way of presenting it. When no one is around, then why not take your own self portrait foregrounding a visually pleasing place. The only rule to follow is never allow half of the frame to be occupied by your face. The image below shows Instagram photographer Martin Reisch (@safesolvent), who is known by his more than 60,000 followers for his series of captivating self portraits.
12. Add Lens and other Shooting Accessories to your Phone
Macro and zoom photography has a place in mobile photography and Instagram. Producing images with crystal clarity though requires some additional accessories that will jazz up your phone camera. Resource Magazine has listed down some of last year’s must-have mobile photography accessories.
13. Carefully Select Instagram Filters
When selecting filters do not just rely on random clicks, rather know how each filter relates to the type of images you are posting. A lot of travelers agree that when uploading shots of sunny beach scenes, the filter Valencia brings down the saturation and make the colors richer. The filter Hefe meanwhile makes photographs of mountains more bolder. Try experimenting with different filters and in no time you will eventually easily relate each to a type of image you are uploading.
14. Make the Golden Hour into Instagram Time
Mobile phones still lack the technology of DSLRs and leading mirror-less cameras in the market when it comes to processing ambient light. The best way to solve this is to start practicing by shooting images during the ‘Golden Hour’ – that time of the day before sunrise and the hour before the sun set. This time of the day produces a diffused and softer lighting that proves perfect in illuminating any subjects.
15. Edit. Edit. Edit. But Go Easy on It
Photographers with hundreds of thousands of followers do not just shoot and post images on their respective Instagram accounts, they take time editing their photographs using a few outstanding mobile phone editing apps like VCSO Cam, Snapseed, HDRFX Pro, or Hipstamatic just to name a few. That said, it is important to remember to go easy on the editing part as too much editing lessens the quality of your image and make it appear cartoonish.
16. Shoot in Multiple Angles
A great Instagram photograph is rarely a result of a one-shot attempt. If you see a fascinating subject, make time to move around and look for the perfect angle (aerial, eye level and diagonal). Try shooting from varying perspectives to give you more choices of uploading the best shot in the lot. “Experiment when shooting. Look for different angles. Get down low to the ground, climb on top of something or hold your camera over your head. If you take a shot, find another angle to shoot the same scene. The more you shoot, the more you will learn what you like and develop your own style.” – @mrsgrubby
17. Blending Art with Photographs
Resource Magazine has featured outstanding Instagram users who have infused their arts with their photography. An example of it is the work of Yacine Ait Kaci (@elyxyak), who blends the fictional sketches of his character creation Elyx into his Instagram images.
18. Slow Down and Observe
Photographer Dan Rubin (@danrubin) offers this wonderful tip “Learn how to use your camera to the best of its capabilities, and then spend your time experiencing the world around you as you move through it. Observation is the most important tool a photographer has.” – @danrubin
19. Always Learn from the Best Instagram Photographers
Instagram didn’t became one of the most popular social media tool if it weren’t for the community it harbors. A huge part of it stems from the on-going collaboration, exchanging of ideas and learning shared between photographers. Take advantage of this by nurturing your own creative styles without becoming a copycat. “Follow people whose feeds you would like to emulate. The more good photos you see in your feed, the quicker you can develop an eye for it. Also, don’t be discouraged or overexcited about likes. Certain types of photos get more likes than others, regardless of the quality. Focus on taking photos that you like, learn from the best, and don’t be afraid to try something new!” – @coryacrawford
20. Break All the Rules
Following all the rules and wisdom you learned from great Instagram photographers will definitely help you boost your creativity, but sometimes breaking all the rules give you the freedom to step out and discover your inventive identity.