Instagram is the social media platform of choice for a growing number of business. 15 million of them to be exact! And with over 700 million active users and a refreshing new take on engaging advertising, it’s no wonder. Instagram allows a closer relationship between brands and consumers than ever before, and that makes for loyal and invested followers.
But how can your business tap into this huge potential and stand out in an increasingly saturated market? As you might expect on a photo-sharing platform, the answer lies in your photos. You need great ones. Followers are attracted to bright and attractive images that stick to a cohesive overarching aesthetic across your account.
You might not have the budget to hire a professional photographer like the top Instagrammers do, but you can still steal a few tips from the pros to help you create some amazing shots. We’ve been chatting to professional photographer, Murray Clarke, to get his top tips for taking professional quality photographs. Here’s what he had to say:
The rule of thirds
This classic composition trick can make all the difference to how appealing your photos look, giving them a well-balanced and dynamic feel. It basically involves splitting up your image into three vertical and three horizontal sections. You then position your shot so that the subject is aligned along these sections. To make it easier, enable the grid feature on your phone or camera.
Look for the light
Always shoot in natural light for the best effects – especially if you don’t have access to a studio filled with professional photography lighting! Look for light coming from interesting places and experiment with different light positions and angles. Phone cameras are particularly good at capturing those magical sunbeams that can really lift a shot.
Click first, crop later
If you’ve ever watched a professional photographer in action, you’ll have noticed they’re constantly clicking away, taking an endless selection of shots. They’re not just addicted to their cameras – they know that taking lots of slightly different photos will give them plenty of options when it comes to editing. Follow their lead and give yourself a good variety of images to choose from, leaving room for custom cropping later. And don’t be tempted to shoot in square-frame mode. Take your pictures in landscape or portrait and crop them into a square during editing.
Experiment with angles
Mixing up your angles can create interest in even seemingly mundane subjects. A great pro tip if you are shooting still-life photos, such as beauty products or plates of food, is to capture them from above. Don’t worry if you have to hop on a chair, overhead shots are way more appealing.
Photographing subjects from below, on the other hand, is an interesting way to give them a sense of power – and can work especially well with portraits. Or try macro shots (or close-ups) to portray everyday objects in a new light.
Keep things simple
Overcomplicated photos can really turn followers off. It’s too much for our brains to process at once! A study by Curalate showed that Instagram photos are more likely to attract likes if they stick to one dominant colour and keep plenty of background in shot.
White backgrounds work particularly well for fashion, food and beauty shots, giving a beautiful chic quality to your account. Don’t be afraid to stick to just one subject, letting it fill the frame.
Try out different editing apps
While 60% of Instagram’s top brands use the same filter for each post for a cohesive account, it’s good to have a wide selection to choose from while you’re finding your brand’s unique look. Instagram has a good choice of filters to get things started, but most pros will use external editing apps instead. This gives them more control over the final effect of their image – and helps them stand out from the crowd. Apps like Snapseed, Lumiensce, Camera+ and Aviary all offer loads of fun editing tools to play around with. Just reign in the filters a little as heavily edited photos are generally not as popular.
For flawless portrait photos, it pays to learn the tricks of the retouching trade. You’ll soon learn why all the top Instagrammers look so perfect! There are some great easy-to-use apps that allow you to remove blemishes, tidy up flyaway hairs and brighten smiles. Just don’t get carried away – it should still look natural! Try TouchRetouch, Facetune or Perfect365 to get started.
Look out for moments
Professional photographers know that some of the most beautiful pictures are created from genuine moments, captured without posing. Start to try and think like a photographer and be on the lookout for life’s special moments – a smile, a look, a laugh, a tear – so you can be ready and waiting with your camera.
Don’t forget to let your imagination run wild
As much as we might wish there was a magic formula for Instagram success, the truth is that every brand must find their own way. Stay true to your style and values, play around and have fun, and give yourself room to be creative. It’s only by being a little daring and keeping things interesting that you’re likely to attract devoted followers.