Whether you’re looking to curate a business account or spruce up your personal one, here are some ways to make sure that every photo in your Instagram feed is on point.
Balance & Composition
Instagram’s built-in photo editor has a very handy tool called “Adjust,” which lets you crop and rotate your photos with the help of an overlaid grid for alignment. This grid is your best friend. The rules of composition and symmetry have been used since the Renaissance to create aesthetically pleasing images, and there’s no reason to stop using them now. The most important thing to correct and perhaps one of the most common mistakes is the horizon line. Even if it’s off by only one degree, it is worth it to make sure that the horizon, or any equivalent flat surface, is level. Unless the photo is deliberately askew in order to draw attention to a specific area or point, uneven lines confuse the eye and throw off the balance of the image. On the flip side, you can help direct the viewer’s eye if your chosen focal point is clearly positioned in the middle of one of the grid squares or along one of the lines. In the example image, you can see how the focal point—the house—is settled neatly in the center of the image on a steady horizon, with the rest of the picture evenly divided between the sky and the field. It’s simple but visually satisfying, and therefore enjoyable to look at.
Less (Editing) is More
Between filters and Photoshop, it is easy to get lost in the editing process and end up with a nearly unrecognizable product—and all you wanted to do was make the sky a little bluer! Here’s a hint: if you have to edit the photo into oblivion in order to make it look the way you want, it is probably not worth it. The most arresting and successful Instagram posts are frequently a combination of chance and a good eye, with only minor tweaks. Editing should be about enhancing what you already have in the photo, not changing it. For instance, in the example image, the color of the sky, the book, and the mug all correspond to each other. This is actually one of my own photos from my travels in New Zealand—the color cohesion is a happy coincidence, but my editing to make it more prominent is not. A simple temperature adjustment, an increase in contrast, and a quick sharpening of details was all it took to take the photo to the next level.
Choose Interesting Subjects
Since the rise of the digital age, people are now inundated with media from all sides. If they’ve seen it once, they’ve seen it a hundred times—and that includes the photo of the sunset you were so excited to post. There is a huge pressure to produce unique, exciting content, and that can be intimidating, but it’s not as hard as it may seem. It is often simply a matter of being more selective in what you post or choosing a different angle to shoot from. Don’t be afraid to stop and take photos of things that catch your eye, no matter how odd it may feel in the moment! If you do find yourself wanting to post something of a more cliché nature, take a moment to think about how you can make it exciting and fresh. Take the example image. Cat pictures are one in a million on the internet, but it’s not simply your run-of-the-mill close-up pet photo. The placement and situation are unusual enough to engage the viewer and make them look twice.
Show a Little Love
No matter how many tips and tricks and tweaks you have in your toolbelt, in the end, what matters most is that your followers find some form of resonance with what you post—that’s what makes them hit the like button. Candid shots always have the most warmth and heart, so take photos often and without warning. Taking another photo of a delectable food plate? If it doesn’t move you, then it’s not worth it. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of the manicured, manufactured version of what you want the world to see, but genuine feeling is always more engaging. Don’t be afraid to let the world see behind the curtain every once in a while—you’ll find that more often than not, they’ll love you for it.