15 Instagram Photography Tips

Going viral on Instagram isn’t easy. With the right Instagram tips, however, you can increase your odds of getting noticed on this increasingly popular social network. Whether you’re looking to advertise your photography business or just increase your social media following, here are 15 Instagram photography tips that will teach you how to improve your Instagram photos and followers.

1. Use the Grid

This is probably the most common advice in Instagram photography tips. It’s known as the “Rule of Thirds” among professionals, but most Insta junkies just call it “the grid.” Simply put, it’s a composition tool that will divide your picture into nine squares through a 3×3 grid, so it encourages you to think outside of the box when it comes to framing your subject. For example, you might put them in the lower-left square instead of the center square.

rule of thirds example

2. Take Multiple Photos

You might need to take a dozen photos to capture the perfect shot of your intended subject. Fortunately, many professional cameras come with a “burst mode” that will snap successive shots every few seconds depending on your input settings for frames per second (FPS). For fast-moving subjects, use a high FPS that will capture every flutter of the butterfly’s wings or every spray of water from the geyser.

3. Change Your Perspective

There’s nothing special about a picture taken at eye level. Everyone looks at the world that way. Instead, climb a ladder or crouch down in the grass the next time that you’re shooting something; you might be surprised by how much you can change the atmosphere of your entire photograph just by adjusting its angle or incline. Experiment with bird’s eye views, bug’s eye views and any others that interest you.

4. Wait for Golden Hours

There are many different ways to brighten, soften, blur, highlight and contrast the light of any given photo, but if you’re snapping pictures on the go, your best bet is to take advantage of sunrises and sunsets. They’ll create gorgeously-lit photos without the need for an entire lighting rig at a professional studio. You might also take some shots during the “blue hours” of dawn and dusk.

sun shining though tree

5. Choose Your Shape

If you’re looking at old Instagram photography tips, you might see people offering tools and tricks for making the most of the square shape that Instagram used to require of its uploads. The good news is that Instagram relaxed its rules a few years ago, so now you can upload photos in both landscape and portrait mode. Take photos with both until you find the style that best suits you.

6. Shoot in Raw Mode

If you’re using a smartphone, you don’t have a choice about this. Everything is shot in JPEG mode automatically. If you’re using a high-quality camera, however, you can turn off JPEG mode and shoot in raw mode instead. This will result in unfiltered, unprocessed photos where you can make your own adjustments to lights, colors and noise, so it’s worth the effort if you like having complete control over your final product.

7. Get Used to Post-Processing

Post-processing is the fancy term for Photoshopping, and it’s something that you’ll see suggested in every single list of Instagram photography tips. It’s that common. However, don’t assume that you’re limited to just Photoshop; there are many apps and websites that can help you edit your social media photos. For example, you might try Afterlight with its many adjustment tools or Snapseed with its creative filters like “drama” and “noir.”

beach bottle with filter

8. Add a White Border

One of the most common suggestions in Instagram photography tips is to put a white border around your photos. Whether they’re slim and stylish or deliberately block-like, they’ll let your audience know that they’re looking at your intended photograph. Nothing was cut or cropped out during the uploading process. This is an especially useful trick if you’re using Instagram to showcase your portfolio as a professional photographer.

9. #HashtagIt

You’ll see this mentioned a lot in tips for Instagram, but it’s cliche for a reason. Not only can hashtags bring more eyes to your work, but they can also help you set the mood or tone of your photo. A snapshot of your cat’s claws might or might not catch attention, but the hashtags #deadlyweapons and #someonesaveme definitely will.

10. Blur Your Background

If you’re shooting with a DSLR, your camera should have adjustable settings for aperture. A high aperture will make your photos blurry in the background but clear in the foreground, giving your shot a crisp and distinguished look that will make it stand out from the crowd. Just remember that high apertures actually have smaller f-stops. For example, f/2 is a higher aperture setting than f/8.

lifeguard at beach

11. Work With What You Have

Instagram offers plenty of filters to use with your uploads, so you may not need advanced Instagram photography tips if simple filters can be used to achieve the same effects. Scroll through Instagram’s list of filters and make note of what’s available. If you can skip the need for hundreds of dollars of photography equipment, more power to you.

12. Set Your Stage

Do you envy the flawless photos of food and lifestyle bloggers as they show off their latest eats on Instagram? Here’s their secret: They stage everything. For example, they might put their bowls and plates on a white poster board to make sure that their background is perfect. Don’t be fooled by the claims of carefree spontaneity from popular bloggers; it’s all a show, and if you use these Instagram photography tips, you can join them on the same level.

13. Get Diagonal

The diagonal method (DM) is very useful if you’re working within the confines of square photography. All you have to do is imagine a diagonal line cutting from one corner of your photo to the other. How many points of interest are along that line? If the answer is “none,” adjust your angle or position until you have something worth looking at along the diagonal line.

diagonal method guide

14. Turn Off Your Flash

Don’t rely on your camera to judge the light levels of a room. It’s a better long-term choice to disable your flash completely and use external flash units that can be controlled by you. From diffusing the bright glare of a window to exposing more detail in a nighttime setting, external flash units are a must-have for the serious shutterbug.

15. Keep a Consistent Profile

This is more in line with general tips for Instagram, but if you’re trying to use social media to drum up your photography business, consistency is key. Make sure that all of your photos offer the same general aesthetic. Nothing should jump out as wrong or out of place when a visitor is scrolling through your feed for the first time. This is the easiest way to establish yourself and your brand, especially if you’re selling your skills as, say, a wedding photographer.


These are just a few Instagram photography tips that can help your photos attract a wider audience. What do you think? Did you learn anything new in this article, or do you have any Instagram tips that we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments!

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