How to snap jaw-dropping Instagram photos

If you want to improve your social presence, the first order of business is usually stepping up your Instagram game. According to Forbes, Instagram is the top social network for engagement, and has been for a while now. Continue reading  to learn how to take better photos and curate an enviable feed. These tricks of the trade are accessible to everyone - not just professional photographers (with thousands of dollars of photo equipment) and an MBA in Photoshop. Here are a few foolproof tips to start implementing today, that can make a huge difference. Get your content to look great - ASAP. Grab your iPhone and put these tools to the test! 

TIP #1 - FIND AN INSTA-WORTHY BACKGROUND

The type of background you choose is sometimes just as important as the subject of your shot, and it shouldn’t ever take away from what you want to share. I suggest a simple, clean background: a flat wall, marble or wood, a bedspread, or an outfit detail. 

TIP #2 - LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING

The best kind of light to capture your subject in a flattering way (whether it's a person or an object) is natural light. Natural, even lighting can totally change your photo, and it helps you capture clear and focused shots. Set up near the window and try not to cast a shadow over your subject. 

TIP #3 - CLEAN YOUR LENS!

You probably already know this, but it's easy to forget. We rarely keep notice how much our phones are being touched. Dirt, dust, oils, or lotions can easily be smudged onto the lens and end up the culprit for blurry photos. Be sure to wipe off the lens with a soft cloth. You can also invest in a high-quality clip-on lens for your phone for pretty cheap. Here's my favorite on Amazon Prime for less than twenty bucks.

TIP #4 - UTILIZE SQUARE MODE

Instagram photos display in square mode, so capturing your work in square mode will help you to include everything you want featured in your feed, and will also help you visualize what your picture will truly look like as it scrolls across your followers feeds and as they browse your page. Additionally, cropping a photo from the original to a much smaller image can sometimes make it look blurry or pixelated - and if you're already shooting in square, no cropping is necessary.

TIP #5 - DON’T TAKE YOUR PHOTOS WITH THE INSTAGRAM APP

When you snap your photo you want have options, so using your phone's camera (not the Instagram app's) is the best way to ensure you’re able to take more than one picture.

TIP #6 - USE A STEADY HAND

The smallest movement can create a super blurry shot, which can prevent your work from standing out. Try your best to have a steady hand. You can even use the "Burst" method to take a bunch of photos at once and choose the best one. If you don't know about Burst, type it into the YouTube search bar for a How-To. I usually take at least fifteen photos of a subject and then choose my favorite. Sounds like a lot, but you can always delete the extras later!

TIP #7 - INVEST IN A GOOD EDITING APP

When I say "invest", I'm not telling you to scour the App Store for the most expensive one. I mean invest your time - learn the ins and outs of your app of choice and practice all of the tools and modes it has to offer! Watch a few YouTube videos and become comfortable in your process. A little brightening, saturation or contrast changes, cropping, and sharpening can make a "blah" photo look totally amazing. A couple of my personal favorite photo editing apps are Aviary and VSCO.

Happy snapping! 

Emma DeVitoComment
Tricks to master Instagram’s new feature: Stories

First of all, what the heck are they?

Instagram stories are up to 10 second videos or 4 second images strung together to create personal narratives that last for a 24-hour period (kind of like Snapchat stories). Apply filters, edit details, and, unlike normal Instagram photos, add text and/or drawings to images. So what's the big deal?

With Insta-stories, we can become more intimate with our followers and deliver a more "organic" or "candid" peek into our lives. More importantly, from an engagement standpoint, stories can track and list viewers - making it easier to see who is really paying attention to your social presence.

Stories can also add a little extra oomph to your regular posts. They can help boost your impressions, too. Located at the top of the Instagram feed, stories increase your visibility (and create more clicks) - something all brands and public figures want! Check out my 5 tips below to help keep your followers coming back for more.

TIP #1 - VARYING CONTENT

The truth is that followers do not want to see the same thing again and again. Variety is the spice of life - especially on social media. Imagine if your favorite TV series had the same story every episode. Not. Cool. The same goes for your Instagram stories. 

TIP #2 - ALTERNATE IMAGES AND VIDEOS

Stories don’t have to be only video - try adding in still images for emphasis of a point, or to make something easily readable. But make it interesting - incorporate color or moving emojis to grab attention (without covering up important text). Alternating mediums keeps viewers interested, informed, and entertained. Filmmakers often use establishing shots among action and dialogue, and so should your Instagram story. A beautiful still image or a simple colored background with text are both a great way to introduce your story. Use text to explain what's happening, add instructions to a craft project, or prompt a user to “swipe up”. This is important! By prompting users to swipe up, you can add access to things like web links, promo codes, or services.

TIP #3 - ADD TEXT

Adding some text can create some drama in your stories. Want to draw attention to a detail in your video? Add an arrow or use a circle. Need to share a quote? Add colorful text. Text is a great promotional tool. With text, you can draw attention to a particular product or provide an URL to purchase it.

TIP #4 - CRAFT A COHESIVE STORY

Yes, your content should vary day to day, but each story should stick to a specific theme. This helps add clarity to the overall identity of your business, brand, or narrative. Just like novels, Instagram stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Viewers like and appreciate simplicity and a traceable plot, so don’t leave out the conclusion of your story. If you are sharing Valentine's Day crafts, don’t suddenly switch to a different image about interior design - stick with your theme for that day. Your story is a great way to offer more instruction and go further than a still image. It can also expand your narrative to include background info or add a touch of personality. A cohesive story is great for step-by-step tutorials or product test drives.

TIP #5 - TAKE YOUR FOLLOWERS BEHIND-THE-SCENES

Ever wonder what it’s like to be backstage at a concert? Or on set at your fave movie? Stories can be used as the perfect opportunity can take your followers behind the velvet curtain. Peeks BTS are a great way to engage viewers. "Exclusive" content is  exciting and can also make your viewers feel extra special. Indoor cycling company Peloton does an excellent job using behind-the-scenes stories. In addition to advertising their products, Peloton often brings followers into their photo-shoots, or captures instructors hanging with each other on a day-to-day basis. 

Feel free to share this blog with someone you know who'd like to step up their story game! Just click the button below. 

Emma DeVitoComment