Everyone dreams of those perfect IG photos that get hundreds or thousands of likes. But what goes into the photo to make it popular? There are a few key factors to creating and publishing great photos. I have spent many hours taking pictures of everything under the sun, editing, not editing, posting and deleting, and IG stalking to come up with a general idea of how to take amazing photos. I have narrowed it down to 4 simple but effective elements.
If my teacher from high school photography class taught me anything, it would be the importance of composition in a photo. Some important elements I’ve learned are the rule of thirds, patterns and textures, foreground, middle ground, background, and leading line. Rule of thirds is probably the one I use the most. Imagine your picture is divided up into a 3×3 grid, you will want to place your subject away from the center column and more towards the left or right of it. This is a great concept if you understand balance. Leading lines is my other go-to. The lines help draw your attention all over the photo, making sure every little detail gets seen. Last but not least, adding depth by having something or someone in the foreground, middle ground, and background. It forces the person examining the photo to look all over, kind of like leading lines, but gives you more of a diverse subject because you could have a dog on the shoreline with a boat behind him and a house on the other side of the lake.
They can either be very subtle or extremely dramatic. I prefer my pictures to look warmer, as if it was taken during the golden hour. However, if my picture doesn’t fit being warmer I’d like it to be very crisp and full of contrast or soft and vintage. (Contrast basically means very light whites all the way to super dark blacks.) Think sunset on a beach, black and white photo of trees and their shadows, or a Polaroid picture in the 80’s. My favorite Instagram filters are Reyes, Inkwell, and Nashville. They almost always fit just right on my pictures. Just remember that sometimes your photo looks perfect without a filter and you don’t have to add one if it’s not necessary. You don’t want to overdo it and have it turn out cheesy.
Ahhh, my beloved photos apps. They can make editing pictures such a quick and painless task. I know what you’re thinking, no, I’m not talking about filters again. This time I’m talking about being able to actually change the photo however you want. For example, lightening shadows or darkening highlights, sharpening the subject, or using a tilt shift to add depth. Basically, putting some extra TLC into your photo. Some of my favorite go to editing helpers are VSCO Cam, Airbrush, Whitagram, Instagram (obviously), Pic Collage, and Litely. If you download those you will be set for life. They have amazing filters and other customizable controls and even if you upgrade on the free ones it’s not expensive at all! Trust me, I am very cheap when it comes to apps but the couple I have paid $5-10 for have proved to be more than worth it. Think about it, that perfect selfie that would look so much better if only you could whiten your teeth a little or get rid of that pimple that stands out like a sore thumb.
Try to find one or two lines that are either completely vertical or horizontal. This makes it easy to line them up and straighten out the picture. I can’t tell you how much it drives me nuts to see pictures that are crooked when they were perfect in every other aspect. Also, if there is something in the picture that doesn’t add to it then crop it out. You need to have symmetry and a good balance of subject to positive and negative space. Balance is everything when it comes to what to crop. You can use cropping to change a photo from one main subject to another, get rid of unsightly objects, or completely change the vibe of your photo. (Like turning a half-face selfie sideways to make it more dramatic.)
There you have it! My 4 must have elements to help you take amazing Instagram photos. I hope this has helped you step your game up and beautify your feed! Just try to keep these concepts in your head the next time you’re taking or editing and you will see a huge difference in creativity and photo popularity.