We all want more Instagram followers, right? OK, well, even if you aren't someone who's obsessed with that count going up, simple Instagram tips can always come in handy; your friends and family might still love you if your feed is filled with blurry pictures, but they probably won't complain about pretty photos either.
If you can't tell, I really like Instagram. Yeah, maybe sometimes I take it a little too seriously. I realize that Instagram is not life and death. Ebbing numbers of followers do not dictate my happiness. But as someone who is passionate about aesthetics and a long-time lover of photography, Instagram is my daily creative boost. And if you're more than just a casual user of the app, then you probably understand exactly what I mean.
Some people use Instagram for a fun, once-in-a-while way to post photos of their friends, families, food, or self, and that's perfectly fine. I enjoy following those people as well. But if you are in an artistic or creative field, then you've probably already seen the power of a intricately curated Instagram feed. As a creative person with a love for pretty things, it's impossible for me not to drool a little at those kinds of accounts. I can tell that whoever is taking those photos, editing, and posting them is really thinking about the whole process. They're really thinking about the end result and whether or not the photo fits in with their brand as a writer or photographer or student — and I can respect and appreciate that.
My personal Instagram feed isn't perfect. There are more than a few shameless selfies. There is the occasional photo that I know doesn't fit into the overall aesthetic, but I post it anyway. Regardless, I enjoy curating it. I love thinking about maintaing a bright, happy color scheme and trying to aim for generally cohesive photos. But before I got obsessive about planning or staging Instagram photos, I was just another person posting photos blurry photos of my daily meals. And while I still post the same types of photos, really, I've learned a few tips and tricks along the way that are quick, easy ways to optimize your feed.
1. Look At Your Feed As A Whole
When you post something, try to think about how it's going to fit into your feed a a whole. If your whole feed is minimalistic, then maybe try to avoid posting a SUPER busy photo. If most of your photos are bright and airy, a super dark photo may look a little out of place. It seems silly, but it really makes a difference. It also helps your photos become more recognizable to people mindlessly scrolling through their IG feed. One of my favorite people to follow is Amy Stone — check out her feed for more inspiration on how to expertly curate your own account.
For me, I try to make sure what I'm posting is always cool (as opposed to warm), bright, and punctuated with pops of bright color.
2. LIGHT. IS. EVERYTHING.
Like any photo, light is important. Always aim for natural light, and don't try to force a photo that's been taken at night if you can take the same photo in the morning when the sun is out. I can't emphasize the importance of light enough. If you just HAVE to post a photo, and you want to make sure the light looks a little cooler (AKA less yellow), try using an app like FaceTune to use swatches to tone down the yellow light and make it look a little brighter.
Another tip? Don't be afraid to wait until a different time of day when light is better. Shadowy, harsh light and soft, dusk light can make a HUGE difference.
3. Backgrounds Are Important, Too
If you want to take a photo of your latte or new lipstick, sometimes the background is just as important as the item itself. If the surface is busy, shadowy, or doesn't fit into your overall IG color scheme, the photo likely just isn't going to work as well. For example, in my apartment, I only have dark surfaces that don't really fit into my goal of bright, airy photos. SO, I came up with a solution...
4. Buy A Poster Board
POSTER BOARD = instantly decluttered background. It sounds silly, but not everyone has a white marble table lying around their apartment, OK? For only 97 cents, you have an instant, easy way to make your photos brighter (or darker, if you prefer), cleaner, and makes whatever you're showcasing pop that much more.
Use an app like FaceTune to find a tone that matches the poster board to blur out any other details in the photo that are distracting.
5. Turn Off Push Notifications
This is a little different than the previous tips, but I find that it's super helpful for making sure you're really just focusing on posting what YOU like and not getting too caught up in likes or followers. Simply post a photo you love and are proud of, and forget about it for a while. No need to be constantly distracted with a constant influx of likes and follows or worried about a lack there of.
6. Think About Balance In Photos
Balance is important in most aspects of life... including Instagram photos. If you are into photography at all, you'll understand this.
7. Always Straighten Your Photo
This is especially important if you're posting photos of skylines or shelves. Use the grid that Instagram provides to make sure whatever you're posting isn't slanted in relation to the bottom of the IG photo. It can be distracting if things are slanted when they should be even.
8. Edit Out Distracting Details
If you have a photo you really love, but there's something in the background that makes it a little too crowded or unbalanced, don't be afraid to edit it out with an app like FaceTune. Even taking out small details (see my mirror pic below) can make a big difference. It's also a great way to avoid shadows which, by the way, are the quickest way to ruin a perfectly nice photo. Ideally, this photo below would have been straightened out (see above), but I couldn't fit my whole outfit in the photo. #IGProblems.
9. Don't Force A Photo
If you aren't feeling it, don't post it. If you can't decide if it works or you just can't edit it in a way that you like, just let it go. There's always going to be another cool shot. Odds are if you DO try to force something into your feed, it won't really work in the entire scheme of things and you'll end up regretting it or deleting it.
10. Remember That It's JUST INSTAGRAM
It's FUN to curate an Instagram feed that fits in with your own personal brand. It's an amazing way to showcase what you love and are passionate about. It really is one of the best creative tools out there, but like I said in the beginning — it's just an app. On your phone. Followers aren't everything. No one really cares if you do or don't post a selfie. And the world isn't going to end if you post another photo of your coffee. So have fun with it, be creative, and use it as an opportunity to debut your creative sensibilities. Simple as that.
Images: Olivia Muenter