How I do it: my Instagram pictures
I started this whole Instagram thing out of challenge, a challenge to myself. I used to think that I couldn’t take good enough pictures and couldn’t write. It turned out I couldn’t indeed. However there was good news too: it was possible to get better in that bit by bit. Now, roughly half a year later, I can definitely say that practice is the main condition of making good pictures. Besides, there are a couple of other tricks I find useful in creating an eye-catching image, both when taking a picture and when editing it.
The question I hear first regarding my pictures is the camera I use. So far, my iPhone 6S is my choice for Instagram. Otherwise it would take me too much time to transfer pictures from my computer to the phone every day just for this purpose (however, when it comes to making pictures outside of Instagram I prefer my Nikon but it’s a different story).
The first point is the light. Probably, every guide to photography starts with the proper lighting tips, and yet many ignore this factor. It doesn’t have to be professional studio light; you can just open your curtains and take pictures mainly at daylight, not too far from the light source. In my experience, the cloudy sky provides the best diffused daylight (because direct sunlight creates harsh contrasts).
One of my favorite tricks is using the negative space. I think we tend to underestimate what non-object can actually tell us, what it can emphasize. It may accentuate the object of your attention, it can isolate one particular event from the space surrounding it, or it may suggest an open end to the story you’re telling.
Geometry can give an interesting twist to your image. Sometimes if you have the chance to plan out your picture, you might like creating a symmetric (or intentionally asymmetric) composition. Such kinds of pictures are the one that usually draw one’s attention because it’s not common for our daily life. However I don’t like overusing this trick, too much order in things is not my style.
One more issue to consider, a more technical one, is positioning your object. As well as proper lighting and negative space, it can help you put the accents where you want them. The easiest way is to apply the rule of thirds. This basically means that first you divide the frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, and then you position your object on one of the lines/ in one of the crosses created by those lines. This can also be applied to positioning the horizon, which would then divide the ground and the sky on the one-third line. I don’t always follow this rule of thirds but it can often create a more powerful image because you place the object of interest at the spot where the viewer’s eye will naturally be drawn to.
Talking about geometry and positing the object, I should probably also mention positioning the camera. I do it either intentionally angled or I am very strict about taking the picture straight from above/ front/ below.
To extend the rule above, it’s advisable that the person in the picture looks at the open end of the image. For example, if someone is standing in the right bottom corner of the picture, it looks displaced if he is looking at the same corner or at the right side. It feels to the viewer as if that person’s face is against a wall.
To finish this list, I want to share my biggest “secret”. I believe every picture should tell a story. It can be very subtle and only suggestive; it can be even a story of silence. However there must be always something you’re willing to convey to the person who is looking at it. So when you see some scene, you should ask yourself what your story is, and this might change the whole perspective of your photo.
To me, good processing of a picture means half of its success. Instagram did a great job offering people a fast and easy way to edit their real life however it has also taken away from the individual style and generally limited the editing options. Therefore, I never use built-in filters there.
After having tried out multiple apps on my phone, I ended up using VSCO. In there, I use the filters they offer plus I edit other settings manually. The filters I mostly use are A4-A10 and HB1-HB2. I use different one because the light and colors of the original pictures differ. Also, even using filters I look at how much of it to apply to a particular image, if any.
Afterwards, I get to other settings. There I usually start by cropping and rotating the image (according to my tips from the previous section). Then I adjust the exposure, contrast, temperature, saturation, shadows and highlights, tint, etc.
If you are new to the app, you could first try playing around with it like I describe above. You could save multiple edited versions for yourself to compare and pick your top choice. Once you have done that with one or two images, you could apply the same setting (they can be copied in the app) to other pictures you’ve made. You will see some magic happening: you start seeing your style. Then you can adjust some of the settings/ filters of separate images so that they get even more consistent, and – voila! – your first set of pictures is Instagram ready.
There is still so much more I would love to improve about my photographs. However most of all I enjoy this process and seeing my skills grow. This thought that I can get better in something I am not able to do yet inspires me to start doing things I haven’t done before. So if you are now where I was half a year ago, I can assure you that you are able to do much more that you think, you just need to keep on practicing and observing.
In the pictures, all of our striped outfits are Petit Bateau. The mountain throw and Aveline’s grey, white and yellow strip bodysuits are BabyMORI. The bunny suit and the blue romper are Style Child. The grey and blush bloomers are Moobles & Toobles. My watch is CLUSE, my white culottes are COS and my white shirt dress is & Other Stories.