Do you ever see feeds that look perfectly put together and you wonder how they got so many photos to look so cohesive and well-planned? So did we. I have been working on an Instagram strategy for SumAll and was curious what the ingredients to those successful Instagram accounts were.
Adding tons of hashtags and other Instagram black magic as I like to call it, is going to be pointless if you don’t take good pictures. That has been proven time and time again across Instagram. The channels that create better content always perform better on this visual platform. For this reason, we wanted to chat with some social media managers to see what their secret sauce is to master this platform.
Shawn from Clearlink, Jessie from Men in Kilts, and Marie of OPPO shared their best tips with us on styling, shooting, and editing their photos.
Watch out for the shadows.
Bright, colorful, and vibrant photos perform the best. Avoid low-light area and areas that cause your subject to have heavy shadows.
Edit and edit some more.
VSCOcam is a great app for editing photos on the fly. Stay away from their preset filters and use their editing tool to make your photos more vibrant and appealing. Camera phone photos lack rich color, so Shawn Ryan of Clearlink uses the app to increase the saturation to bring out brighter hues in his photos.
You can also sharpen the photo to add contrast between the subject and background. There are multiple adjustments that you can make to increase brightness, highlights, shadows, and even skin tone. “After I make all my adjustments, I ask myself, ‘Does this photo look natural? Why?’ Because natural looking photos are future proof.” says Shawn.
Tell a story.
“For Instagram, the styling of the photo is all about telling a story. A picture is worth a thousand words, but an edited photo can tell you which words.” says Jesse Finkle of Men in Kilts. “The best advice I have for styling an Instagram photo is to make it look real. No one wants to see photos that are all saturated or hyper-real with the sharpness cranked up. Take your time editing the photo to make it appear authentic. The best photo editing in the world is done when you can’t tell it’s there.”
Marie Tatibouet, the social media manager at mobile company OPPO agreed. “The photo should look good, but not fake. Whilst posting photos from your personal account, changing filters etc. is fine, but making a lot of alterations when posting for a brand is a big no-no.”
Remember to give them a glimpse of lifestyle.
Marie continued, “People follow you because they want to do what you do, know what you know, see what you see.” Instagram was created so people throughout the world could speak the same language: pictures, smiles, love, life – all things visual. It is a great opportunity to show others what’s happening in your local community and in your life.
When we collected these responses, apps like SquareReady and Afterlight were mention to ensure that your pictures remain square even if the proportions are off. In true social media fashion, that has already changed.
Instagram announced Thursday that you can adjust the photo orientation to landscape or portrait photos, moving past the constraints of the square. No more awkward white space to ensure your full picture fits. Within your profile grid, however, images will still be squared.
Whether a portrait, landscape, or a square, these tips are still great in helping you take and edit better pictures.
Updated November 22, 2017.