How I Shoot & Edit My Instagram Photos
I’m a photographer, I love photography and I love my trusty DSLR camera (this is the equipment I use). At the same time, I’m also obsessed with iPhone photography, especially for Instagram.
I’ve realized there’s something just so relatable and tangible about smartphone photos which feeds on Instagram’s purpose: connection. Photos taken on an iPhone have a special “I feel like I was there” mood and vibe to them, which Instagram was made for.
More than ever, I think Instagram is favoring the more intimate and raw and real moments versus the shiny perfect professional images (this is my observation). Occasionally I will sprinkle in photos I’ve taken on my big girl camera on my Instagram feed, but lately, I’ve just been really loving the magic of the 7 plus.
It’s also a good reminder that in order to have a successful brand and business, you don’t need to get too fancy on social media. It’s about how you make your people FEEL. So don’t use having no fancy equipment as an excuse to not start.
The reason I want to share this blog post is because one of the questions I get asked the most is how do I edit my photos. I’m not secretive about anything to do with creativity or business. One of my favorite aspects of this business is the teaching and sharing element. I’ve learned so much from other people and my own research and it just feels silly not to share!
How to Take a Good Photo with Your iPhone: the Basics
1.) Find the best natural light
If there’s one thing any good photographer will tell you, it’s that light is everything. Especially when it comes to the iPhone where you have less control, lighting is key. The best light is generally about 1-2 hours after the sunrise and 1-2 hours before sunset.
If you’re inside, find your way to the window, that’s where you’ll get the best light indoors.
Try to avoid taking photos in the middle of the day outside. There’s gonna be some gnarly shadows that are flattering for no one. The only shots that can work this time of day are cute outfits if you’re posed in front of a very clean simple background. Even then, it will look better a couple hours later.
My favorite photo taking weather is when it’s cloudy and overcast. The clouds act as an amazing light diffuser which is super flattering for skin especially. Or if it’s golden hour aka the hour before sunset.
2.) Clean Your Lens
OMGOSH this drives me up the goddamn wall when I see a blurry, dirty looking pic. Your phone goes everywhere with you so naturally, the lens is going to get dirty or fingerprints on it. Before you go to take a photo, always make sure to clean off the lens with your tee shirt or something really soft.
If you’re extra like me, you’ll carry around a microfiber cloth specifically for lenses but that’s a little extra and a t-shirt will get you there most of the time.
3.) Focus & Exposure
With an iPhone, all the settings are automatic so no need to adjust for aperture or shutter speed. The key to getting a properly exposed photo with your iPhone is to make sure you tap on the subject to ensure they are properly exposed and in focus.
I know this sounds kind of obvious to anyone who’s used the iPhone camera but it’s too key to not include. If you’re having someone else take your picture make sure to ask them to get you in focus.
4.) For the best selfies (when you don’t have an instagram husband)
I love this hack. People ask me a lot how I get pics of myself. When he’s around, my amazing fiancé is the best instagram husband-to-be, but most of the time I am home alone.
When that’s the case I use my favorite hack: the self-timer
Use the self-timer on the front-facing camera and prop the phone up on a nearby table at the right hight. You might have to prop it on some books, a water bottle. Get creative.
Make sure to pick your favorite from the burst, or your phone will get SO full so quickly because each self-timer photo takes a 10-shot burst.
I’ve also learned how to not really give a fuck when I’m taking pictures in public. This is a practice and an art. It can be kind of embarrassing to pose with your latte in a crowded street. Sometimes you have the make the judgment call that it isn’t appropriate, but most of the time no one really cares. You know how it goes, the haters will always hate.
And yes, I’ve totally asked strangers to take my photo. Some come out better than others 😉
How I Edit To Create a Cohesive Instagram Feed
1.) Prioritize A Few Colors on Your Feed
The feeds I love following and the ones I see growing are the ones that have a distinct and consistent look. There’s not right or wrong color, the key is to choose the ones you love and stick with them.
I recommend choosing 2-4 colors to use on a regular basis and stay consistent (you’re going to get sick of me saying that, which means I’ve only barely emphasized it enough).
2.) How to choose colors:
What Colors Are You Already Using?
Consider the colors you already use a lot in your brand. Look at your logo and website for some inspiration. If you don’t love the colors associated with your brand maybe that’s a sign you’re ready for a refresh. You want to be able to create a strong color association with your work across platforms and Instagram is a great place to really nail that home.
What is your daily environment like?
If you live in Miami bright vibrant colors will be a breeze. Do you live in New England? Maybe you want a more neutral palate. I use a lot of blues because well, I live on an island.
What colors do you love? aka – what colors won’t you get sick of?
For me, one thing that always stays true is my deep love for green.
If you’re someone who has a wardrobe of neutrals, maybe magenta isn’t going to really suit your instagram feed.
The Apps I use to Edit My Instagram
To make any light/clarity/color adjustments I use snapseed.
Snapseed also has a great tool called selective. You can pinpoint one color or one area on a photo to edit which is amazing. The brush tool is also great for getting rid of any colors you don’t want.
I use VSCO to get a signature filter look.
I recommend you find 1 filter and stick with it. This will help you in a big way to create that consistent cohesive look that you want.
The app is free but I recommend you buy some of the filter packs to get the right look. I love the A’s.
You can also create an editing “recipe” in VSCO so you apply the same effects to every photo. I think this is awesome and will save you so much time.
My Personal Editing Recipe
- Use the J5 filter at +7
- Add contrast +2
- Sharpen +3
- Temperature -1
- Finally, in Instagram use the filter Ludwig at 10-20 %
With every image, I can kind of tweak things differently depending on what I’m working with but that’s just a common example
I also love the A Color Story App and Afterlight apps
My favorite scheduling app: Later
I use Later to schedule my instagram posts which is great because it saves me stress the day of posting. I create the photo and caption ahead of time and you can preview to see how everything flows in your feed.
It’s good to mix of darks and light, busy and simple compositions so everything looks like it flows.
That is how I get a consistent cohesive instagram feed. There are so many tools out there. It can be overwhelming to find a style but know that it’s better to choose something and work with it than sit on the sidelines.
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