Who doesn’t want tips for better Instagram photos? I love Instagram and I would have to say it is one of the most frequently used apps on my phone. Being the visual person that I am, its not hard to see why.

When I first started using it, I just shared anything and everything and threw any Instagram filter over the top (I had photos with bad angles, bad lighting and boring subjects) but about 18 months ago I sat down and really looked at what I was sharing and how I could do it better. Now I am a little more strategic with what I share, how I photograph it and how I edit with my phone which most of my Instagram account is made up of. This blog post isn’t about getting more followers or likes but about the process of taking a better photo with your phone to share on Instagram, so let’s get started!



Instagram is built for the square format photograph. I know a lot of people share bordered horizontal or vertical images but all of my photos I take with my phone are generally intended for Instagram so I just take the photo as a square image or 1:1 ratio. If you shoot with your phone camera on its regular cropping (i.e., 4:3 ratio), you then have to crop the image for the square format and can lose important information in the photo. Do it right the first time in the format you want.

For that matter, ensure you take the photograph using your regular phone camera app (ie, not in Instagram) and give your camera lens a light wipe to make sure its not dirty or smudgy. I see so many people post photos that look hazy and could easily be solved with a quick wipe.

I’m a fan of either a slightly above point of view angle for close ups of people or things, head on for wider shots or a shot direct from above for food and objects, as I find these most appealing to my eye. Be consistent with your angles and try to keep your horizon level in photos (the horizon is the line that runs horizontally in your photo such as the beach or water, a road, or a wall). If you don’t take the photo with a level horizon you can easily adjust it with Instagram.


The rule of thirds is a basic rule of thumb in photography that very much applies to your phone camera. The idea is that an image is divided into 9 equal parts through a grid of 2 equally spaced vertical lines and 2 equally spaced horizontal lines. With this concept, when you take a photograph you try to put points of interest (where you want the viewers eye to be drawn to) at one of the 4 points where the lines intersect or along the lines themselves. On an iPhone you can turn on the grid at Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid


This one seems simple but rather than using the zoom on your camera, move your feet to get closer to your subject. You will get a better angle and the resolution will be much better! This is something I also use when using my “real” camera where I don’t use zoom lenses but instead move myself to closer or wider. Do your best to crop an image in the camera itself but if you have to crop, use the crop feature after rather than the zoom feature on your phone while taking the photo.

Lighting is so important to a good Instagram photo – so much so that if the lighting is bad I just won’t share an image at all or I will wait until a better time for better light. For example, I could see this instagram picture in my mind the minute I saw the view of the pool from our hotel room. However when we arrived it was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to stream through the window and caused a reflection (left image). Instead I took the photo the following morning (centre image) when the sun was behind the hotel and then cropped the image in to get rid of the construction behind the pool and edited it before uploading (right image). Much more pleasing!


Quite often your camera will decide on the exposure it will use for the photo you want to take too. Before you take the photo you can override this to use manual exposure by tapping on the area that will be the focus and the camera will adjust the exposure and lighten the image. If this isn’t correct use the slide to the right of the sun icon on your viewer to go up or down in exposure to get what you want. You can see a bit more about this functionality here.

There are so many apps that you can use to edit and this is where you can give your images a bit of a pop and pizazz. At the end of the day I don’t want to spend 30 minutes editing an image to perfection for Instagram. This is a snap shot of my day and I want to keep it easy so my preferred app is PicTapGo. I love it because you can adjust the intensity of a filter and then you can save a recipe to use quickly in the future. My preferred filters are Lights On, Warm It Up, Crispity, + Contrast, Awake and Air. I don’t use all of them every time but often a combination of 2-3 filters. When I upload it to Instagram I don’t use any other filters. PicTapGo also has a cropping and levelling function within the program which makes things super simple rather than using another program (below is a before and after using Pic Tap Go)


I hope these tips help and if you have any other tips I’d love to hear them!

Mar 16, 2015

6 tips for better Instagram photos