8 tips for improving your instagram photos

i get a decent amount of emails, or just comments, on how i take my instagram pictures, how i edit them and what apps i'm using… so i thought it was time to share what i do and my thoughts on instagram. i take instagram pretty seriously (ya, probably silly). i do share personal stuff, but mostly i feel like it's a giant portfolio for my work, whether that is calligraphy work, photo shoots or sharing a brand i love. so maybe you find it crazy that i'm writing this post… but if it can help one person build something for their business, that is awesome! i'm definitely not an expert, but with so many options, it can be tricky to navigate and build what you want… so take this as advice and adapt to your style and brand!

1. natural lighting. i almost never share pictures that are not taken in natural light. this is the number one rule for great images. make it indirect and make sure you don't have any strange reflections or shadows from things in front of your light source.

2. distracting backgrounds. i tend to stick to specific backgrounds when i'm shooting things at home. white backdrops, marble slabs or wood. not only does it keep your images consistent, but it always gives you a really clean background to build your image on.

3. interesting content. i used to take pictures of everything… like a new pencil. and it was boring. add in things like some fresh flowers you might have on your desk, a notebook, a pair of scissors. things that will make your image more interesting, even if the focus is just your new pencil.

4. never zoom. crop, don't zoom. it just never ends well;) and on an opposite note, take a step back from what you are taking a picture of and leave some white space in your image. you don't want your followers guessing what that thing is in your picture because you are too close!

5. brighten and go easy on the filters. i brighten every. single. pic. sometimes i adjust on top of that, but you shouldn't need to do a ton of work if you are shooting in natural light. and if you are going to pick a filter, i'd stay away from the ones on instagram. especially the dark/vintage looking filters. those take away so much of the contrast from your images, it's just ruining all that hard work you did taking them! and always adjust, you can change the level of filters you are using, not every photo will need the same amount.

6. download external apps like afterlight. afterlight is all i use, you can tweak the lighting, the color, the contrast, etc. and it has so many good but subtle filters i would recommend.

7. go easy on the hashtags + tagging. maybe it's a pet peeve, but when comments are long and filled with brands/people tagged and 100 hashtags, i get bored trying to decode what the actual comment is on the picture. i'd say 3 hashtags tops, if you need to add more, do it in a new comment that will hopefully get pushed out of sight by your followers comments.

8. try different angles. i'd say for one instagram photo i take 10-20. i edit about 3 or 4. then go back and decide which i get most excited about seeing, which fills out that square better, and which i find the most interesting. it's really bizarre how moving something 1" or switching the hand your holding an item in can totally change a picture!

the final image!

i hope these helped you out a bit! i'd love to hear what you do when sharing on instagram, leave your tips and favorite apps in the comments!

ps. if you're in so cal, i am co-hosting a really fun new workshop! i teamed with with beautiful savage flowers to put on a floral and styling workshop. check it out here and come learn how to make gorgeous arrangements, then styling with moi!

[ first 2 images by jessica m wood photography ]