How to Elevate Your Instagram with Professional Photos. Experts Reveal their Advice

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With more brands and professionals using Instagram every day, it’s becoming increasingly important to be not only present but engaging with your content on the app. As a photo-sharing app, it makes sense that the best way to execute this would be to increase the quantity of your output for consumption. However here we take a look at four ways to improve the quality of the photos you take on your smartphone, in order to positively impact your Instagram presence.

1. Focus on your focus

Unless you’re taking a photo of a specific pattern or a particularly striking contrast that requires the entire frame, you’ll likely be focused on one specific subject for your photo. Take the time to focus on that subject in detail and make sure you’re getting the shot from the best possible angle and perspective (covered later). As a general guide, have your subject fill one third of the frame and position yourself so that the rest of the shot is filled with negative space. This will help the viewer focus on your subject naturally.

Modern smartphone cameras generally automatically focus on the subject found at the forefront of the frame, though this can be altered easily. Tapping the area of the screen where your subject is should bring it into focus so that you can concentrate on keeping the framing optimal.

2. Using angles and perspective

Look for interesting lines in order to draw the viewer in to your shot. Instagram photography star Neil Andrews speaks about how you can use lines to direct the viewer’s gaze into the route of the story you are trying to tell through imagery.

Neil’s top three tips for angle and perspective photography involve quantity, camera position and using your environment. See the full interview on angles and perspectives.

– The more shots you take means the more likely you are to find one that really sticks out to you when you look back at them.

– Position your camera by changing your stance; stand in the centre, stand to the side, get symmetry or try asymmetry. Shoot from lots of different angles, for example if you turn the phone upside down, the camera can be nearer the floor and you can get a much lower angle.

– Get the most out of your environment; look at what’s in your foreground and what’s accessible in the background, use walls and steps to get different heights and angles.

3. Perfect your portraits

Portraits can be one of the most thought-provoking types of photos, so if you’re going to be bold enough to have some (maybe not even of yourself) on your Instagram, you’ll want to make sure they’re top quality. You want to try and encapsulate a mood via an expression, and the background has a huge impact on the outcome. Portrait photographer Vicky Grout, who’s shots have featured on the covers of NME and Fader magazines, tells us that the location of the background must be interesting, without being too visually polluted. Besides this, her top tips to get started in the skill of portraits are as follows:

– Get to a stage where you’re shooting fully manually. You don’t have to right at the beginning, but that should be the aim.

– Practise on your friends. The more you practise, the more you’ll get to know your personal style and learn to embrace it.

– Look for inspiration from other people’s work. Don’t compare yourself with them, but just look at things you like and would like to try yourself.

4. Learn your lighting

Lighting is the key to a perfect photo, as urban photography expert Bal Bhatla (a.k.a. Mr Whisper) who’s worked for the likes of Audi and Star Wars, explains in this interview. Specialising in low light, Bal says that low-light settings on more modern handsets has really made night-time shooting accessible for amateur and professional photographers alike.

Bal shares his top three tips for low light photography:

– Even at night-time, you need to find a source of light. It could be a streetlamp, a lit shop front, or even the reflection in a puddle. That will give you an interesting image.

– If you’re interested in creating a light trail effect, invest in a tripod for your smartphone. It’ll make all the difference in nailing your shot.

– Make the most of your smartphone functions that help with low-light photography. You might be able to alter things like ISO and shutter speed, so you’ll have more options for capturing what you want.

For more tips on how to make the most out of your smartphone camera, check out the O2 sessions hub.