Instagram Photography 101

Instagram can seem a little daunting to a new user, especially when you are using it to market your brand. Fortunately, instagram photography is not rocket science, and you don’t need a degree in marketing to do a good job utilizing instagram for your business.

First of all, before anything, you must understand that utilizing social media marketing is different than other forms of marketing in terms of your goals. You are not looking to initially drive sales or leads, as you are with many paid forms of advertising. You are looking to increase the awareness of your brand, and establish your brand’s identity through photography.

Instagram Photography

Using clean, beautiful photos that clearly convey your brands image should be your number one goal when getting started with instagram. Instagram is a image driven platform, and if you don’t have beautiful images, you aren’t going to stand out.  Not a professional photographer? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be.

Decide on how you want to portray your brand.

Instagram is all about telling your brands story through images, so your images need to convey that individually, and as a whole when you look at your profile. Spend some time looking around and find instagram accounts that you would like to try and emulate. Note the styles they use, the colors and filters they select for their images. This is all important to be aware of when you are taking photos for your brand.

Instagram Profile Overview
Make your profile work for you.

Always be on the lookout for a good image.

Just because you’re not working, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be keeping your eye out for a good instagram photo. There are plenty of times where I’ve snagged a good image because I had the frame of mind to look for it. Almost all of us have a phone with a camera more capable than most dslr’s from ten years ago, so you don’t have any excuses to why you didn’t get a shot.

Instagram Photography Oregon Coast
Not a work day, but doesn’t mean you can’t get the shot.

Crop out the chaos.

Good instagram photographers show their viewers what they want to show. Most of the time, a photograph doesn’t show the whole picture. Keep this in mind. Some of the best shots I’ve ever taken show only a small slice of the whole pie. The photo below of the Japanese Gardens in Portland conveys a sense of peacefulness and calming.  The truth behind the image however couldn’t be further from that. In fact, I had to battle through hordes of tourists and carefully frame my shot in order to get all the people out of the image. The reality of the situation around this image wasn’t calm or peaceful, it was total chaos.

Instagram Photography Portland Oregon
I took this photo while surrounded by way too many people, all jostling for position and trying to walk around me on a narrow path, however I was able to frame everyone out of the photo to get the feel I was after.

Learn & Use Instagram’s Editing Features

Once you select a photo you want to use, instagram gives you tons of options beyond just filters to manipulate your photos. Play around with these tools, and use them to your advantage. Don’t go overboard, but tools like brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, and tilt shift can go a long way to make a good photo great. Is that perfect sunset shot you took look a little off kilter? No worries, just adjust it before posting and straighten out that horizon line.

Instagram Photography Editing
Instagram has many great built in editing tools, make sure to play around with them and use as needed.

Become An Amature Photographer

Study up on some basic photography principles. Learning the rule of thirds, depth of field, framing techniques, lighting and proper white balance will all drastically improve your photos. A good photographer tends to be a good instagram photographer. Seek out and follow professional photographers on instagram, and take notes of their photos. If they are making money off their images, there’s a reason for it. Also, knowing what your camera can and can’t do will keep you on track.

Instagram Macro Photography
Playing with your phone’s camera and utilizing it’s features is important in being successful with instagram. This photo was taken to test out the Google Pixel’s “Lens Blur” mode, which allows the Pixel to portray depth of field in the photograph.

When in doubt, ask your network of friends or community what they think. Seek out advice from more experienced users or photographers, and be open to criticism. If you would like to learn more,  contact us and we can schedule a private session to help you get the most out of instagram!

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