Your Instagram feed is a projection of your style, the same way an outfit is. And when something in your feed looks off — one pic that doesn’t fit, for example — it’s like having a stain on your blouse. You might feel like the one rogue detail is wrecking your entire look.
In truth, your outfit probably looks great despite the stain, as your IG feed does. But there’s no shame in wanting to look your best, both online and IRL. So here’s a primer on how to create an amazing Instagram feed — so that your social presence looking as classy and cool as your wardrobe.
Equipment for influential snaps
Let’s start with equipment. You of course need a good camera. The options include:
- Smartphone camera. A new or new-ish smartphone will be equipped with a high-quality camera and smart photography features. iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones are both great options, though the Samsung may have the edge. Google Pixel is a good budget choice if you prefer to save some money.
- DSLR camera: These have a fixed, digital sensor. They excel at autofocus and photos in low-light environments.
- Mirrorless camera: Mirrorless cameras are lighter than DSLRs, because they don’t rely on a mirror to reflect light onto the viewfinder. They have electronic viewfinders that show a digital image of the frame that updates as you adjust settings. Mirrorless cameras deliver excellent image quality.
Obviously, a good smartphone camera will be your cheapest option. Unless you’re taking photos professionally (or plan to), it usually makes sense to spend your money on accessories to support your smartphone camera. A tripod and external lighting are at the top of that list.
Editing social media photos can be a controversial topic. Here’s my philosophy. I’m all for the quick retouch that improves the quality of your images. I feel less supportive of a major overhaul that makes you look like a different person or substantially alters the colors of your outfit.
But you know? Do what feels right for you and authentic for your feed.
The basic editing steps to follow include:
- Cropping: Is your subject framed appropriately and the obvious focal point?
- Color balance: Are the colors popping? If no, try adjusting the contrast and color brightness. You could also play around with the saturation levels for vibrant or muted tones. Pro tip: Write down these adjustments and repeat them on future photos. This contributes to a consistent and cohesive feed.
- Photo elements: It happens to the best of us. You think you’ve snapped the perfect image and then, upon review, you see something weird in the background. And that weird thing unintentionally becomes the photos focal point. Fortunately, you don’t have to throw that image away. You can remove unwanted objects online using free tools, which may spare you from reshoots. I used one of these tools recently to get rid of an ugly industrial building in the background of a photo. It was a lifesaver.
Using natural light
In my own photography experiments, my biggest challenge is always lighting. Here are some tips I’ve learned that can help you use natural lighting to your advantage:
- Golden hours: Shoot during sunrise or sunset for warm, soft lighting.
- Overcast days: Gray skies provide even and diffused lighting. This minimizes hard shadows.
- Direct sunlight: Head outside on a sunny day when you want high-contrast images with well-defined shadows.
- Window light: Open the curtains to take indoor shots with a natural touch.
- Change the lighting source: If the image isn’t coming out the way you’d like, change the direction of the light source. Front-lighting brightens up the subject and back-lighting creates silhouettes and highlights contours. Try tinkering with your exposure settings to amplify these effects.
Choosing a consistent theme for your feed
As I alluded to above, a consistent theme separates good Instagram feeds from great ones. You can apply consistent across these areas:
- Composition: Keep your framing, angles, and subject placements consistent.
- Color coordination: A recurring color palette across all your posts makes for a lovely profile page.
- Content type: Post similar kinds of images, such as portraits, landscapes, or food shots. If your Instagram photos vary dramatically in content, your feed can end up looking messy and cluttered.
- Editing process: As noted, it’s important to follow a consistent editing process. Experiment locally until you find the post-processing style that feels right, then follow the same steps for the pics you upload.
Those steps support visual harmony across your feed. When that visual harmony also reflects your unique style, followers will reward you. People love consistency in photos as much as they love people to be consistent.
Your amazing Instagram feed
It may take some trial-and-error to get your Instagram photo-taking and editing process down pat. (Trust me, I have made lots of IG mistakes, including uploading so-so photos and then later deleting them because they stood out terribly in my feed.)
Know that your best followers will tell you when you’ve hit the right note. Pay attention to engagement and listen to your followers’ reactions. When one image attracts a bunch of attention, review it carefully to understand why it was successful. If possible, incorporate that success factor into future photos.
Stick with that process and your Instagram feed will be as amazing as your wardrobe.