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Worth a Thousand Words: Taking the Perfect Picture for Instagram

Instagram is all the rage and taking the perfect picture is more important than ever! We’ve all seen those profiles that make curating a stunning feed look effortless, flush with beautiful pictures that make you go ‘wow’ like Owen Wilson in every movie ever.

The truth is though….that those ‘effortless’ pictures often have a lot of effort behind them –  not even counting any time a graphic artist might have spent on them!

Taking a great Instagram picture is a skill that takes practice. But, we have scooped up a few insider tips and tricks that will help you up your Insta fame by improving your picture-taking game!


One of the most important things to keep in mind for any picture is lighting!

Finding the right lighting, or just paying attention to lighting in general, will dramatically improve your photography skills. Overexposure and underexposure can ruin an otherwise great shot, and it’s a little heartbreaking to browse through your gallery to discover that a shoot was worthless.

A little prep can be a lifesaver! Dawn and dusk are fantastic for soft lighting, making them great for selfies or pictures with light contrasts, whereas the golden hour offers incredible backlit opportunities from the setting sun, allowing you to snap some mind-blowing pictures.

Paying attention to the weather is another thing you should do; cloudy skies offer a natural light diffuser and create soft shadows outside of dawn and dusk, and other weather patterns can create some really unique and interesting pictures. Getting creative with framing a shot through a pane of water-droplet covered glass on a rainy day can make for a breathtaking image.

One important rule is to stick to natural lighting as much as you can! Avoid artificial lights that add yellow tinges or harsh fluorescents that wash out your complexion. Straying away from direct sunlight is a good idea too unless the sharp relief that lighting causes are what you are going for in a dramatic picture.


Framing your shot is just as important as paying attention to the lighting!

Composition is key, and a well-composed shot draws the eye to the subject. You can be a little daring with your shots, especially if your Instagram has an unconventional or Avant Garde theme, but even then you need to keep the Rule of Thirds in mind – even if it is just a guideline.

The Rule of Thirds is when your shot is gridded into six squares. Aligning the horizon of your shot with one of the horizontal lines is a key way to create a balanced image. Most phones have the option to overlay a grid to your screen while taking a photo – this is really good for helping you centre subjects on backgrounds with no defined horizon too.

One final key thing to pay attention to when composing your shot is the perspective of the shot itself. Different angles and distances between your camera (or phone) and the subject can create all sorts of amazing shots of the same subject. A close-up picture shows intimacy between the camera and the subject, whereas a far off shot taken from a distance tells a whole other story entirely.

Spur of the moment shots can be well-composed once this stuff becomes second nature!


Fiddling with your phone’s camera settings can save you time and make a huge difference to the quality of your Instagram pictures!

We’ve already covered one setting that can assist with composing a great shot (turning on grid lines), but there are a few other settings worth knowing too!

First off, most of Instagram’s pictures are in a square format. Your phone automatically has rectangular ratios, and by adjusting this to a 1:1 ratio is a quick way to adjust how your shots appear on your phone – you can more accurately frame a picture to Instagram dimensions.

Turn flash off. Yes, it’s that simple. Avoid flash as much as you can and stick with natural or diffused light.

Finally, turning HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a smart idea. Instagram loves minimalist, aesthetic pictures more than super busy ones with lots of detail – however, if your Instagram’s theme banks on detail filled shots, then skip this advice! Keeping this HDR off will tone down the detail of your shots and prevent them from becoming oversaturated with noise.

There is a good reason why a picture is worth a thousand words. Great images can captivate people, and there is no better way to share your photography with the world than with Instagram. Learning the few tricks we have covered today will make a huge difference in the impact and quality of your art.

Every picture tells a story.
What will yours say?



About the author: Jade Chapple

Jade is fond of daydreaming about writing the next great Australian novel but never actually writing it, eating excessive amounts of sushi, and quoting Pride and Prejudice (2005) line for line. Avid supporter of the Oxford Comma and loving what you do, she is a wordsmith, creative, and artist that loves to tell a story. If you are ready to binge-watch the latest Netflix comedy or kick back with some videogames, she’s your girl.
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