A lot has changed since I posted my first Instagram photo back in 2011. I’ve gotten older and need more filtering and my photography has improved. Instagram has changed a lot too, its user base has exploded and this year we started seeing advertising for the fist time.
2015 also marked the year that I finally gave in and started using Instagram for business. You can follow the We Teach Social account here. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it has worked out. I love the way I can connect and chat with people. It’s also been great for discovering new places to visit and most importantly eat.
If Instagram is on the agenda for your business in 2016, the Christmas break is an ideal time to experiment. Here are seven tips for better Instagram photos that I’ve picked up over the last 4 years of Instagram photography.
#1 Cardboard pin hole camera
This is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to take interesting photographs. It gives your shots a nostalgic look. Here’s one I took earlier.
You will need:
- A small square of corrugated cardboard
- A pin
Stick the pin through the cardboard and wiggle it around a bit to make a good hole.
If you have a protective case on your phone leave it on. It provides the ideal spacer between your pinhole and the lens. Hold the pinhole up to the camera on your phone and use the circle it creates to frame your subject.
The resulting photo will be quite small in frame, so you will need to crop and filter before you upload it to Instagram.
#2 Energise your subject
In the early days of photography, portraits and family photos had to be static. The subject would be posed and framed and then would have to remain still for minutes at a time as the film was exposed. Now we can take photos in a fraction of a second but many of us still pose as if we are in front of one of those old style cameras.
This Christmas see if you can encourage family members to be more active. Can you get them to throw their arms in the air or even jump?
Here’s a photo I took for ‘Jump Day’ with my business partner Lorna Sixsmith.
And this is me at the Colosseum, far more appealing than a static shot of me staring at the camera (although can we do something about those chins?)
#3 Clip on lenses
I was given a wide angle lens for my iPhone a couple of Christmases ago*. I love the effect it gives my photos and it’s really cool for taking Christmas tree shots (although I should have cleaned my lens first).
Here is one I took of my office in tidier times.
When I upgraded my phone I abandoned my lens but soon discovered I could use a bit of cardboard to hold it in place on my iPhone 5. Who knew corrugated cardboard could be such a friend to iPhone photographers!
#4 Selfie Stick
The first time I used my selfie stick in public was as I attempted to get a photo of myself and the other half on the Robin Hood statue in Nottingham. Our attempts drew the attention of locals as they passed us by. I was embarrassed.
Since then I’ve used my selfie stick with more discretion. I usually use it as a way to take group photos. Raise it high and you can get everyone in and the angle makes the picture more appealing. I took my selfie stick to the Inbound conference in Boston earlier this year and it was a great way to get photos with all the wonderful people I met.
The selfie stick I have (Called the selfy stick) is bluetooth operated*. It comes with a trigger that is independant from the stick that syncs with my phone. I can use this trigger to take photos from lots of different angles without having to reach the phone.
Here’s one I took through the Christmas tree earlier.
#5 PS Express
There are a lot of photo editing apps available but I love the simplicity of Photoshop Express. It has some inbuilt filters, easy cropping and lots more.
The killer feature is the magic wand that once clicked optimises your picture. It’s rare that I share a photo before putting it through PS Express first.
It’s a good idea to brand photos you are sharing on your Instagram account with your logo or at the very least your website address. iWatermark makes this process easy. Once you have set it up it’s quick and easy to add your info, save to your phone and upload to Instagram. More on iWatermark here.
iWatermark is available for both iPhone & Android
#7 Wordswag or Over
It’s quick and easy to create captioned photos on both of these tools. Here’s one I made earlier with Over.
Over To You
Experiment with your smartphone photography this Christmas, try my tricks and if you have any to add do tell me about them.
*Amazon affiliate links – I receive a small commission if you buy via these links.