There’s a common misconception that the only way to produce beautiful photos is to invest in expensive gear. And while high quality photos are definitely going to be more visually engaging, there are many talented creators out there on Instagram who solely shoot using the camera on their phone.
If you’re not quite at the point in the game where you can justify spending that much on a fancy camera, here are 3 things to focus on that will greatly improve the quality of your photos.
It’s all about the lighting. If you look at a lot of the popular accounts on Instagram, you’ll notice that the lighting in all of the photos is perfect—that’s because they shot using only the sun. Whenever possible, use natural lighting.
Sunlight is your best friend. So anytime you want to take a photo, take the opportunity to either go outside, or set up your subject/object in front of a window.
Use of light sets a good photographer apart from the rest. If you’re trying to take a picture at 7PM at night and can’t find any natural light (ie. it’s too dark out), maybe this is the time to stop and reconsider if it’s the right time to be taking a picture. Use this opportunity to learn from the experience and set aside some time during the daylight hours of the next day to take a photo using sunlight.
Pro-tip: A cloudy day is not something to cry about. Overcast sunlight is actually the best to work with because the light isn’t direct enough to cast heavy shadows – unless that’s what you’re going for. Rejoice for cloudy days!
Backgrounds can make the shot, and sometimes simple is better.
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Pro-tip: If you’re not sure if a background is too busy, find a simple solid colored wall and it should do the trick. Same for any product shots. Pop into your local dollar store and grab some foamcore or bristle board in various colors and interchange between them to get different backgrounds.
Always try to apply the Rule of Thirds—essentially divide your photo into 3 equal sections and align the subject between those sections, it makes photos more engaging—unless you have a specific reason to do otherwise. It’s also important to crop out objects in the photo that don’t contribute to the overall image. That weird chimney sticking out of the top of a house that just looks like a blurry blob? Get rid of it. Or that pedestrian’s foot that’s almost (but not quite) completely out of the photo? Get rid of it too!
You can avoid having to crop too much of your image if you set it up and frame your image first before taking it. There’s also nothing wrong with taking multiple photos. Shoot to your heart’s content before you stop to ensure that you have enough options to work with when editing.
Pro-tip: Most seasoned photographers often shoot wider than they plan for their final photo to look like, which makes it easier to crop. You can never quite guarantee what the final image will look like so it’s always better to play it safe. Photography is like the opposite of cooking. In cooking, it’s safer to go slow with the salt because you can’t remove it. However when it comes to photography, you can always crop out the stuff you don’t like.
Now that you’re read these three tips, go out and start shooting! Practice makes perfect, and you may also continue to grow your following.
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