7 Photography Tips to Elevate Your Instagram Feed

Instagram is all about appearances. If your photos look grainy, unfocused, or badly composed, no one is going to stick around to read the captions.

And, let’s face it, photography is an art. Not everyone is a professional-grade photographer, and taking pictures on your phone (instead of an expensive DSLR) adds an extra degree of difficulty. Luckily, there are some tips and tricks you can use to make your Instagram pictures look more polished and professional and help you stand out in the feed:

1. Use the “rule of thirds.”

The rule of thirds is used in photography to help explain why certain compositions look better than others. Imagine that your image is split up into 9 equal squares (3×3). The rule of thirds states that the important elements in your shot should reside along the lines or the intersections of those lines.

Photography grid layout

Most phones come with an option to enable grid lines to help guide your composition. You can enable these grid lines in your phone’s camera settings.

2. Natural lighting is naturally flattering.

The best way to make your pictures look professional without fancy lighting equipment is to utilize natural or outdoor lighting. Overhead, fluorescent lights give pictures a harsh and unflattering look, so try to take pictures near windows or outside if possible.

The time shortly after sunrise or shortly before sunset is known as the “golden hour.” During this brief window of time, the lighting is softer, and the sun doesn’t cast harsh shadows. Shooting during this time of day will give you the best results.

Photographer and the Nature. Men Taking Pictures of Scenic Countryside Landscape During Golden Hour.

3. Use burst mode.

Tiny details like an ill-timed blink or a random passerby walking through the background of your shot can ruin an otherwise well-staged photo. Sometimes it takes a long time to get all the tiny details to line up just right. However, with burst mode, you can simply hold your finger down on the shutter icon to take multiple photos in quick succession. From there, you can choose the image that you like the most.

4. Give your subjects some space.

An effective use of white space is key to keeping your photos from looking cluttered. This guideline is especially important if your trying to highlight a product. Choose a subject to focus on, and keep the background minimalist. Keep the focus on what matters.

Classical Ballet dancer portrait. Ballerina in tutu skirt practice split ballet position against white floor background. Top view from above.

5. Blur your background for better portraits.

Speaking of keeping your focus, Instagram’s portrait mode, known as “Focus mode,” is perfect for taking professional-looking portraits. It slightly blurs the background of the image while keeping the subject in focus. This helps make your subject pop, especially if there’s a lot of activity in the background of your shot.

6. Try a lens attachment.

For a more professional look, try adding some specialized hardware to your phone. There are lens attachments on the market that expand your phone camera’s field of vision, create a magnifying effect, sharpen your images, or zoom in on far-away subjects. With a lens attachment, you can take high-quality images right from your phone that rival those taken by an actual camera.

But be warned! Amazon and similar online retailers offer a ton of cheap clip-on lens attachment options, but very few are actually any good. Do your research before buying, and invest in quality hardware.

7. Use apps to make simple edits.

An app can help you with everything from basic cropping (for when you notice too late that your thumb has wandered into the corner of a shot) to lighting and saturation effects (for when you want to make your colors really pop).

Some popular choices include:

  • Layout: This is Instagram’s own photo-editing app, and, while it’s editing features are somewhat basic, it’s especially useful for creating collages with multiple images.
  • Snapseed: This app is a fan-favorite among Instagram influencers. Not only does it include basic editing tools, it also allows you to modify the white balance, double exposure, lens blur, and tonal contrast plus add filters and special effects. It also features social sharing options that let you post directly from the app.
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC: Along with advanced editing options like tone curve that changes color, exposure, tone, and contrast, this app lets you bulk edit images to keep your style consistent.
  • Square Sized: Just like the name suggests, lets you easily resize images to Instagram’s preferred square format. While it also offers some options for adding borders, filters, and backgrounds to images, the real appeal of this app is its ability to take rectangular images from your phone or other social feeds and make them Instagram-ready.


Instagram is all about appearances. If your photos look grainy, unfocused, or badly composed, no one is going to stick around to read the captions. #MichaelsWilder #socialmediamarketing Click To Tweet

Playing photog is undoubtedly one of the better ways to spend a day at work, but it’s also an essential step in building out your social media strategy. Engaging images draw people in and make them want to get to know you better.

But that’s just one piece of the overall social strategy puzzle.

Are you ready to take your social media game to the next level? If so, give our team at Michaels Wilder a call. We handle everything from profile management to content creation. We’ll also develop a strategy to help you put all the pieces together and keep it consistent across all your social platforms.

Mike Speer Administrator
Director of Digital Experience, Michaels WIlder

Head of Digital Experience at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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Mike Speer Administrator
Director of Digital Experience, Michaels WIlder

Head of Digital Experience at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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