Sometime early this year, I took a break from content creation both on the blog and on my social media. As a result, I also stopped taking pics, so you can probably guess what happened when I came back to creating content. I was rustyyyyy! Yes, rusty with extra Ys, it was bad bad. The writing was easier to recover from, as that covers more than one area of my life but shooting, heh!
Know the kind of photos you want
The thing is, everyone uses their Instagram account to showcase different aspects of their lives. My Instagram account focuses on food and portraits. Determining this from the get go allows me to plan for the photos to take for my Instagram.
I’m back to creating content now and the other day, while shooting portraits with Roy, it hit me how much, I could have used help when I was starting. So I am offering that help, here is my simple guide on how to take good photos for your Instagram.
Food photos will call for different settings from portraits or landscapes for instance.
Create a mood board
Once you know for the kind of photos on your Instagram, then it is time to seek inspiration and there’s no better way to do that than by using a mood board. A mood board is collage. Fill it up with ideas of the photos you would like to take, or general Inspiration.
Research how to take photos
If you are reading this article, then consider your research on how to take great photos for your Instagram done! Haha For real though, don’t let the word research intimidate you. You just need to figure out your location, when you will be shooting (time) and these two will influence your lighting.
The key to taking a great photo for your Instagram, is not to overthink it. Based off your mood board, you will be able to decide the best suited location. Whether it’s indoors, at a studio or set, bounce your ideas off your photographer, if you are using one, you know what they say about two heads compared to one.
You can physically create this mood board or do it online. I prefer to use Pinterest for personal projects and PowerPoint for the more formal engagements. I prefer Pinterest because once you pick a photo on there, then it offers suggestions of similar material. Is it a lazy method? Possibly. Does it work? Absolutely.
In this case, I knew Roy wanted to take portraits at this empty, overgrown lot he calls ‘Bustani’ so with that in mind I threw on minimal makeup and a bold lip (because it takes boldness to shoot in an abandoned building, I kid.) for contrast.
Chasing that abroad lightning
You ever spot a selfie on Instagram or Twitter and it looks like the person in the photo has a personalized sun? Well that is what’s popularly referred to as the ‘abroad sun and you don’t have to go abroad to get it.
Simply take your photos during sunrise, just before sunset (these two are famously referred to as the Golden hour) and in the mid morning sun.
If you are taking the photos on your phone, be careful not to have the shadow falling on your face, otherwise it will be redundant or what we call in my house ‘kazi ya karai’.
If you are taking your photos indoors, your photographer is bound to come armed with lighting equipment and the same goes for shooting on special sets. Otherwise, there’s no harm in carrying a reflector outdoors.
Always factor in where your source of light is positioned before taking a photo.
Know your angles
You’ve probably heard people talk about their ‘good side’ or you know yours… Your poses need to highlight that good side, the whole point of posting photos on Instagram is to showcase the best of you. So it’s okay if you have to practice in the mirror, we can wait.
Personally, I like the front of my face and my smile so you will always find me glaring into the camera or smiling like I am getting paid to. It helps that I am a happy person and generally laugh a lot…
Have a rapport with your photographer
Photos are literally a screenshot of your vibes, so if you’re having a bad time, then expect it to show! Of course there’s a cheat sheet for that, but it calls for you to put in work. Communicate with your photographer and generally talk begin your shoot.
If you have no shared history, start with basic introductions then take play it by ear. Roy and I went to the same uni, so even though we hadn’t seen each other in years, we were able to take good photos by using the shoot as a catch up session. I found myself just relaxing.
There’s no point doing all of this if you are not going to have fun, so let loose!
Foodies of Instagram
I love food, and it follows that I love taking photos of my food, so much so that I personalized a hashtag for my food photos on Instagram. The first shot of your food, will not be the best so please, take a few more. Or 30. Definitely take 30 if it’s a salad, I mean, it’s already cold anyway. ????????♀️
Then throw shame out of the window because, news flash, people are going to stare at you while you take photos of your food at your favourite restaurant. But this blog post is about taking great photos for your Instagram and not how to be less conspicuous.
How far are you willing to do to go for a good shot? I’ve been known to kneel on my seat just to get a good shot, you might find yourself standing or moving your food to the window so you can get better lighting, there’s no shame in the game.
But always remember to use natural lighting when photographing food. Should you need extra light, don’t turn on the flash on your phone (that’s worse than not taking a photo of your food for the gram) instead ask your company to turn on their flashlight and shine it/them on the food. Direct them as necessary.
The thing about taking great photos for your Instagram (or any other platform) is that it takes time to be good at it, so practice your poses, practice your camera work too. Remember, the best camera is the one you’ve got, I take all my food photos using my phone.
Check out my Instagram account and let me know if I need to take my own advice. 🙂
Portraits courtesy of @Sondu_ on Instagram.