6 tips on how to take good Instagram pictures

The more you travel, the less you want to carry. Even though you’re on a great trip and want great photos to show for it, sometimes a lighter load is nice. The good news is that you really can get good-quality photos with that small device you always have with you: your phone.

Even though phone photography feels more casual, taking time to set up a good shot is worth it because you may only get one chance to capture that moment.

If you pay attention to a few key things, you can ditch the gear and take mobile photos you love just as much.

Learn how to take better photos with these useful Instagram photography tips.

1. Position your subject

It may feel unnatural at first, but get used to moving objects around or moving yourself to get a good shot. Wait for someone to get out of the way. Move the subject to better light. Put objects on a table in straight lines. Remove distracting or extra items. Double check all the details, by turning labels so the right parts are visible to you in the frame. Make sure you can see everything you’ll want to see. Your phone is so small, this isn’t as intrusive as it would be with a bigger camera. That 15-second tune-up will help you remember the moment when you see the photo, not wish you’d taken a different shot.

2. Find the good light

There is no substitute for good, natural daylight, but too much can be tricky. Avoid direct, overhead vertical light. This means taking outdoor shots in the morning or evening. Take your indoor, museum shots when there is the most light streaming in. Seek open shade, or look for light through a window to illuminate the sides of the subject and avoid harsh shadows. The opposite is also true: the less light, the grainier your photo. If you want a photo after dark, try to position your subject near as much light as possible. If you can brace yourself, consider slowing the shutter speed with a 3rd party app.

3. Line it up—literally

Imagine a tic-tac-toe board across the viewfinder. (Several photo apps even have these built-in). You’re looking to place the most interesting details at the intersections of the lines. Try to avoid horizon lines running through the center of the frame. The most interesting photos have subjects that are about a third off-center.

4. Look for leading lines

These guide the eye to the subject. They can be support beams, lane lines, stripes, fences, paths—anything that runs across your image and leads your eyes around your photo to your subject. Align and frame the image with the lines of the subject itself in mind.

Instagram rule of thirds - Instagram Photography Tips

5. Go for the details

Typically, taking mobile photos means they will be viewed in small contexts—on a phone, a small photo book, or even a magnet. Small photos are great for capturing small things. Instead of trying to sweep a whole scene, look for one or two details loaded with associate and memory. Think about the bow of shoelaces instead of the whole shoe. The trim on the doorway instead of a building. The tile pattern on the wall. Snapping the poignant little things details can pack a lot of meaning into a small space.

6. Care for your camera

Your pocket or travel bag can be a rough place for a camera lens. Clean your phone lens frequently to avoid foggy photos. Also, know your phone camera limits. Often the zoom function lessens the clarity of a photo, so it may be better to “zoom with your feet” or shoot big and crop later. Last, watch for camera shake and strange angles from over-tilting. These can make images blurry and distorted. 

You take travel photos to help document your journey and experience. The images serve as memories, and it’s possible to make good ones while you give your shoulder a break.

Next step: import your Instagram photos into beautiful layouts and make an Instant Instagram Photo Book.


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