How to take gorgeous Instagram photos, according to experts

You see influencers on Instagram with the most amazing images on their profiles, but how on earth do they do it? Capturing a good Instagram photo with your phone is harder than it looks, so to help you nail those shots – whether you’re at a wedding, on holiday, or even just out and about on a Sunday afternoon and see something worth sharing, we’ve rounded up some top tips from industry experts.

You’ll be snap happy after reading these, that’s for sure.

According to Freelance photographer Jordan Dynck, before you can even begin to think about composition, lighting, and editing, there are two things you need to know about how to work the camera on your phone in order to take a good Instagram photo:


1. Under-expose Your Shot

She told “Have you ever taken a photo of a bright sky, only to realize later that half of it is over-exposed? Mobile phones tend to blow out portions of your photograph naturally, resulting in over-highlighted areas. But there’s a trick to fix this: under-exposing your shot. It’s better to have a slightly under-exposed photo that you can then brighten with editing, instead of ruining the whole shot with over-exposure.”

To under-exposure your photo on an iPhone, tap and hold the brightest area of your phone, which locks in the focus and exposure. After you’ve done this, you can move your the camera around to compose the photo you want.

There’s lots more information on how to nail this, here. 


2. Keep HDR Off

In an article from, experts state that HDR should be turned off when taking pics on Instagram. “HDR (High Dynamic Range) is hard to get right and can make a picture look unnatural and overdone. Essentially, the function takes many different exposures of the same photo, and puts them together in one photo so you have tons of details. Keep it simple, less is more when it comes to taking good Instagram photos.”


3. Composition

US Influencer, Lo Bosworth, told Forbes: “There are two key things you should think about when capturing the perfect shot: composition and lighting. If you get these functions down pat, dream-worthy Instagram photos are definitely in your future.”

Successful composition relies on one primary goal; finding a way to direct your viewers to the subject of the photo while capturing a story or emotion. When composing a good Instagram photo, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to take your photo from “good” to “wow.”



4. Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is the golden rule of photography, but what is it and how do you use it?

It’s applied by aligning a subject with literal guidelines and their intersection points made into squares, to allow an image to flow from section to section and create energy and interest.

Thankfully, your phone is likely to have a grid tool that does this for you. All you need to do is turn on the “grid” setting in your phone’s settings for your camera. The travel influencers over at A Beautiful Mess do a great job of applying this rule of thirds, just take a look at this perfectly-centred photo they posted recently.


5. Lighting

There’s nothing worse than taking a fabulous Instagram photo, only to realise it’s been overshadowed by sunlight in the backround, or there’s just not enough light around to capture the detail. Worst thing? There’s not much you can do to save a badly lit photo, now matter how much you try to edit it. Keep these tips in mind before you take the pic:

If you’re indoors, sit near a window and away from any artificial light that could tint your photographs yellow. Natural light photographer Corina Esquivel captures it perfectly with her dreamy England lifestyle photographs.

If you’re taking a photo at  dawn or dusk, this will result in soft shadows and light contrasts. The same benefit can be said for golden hour, where your subject can be backlit and gives you a mind-blowing result. It also saves you time with editing, so the time of day you take your photo is worth considering.

Our tip? Embrace gray weather with open arms. Cloudy days are actually excellent for shooting, because the light spreads out everywhere and you’re able to do so much more to the photograph in post-production.


6. Choosing the right filter

Think you don’t need to bother with a filter? Well, think again. A recent scientific study by Georgia Tech found that photos with filters are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to get a comment.

The researchers also found photos with warm filters, greater exposure and well-defined contrast were the ones that proved most popular, while pictures with saturation effects led to lower views, and those with age effects to lower comments.

However, over-processed images often lose definition and enhance noise in your photos, so don’t go overboard.

Our Favourite Instagram Photo Types

Here’s an example of how to compose and edit stunning Instagram photos for your brand, using some classic Instagram shots:

For Foodies: The Flatlay

  1. Find a photogenic spot. Look for wooden tables, marble slabs and anything else that might work as a simple, but textured backdrop for your food. Don’t forget to grab a seat by the window for that natural light
  2. Increase: Exposure, Contrast & Sharpness. Bringing up these editing techniques just a bit will add some life to your food. But be careful not to overdo it! A few notches and you are golden.
  3. Add a little fade, which will bring the photo together for that instant wow.


For Bloggers: The Wall Backdrop

If you’re really serious about creating eye-popping Instagram photos, you’ll need an amazing wall backdrop to make you stand out from the crowd.

  1. Center your focus: pop yourself straight into the center of your frame (remember the rule of thirds) and let the wall do the work for you! Your fashion blog just hit a whole other level of cool.
  2. Bring out the wall in editing. Make the wall pop from behind you with a little increase in saturation, and play around with your temperature to find that perfect fit.


For the Traveller: Little Human, Big World

Off on your travels and looking to post the perfect pic? Venture to unknown cliffs and landscapes no one knew existed. Flight Centre Australia worked with influencers from around the world on their #OpenMyWorld campaign to capture some breathtaking photographs that left us all with some serious wanderlust.

  1. Find a wide backdrop. Visit National Parks, explore daisy fields, and venture out at golden hour. Wherever you find yourself, find a backdrop that’s wide enough to immerse yourself into the wild.
  2. Enter in your focal point. An open landscape shot is beautiful, but adding a little human in the distance makes your audience picture themselves there. Instant like alert.