15 Instagram tips for better photos and compositions

 15 Instagram tips for better photos and compositions

15 Instagram tips for better photos and compositions

I’m no Instagram superstar and have only started getting into this photo inspired platform, but I’m really enjoying the platform to explore and discover some amazing artists and creative people who techniques that can easily apply to using your cell phone and uploading directly into Instagram. Although some rules and guidelines work differently in a square layout, many photography rules can still be applied with a little tweaking to fit the Instagram format.



For me, taking a photography should be about telling inspiring stories visually with your photography.  Learning to train your eye to capture the details and images out of the ordinary, or with your own viewpoint and personal branding is key to a well presented Instagram feed. Now the question of photography via cell phone or more advanced cameras for Instagramming is discussed a lot and really there are no rules for this platform. Only you can decide what your main objective is on Instagram, and to create a personal brand that is easily recognized and popular. I typically upload my Samsung android images with minor editing to the image. For me it really is about being instant and being as authentic as possible, instead of presenting a slick or completely manipulated image. Whether you are using Instagram just for fun, business or developing a personal brand, I have included many tips and suggestions below focusing on the visual presentation. Please do try and experiment with these photography tips and guidelines, and I hope that you will end up creating a more dynamic and attractive Instagram feed.

Here 15 Instagram tips for better photos and compositions:

1. Frame your photos – probably my most used instagram technique, it is important to give your image some depth in the foreground, mid range and background. Framing the image with something in the foreground adds interesting details and fills up dull negative space with something attractive in the foreground or surrounding the picture. When you take a photo, step back for a second to see if you can include more details around the subject to complement it or tell a better or complete story.

2. Spending time to edit your image well – Even though instagramming is more spontaneous based on your curating style, take some time to edit your shot for working on the main details like cropping, straighening or basic edits with a any of the free apps available. You can make quick or more extensive edits to the image to create a more focused and dynamic image that grabs attention which is exactly what you want to do on Instagram.




3.  Use a flattering background – Try to find backgrounds that are not too busy so your subject really pops. With a detail or zoomed image, you want to try to get simple or even out of focus backgrounds so that your subject really comes out strong and is the center of focus.

4. Try different angles– shoot from unexpected angles for an element of surprise. Try some shots from above, below and both sides and framing objects in the foreground, mid and background. Experiment and you may find some real keepers to post on your Instagram feed.




5. Use natural light – all the time and in most conditions where the light source is available and flattering. Learn how to use your cell phone settings for more difficult photo situations, and you can also alter images to brighten/darken with apps after the fact.




6. Look around for beauty – either from what you see or even what you want to portray to your readers – there’s always something inspiring to show in your daily life



7. Look for color – mixing it up on the over  how your Instagram feed presents itself by using color and color blocking to give your feed variety and color punch. This really is a nice way to break up the feed and layout, giving the whole presentation variety and color when it is needed.





8. Wait for the right moment – Part of instagram is being there at the right time and sometimes that means waiting for that moment to happen. You are in the perfect place but sometimes timing is all it takes to find the right person with a colorful outfit that completely frames the entire capture perfectly.




9. Tell us a story – Yes Instagram is also a visual story telling medium. What you want to aim for is picking images that  gives a complete story using only one image (not always an easy task) Picking your best images is really key to telling the complete story and a nice caption becomes your icing on the cake.





10. Give us the details – sometimes just zooming into the details and showing us a tight shot works well with what your story and caption. Of course if zooming quality doesn’t work well with your smart phone, just use your feet to get up close for better details and focus on getting those sharp areas that you want to highlight.



11. Fill up the frame – just like zooming in for more details, filling the frame is very effective with selective focus or showcasing your subject matter, front and center.


12. Shoot in your typical landscape/portrait mode and then crop to the square image – the advantage of this is that you can edit to find the most pleasing composition and take out the unnecessary parts of the image and make the squared image stronger.







13. The rule of thirds still work – Using the most popular composition guideline still applies with a square format but you need to experiment to try and make your subject seem more prominent in the picture. For more detailed information, check out my post on the rule of thirds here.



14. Center your images – in the square format, a strong image placed in the center works very well especially with a strong and focused image. This technique is completely opposite the rule of thirds composition above.





15. Break all the rules – these tips and rules are really just guidelines and you should understand them, experiment and know that breaking the rules is no big deal because it’s your IG feed and story so make it your own!


Here’s another bonus –  if you want to do some selfies, check out these tips from my friend Kristin – and you can get perfect shots.

These are my favorite techniques that I like to keep in mind when I am curating my personal feeds on Instagram and if you are curious to check my IG feed, Please do follow my Instagram here.  I hope that this post on 15 Instagram tips for better photos and compositions was very helpful? If you have any other great IG tips and technques to offer, please do share them with us in the comment section below.



Please check out some of my other photo tips below

Black and white photo tips for beginners

Capturing street images – some photo tips and techniques

15 photography tips on your road trip

Photography tips for grey sky or rainy days

Flower and nature photography – tips on making your images pop

Photographing people – some tips and techniques

Photography tips for travel Photography

Travel photography – what to pack

Photo tip – backlighting your image

Photo tip – fill the frame

Food photography – making your images pop



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15 instragram photography tips



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20 Responses to 15 Instagram tips for better photos and compositions

  1. Austin Dixon November 18, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    Great post! Instagram has become such a wonderful community for photographers and bloggers alike. It’s essential to create a brand, in my opinion, and those that do that well on Instagram are doing exceptional jobs!

    Thanks for sharing Noel!

    / Austin

  2. dinilint November 5, 2015 at 4:35 am #

    thank you for guidance noel. First, know the rules, then break it, but we need to feel it, don’t we?

  3. dinilint November 5, 2015 at 4:34 am #

    thank you for the guidelines Noel. Well,, know the rules then break it, but we have to feel it, don’t we?

  4. Caroline September 18, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    Any budding photographer can use these tips to make their images way better … great post!

  5. budget jan August 20, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    I have been trying to come to terms with the rule of thirds in Instagram photography because I have heard that central themes work best. I like your pineapple shot. Would you say the subject there is both centred and rule of thirds?

    • Noel August 21, 2015 at 2:41 am #

      Certain things are different for instagram including doing center placed images which do work great in instagram vs the rule of thirds. But if you can do both then it would be the best which is the example with the pineapple

  6. Duke Stewart July 7, 2015 at 9:09 pm #


    I loved your tips and will try to implement them into my own instagrams from now on. I’m a bit of a newb at this and am thankful for people like you to guide us all along. My wife always tells me she’s better than me at this so maybe I’ll get a leg up on her someday. Haha.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing Noel. Take Care.

    • Noel July 8, 2015 at 5:19 am #

      Thanks Duke, the types are easy to learn composition and photo tips – the main trick is always keeping your eyes looking at unusual and different subject matter that would resonate with your audience.

  7. Inma June 29, 2015 at 1:16 am #

    #15 is my favorite! 😀
    I believe in knowing the rules, the abc and then breaking them all! Also, I’d add #16. Have your own style. There’s nothing more beautiful on Instagram than discovering a carefully curated account where a fresh and original and unique style joins all the pics and creates a colorful gallery!

  8. Jenna June 28, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    Great tips! I always have trouble cropping images into the square format, but totally agree it’s best to take regular format photos and crop into square. Instagram is such a fun platform!

  9. Michele TravelwithMrsT June 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    I enjoy the photos in your Instagram feed, especially your use of color. These are all great tips. I’ve been trying out different angles lately. Many times though, the cropping to a square changes the feel of the photo.

  10. Anda June 27, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Good tips, Noel, and beautiful pictures. I’m not on Instagram but I think your advice applies to any pictures.

  11. Laura Lynch June 27, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    I can definitely benefit from your suggestions here. I’m not a great photographer and can’t ever seem to frame the picture right. I don’t want to contribute to the plethora of bad photography on Instagram, so there’s a lot to learn!

  12. Mags June 27, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    Great tips. Your photos make me want to up my instagram game!

  13. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family June 27, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    Your photos are always so beautiful Noel. Thanks for sharing these tips on how to take better pics on Instagram. It’s good to know you don’t have to be a pro!

  14. Dana June 27, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    Great tips! I’m still just starting out on Instagram. And sometimes breaking the rules does make for interesting shots.

  15. Lisa Chavis June 27, 2015 at 7:07 am #

    Great tips Noel! I always love seeing your photography and learning from you. I like the idea of just looking around you for beauty – sometimes we think we have to travel far away to find it, when it’s really right beside us 😉 Thanks!

  16. Suze The Luxury Columnist June 25, 2015 at 5:38 am #

    Some great tips Noel, the difficulty I have is when I’ve taken a shot with a DSLR, then want to share on Instagram but I’ve already cropped it to the max so you don’t see all the image!

  17. Stefan June 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    Lovely post Noel. Not wish to sound arrogant in any way: I see so much rubbish in my Instagram newsfeed, your article shows it doesn’t take much effort at all to create a decent picture…!


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