I have a confession to make. I’m totally addicted to Instagram. Like, I spend more time there than anywhere else on social media.
While I don’t have a huge following, I do thoroughly enjoy making my feed pretty.
Honestly, I don’t feel qualified at all to give anyone Instagram advice. I’ve had a lot of people comment on my feed and photography lately, though, so I thought I’d write up a quick blog post with my Instagram photography process! If you’re looking for ways to improve your Instagram photography, I hope this helps!
How do you take a good Instagram flat-lay?
First of all, if you’re not sure what a flat-lay is, it’s a flat picture taken from above, like this one:
What I love about these is that they’re versatile, tell a story, and are incredibly easy to create yourself. You don’t even need a fancy camera to accomplish this look!
My feed is a good blend of images taken with my DSLR and my phone. It has a lot less to do with your equipment than you’d think! There are a lot of things that are more important than what camera you use for your images, and we’ll be going over those today.
If you’d like more in-depth tips on website and product photography using a camera, check out this post.
For now, we’ll be talking about simple tips for using your phone to create beautiful photos.
1. Use a clean, neutral background.
Taking pictures on a clean background is actually a lot easier than it sounds. For the longest time, I stared in awe at the beautiful, white backgrounded pictures I saw all over Instagram. Where were they getting those gorgeous, white desks? Even my white furniture didn’t look as white as these backgrounds.
One day, I figured out the trick. Most of them aren’t actually using a furniture background. They’re using things like white foam boards, or even poster boards. That’s what I use!
My furniture isn’t pretty. I have a 3 year old, so it won’t be pretty for quite a few more years. That doesn’t mean I can’t take pretty pictures, though. I bought a pack of 10 white poster boards for around $3 at Walmart, and I just lay them out when I’m ready to take my pictures. The end result looks just like a white desktop, and cost next to nothing!
2. Pick out a variety of props.
Probably one of my favorite parts about taking Instagram pictures is the fact that I get to style the pictures. I always have an excuse to buy that cute notebook, pen, tape dispenser, or basket, because it can always be used in a flat-lay.
I’ve gotten really good at doing this on a budget, too. I can go shopping and spend $10 and get a ton of props.
What you buy will deinitely depend on the topics you discuss, so keep that in mind while you’re shopping. If you talk about planners, you probably don’t need to buy props in the cosmetics department.Do you talk about your kids and homelife? Maybe those pens and notebooks won’t get as much use for you as they do for me.
Since I talk about planning, working from home, and finding balance in life, I’m able to use a lot of office supplies in my pictures, which works out since I’m obsessed!
Other items I like to use that are more generic include:
- Fresh flowers/plants
- Fake flowers/plants
- Essential oil diffusers
- Felt letterboard
- Coffee Mugs
Get creative. Chances are, if you dig around your house and belongings for awhile, you’ll find a LOT of stuff you can use in your next photo shoot without spending a dime.
Honestly, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve dumped a basket out right before a photo shoot because I realized it’d match perfectly. You just never know what you have until you start searching.
3. Set up near natural light.
That’s right. You don’t have to spring for an expensive lighting setup to get good pictures. All you need is a window, and a little patience.
Pick a spot in your house with great natural lighting. Watch it for a few days to get a feel for when the light is the best. You want it to be bright and well lit, but not with sunlight streaming directly in. We want that perfect in-between moment where it’s bright, but there aren’t any harsh shadows and glaring light.
For me, I have two huge windows that get amazing afternoon light. The best time of day for me to take pictures is around 1 or 2 pm. The sun hasn’t come low enough in the sky to come straight in the window, but it’s offering enough light on this side of my house to give me that perfectly lit glow.
Good lighting makes all the difference. Try this out, and experiment with different times.You’ll be able to tell the difference when you get your lighting right!
4. Pay attention to composition.
Most flat-lays are taken from a birds-eye view, which is what makes them flat-lays. There are still a few things to consider, though.
- Use lots of “white space,” or negative space. This gives your images a clean, uncluttered look.
- Make sure your images look good squared. This is how they’ll appear in your feed, so keep that in mind. You may need to back up some in order to make this work.
- Pay attention to the balance in your images. Imagine a grid over your image, and make sure everything balances well.
Note: When you’re ready to take your picture, be sure to tap your phone screen where you want it to focus. This will keep your main subject clear and sharp.
5. Use a photo-editing app.
To me, this is the final key to a good shot, whether it’s on your phone or on your camera. Yes, the goal is to take a good picture on it’s own. But, good editing can turn a good picture into a great picture. Plus, using a similar editing style on all of your images gives your entire feed a cohesive look that flows.
To edit images on my phone, I use the PicTapGo app. It’s not free (which is usually my goal), but it’s also not expensive. It’s been worth every penny, too!
With this app, you can change adjust the lighting, contrast, and color. You can also add specific filters, and save your photo recipes for one-touch editing. There’s a slider at the bottom so that you can adjust how strong the filters are, which is great. Some pictures are naturally brighter than others, so being able to bring it down a touch makes a big difference!
On my pictures, I use the filters Brightside, Air, and Contrast. Usually, if there are people involved, I’ll also add Warm Up, so they don’t look washed out. From there, I just adjust the slider until I like the photo and save it!
Did these tips help you? Be sure to hop on over to Instagram and let me know what you think!