Instagram is kind of a big deal. It singlehandedly erased the term “mupload” from common parlance; it allowed the selfie to rise to its present stature; it gives millions the ability to share a visual record of their ostensibly interesting life with whoever cares to tap through. As it turns out, most of Instagram’s 100 million users aren’t jet setting to exotic locations, climbing mountains or doing other exceptionally picturesque stuff (see #dentist for further evidence). That being said, even if you didn’t summit Everest or take an interest in yoga pants (#ahem), you can still post interesting photos to Instagram. By following a few (relatively) straightforward guidelines you’ll be ‘gramming like Ansel Adams.
1 #NOFILTER? #NAH
. Just play it cool. Part of Instagram’s appeal is its filters, but the indie-band-sounding ones (mayfair, hudson and valencia) can be overbearing. Still, you don’t need to ditch filters altogether; moderation is key. Apps like VSCO Cam
not only have some more tasteful filter options, they also let you turn them up or down to taste. You can also adjust exposure, contrast, white balance and a host of other settings to get the right look.
2 Subject is key
. Your morning coffee might not be that cool. As you might expect, interesting photos tend to include interesting things. Take a lot of photos, but post only the “greatest hits”. There’s only so much brunch that one timeline can handle on a Sunday afternoon.
3 Frame it
. Interesting framing can improve any photo. Ever wonder what those gridlines are? 250 years ago, a guy named John Smith coined “The Rule of Thirds”, stating that when composing a painting (pictures were still a few years away) one should divide the frame into an equally spaced 3×3 grid using two horizontal and two vertical lines; important elements should be placed at the intersection of those lines. Not many people can clearly articulate why this is (your humble author included) but for a quarter millennium the theory’s been improving pictures. That being said, half the fun in photography rules is ignoring them. Once you get bored of the rule of thirds, starting framing your pictures in ways that look more interesting to you. You are an artiste, after all.
4 Don’t overdo it
. Yes, there are a lot of apps. Let’s not get out of control. Is that unicorn-shaped frame really adding anything? Sometimes less is bad — hot dog eating contests and puppies come to mind — but most of the time, telling the same story with less is an effective way to make your images stronger.
. Want to win the Instagram arms race? Use a digital SLR and upload your photos to your phone with an EyeFi
card for quick posting of images that are shockingly better in quality. Yeah, it may “take away from the spirit of Instagram” or some other hippie nonsense, but this is real life, where you have to get likes by any means necessary.