10 Tips for Better Instagram Photos

Categories: Fun


Oh, Instagram. Where else would we so easily broadcast photos of animals looking particularly pensive?

We are officially a few weeks into January, and if your New Year's resolutions are going anything like ours, it's time to get some help. Unfortunately, we can't offer much in the way of helping you lose a few extra pounds (though some of these free fitness events may) or make deposits into your good-karma account, but we've got something better. We're going to help you up your Instagram game.

So, grab your shiny new smartphones and Walden filters, log in, and get ready to impress your followers with your brand-new Insta-skills.

See also: 10 Metro Phoenix Artists to Follow on Instagram

10. Know your apps. As much as we love Instagram, we recognize that it has its flaws -- like the fact that it only provides the option of square photos now and that it only has 19 filters. Yep, only. Instagram certainly has boxed you in, but don't let them control you. There are a ton of other apps that complement Instagram and can make your photos look like someone paid you to take them. Some of our favorites are VSCO Cam, which allows you to purchase (or sometimes download for free) more subtly faded filters than we know what to do with and makes it appear like you tried just enough; InstaSize, which is free and allows you to frame your horizontal or vertical photo with black, white, or colored bars so it will fit within Instagram's squareness without you having to crop anything; and Pic Stitch, which offers a free variety of collaging options, if you so strongly feel the urge to collage. Of course, there are thousands of other photo-related apps out there, so sniff around and see what you like.

9. Be careful with your filters. Yeah, we just told you to go get an app with 50-something filters in it, but now we're telling you to not go crazy. Nothing can ruin a photo faster than contrasting to the extreme, saturating the hell out of it, adding a butt-ton of grain, and vignetting it to the point where it looks like tunnel vision. We believe filters are meant to enhance the good that's already in a photo, not make us question if someone just got their hands on Photoshop for the first time. Let's just put it this way: We go on Instagram to see photos, not filters.

8. Let's talk about the faux tilt-shift option on Instagram for a second. That's where you can choose to make just one portion of your photo in focus while the rest of it gets blurred out. If we're going to be completely honest with you, we hate it. Sorry, that was a little harsh. We hate the overuse of it. Tilt-shift lenses are super-neat and, when used correctly and with intention, can create amazing photos. However, if you solely use it to focus on only one eye in a selfie or cover up the fact that your photo is completely out of focus, it is abuse. Tilt-shift is a delicate thing. Please treat it with respect.

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