Achieving both of these goals -- composing beautiful images and sharing them in an engaging and emotional way --takes some work. But with preparation and attention, you have the potential to curate a dazzling feed that will keep your followers scrolling.
Preparing Your Images for Instagram
There are four main ways your images can help or engage your followers. They can:
Educate your followers
Entertain your followers
Assist your followers in solving a problem
Motivate or inspire your followers
To attract attention, make sure your images tick at least one of the five categories below:
Timely or topical: post about an upcoming event or festival that connects to your following
Trending: post the type of content that is currently hot and trending on Instagram
Original: post unique and imaginative content to set yourself apart
Snackable: post content that is easily digestable while your followers scroll their feeds
Actionable: include a call-to-action in your post, directing your followers to like, share, or comment on your image
To curate an appealing, cohesive feed, it’s important to select a consistent style for your posts. From crisp minimalism to bold and colorful, there are thousands of accounts you can draw inspiration from.
Now that you’ve decided on the style and emotion of your images, it’s time to introduce some basic photography tips to help you compose visually-appealing images that fit the tone of your account.
Instagram images are 1080 x 1080 pixels. Instagram then resizes the images to 612 x 612 pixels, which display in users’ feeds as 510 x 510 pixels. On Instagram, quality beats quantity, so you should post photos that are at least 1080 x 1080 pixels. If you’re tempted to share smaller pictures, it’s better to do so on other social media platforms.
When choosing a color palette, keep it simple. Share photos that use only a few main colors. These colors should remain consistent throughout your feed.
Design seeds is a great place to find inspiration for your color palette. In addition to this, you can also use Coolors.
The best photos are taken in bright and natural light. If you’re outside, avoid shooting in direct sunlight. The best lighting conditions exist in early morning, early evening, and overcast days.
The rule of simplicity also applies when choosing a subject. Some of the best shots feature a single, appealing subject. Because your photo will feature just one subject, it’s worth spending extra time to stage and restage the shot to ensure that you capture your subject from the most interesting perspective.
Many skilled photographers follow the rule-of-thirds when shooting their subjects, meaning they dedicate one-third of the frame to the subject and two-thirds of the frame to negative space. This helps draw attention to your subject.
Utilize the grid feature on your phone or camera to better understand the space within your frame and balance the space between your subject and background.
As you can see from the photo above, the photographer used the grid lines to divide the photo into nine equal parts, placing the subject of the photo on an intersection of four grid lines. These intersections are naturally the most appealing focal points within a photo.
Your use of negative space can transform a good photo into an excellent one. Consider restaging the same photo a few times, to play with negative space, as well as different angles and different depths.
You can use leading lines to focus your viewer’s attention on a specific part of an image. These lines can be straight, wavy, or circular. Great examples of this principle in action are railroad tracks, spiral staircases, or forest trails.
Repetitive patterns, geometrical shapes, and abstract textures are visually appealing effects you should use in your images. Consider mosaic tabletops, building facades, or fraying fabrics. Naturally-occurring patterns and symmetry are also very photogenic: think about the veins on leaves or a spider web.
Begin paying attention to the photogenic details of your everyday life. With the appropriate use of lighting and negative space, you have the capacity to transform an intricate detail into a very powerful image.
Now that you’ve staged and shot your image, it’s time to discuss the best way to apply Instagram’s filters. To create consistency within your feed, you should stick to using the same few filters for all of your posts.
Check out this video for a helpful tutorial on editing photos directly from your phone:
Using filters will help distinguish and draw attention to your Instagram photos. Take a look at these examples of types of filters:
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your feed has a uniform feel and flow is to consider each new image you post in the context of the images surrounding it within your feed.
By focusing your attention on your previous photos, you will relieve yourself of the burden of considering whether each new photo you post matches the style of your entire feed.
Another way to create a good balance within your feed is to look at the level of detail in your previous images when you post a new image. If the previous photos are less detailed, consider posting a “busier” photo next.
You can draw more attention to your images by adding graphic elements that overlay your photo:
Canva and Easil are two web apps that will help you create fast and simple graphics to enhance your images.
If you choose to overlay your image with text graphics, limit yourself to one or two fonts, and make sure the font styles complement the feel and tone of your account.
Fontpair and Typ help explain which font styles work well together.
In today’s world of high-quality smartphone cameras and dozens of photo-editing apps, it is becoming easier to create visually-pleasing images to share on Instagram.
But to sell your product and attract new followers, it is imperative that you compose and share photos that create emotional associations with your brand.
This requires both preparation and creative execution, but by following the simple tips above, you’ll have new followers scrolling and day-dreaming in no time.
Originally published Feb 21, 2018 7:00:00 AM, updated October 30 2019