Keep It Bright
The best ‘grams are taken indoors with great natural light or outside in daylight. “Natural light provides the best clarity and colors, making your image sharp and crisp,” says Charissa Fay, a travel and lifestyle photographer. Light from the side makes your subject look more three-dimensional, highlights texture and creates a moody effect; subjects lit from the back look dreamy and glowy; and light from the front is the most flattering.
Leave Room to Crop
Give yourself more options by shooting vertically, “then try different square crops to find the image that looks more interesting,” says style writer Nandita Khanna, who will purposefully cut portions of the objects she’s shooting out of the frame. “You can be more spontaneous shooting in landscape or portrait and cropping later; it gives you more flexibility,” adds Elizabeth Dehn from Beauty Bets.
Restrain Your Editing
Use a light touch with the tools—you don’t want to distort your photos too much. When in doubt, the brightening one is best, says Dehn, because it sharpens the picture and makes colors more striking. Skip the Instagram filters for a more authentic feel. Dehn prefers to use the VSCO app, which allows you to use more than one filter at a time and still maintain the feeling of the original image.
Know Your Angles
For still lifes, it’s all about the overhead shot—you want to be directly above what you’re shooting, says Miranda Hammer of The Crunchy Radish, so don’t be afraid to climb on a chair or even get on a ladder to snap the perfect shot. With outfit pics, “hold the camera high and close to your chest and stand up straight so your clothes are just peeking through and the majority of the frame is the floor below,” suggests Khanna. When capturing scenery, Fay recommends using the grid on your phone camera for a perfectly aligned photo.
Take Color Into Account
Less is more when it comes to the color palette in your pics—images with a lot of shades can be distracting and appear messy. “It’s important for images to hang together well from one post to the next, so it should be all about the colors you naturally respond to,” explains Khanna. For food shots, bright patterned dishes can cause the picture to appear too busy, says Hammer.
Prop It Out
If you’re shooting multiple beauty products, an outfit laid down or food on lots of plates, try different groupings. “Make sure all the elements in your shot are highlighted and visible, and think about adding props to give the shot texture,” advises Hammer. For products, keep the groupings small and clutter-free: “I find having small odd numbers offers the best balance in shape and packaging,” adds Dehn.
Mind the Background
For outfit shots, “pretty walls and tiled floors are Instagram candy,” says Khanna. For beauty products, a white background is the safest option, but anything from wood to marble to a placemat adds texture. “It’s important to have variety,” says Hammer.
Buck the Trends
Sick of overhead shots and selfies? Instead of snapping your #OOTD in the mirror, head outside: “A picture in front of an interesting wall or door makes the image less about the clothes and more about the environment,” says Khanna. For food, try a beautiful dish with cut-up ingredients surrounding it to add dimension to the photo, suggests Hammer. The next big thing is holding objects in your hands. “It gives the photo a human element, and adds warmth and personality,” says Fay.