I’m frequently asked how I take my photos for Instagram; this blogpost takes you through my tips for taking Instagram photos for my OOTD daily posts.
I feel that people think the process is all very simple and quick – but those close to me, especially those that help me, know that there is a lot of work involved in getting a good photo.
Unfortunately it’s not just as simple as standing against a wall and snap, snap, snap. Well don’t get me wrong, you can do that – I did do that at the beginning. Just took a photo and posted it. But if you want to raise your Instagram game; then you have to put a little more effort in.
This blogpost is the first of many that I plan to write for my Blogger Series – I’ve been blogging nine years now and I feel that over the coming months I want to share my knowledge of what I’ve learnt, especially over the last couple of years.
So many younger adults I meet want to get involved with blogging and the new digital world; so whilst this blogpost may not be of interest to you, if you know a young adult who is keen to know more then please do share this blogpost with them.
HOW TO TAKE A GREAT OUTFIT POST
Before we get into any technicalities of actually taking a photo; there are some simple basics you need to consider…
The colours or the print of your outfit – I’m using two different OOTD posts as examples within this blogpost. The yellow and purple prairie dress is a statement piece in itself – so it needs just a simple background like a brick wall.
However the zebra dress I am wearing in the photo below was not taken in a ‘controlled’ spot (I’ll come onto that) – this was taken out and about on a meet up with a friend, the monochrome outfit would get lost on a busy street so we opted for the pink wall despite some challenges (again I will come onto that.)
Think about your whole outfit – the accessories, the bag and the shoes can make or break a good photo.
Who is going to take your photo? – The question I must get asked at least every week by somebody – ANSWER: Me, My hubby, Family or Friends.
What I don’t do anymore – Ask random strangers – their photos are never great, they don’t get what you are doing and they only take two photos – it’s too stressful!
I also don’t take any on my own in a public street (some Instagram ladies do this – I applaud them, it’s just not for me.)
MY TWO MOST ASKED QUESTIONS – ANSWERED
Q: Where do you take your photos?
I have two spots in the garden that are under ‘controlled’ conditions – as in I can keep these areas tidy and I can control the time of day I take them so that the sun doesn’t impact the photo. For example the ones where I am by my garden fence, ideally needs to be taken before 11am – there after it’s a challenge.
I also have a regular brick wall that I use, we call this the ‘Daily Mail’ wall, as this is the background used in the shot that made it into the newspaper – I love this wall as it is very little effort, so quick to take and quick to edit.
The wall is high so I don’t have to worry about what’s above my head (that’s a challenge when you do street shots – you get a great outfit photo and then realise the signpost is sticking out the top of your head!)
It’s also a quiet road, so minimises on-lookers with that face saying “what are you doing?“; to which by the way if you happen to say to one of my regular photo takers – she will respond with a sarcastic “we a taking a photo” and rolls her eyes (always makes me laugh!).
And then my uncontrolled, but my favourite type of OOTDs are when we are out shopping, brunching or lunching – and we find a great spot to capture the moment. I personally love these.
My family and friends are so supportive, they are all about taking a good photo and so I follow their instructions. We take anything from around 15 to 40 photos – and I always ask them to help me choose the best two or three, as when you come to editing…. you may find that one you pick, may not work.
Looking back at these photos always reminds me of my day out with them, the time we had and what we did – the actual photo is no where near as important to me as the time I spend with them – chatting, laughing and deciding the background we will choose 🙂
Q: How do you take the photo yourself?
This is my least favourite OOTD posts – I think it’s very obvious when I have taken it or someone else has.
Luckily my hubby is quite accommodating of giving up a couple of minutes to take half a dozen photos; I just think my face is more alive, especially my eyes, when they take it – I feel it makes for a better photo. BUT that can’t always happen; I simple don’t have the time in my day to go chasing a photo!
I have two mini tripods; I usually set the one with the gooseneck to a bar stool; it’s a weighty base so it can take the elements of the weather. I used to use a clicker – a lot of Instagram ladies do this (in fact these days I don’t think people bother to hide it) so I would say that’s a great place to start.
It takes a photo every time you press it. So I would recommend to get into your pose and take 5 to 6 photos of the same (because believe me, with wind or long flowy fabric) you’ll have 5-6 different photos.
Until you get confident with the background, your poses etc you will have to take a test shot or shots – or you’ll end up with no feet or missing your head – LOL!
Nowadays I don’t use a clicker – I just set the timer for ten seconds, get into a pose and it takes 10 burst shots instantly – I love this because 8/10 shots my eyes are closed, so I get to pick from two! 😉
EDITING MY INSTAGRAM PHOTOS
For now, this is blogpost is going to give you the very basics – there is a lot involved in the editing stage, and if I am truly honest editing takes practice. Stick with it, the app tools are fab, overtime you will find your feet, create your own style and before you know it you’ll be a whizz. I promise to follow up with a more in-depth editing blogpost.
As with blogging there is an 80/20 rule. It’s quick to take a photo that the 20% bit. Editing, the caption, the posting, the engaging and all that – that’s the 80% bit!
Let’s look at this photo that was taken on my iPhone by a friend when we were out grabbing coffee together.
The uncontrolled elements:
- The sun and where it lands
- The drain – yes how annoying!
- The window – it was either that or black drainpipe to choose from…. and that would not put the drain central
- Take note too – a raw photo is very unlikely to ever have you spot on in the centre
- Does the outfit work with the background – as in, will the outfit ‘pop’
- I can control the drain by standing on it
- Having enough space top and bottom of me to be able to centralise the photo in editing
- Standing where we can get the minimal about of sun casting a shadow
How I edited this photo:
I took the raw photo and imported it into an app called Facetune. Within this app I used the PATCH tool to simplify the pattern of the drain – can you see I’ve made it all checked to help keep the surroundings of me clean so that the dress can ‘pop’
Once you get to grips with the patch tool, it’s super quick for cleaning the pavement, chewing gum, weeds, paint marks – you want to remove anything that distracts the eye and cleans your surrounds.
There is a DETAILS tool then I use often to pick up the highlights of my outfit (don’t over detail as this can look terrible, so watch any fat fingers – you need to keep your touch quite light) I worked on the belt and frilly details of the dress just to enhance them.
I then save this to my camera roll and then upload the image to VSCO. Now this app is free, however I have paid the annual subscription because I wanted a particular filter – but before you pay, check out all the free ones. I only really use VSCO for filtering; I use the same one A8 as I want my images in a cool tone (that said there are many Instagram accounts that use warm – I just find my images don’t look great with that)
I prefer VSCO filters than the ones provided in Instagram, which if I am honest are not great… to raise your insta game you need to move on from them. Once I’ve selected A8, I save that photo to my camera roll.
The next step is then to go into the photo in your cameral roll and edit the FRAME of your photo. I think the best OOTD posts are when you make yourself as big as you can in the portrait mode (I don’t take square photos, if you do want this; take the raw photo in square mode avoid trying to make a portrait fit into a square during editing – it rarely works) and then I use the grid lines to get me as central as possible – which is why you need the space above and below you in the raw photo or you will find you end up chopping your feet off or part of the top of your head!
Press SAVE – and then upload to Instagram. Here is where you decide if you need to lighten/darken or if you want a little contrasting. And that’s it – you are ready to post.
The before & After shot
A little recap of what I did for you to compare:
- I simplified the drain and cleaned up the obvious marks on the pavement by using PATCH – for a cleaner finish
- I used the DETAILS to enhance the frills and the belt on the dress
- I filtered the image to A8 in VSCO
- I then edited the frame in camera roll to centralise me and make me as big as possible in portrait as it’s all about the outfit and not the background – this has also removed the shadow at the top which could be distracting
MY FINAL THOUGHTS…
My OOTD posts are never about me, they are about the outfit – that’s what people want to see. So I am always likely to pick the best shot where the outfit, the bag or the shoes look the best – they are the hero not me. I obviously don’t select one with my eyes closed, but if the outfit doesn’t look good, then we keep snapping away until it does.
Practice, practice, practice – and don’t forget – it’s journey and I’ve enjoyed developing my own style on my journey – one square at a time!
TOOLS TO CONSIDER
- The app – Facetune – download from Apple store
- The app – VSCO – try the FREE version and if not then pay to subscribe – my A8 filter is not free – download from Apple store
The tools I have to take photos myself are a good few years old, but all came from Amazon:
- I have a three leg tripod with clicker – if I had to repurchase I would consider this one
- I have a wrap around tripod which Amazon is describing as gooseneck – it’s not quite what I have, but if I had to buy today – this is probably what I would opt for
- And my search also mixes the two a long tripod stand with a gooseneck – my only concern with this one, is will it take the weather elements of wind? – you need to be careful not to damage your phone (it’s not worth it for a photo!)
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