One of the unique qualities about Instagram among all the other social platforms is that it’s primarily visual with its ongoing feed of imagery. This allows business to visually show off their product, rather than just tell; however, this also presents a challenge.
How can you make your business narrative seen through a consistent, visually appealing brand? Here are five key factors that will ensure your Instagram feed looks great and tells your story well.
The Bare Essentials
While top-notch, expensive camera gear surely has its benefits; it’s definitely not required to have a great visual presence on Instagram. What you do need is a smart phone with a camera, and some good natural light. Whether you’re taking photos of people experiencing the benefits of your product outside, or you’re taking photos of physical products indoors, these two are essential to get going.
Quality lighting for your photos can take them to the next level!
The best lighting source is found outside, but there are also ways to capture this gorgeous light indoors. If you want to take your photo outside, the best time of day for lighting is called golden hour. This is the hour after sunrise or before sunset when the skies turn golden and make everything seem magical. Depending on where you live, taking photos at those times of day may not be ideal, so if you need to take photos in the middle of the day here are a couple of tips:
- Avoid direct, high-noon sun outside.In the middle of the day, the sun is directly above which can cast harsh shadows on your subject. Instead, we want evenly lit light to highlight your subject so to avoid the bright sun, find some shade. In the shade, your image will have even light, making for a wonderful photo.
- Avoid dark, indoor spaces.While its common to have offices and buildings with tiled, white fluorescent lighting in the ceiling, this is not ideal for your images because it will make them appear yellow. Instead, try finding a nearby window that has some room for your photo. This way, you’ll capture the great natural lighting while still being inside.
- Use a reflector.If you can’t go outside and you don’t have any windows nearby, you can purchase a $20 reflector to help you bounce the available light. I personally use this for my photography, and it always comes in handy. Simply choose to either add more light with the silver or gold sides or take away light with the white, diffuser side. Tilt the reflector side-to-side as well as up-and-down until you see the desired light, and you’re all set!
Rule of Thirds
When it comes to visuals, the layout of your subjects can also be optimized to create visual interest. Using the rule of thirds, you can ensure your image is balanced, natural, and professional. The rule of thirds creates a 9-part grid providing four lines where your subject can be placed.
Choosing Your Filter
One you’ve taken your image with great lighting, positioned with the rule of thirds, and have taken your image, its time to edit it! The first think you’ll want to do, is choose your filter. Filters are several different styles and editing presets that are ready to use. There are an extremely high number of filter options out there today from a variety of apps, including Instagram’s 21 filter options so be careful when you choose your filter. Ask yourself this:
- Does this filter reflect the mood of my business narrative?
- Does this filter draw attention to itself or does it enhance my subject in the photo?
- Is this filter consistent with my other imagery?
Once you’ve chosen a filter or two that works best for your business, make sure to stick with that filter. While it’s okay to experiment right away, too many different filters at once can disrupt the mood and emotion of your Instagram feed as a whole. When your audience goes to your account and sees nine images together, consistency needs to be evident in telling your story well. Find a couple of filters and stick to it.
Some of My Favorite Tools
From start to finish, there are apps and tools out there to help you get the best photo possible. Here’s a grand list of some of my favorite photo tools from creation to hitting publish:
- VSCO: Use their camera grid to apply the rule of thirds, and utilize their hand-crafted filters for great color.
- Snapseed: Once you’ve taken your image, open it in Snapseed for several advanced editing tools and filters.
- Filterstorm Neue: While only available for iPhone, the app has a diverse collection of customizable editing options.
- TouchRetouch: Need to edit out something? This app is perfect for detailed retouching!
- ProCamera: If you’d like more control of your iPhone camera, this app allows you the full functionality.
While there are several more tools out there, these are the ones that have worked best for me and Rising Women Network. Explore the different options, and see what works best for you. Every workflow is unique, so choose an app that matches your photo process best.