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Top 12 Instagram Photography Hacks to Upgrade Your Instagram

Source: Unsplash

Do you need to be a professional photographer to create compelling Instagram posts?

Absolutely not! Some of the most successful Instagram accounts are composed entirely of photos taken on mobile phones by amateur photographers.

Creating great Instagram posts doesn’t require that you understand advanced photographic techniques. Rather, it’s a matter of being intelligent about things like composition, lighting, and choosing flattering angles.

If you’re looking to get more likes on Instagram, these are our top 12 Instagram photography hacks to upgrade your Instagram feed!

Instagram Has Become a Billion User Social Network

Why is it important to invest time and energy in Instagram?

Because it’s an international marketing machine. This year, Instagram exceeded 1 billion active users. That’s a lot of eyes that could potentially be feasting on your content and discovering your brand!

By creating a striking Instagram feed, you’ll be able to gain followers that can easily turn into customers.

You Need To Know The Best Strategies If You Want to Step Up Your Instagram Game

The staggering amount of active users on Instagram can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, there are many opportunities to promote your business and expose yourself to a greater audience.

However, given the amount of competition out there, it can be easy to be left in the dust or to go unnoticed on the platform.

So how can you gain an edge and get noticed? You need to familiarize yourself with the best practices, techniques, and strategies to increase Instagram followers and likes.

Top 12 Photography Hacks to Upgrade Your Instagram

Since Instagram is a visual medium, your photography needs to be as compelling as possible.

Happily, this doesn’t mean that you have to enroll in photography school–you just need to learn some key tips that will help you showcase your brand in the best light.

Here are the top 12 photography hacks to upgrade your Instagram:

1. Forget the Flash

Instagrammers in the know will never, ever use flash. Not only does it make your photos look amateurish and grainy, but the results are typically totally unflattering.

Even if the lighting is low, forget the flash. Instead, try to find a good artificial light source, embrace the low light by using candlelight, or just post the low-light pic on your Instagram stories and reserve your feed for nicer results.

2. Use Natural Light

Natural light will always give you the most dazzling photography results, hands down

Gentle or diffused natural light is best. It won’t create strong shadows, and it tends to be more flattering when photographing both people and objects.

The very best times of day for natural light tend to be the times directly after sunrise and directly before sunset (the latter is actually referred to as “the golden hour” by photographers!).

3. Drop the Clutter, Simple is Better

When it comes to composition, use the KISS acronym. That stands for “keep it simple, stupid”.

To much clutter in your shot can be distracting, not to mention it just looks messy. Take a few minutes to move clutter outside of the frame of your shot so that the subject of your photo can really shine. It makes a difference!

feast and west instagramSource: Instagram

4. Use the Grid Feature

When you open someone’s Instagram page, you don’t necessarily focus on a single photo at first. You see several rows of their feed in a grid. This in and of itself can prove visually compelling, and intelligent Instagrammers capitalize on it.

There are several ways to plan out your posting so that your grid creates a visual story. For instance, you might have a consistent color scheme. As you can see in the Feast + West feed (pictured above), regardless of the subject matter, every photo has a white backdrop. This offers a sense of consistency when the photos are viewed in the grid.

There are various ways to organize your grid. You might post three quotes in a row, then three photos. Or, you might alternate black and white and color photos. Need ideas? This article offers even more great tips.

5. Shoot from Different Angles

Don’t just post the first photo you take. Take photos from multiple angles of the object in question. Sometimes, mixing up the point of view can make for more compelling photography.

For instance, in the food world, a current trend is to shoot overhead shots looking down at the item in question. For some items, a ¾ view or slightly elevated angle will make for a visually interesting view, and for others, a side view or profile shot might be just the ticket.

No need to overthink it; just experiment. Take photos from several angles, and post the one that looks most interesting.

6. Take Advantage of Props

Ever wonder why everything looks so appealing in the Anthropologie or Crate & Barrel catalog? Behold, the power of props. In photos, props can help evoke a feeling in the imagery, and offer context to your subject.

For instance, if you manufacture cooling racks for baking, photos of the product alone probably won’t entice. However, if you display freshly made cookies and a beautiful tea towel in a photo, it makes your products more appealing by inspiring the viewer to fantasize about what they could do with them.

By evoking a sense of emotion, it makes viewers feel more connected and drawn to the photo.

7. Use Bad Weather in Your Favor

Rainy or snowy days can be a bummer, did you know that they can work to your advantage on Instagram? Overcast days actually offer some of the very best lighting for Instagram shots.

The clouds act as a diffuser for the light, helping prevent harsh, unflattering shadows in your photos. Whether you’re photographing a person, an object, or food, bad weather lighting is actually some of the most gentle and flattering light there is!

8. Close Up Shots

The advantages of close-up shots are many. First, close-up shots can provide an interesting composition that makes viewers want to take a closer look.

Second, it can be a great way to crop out extraneous elements and really focus on your subject. For instance, if you’re taking a photo of a piece of jewelry you designed, taking a close up shot of a hand with a ring you designed can bring attention right to the item in question.

9. Quality over Quantity

When it comes to Instagram posting, you want to post regularly. However, quality should always come before quantity. A poorly shot photo on your feed can be worse than missing a day of posting here or there.

To make sure that you always have photos to post, have a few photos ready and on queue so that if you have a busy day, you don’t have to worry about finding content for the day.

10. Use the Environment Around You

Often, your surroundings can provide great backdrops or settings for Instagram photos.

For instance, a photo of a cup of coffee might be pretty, but posting it with the New York skyline as a backdrop can make it a very compelling shot with a sense of place.

Alternately, a backdrop of beautiful spanish moss in trees behind a fashion shoot can offer a romantic, dreamy vibe. Use your environment to create the narrative you want!

11. Use Photo Editing Apps to Upgrade Your Instagram

To really take your Instagram shots to the next level, forget about the canned filters and get a little bit more refined with your photo editing. Here are some top photo editing apps to consider:


With an extremely user-friendly interface, Snapseed can help you edit photos in, well, a snap. It can be used to adjust brightness/contrast, saturation, shadows, and other basics, but with a bit more refinement than the tools in the Instagram app.


If you like the ease and accessibility of filters, consider VSCO. This photo editing software has some of the best and most natural-looking ones, many of which are available for free.  

Afterlight 2

If you have an iPhone, Afterlight 2 is one of the most popular photo editing apps. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. It has filters, selective color, light, and hue adjustments, and community filter sharing.

Photoshop Express

You’re probably familiar with Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop Express is like the travel-size version of the program, designed for both desktops and mobile devices. It’s more intuitive and accessible than the regular Photoshop application, and you can literally master it in minutes.

PicsArt Photo Studio

PicsArt is a sort of social media network in and of itself! It lets you edit photos, draw on them, and share with their built in community as well as on Instagram and Facebook.

12. Create the Right Captions for More Engagement

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for best results, pare it down even further on Instagram. A witty caption helps draw viewers in and makes them more likely to engage.

For instance, you might post a photo of two products from your line and ask viewers which one they prefer, or you might post a clever caption that makes them LOL.

Awesome Photo Ideas for Your Instagram

Feeling uninspired about what to post on Instagram? Here are some content ideas to try:

Instagram photographySource: Instagram

Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes photos are fun, engaging, and they let customers get a sneak peek into what makes you and your business tick. For instance, if you’re a food blogger, your followers might get a kick out of seeing your dog investigate your photo scene.

Create a Signature Photo

Some people have a signature look. On Instagram, people have a signature photo. It might be that you frequently post a picture looking down at your cool shoes du jour, or take the same overhead shot of your Sunday brunch plate of the week. It helps you develop a style, and makes your followers look forward to your next signature shot.


Yep: selfies sell…your Instagram account, that is! A well placed selfie with a prominent person, in front of a landmark, or posted in an amusing way can be a fun way to engage with your followers.

Pictures of Something You Are Working On

Got a work in progress? Post it on the ‘Gram! Sometimes, works in progress can be a great addition to your feed. Or, post updates in your stories, then post the finished product on your feed.

Becoming a Pro at Instagram Photos Is Good, But, That Is Not All

Because Instagram is a visual medium, your photos do matter. But it’s only part of what will help you gain followers.

In addition to focusing on creating quality content, you have to take strategic steps to grow your Instagram followers.

Curious about some of the best ways to grow your Instagram organically? Check out this post for specific tips.


If you want to improve your following and engagement on Instagram, it’s important to create compelling visual imagery.

While you don’t need to be a professional photographer to do this, you do need to learn some basics about the most interesting images. Remember these points:

  • Light matters. The natural, gentle light that occurs either after sunrise, before sunset, or on cloudy days is the most flattering.
  • Composition is key. Be sure to crop your photo so that there’s no clutter, and be creative with props, styling, and the angle of your photos.
  • Curate a look. By developing a signature style on Instagram, people will find it a pleasure to follow your feed.

At SocialUpgrade, we can help take your Instagram account to the next level. We can help create a tailored social media plan so that you can grow your account in a sustainable, organic way.

With great photos and a targeted approach, we can help you upgrade your Instagram and grow more followers fast!

What’s your favorite Instagram photography hack?

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