We’ve all seen those travel shots on Instagram – the ones that make us want to hop on a plane to a faraway destination, sip a mojito on a beach, don a bikini and strike a pose on an exotic beach in the hopes that we too will look like a social media influencer.
If you’ve ever tried to recreate one of these you’ll realise that to get the perfect shot can literally take hundreds of attempts; and very rarely ends up like that post you marvelled at on your favourite Instagram account.
Angles, lighting, framing, practice and hundreds of takes all go into perfecting those travel pics. Taking really amazing Instagram photos is not easy; and while we can’t help you become an IG influencer, our guide on how to create better images may just help improve your chances. This is the first post in our series of Instagram photography tips which will take you through everything from how to pose and make your subject look good in photos (this post!), to which equipment to use, editing and even the best travel hashtags to use. Keep reading for top tips on how to look even better in your Instagram travel pics!
How to Make Your Subject Look Good in Photos
Unfortunately looking like a professional model in photographs doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But don’t worry; we’ve curated some top tips and tricks around what to do to look your best and how to make your subjects look good in your Insta snaps.
It’s All About the Angles...
If you’ve seen images taken minutes apart from different angles you’ll know that they can completely change a photograph and make it that much more interesting. Try playing around with shooting from above, below, diagonally – get creative!
For portrait shots, professionals recommend avoiding facing the camera straight on as this is rarely flattering, no matter who you are! Turn your head left or right slightly to allow the camera to capture your features in depth. In an article on Stylecaster.com labelled, How to Pose for Pictures So You Never Fear Being Tagged Again, writer Perrie Samotin says to avoid face-on shots as there is an “absence of shadows, which could make your face look wider, larger, or slightly discoloured” (1). Tilt your head slightly up, and down, and have a play around in front of the mirror to see what works well for you.
Getting your lighting right is essential in any photography, and Instagram pics are no different. For the best photography lighting for portrait shots or selfies, don’t stand directly under or in front of a light as this can play havoc with shadows on your face (unless of course you want a sunset silhouette!) Facing directly or side on to soft, natural light is the best option. In an article on the Huffington Post, influencer and model Margaret Zhang says natural light is always the best option for shooting “so if you're outdoors, early morning, late afternoon and overcast days are prime times for shooting."(2). With almost 1 million followers, we think she knows what she’s talking about.
Shooting in the right light is just as important when taking shots of scenery. National Geographic photojournalist Renan Ozturk likes to shoot at sunset or sunrise. (3), which makes for some amazing imagery.
Composition and Framing
Composition and framing in photography refers to placement of visual aspects within an image and how your subject is framed within a photograph. While you can now upload landscape and portrait shots to Instagram, square images still tend to look better. To help you take a great square shot, make it easier by shooting in square mode. This will also help you frame and compose your subject as you’ll see the exact composition while shooting.
The basic rule of composition – particularly for beginners - has been to use the the rule of thirds. This technique involves mentally dividing your image into 9 equal square parts (kind of like a noughts and crosses board); and then framing your main subject at the intersection of these squares. Many cameras these days actually have a grid format option to make it easier for you!
Despite this being seen as one of the most well-known photography techniques, it’s not a rule to follow all the time as each photograph and subject is different. Placing the subject slap bang in the middle often works really well so make sure you test your framing and composition to determine which works best for each shot.
Image top @directormesut
Image bottom @jpgoldsmithm
Lift your Arms and Elongate your Neck!
Tuckshop arms, bingo wings, reverse biceps – no matter what you call skin around your triceps, nobody likes it. Unfortunately even the slimmest of pins can look wider than normal when resting against your body. Putting your hand on your hip will fix this however you don’t need to do it in every photo; simply lifting your arms slightly off your body will slim them down.
Double chins are as loved just about as much as tuckshop arms. To avoid a double chin, elongate your neck and push your face forward a little. Think of sticking out your forehead and tipping your chin down slightly. It might feel awkward, but it will look great (just make sure you make this a subtle move so you don’t look like you’re stretching your neck!).
Play with Shapes and Patterns
Many professional photographers like to use patterns and shapes to create bold visual impact in their images. Patterns, textures and shapes are appealing as the eye is naturally drawn to these elements. Try look for repetative or constrasting shapes. These can be found in many forms and locations from artfully decorated plates in a Turkish market, to an Arabian Mosque, to a traditional Phillipeano meal in a local village. So remember to be on the lookout for any shapes or patterns that you see, as well as cool textures and materials such as sand, gravel, wood, glass or stone that can bring a whole new dimension to your pics.
Whether it’s a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower or a shot of horse galloping through the Utah desert, these top 5 tips used by professionals around the world will help your subjects look better in your Instagram photography. Stay tuned for the next edition of A Complete Guide to Instagramming your Trip where we will outline the best equipment to help you achieve influencer status (at least to your friends and work colleagues).