I can’t tell you how much I L O V E Instagram. I’m embarrased to share with you how much time I spend on Instagram on a daily basis, but let’s just say that it’s a lot… I use it to find inspiration on everything from interior decoration, fashion, new coffee shops I have to visit and of course I also get a lot of my cake inspiration from Instagram.
It took me a lot of time to find my own “style” on Instagram, but I’m now at a place where I feel like I have some sort of consistency in my motives, my editing etc. I often get asked which apps I use for editing, how I take my photos etc. So now I wanted to sum up my best tips and tricks, to help you get started with finding your own style on Instagram.
It’s important for me to mention that my tips are given on the basis of my own subjective experience and hence it is not a complete rulebook. I am certainly not an Instagram expert, and although I have 132.000 followers it is nothing to brag about in a world where the really talented users have beyond 1 million followers.
I mostly take my pictures with my DSLR camera (Olympus Pen) since I carry it on me everywhere anyway. If I don’t have my DSLR I use my iPhone 6.
1. Create your own style
Be inspired by others, but never copy. Great Instagram accounts are unique, and they grow because the content is inspiring and original. It is very obvious to see when someone is too inspired by others, and copying someone’s style/frames/motives will often have a quite negative effect.
2. Be critical
Take a close look at your picture after taking it. Does it look too messy, does something need to be removed from the frame? Are some colors too extreme or not in balance? Does a bowl, a hand or anything else need to be moved a few cm?
3. Take MANY pictures
I usually take a minimum of 10 pictures, sometimes even 20 of the same motive from different angles. I find it easier to compare the pictures on my screen after taking them, so I can choose the best frame from there.
4. Use natural lighting
There’s no doubt about it: The best pictures are taking in natural lighting. You need a bright setting, but not direct sunligt, as this will create harsh shadows (but shadows can generally also have a cool effect).
5. Flash is a no-go!
Even in bad lighting it will often be better to take a picture without using flash and afterwards editing it brighter, than to use the flash.
Apps and editing
I generally recommend to edit your pictures the same way every time, so that your feed will look consistent and thought through. Find your favorite filter and stick to it – don’t change between diffent filters and editing styles. I personally prefer to edit my pictures bright and cold, but some of the prettiest Instagram profiles that I follow are completely the opposite – dark and color instense, which I must say is extremely beautiful.
I use this app first, and go to Tune Image to adjust brightness etc.
After that I go to Selective and adjust Brightness, Contrast and Saturation on smaller spots. This is perfect is there are specific spots on the picture that I want to brighten – for example a massive shadow – or if there are any other partial spots that need specific editing without the entire photo being affected.
Some times I finish with choosing Details and from here editing Structure and Sharpening.
Once the photo has been through Snapseed I open the edited version in VSCOcam, which in my opinion is the app with the prettiest filters. VSCOcam’s standard filters are sooo beautiful, but it is even possible to purchase additional filters, if you really want to up your editing game! After having applied a filter I am ready to upload the photo to Instagram.
8. Other great photo apps
ABM (A Beautiful Mess): Great for applying text and/or making collages.
PartyParty: Great for making GIFS that can be immediately uploaded to Instagram.
Upload your picture
Once the picture is ready for upload, all you need is a great caption. Sometimes a single emoji is enough, and other times a pictures deserves a lot of text. In other words, use the text to express yourself, and let your personality shine through.
Hashtags can sometimes be a pain in the *** to read, but none the less they serve quite an important task. Use the first comment to fill in all of the relevant hashtags. In this way the hashtags are not bothering the caption directly below your photo.
10. Good manners
If you want to repost someone else’s photo, make sure to always 1) ask for permission first and 2) clearly write, in the beginning of the caption, who took the photo, ie. “Photo: @copenhagencakes”. It is NOT enough to tag the original photographer in the picture or simply write “Photo: @xxxx” after 20 hashtags.
I really have to stress the importance of this last section, because every photographer owns their original content, meaning that the photos are copyrighted, whether the photographer (Instagram user who took the picture) is a professional photographer with 400.000 followers or “just” a private Instagram user with 152 followes. Using someone’s photos without permission is a violation of copyright, and under extreme circumstances this could end up being an expensive affair.
My Instagram obsessions
As you may know by now, I love Instagram and might have a slight addiction. One of my reasons for loving Instagram is that I get a lot of my foodstyling and food photography inspiration from there. These Instagram profiles are my absolute favorites:
- @ditsen aka Ditte Ingemann from The Food Club. In my humble opinion Ditte is the best cookbook author, foodblogger and photographer. Her Instagram feed is as mouth watering as it is beautiful.
- @lammaigal: Food, coffee and lots of amazing travel photos, taken in desaturated colors and environments that has a very calm feel to it.
- @verdenius: Marieke of the Instagram profile @verdenius is the queen of white, grey, bright blue, beige and all of the colors I love the most. Her minimalistic photos are the essence of a true thought trough and well executed Instagram style.
- @lachristus aka Chris Tonnesen is not only a genuinely good guy but also an amazing food photographer. Chris has worked the camera behind many of my favorite cookbooks.
- @katherine_sabbath from Sydney, Australia, bakes the most awesome cakes I have ever seen. Neon colors, meringues, flowers, fruits and swirly lollipops.