10 Tips for Better Instagram Photos

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Remembering the rule of thirds and embracing negative space can make for a nice, clean photo. Try adding a sunset for a little something extra.

7. Good spacing is key. Negative space, or space with no subject in it, can be a beautiful thing, especially in Instagram photos. Don't fear it, embrace it. Try experimenting with symmetry in a photo or asymmetry, if you're daring. Either of these can be used to draw the viewer's eye to or away from something in the photo. And if all else fails, default to the rule of thirds, meaning imagine the photo is split into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and keep the subject on one of the intersections created by those lines. Or, if you're too lazy for imagination, Instagram offers a grid for you to follow when you take a photo with the app. Nope, that's not a hashtag down in the corner. It's the rule of thirds.

6. Speaking of hashtags, think of them as accessories to your photo. As Coco Chanel said, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off." Same goes for hashtags. We believe they should be used for either humor or categorizing. But use them sparingly. No photo is funny enough or universally applicable enough to justify seven witty and categorical hashtags. We're setting the limit at five, and you better have a pretty damn good reason for every single one.

5. Just as spacing can make or break a photo, so can the lighting of a photo. Personally, we prefer natural light and harshly judge anyone who uses flash in photos taken anywhere besides a pitch black room. However, we grudgingly recognize that this is a personal choice, not a rule. Regardless, we advise you to seek out sources of natural light when taking photos. Try backlighting to create a soft light around your subject or using the light from windows as a sort of spotlight in a dark room. The possibilities really are endless. Oh, and one pro tip, food almost never looks good when over exposed with the flash from your phone.

4. Unless the point of an Instagram post is to showcase text, please don't add text directly to your photos. That's what captions are for.

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Evie Carpenter is a visual journalist. Using photography, videography, design, and sometimes words, she tells stories she hopes make a bit of difference in the world, even if those stories are in list form and include GIFs.
Contact: Evie Carpenter