Rachel Mae Smith loves do-able DIYS and strives to make crafting easy, colorful and fun over on her blog The Crafted Life. Her work has been featured on Martha Stewart Living, Design Sponge, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Garden, and more. When she's not pinning pictures, or brushing glitter out of her hair, you can find her exploring Philadelphia.
Hi all, Rachel from The Crafted Life here! Within the last year, I grew my personal following on Instagram by 20k followers. There are a lot of tips and tricks I learned along the way, but these five are a must if you’re looking to do the same...
1) Whole Feed Perspective
Think of your feed as a whole, instead of analyzing each individual photo. If you’re trying to grow your following, this is beyond crucial. Let’s say that someone new lands on your profile without knowing anything about you. They will make the decision whether or not to follow you (typically within 6 seconds) based on your collective body of work.
It helps to really know your brand and your vision when taking photos. For example, my feed is all about color and fun. I rotate between bright and white backdrops to create balance in my feed.
2) Natural Light
Natural light is a must. Just because you might make or do something cool at night, doesn’t mean you have to photograph it at night. Regardless of how well you style a shot, if the lighting is poor, the overall photo quality decreases (especially with our phones).
When shooting in natural light, you are going to get a cleaner, sharper, and evenly lit photo. Remember, Instagram is your visual resume. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in real time.
3) Plan Ahead
Queue up photos. More and more, we’re expected to post to Instagram at least once a day. It can be stressful to run around to find something to photograph if you don’t have a post lined up for the day. The inspiration isn’t always there. Instead of pushing out content that you aren’t proud of just to have something go up, queue images up on your phone.
I like to work 3 images ahead so that I both know what my feed will look like, but also to take the stress out of the equation.To get an idea of how my images will look side by side, I queue up my posts in VSCO. The last 2 photos in the grid above haven’t been posted to my feed yet.
4) Move around
Sometimes all it takes to get the perfect photo is to tweak a few small details or to swap out one prop for another if you’re shooting a flat lay. Play around with your setup and have a variety of images to choose from (I take about 10-20 shots per each Instagram I post).
Be thinking angles and setups before it comes time to shoot, but don’t be afraid the mix it up and experiment with something new midshoot. That’s the beauty of shooting with a digital camera or smartphone!
5) Edit Your Photos
Take the time to edit. I know - that one sunset was #nofilter worthy. But the truth of it is that 99% of your photos are going to need some post processing help. Really take the time to edit your photos to the best of your ability… then edit them again until you nail a process that works for you and your brand. If you’re currently just using Instagram editing tools, maybe experiment with other photo apps to see what other types of results you can get.
When going through my photos, I tend to edit them (via VSCO) the exact same way to build up a comprehensive brand. Once you have a system in place, it should only take you about 2-3 minutes to go through the motions of editing. It also helps to pay attention to the details and edit out any unwanted blemishes. I used to app Retouch to edit the street in the photo above and the wall in the photo below.
So that’s it! Remember that being a better photographer or Instagrammer doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice and testing, but if you stick with it, you’ll totally get there!
PS If you'd like some one-on-one help, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consulting session!
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