How to Take Pictures for Instagram Without a Photographer

    February 18 2022

    Instagram is essential for growing your brand or business online because not only is it accessible to almost all users, but Instagram has everything you need to create high-quality content without ever having to leave the platform.

    By leveraging Instagram’s tools, you’re able to create high-performing and converting content without having to exhaust all your resources. What is more, you don’t need fancy equipment either!  The in-app tools help you create content that’s both authentic and relevant. In this guide, we’ll share with you why casual content is king and how to take pictures for Instagram without having professional equipment.

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    Casual Content Is King 

    Gone are the days spent meticulously planning out grids that look as curated as Khloe Kardashian’s oreo jar. In 2022, social media is all about creating authentic content. Think engaging, not perfect. Instagram even notes that users want to be entertained, which is why they’re putting an emphasis on video content via Instagram Reels. By incorporating “scrappy” or low-res content into your content strategy, you’re able to hop on trends to help you stay relatable to your audiences and customers. 

    Low-res content is also popular with younger audiences like Generation Z. Gen Z is a mobile-first generation meaning they can’t remember a time when smartphones and social media weren’t a part of their everyday lives. Growing up on the internet means they can easily see past overly-designed content, which is why it’s best to create content that’s quick to make and grabs the audience’s attention in the least amount of time. Now that you have a better understanding of why casual content or pictures taken using a smartphone lead to better engagement, here’s how to master taking photos for Instagram yourself.

    Related: 4 Tips to Create Great Content on the Fly

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    How to Take High-Quality Photos With Your Phone

    Step 1: Clean Your Camera Lens

    A simple yet overlooked tip to creating high-quality photos for Instagram is making sure your phone’s camera lens is cleaned. Mobile phones are in our hands all day long, which makes them highly susceptible to dirty camera lenses that will result in less than perfect quality. To get the most out of your smartphone camera, give it a little wipe down with a microfiber cloth to clear away the smudges. 

    Step 2: Find Good Lighting

    Lighting can make or break any image, especially one taken on a smartphone. And flash isn’t always the answer. Creating a diffused light source such as the sun, indoor lights and candles or even another phone’s flashlight will give you better results. However, natural lighting is key and should be your first option when available. 

    To leverage natural lighting, take photos in front of the window so the sunlight can come through while you’re shooting your content. If you’re taking photos inside on a sunny day, have the subject face a big window. 

    Step 3: Think About the Space 

    Take a look at the background of your image. Clear out any unwanted objects that distract from the main object. You can always edit the background in Photoshop, but we’re shooting for a low-effort, high-yield approach. Take a look at everything you’re capturing in the frame and make sure everything is there for a reason. 

    Another important tip is to keep your finger off the zoom button unless your phone has a telephoto lens. Digital zoom results in lower resolution images. Better to get as close to your desired subject as you can, then crop later. 

    Step 4: Consider Composition

    Head to your phone camera settings and enable the grid function. This will add a rule-of-thirds overlay to your camera app. The rule-of-thirds is a composition guide that places the subject of your photo in either the left or right third of the image. The other two thirds should be left open. Even the most amateur photographers can get well-composed shots using this simple guideline.

    Equipment

    If you want to invest a bit of money to make capturing professional-quality photos with your phone even easier, consider grabbing the following items:

    • Tripod: Using a tripod is helpful because it’s steadier than your hands could ever be and  it allows you to take photos and videos of yourself, by yourself. Bonus points if you can get your hands on a stabilizer for extra steady video content.
    • Lighting: There are plenty of starter lighting kits sold online. You can start with a small ring light (some even come with a tripod for your phone). 

    And if you really want to invest in a camera, you can up your quality game and production speed by using a wifi-enabled camera. Just make sure the camera you buy actually produces better quality pics than your smartphone before you make the investment.

    Editing

    Once you’ve taken the photos, it’s time to edit them. There are a few simple ways to do this:

    • Instagram’s native editing tools such as crop and filters.
    • Your phone’s native editing tools even have auto-fix settings.
    • Canva’s editing tools. Canva has all the basic photo editing tools from both options above, plus the ability to spruce up photos with text overlays and graphics. Plus, Canva uploads straight to PLANOLY
    • Lightroom presets that are like filters, but a little better quality If you aren’t great at photo editing but want your photos to have the same vibe, Lightroom presets are the way to go. You can buy them on Etsy (they’re usually super affordable) and download them to Lightroom on your phone. . To use them, upload your photos into the Lightroom app then click the “Preset” button and select your Preset of choice. The only tricky part here is actually downloading the presets into the lightroom app. Here’s how to do that: 
      • Download the presets to your phone. 
      • Go to the lightroom app and select upload. 
      • Select the presets (you’ll have to unzip the files first). 
      • Open up the presets as photos in Lightroom, click the three dots in the top right corner, then click “Create Preset”. 

    How to Get Comfortable In front of the Camera

    Sometimes you will need to get out from behind the camera and become the subject of the photo. Not everyone is naturally photogenic, and that’s perfectly okay. Here are some tricks to help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera:

    • Practice poses: Set up your phone to video and practice poses. You can scroll through the video and screenshot the ones you want to use in your pictures. 
    • Find an audience: If you feel more comfortable posing for an audience, find someone to tell you how you’re looking from behind the camera. This is especially helpful for filming videos, as talking to yourself can get awkward. 
    • Grab a furry friend: If you still feel awkward standing in front of the camera all alone, grab a furry friend to share the spotlight with you. They’re great for moral support, and if there’s anything we learned from the Zoom revolution, it’s that everyone always wants to see the cat. 
    • Utilize editing tools: Remember that you are not alone when you are in the photo! There are many editing tools out there to help enhance your photo. So focus on being natural in front of the camera, have fun, and know that you can add enhancements later. One option to keep in mind is the use of text overlay and editing with Canva! 

    Related: How to Use Canva on PLANOLY

    So there you have it! Now you know how to take pictures for Instagram without a photographer or expensive equipment. And as an added bonus, hopefully, you now have some tools to even feel more comfortable when you are in front of the camera! 

     

    Learn more about Payton Rodewald, on PLANOLY

    Payton Rodewald

    Payton Rodewald is the Social Media Coordinator at PLANOLY. She is the in-house Pinterest and vibey content expert.

    More by Payton Rodewald

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