In this post, I will be showing you how to take good Instagram photos. In fact, these are the same tips I follow that have helped me grow my Instagram account in just a few months.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that a nice looking photo on Instagram can instantly capture your attention.

The question is, how can you take good Instagram photos that will capture the attention of your followers?

While I am a professional photographer, these tips were crafted with the common phone photographer in mind.

Let’s dive right in.

Taking good Instagram photos can be broken down into lighting, simplicity and basic rules of photography composition

It doesn’t matter so much about the camera although having a professional camera for Instagram helps.

Let’s dive right in:

1. Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors when it comes to taking a good Instagram photo. Lighting can be broken down into source light and time of day.

Source light

The source light refers to your main source of light. This can be either daylight or artificial studio lighting.

The location of the source light, in relation to the subject, plays a major role in how well your photograph will turn out.

For example, take a look at this image:

how to take good instagram photos
Courtesy Stuart Grais, DePaul University

This example illustrates how the position of a source light can affect the shadows and lines in your face, completely altering the mood and feel of an image.

Briefly take note of your light source and where it is coming from. If you are taking a selfie or a photo of a person, it is usually best to have the subject facing the light source.

For example, if you are in a house, stand in front of a window to get nice lighting. If it is nighttime, stand in front of a shopping store window.

Take note of the source light and be aware of how different angles of the light can either create harsh or flattering shadows on your subject.

Pro Tip: A little technique I love to do when I want to take a good Instagram photo and I am unsure of the lighting, is to stick my hand out in front of me so my palm is facing me. I then do a 360-degree rotation of my body while taking note of how the light and shadows change on my hand. This lets me know how the shadows will look on my subject. Try it out!

Time of day

The time of day you choose to take your Instagram photo has a strong influence on whether it will be a good Instagram photo, or just an average looking Instagram photo.

Some important times of the day to remember are Golden Hour and Blue Hour.

The approximate one hour period before sunset/after sunrise is called Golden Hour. During Golden Hour, the sun creates warm, golden tones that are coupled with a warmer color temperature that creates a beautiful “golden” effect.

The approximate one hour period before sunrise/after sunset is called Blue Hour. During Blue Hour, there is a deep blue hue that is coupled with a cooler color temperature. This can create a softer, moodier look.

There is a reason photographers love Golden and Blue Hour — it is a natural Instagram filter. If you understand the basics of how to use light to your advantage, you will be taking Instagram photos that stand out from the rest.

2. Simplicity

One common thing that all “good” Instagram photos have in common, is that there is a sort of minimalistic aspect to them. In other words, they keep it simple.

It has been shown that it takes users about 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about a website. With all the photos popping up on Instagram, imagine how quickly users on Instagram form an opinion of an Instagram post.

In the frame of a photo, there should only be about 3-4 subjects/focal points within the photograph.

how to take good instagram photos

Simplicity within an Instagram photo can prevent clutter and allow the viewer to better understand what is going on within the image.

By shifting the angle of a shot or zooming in more and only capturing 3-4 focal points, the photo can be drastically improved.

Now that we have discussed simplicity, let’s dive into some basic rules of photography that can instantly up your Instagram game.

3. Basic rules of photography

If you know some basic rules of photography you will be taking good Instagram photos in no time.

Some rules/basics of photography I will be touching on are a frame within a frame, leading lines and the rule of thirds. Let’s take a closer look at each technique:

Frame within a frame

This technique is exactly as it sounds. To accomplish this, you create a frame within a frame. When taking a photograph, whatever is showing in your phone or camera screen is what is within your frame.

Well, you want to have another frame within your main camera/phone frame.

The palms trees and the woman are within my camera frame, but I am also framing the woman within the two palm trees. Using a frame within a frame is a very easy way to bring the viewer into your image and add a sense of depth.

Leading lines

Leading lines is a photography composition rule in which the photographer uses lines to direct the viewers’ attention to a certain point or subject within the image. Leading lines are effective tools of composition because it creates a path for the viewers’ eyes to easily follow.

Next time you want to take a good Instagram photo, take a step back and look at your surroundings to see if you can utilize any leading lines.

Rule of thirds

To picture the rule of thirds, imagine breaking an image into thirds horizontally and vertically to create nine parts within the frame. The goal is to have your subject on one of these intersecting points in order to create balance within your image:

instagram photo

You can turn on grid mode within your phone camera to better assist you with your rule of thirds composition.

Next time you are taking an Instagram photo, keep the rule of thirds in mind and you will be creating better Instagram photos in no time!


Now that we have covered all the tips for how to take good Instagram photos, I want to hear from you!

Is there a tip that you will soon try out? Or is there another tip that you think is worth mentioning?

Either way, leave a comment down below and let me know!

Also, feel free to follow me on Instagram at @nate.joaquin!