Social media is a pivotal tool for digital marketing and online advertising – Instagram’s prominence is showing no signs of slowing down, with more than 40 billion photographs shared as of August 2020 (Bagadiya, 2020). With around 95 million images being uploaded every single day, it is vital that your Instagram post’s image stands out from the crowd, to generate engagement and make people aware of your brand (Novakova, 2017).
In this post, we will be giving you our top tips on how to capture the perfect Instagram photo, to go along with your post.
Content, Content, Content
When shaping your brand on social media, it is important to keep photographic content relevant and consistent with your core message. You should ensure that the subject of your photo matches your brand’s image:
- Relevance. Make sure that your picture is related to the topic of your post, whether this is according to your caption or your brand. Viewers can become disengaged and disinterested if your posts do not have a strong focus or seem vague. Images can be abstract and subjective, but there does need to be a link to your message or brand.
- Self-Made Vs Pre-Made. Instagram images can be ‘self-made’ – captured on a smartphone, camera, or video-camera – or they can be ‘pre-made’ and royalty-free, selected from a site such as Unsplash or Pixelbay. Self-made content attracts viewers through its originality, and the existence of filters and apps allows this content to be improved and edited. Pre-made images can also be extremely useful for publishing professional, edited pictures, decreasing the time and effort required in making content. Free image sites allow users to quickly select relevant images, by searching for pictures using keywords.
- Eye-Catching. With such an array of posts, accounts and voices on Instagram, it is vital that your photo garners attention amidst the endless stream of content. Whether your picture is self-made or pre-made, its subject needs to be enticing and interesting to draw attention and, subsequently, engagement. It is also vital that your image is of good quality, as a fuzzy or distorted appears unprofessional and unattractive to followers. Your post should make people stop scrolling and stare.
The Devil Is In The Details
As a visually-led platform, it is key that the content of Instagram posts is polished and clear. Images require additional enhancement to reach their full potential, and even the tiniest changes can make a huge difference. To ensure that your photographs are of a high quality and aesthetically pleasing, there are several simple tricks to edit and enhance your content:
An image’s layout has a huge impact on whether it is aesthetically pleasing or not, and this is an aspect which can make or break a viewer’s potential interest. There are many features which can affect this:
- Framing. Our ‘Guide to Instagram Stories’ recommends keeping your device vertical when creating stories, due to the way the platform is formatted – but posts work in the same way. Users are accustomed to seeing Instagram images in portrait mode, which can make horizontal ones seem jarring and awkward. Furthermore, these landscape posts can sometimes result in white strips above and under the image, due to excessive space – this can appear unprofessional and unattractive. Ensure that your picture fits within Instagram’s square aspect ratio, to avoid anything being cropped out.
- Space. Try to avoid empty space around the border of your photo, or any unnecessary gaps. If you are taking the picture yourself, you can achieve this by zooming in, to focus on the photo’s subject. If you have already taken the picture, then you can use Instagram’s editing features to crop it.
- Focus. Avoid making your picture too busy. Ideally, it should have one central object which attracts the viewers’ attention, with smaller additional details taking the backseat. If the brain is bombarded with too much information, it is forced to sort through and ignore anything which it deems unimportant. If your message is spread across too many aspects of the picture, then the meaning will be lost due to the brain’s filtering (Sherman, 2019).
One aspect of photography, which can make or break an image’s success, is lighting. This can greatly improve – or reduce – the quality of an image, and it can affect viewers’ perceptions of Instagram posts. However, there are small improvements which you can easily make to your pictures:
- Contrast. Human brains enjoy having information clearly presented to them, as it reduces the amount of work required in sorting through it all. Therefore, effective images often contain a ‘spotlight’ through contrasting colours, such as a bright object against a dark or plain background. A burst of colour is a great way to stand out against a monotonous background, and it catches the eye.
- Attention. Focus-grabbing colours are a great way to pull in more interest, but they can also help to convey your post’s meaning. Different colours represent, and evoke, different feelings in people. Blue is commonly associated with relaxation, particularly in a pastel shade; bright, loud colours will convey energy and excitement. However, beware of making your post’s colours too gaudy – bright colours will attract people’s attention, but too much of it can deter viewers.
Photo Editing Applications
There are many different applications and types of software which can assist you in editing and improving your images for Instagram, outside of the social media platform itself. Below, you can find our selection of free photo-editing apps, available on both smartphones and computers:
- Instagram Editing Feature and Filters. When you are uploading a photograph on Instagram’s mobile app, you have the option to place filters over it, to increase brightness, or add a certain colour, or develop the contrast. Filters are a fantastic way to improve composition and lighting.
- Snapseed. You can find a fantastic range of filters on here, and there are several instruments to edit lighting, focus, size, etc.
- Piccollage. This app is particularly useful for collating several images into one singular post.
- Pixlr. You can edit any type of image with this online editor, including .jepg, .png, .psd, etc.
- Adobe Photoshop Express. With this programme available for download on both smartphones and computers, it is a good tool for building images from scratch and giving you sole creative control.
Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms for sharing images, and for good reason: its formatting is specifically tailored to promoting pictures. As such, it contains many features which are extremely useful for optimising successful audience engagement with your photographs and posts. To help support your visual content, there are some final touches that you can make to optimise potential engagement:
- Location. Adding a location to your Instagram post is an effective way of targeting your audience, similar to hashtags. It has been recognised that Instagram posts with locations attached receive 79% more engagement than those that do not (Bagadiya, 2020).
- Tags. Like adding locations and hashtags, tagging other people in your Instagram post is a good way to encourage interaction. It will attract the other account’s audience over to your post, through this connection and inclusion, which is great for generating more potential engagement.
Hopefully, our breakdown of creating the perfect image for your Instagram post should have inspired you for some great, new content to upload to your account! If you would like to discuss the process further, or would like some extra advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.