How To Stand Out On Instagram

Jon Simmonds

Published: 09/11/2022

No 1: Natural Lighting

It’s all about the lighting and good natural light is your friend. Turn off that flash. A flash can wash out your subject and flatten out all those gorgeous tones. You can’t beat getting outdoors and as well as all that fresh air you should end up with a variety of lovely photos. If your shoot takes you indoors then windows are there to be used. Even at night (either indoors or out) find yourself a source of ambient light. Street lamps, shop windows, candles, reflected lights on water all can all provide a beautiful point of interest in your shots.

To really see the difference that good natural lighting can make why not try out the Rocket Science Selfie experiment? All you will need is a smartphone, a wall nowhere near a natural lightsource, a window and of course you. First of all find that unlit wall, get your phone out and into selfie mode, put on your best selfie smile/pout/duckface and snap away. Now head on over to the window, face the window so all that natural light is falling on your face, take out that phone (angle it so it doesn’t block the lovely light and put a shadow on your face) and repeat the smile/pout/duckface routine. Now look at the difference between the two shots! It is incredible the difference that some good natural lighting makes. Use it!

No 2: Choose Your Time

We’re back to that light again! There is a very good reason that photographers love dawn, dusk and of course golden hour, that magical time of day when the sun is low on the horizon, it is basically nature’s Instagram filter. Avoid shooting in the harsh light of the midday sun, diffused light here is your friend. So look out for clouds or find a sheltered spot away from the dazzle of those sunbeams. Saying that, dazzling sunlight through trees or shadow patterns can add some really interesting effects in a shot so don’t be afraid to experiment.

No. 3: Composition

Have a think about how you want your image to look. Composition is how your photo is arranged.  How all those shapes, colours, textures, lines and all the other elements combine to make a stand out photo.

The most well-known composition principle is ‘The Rule of Thirds’ which refers to a simple method of balancing your image. It divides your image into a 3 x 3 grid and you make sure that the points of interest in your photo line up along the grid lines, creating balance.  If you ask it nicely your phone camera should even add a grid for you so you can practice.

No. 4: Change Your Viewpoint

Ready to shake things up a bit? Instead of holding your phone up around eye level and snapping away like everyone else think about taking photos from a different vantage point and get some fresh perspective. Try crouching or standing on something, shoot from above or below, take a shot through something. NB: Please try not to injure yourself during this process. We want you to challenge yourself to see things from a new perspective, not to break any limbs.

No. 5: Instagram Editing

Now you have worked so hard to get a gorgeous shot it is time to add a little bit of magic with some Instagram editing. (If you are feeling really motivated you could pre-edit it with an editing app before this stage.  There are lots of good ones – VSCO, ColorStory, Snapseed, Adobe Photoshop Express, Afterlight)

1. Choose Your Filter

Instagram filters are just like biscuits.  It is all down to personal preference. Are you a Custard Cream or a Jammie Dodger kind of guy or gal? If you aren’t already committed to a filter the best method is to sample them all and see what works best for you.

The best thing to do is to explore the range of options and find one that you like the best. Did you know that 60% of brands stick to just one filter on all of their posts keeping their aesthetic consistent and helping to reinforce their brand identity.

You can also adjust the intensity of any filter by tapping it twice and then adjusting with a sliding scale.

(NB: Don’t forget to take advantage of the LUX setting. After adding your filter click on the sun icon above your photo.  This will adjust the contrast and exposure of your photo helping to give it that little bit of extra ‘je ne sais quoi’. It is also super helpful for tweaking those slightly underexposed photos)

2. Adjust your Settings

Time to add those finishing touches to your post.  Click on the edit button at the bottom right to go to your settings.

There are lots of wonderful things that you can do in here to improve your Instagram photos.  If your pic is looking a little bit wonky then you can set it straight with the adjust button, you can add a touch of fade for that vintage feel, add a little more saturation for that extra pop of colour, add a vignette for that retro feel plus lots more.  We would advise caution at this stage, always wise to keep in mind that ‘less is more’. You don’t want your Instagram posts to stand out for the wrong reasons!

No. 6: Don’t be afraid to get creative

You want to stand out, so keep creative. You don’t want to be like everyone else! Keep experimenting and don’t be afraid to search for that fresh angle.

We look forward to seeing the results!