8 Tips For Taking Better Instagram Snaps

Unless you're a YouTube star or a Justin Bieber fan club, getting thousands of followers on Instagram isn't a cakewalk. It takes a mixture of compelling content, a photographer's keen eye, the the help of a few camera apps to really achieve Instagram-sensation status.
However, you don't actually need to be a professional photographer to take gorgeous photos — you just need a few shooting tips and editing tools to take your pics to the next level (and to score you that coveted POP! icon on your pic). To prove our point, we asked a few of our Instagram buddies as well as our own Instagram helmswoman, Piera Gelardi (follow her personal account at @pieraluisa) who all know a little thing or two about the artform. Yes, artform — these tips will take your photos from amateur hour to gallery-worthy.
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Bex Finch (@bexfinch 190k followers)
"Keep in mind that it will be a square image, so the rule of thirds is more of a challenge than with a wider frame. Generally speaking, symmetry and centeredness can be really effective in square format, but that also gets repetitive."
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"You can get really dramatic light at dawn, and at the 'golden hour,' which is the hour or so before the sun sets. Shooting in the middle of the day is tough if there's direct sunlight because it creates harsh shadows. Overcast skies can actually be better midday, as they offer a more diffused, even light. It's also really important to choose a filter that either brings out the essence of the photo (i.e. why you took it in the first place) or is neutral enough to not distract from it."
—Bex
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Ed Droste (@edroste, 187k followers)
"I always love using the app Snapseed, and often soften things up with the Cross Process app which helps photos look more natural."
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"Sometimes, I go crazy with filters and colors. Other times, I just try and keep it natural. I just like to have fun with it — don't box yourself in!"
—Ed
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Sam Horine (@samhorine, 189k followers)
"When I shoot, I make sure to touch the screen on the brightest part of the photo to expose for the highlights, as it's easier to bring back the details in the under-exposed areas than the blown-out ones."
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"Turning on the built-in grid feature will help you keep your horizons straight — crooked horizons are a big turnoff for me. A good way to tell if the horizon is crooked is to turn the photo upside down and then look at it."
—Sam
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Refinery29's creative director, Piera Gelardi (@refinery29, 112k followers)
"I often see people shooting directly through the Instagram app, but to really get the shot, it's important to shoot multiple shots. That way, you're not confined to one photo and can capture just the right moment. The more you shoot, the more options you have."
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"It could just be my personal pet peeve, but I think you should embrace the square format and shoot accordingly. Having black bars around the image breaks up the visual flow and just doesn't look great in the feed. We suggest shooting vertical so that it's easier to crop square."
—Piera
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