I love Instagram.
I love how visual it is, and how I can feel like I am part of the day of the people I follow.
Instagram is growing faster and faster every day, and is a great place to be seen and get known for your business.
But your photos can’t suck.
Because if they do, people will scroll on by without a second glance, and that can be death to you showing up in the algorithm.
I see you, you are an online coach and you are not a photographer. You don’t want to be one, but you still need to create images for your biz that grab attention. Otherwise, why are you wasting time on the app?
I see post after post on social media from coaches like you saying they think they need a “real” or “fancy” camera, aka DSLR, to get great photos on Instagram.
So this is what happens.
You get convinced that you need a fancy camera so decide to invest.
You do some research, buy a camera that doesn’t completely drain the bank but is still quite an investment.
You bring it home, take it out of the box and try and figure out exactly how the lens is supposed to be put onto the camera, let alone how to make it all work.
You take a couple of photos, they don’t turn out very good but you have no idea why not.
It isn’t working, so you get overwhelmed, set the camera back in the box and then mentally note you need to learn how to use this camera in the future.
Then, before you know it, 6 months have passed, and that $800+ camera that was going to create these amazing images for you is sitting there still in the box.
Sound familiar? I see it happen on the regular…
Can I tell you a secret though? You really don’t need that fancy camera to take decent enough photos to have your Instagram feed look good.
So, am I saying that a dSLR is not needed in photography anymore?
No. Absolutely the DSLR will create more dynamic and higher quality images than a smartphone, but…
If you don’t know how to use the dSLR and don’t want to spend countless hours learning and perfecting the craft and features of the camera, it’s not an investment that is worth your time.
And if you just learn a bit about lighting and slow down and really look closely, you can create some really great dynamic images from the phone in your pocket. And that IS worth your time.
Promise! Don’t trust me yet?
5 reasons you don’t need a “fancy” camera to get good Instagram photos.
1) Your smartphone is enough.
I know, it’s surprising right? Hear me out…
If you have even a decently recent iPhone or other smart phone, the cameras in these phones have come a LONG way since even 3 or 4 years ago. So, as long as you are not sporting an iPhone 5, you have the tools at your disposal already to create some amazing images.
Don’t trust me? Most the photos I take of my kiddos are iPhone photos because its easier and faster and the quality of the images are great for those needs!
And I have $15,000+ worth of professional camera gear. The only reason I don’t go for the “fancy” camera to photograph my kids is because, with the right light, the iPhone does an amazing job and it’s already in my hands so why not.
Now remember, a professional dSLR will create a superior image than that of your iPhone, and if you want to be a professional photographer, I 100% say go get professional gear.
But if you just need some better images for Instagram for your creative biz, don’t spend the $ on the “real” camera until you’ve learned how to see the light around you (just keep reading!)
2) It’s more about pretty light than a pretty location.
So many people get caught up about the location and think that is important, but really, when it comes down to it, choose the light that looks good over the pretty background every single time.
If the background is pretty, but the light is unflattering, then the image won’t impress.
But you can take a photo literally next to a dumpster if the light is beautiful, no one will notice the dumpster next to you. The focus and the interest is on the subject.
Also, frame your image so that you can’t see that dumpster, and you’re golden.
So how do you see this magical “good light”?
This photo I shot of myself with a selfie stick while standing up against this wall.
It was a 80+ degree day in the summer at about 2:30pm (which is the worst time to be shooting outdoors) , and I was in the open shade next to this brick house.
The red circle shows where I was standing for the photo on the left.
For better results, I would suggest not using the front facing camera, and have someone else take the photo.
The front facing camera isn’t as good of a camera as the back facing one, but I wanted to show you what open shade looks like and how easy it is to have a great image from it!
3) Open shade or overcast days are your best friend.
When shooting with a smartphone, the more light you have near you, the better results you are gonna get.
So get out of your dimly lit living room, go outside and look around.
Look for open shade, which you’ll find next to a building where you are in the shadow of the building, but it’s open and bright sun next to you.
Find the brightest area of the shade to stand in, then make sure you subject does not have any direct light touching them.
Look at their face and see if their eyes have light in them, or if they go dark.
If their eyes go dark, then have them slowly turn in a circle while you turn with them, looking at the light hitting their face and lighting up their eyes.
Have them stop when their face and eyes are lit up the most. Then take a photo and see how it looks!
Overcast days are great as well, as the clouds are basically offering you that same open shade scenario no matter where you are outside.
Overcast is an extremely forgiving time to photograph someone/thing outside.
You’ll still have some direction of light, so use the trick of having your subject turn in a circle while you watch their eyes, to see at what angle the light hits their eyes!
You don’t have to be up against a building, but start out making sure that the background is not brighter than your subject.
4) Slow down and frame the photo intentionally
If you want your photos to look good, take the time to really frame your photo and be intentional about it.
What do I mean?
Well, I see so many people pull out their phone, bring the camera up, a snap a photo almost before their hands have fully stopped moving.
How do you know what will be in image, if you haven’t stopped and looked before hitting that shutter button?
Stop, look at what you have in the photo and if it’s helping or hurting the purpose of the photo.
If you are shooting people, then make sure if you are cropping into them, that you are meaning to, and avoid having people cut off at their joints. It looks weird.
Make sure that anything in the background is making the photo look good. That exit sign?
You can move a couple inches and remove it, then do it. Or the trash can in the background? Can you move it, or move so that your subject is blocking it?
Slow down and really look at all parts of the photo before you click the shutter, and you’re photos will be better!
5) Keep It Simple
My last tip is to keep it simple.
The less that is in the photo, the more impactful it will be.
There is a reason you see a lot of photos where people are standing in front of solid walls or a solid color.
It makes the image simpler and makes it look a ton better! Busy photos just confuse people!
Now, hop on over to Instagram and look at the profiles you admire. The ones that connect and you love to look at.
Now look at their images and think about what you are seeing.
How often are they in shade vs direct light?
What does the background look like? Is it simple?
Do you really notice the background or the subject? If you are noticing the background is it because it adds to the story being conveyed?
You can do all of these things with the smartphone in your pocket without having to invest in what will likely turn into a super expensive paper weight!