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Six steps to improve your Instagram pics

In this guest post, photographer Tim Arch provides six tips to improve your Instagram pics.
If you’re not already on Instagram, what are you waiting for? It’s a great way to practice your photography, and a fantastic source of inspiration. To help you on your way here are six tips to improve your Instagram pics. And of course these tips apply equally well to all your photography.

Tim Arch Instagram image @timothyarch

It may be what you don’t include that counts

1. Composition and Framing

Before you press the shutter, take a good look at what’s in your frame (and sometimes more importantly what’s outside of your frame). Think about what you’re saying by including (or not) these elements. It’s not always necessary to photograph whole objects. Sometimes including just the corner of something is enough for the viewer to appreciate what is being said. There’s plenty of articles on the web purely about composition – a good place to start is to find out more about the rule of thirds.

Tim Arch Instagram image @timothyarch

See life through interesting angles

2. Angle

We’re used to viewing objects from a certain angle (based on our own eye level). Play around by presenting your audience with common scenes or objects shot from extreme high or low angles – actually get down on the ground and shoot from there. Children (and animals!) are especially fun to photograph when you get down to their level.

Tim Arch Instagram image @timothyarch

Work with light

3. Light

Pay attention to what the light is doing. Natural light is best – and it’s the best closest to sunrise and sunset (referred to as the “magic hour” by photographers).
If you’re shooting indoors, try to position your subject by a window and play with the direction of the subject and the photo relative to your light source. Light coming from one side can result in a more interesting photo than beaming directly in front of your subject. And photograph the light itself. Sunrises and sunsets, or interesting shadows always makes for good Instagram fodder.

Tim Arch Instagram image @timothyarch

Filters are your friend, but don’t forget the spanner

4. Processing

Half the fun of Instagram is playing with the filters. But don’t stop at just applying one of the presets. After you’ve chosen your filter, there’s a spanner icon on the right of the screen that allows you to go deeper and make finer adjustments, like straightening a horizon or adding more or less colour to the image.
Making the photograph doesn’t stop after you’ve released the shutter. The tools available in the processing stage really help to emphasise the story you’re telling through your photograph.

Tim Arch Instagram image @timothyarch

Stage the perfect food shot without letting your coffee go cold

5. Food

Food is a very popular Instagram subject. Try to apply some of these tips the next time you take a photo of your breakfast at that new cafe that just opened up. Sit next to the window, think about what else is in the frame, and experiment with different angles. Just don’t spend too long on this or your food (or coffee!) will go cold.

Tim Arch Instagram image @timothyarch

Discover inspiration (and be discovered) through hashtags

6. Themes (#baaw)

Another fun thing to do with Instagram is getting on board some of the themes. Click on some hashtags and you’ll see all kinds of people are contributing photographs along the same theme. As an avid cyclist a favourite of mine is #baaw – bikes against a wall. And of course there’s always something interesting going on at #melbmoment.
You can find Tim Arch at and on Instagram as @timothyarch.