Instagram-logo

If we've said it once we've said it a thousand times - we love Instagram. There's few better ways to see and share great photography, plus if you can wade past all the #selfies and #tagsforlikes bullshit, it actually encourages people to take better photos. So, win win then.

But even with the best encouragement, a little helpful advice goes a long way doesn't it? With that in mind, we've put down a couple of our top tips for not only taking better Instagram photos, but also for 'managing' a better account.

ed-cam-©-Sam-McMahon-2015

Everyone knows that smart phones have pretty decent cameras on them these days, but if you're shooting directly from the Instagram app there is a better way! Even using the regular camera app on an iPhone gives you a lot more control over exposure, focus and HDR (high dynamic range) options - taking advantage of these (with a bit of practice) gives you more power to get closer to the image you might already have in your head.

Alternatively, there are other great apps that let you have even more control over ISO, aperture and plenty of other camera tricks. You can even find ones to let you take photo bursts (great for action photography) or slow the shutter speed right down to let in more light or capture motion blur.

Ideally of course, you'd want a decent DSLR to shoot every picture and if you're lucky enough to own one the best way to transfer images to your phone is via the iCloud or an app like Dropbox.

But then again, as a wise man once said, “the best camera is the one you have with you" so don’t think you have to splash the cash; awesome shots are are taken every day on phones.

Square-Crop-Instagram-FreddieKalbermatten-Sun-©SilvanoZeiter

Obviously, the defining characteristic of Instagram is the square format that every image has to fit in order to be posted. There are ways around it - apps like Squaready allow you to add borders to fit a landscape or portrait image into a square space without cropping - but if you're shooting specifically for Insta you'll probably want to take this into account. Photos that fill the whole available space on a tiny phone screen can (but not all the time) look way more engaging and striking.

SquareReady-RadShot-MattGeorges

Whilst we're talking about formats and aspect ratios, it's probably about time you read up on time-honoured techniques like the 'rule of thirds' and 'leading lines'; centered compositions also work well with those symmetrical square images. Get learned!

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As good and as classy as the in-built filters on Instagram can be, there are many other (and subtler) options that can make your images shine. Take Afterlight for example - though it will cost you a couple of pennies it comes with loads of colour grading options, as well as wacky light leaks and grain templates. Or for a true 'vintage' look, Plastic Bullet will pile on random effects and filters to make it look like you really do have that old school Holga.

You can even edit pictures in multiple apps, saving them to your phone in between tweaks. Likewise, if you want to turn up settings like contrast beyond the slider limit, or apply more than one of the standard Instragam filters, then try the following:

1. Switch to airplane mode.

2. Open instagram and perform first edit

3. Hit 'share' (upload will say 'failed')

4. Go into your photo reel and import your newly-edited image into Instagram.

5. Apply second filter/more changes, turn off airplane mode and then share.

Be warned, however: sometimes going au natural is a winner, and Insta-filters like X-Pro II and Earlybird can leave snow looking yellow and just a bit piss-tinged. So don't forget about the ol' #nofilter.

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Sharing is caring, and that's what the internet does best. If you didn't already know, as well as posting your own snaps it's also possible to 'regram' other photographers' work over Insta, though this poses its very own set of rules. Well, not rules, more like guidelines...

Always get permission from a photog if you want to share their work online, especially if you're going to be using it for marketing purposes. Brands (and riders who use them to tag their sponsors) - we're looking at you.

But if you're hell-bent on pissing off a photographer, go ahead and regram that shit, but make sure you apply loads of crazy filters and completely ignore any sort of credit.

cats

Metrics: the death of creativity or a handy guide to playing the game right? If getting followers and likes is what you're all about (and if it is, get some advice from the masters) then you'll definitely want to take note of a few stats. Just remember that if everyone follows metrics to their logical conclusion we'll all end up posting the same cat meme daily at 8.21pm.

To the uninitiated, metrics are simply data collected by apps and websites that can show users what's popular, and therefore what they should post more (or less) of. Scary, but it also throws up some interesting facts. For instance, did you know that #nofilter is the most widely used 'filter', but that photos that use Mayfair gets more likes and comments than the rest? People are also more likely to watch and like videos in the evening, and the most pictures get posted on Thursdays. If you want to get big in the Insta-world it's facts like these that you should know.

For the record, here's a list of the most popular Instagram filters, in order of interactions (likes/comments) they generate.

1. Mayfair

2. #nofilter

3. Inkwell

4. Walden

5. Amaro

6. Lo-Fi

7. Valencia

8. Hefe

9. Hudson

10. X-Pro II

11. Kelvin

12. Rise

13. Sutro

14. Nashville

15. Willow

16. Sierra

17. Earlybird

18. 1977

19. Brannan

20. Toaster

We couldn't find any stats on the five recently-added filters (Aden, Perpetua, Crema, Ludwig and Slumber). Oh well, we're sure human kind will survive.

regular-day

Insta-spamming is the worst, it's so much better to scroll through and see a variety of shots from different photographers than twelve 'comedy' snaps of someone's mate falling over all uploaded at once as soon as the WIFI kicked back in. If you have a good back catalogue of shots, spread them out over time rather than clogging the feed. That's what Facebook is for...

Though fifteen seconds doesn't sound like a lot, used right it's just enough time to tell a story or get a point across. If editing multiple clips then fast-cut the hell out of them, you don't really even need to bother with take-offs and run-outs.

Got a slo-mo setting on your phone? With the right trick at the right spot it'll look amazing! You may have noticed that if you import a slow-mo video into Instagram from your iPhone 5s, it only plays back at normal speed; use an app like SlowmoShare to process it first and bob's your uncle.

Lastly, if you want to retain the original landscape format (as in the Instagram video above) then you can download a video version of the SquareReady app.

Happy gramming!