How to Up Your Instagram Photography Game for 2017

Have you ever gaga'd over your favorite bloggers' Instagram and wished your's would be the same? Let's face it - Aimee Song always seems to have the most beautiful captures. Even though she travels to the most amazing places in the world, she still manages to take stunning photos in her everyday "mundane" life.

It took me a very long time to find that one perfect theme. If you browse through my Instagram, you will see that I changed my theme quite often - from white to purple theme to something more earthy. I was never satisfied. It wasn't until this year that I finally found something unique for my own feed.

For the sake of this post, I'll be only sharing photos that I've taken with my iPhone just to show you that you don't necessarily need an expensive camera to take good photos. Here are 12 tips on how to improve your Instagram photography game this year: 

1. Take at least 5 photos in different angles.
This helps tremendously in improving your photography skills. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to just take one snap and you will have the perfect photo. 

2. Lighting is key.
If you want to have a cohesive Instagram feed, make sure to take photos around the same time of day. When the sun is at its highest (around 12pm), that's when photos tend to be overly bright with harsh shadows. If you're going for a stark contrast black and white theme, this would be perfect. However, if you're not, try to aim for the hours between 8am-10am and 2pm - whenever twilight is. Also, when you're taking photos indoors, stand by a window. It acts as a natural lighting filter and produces some of the dreamiest photos. Make sure to tap the brightest spot on the object when taking photos on your phone; sometimes the iPhone creates a backlight effect that makes things look blown out or super dark.

3. Use the grid on your phone.
This ensures you have a straight horizon line, which generally makes your photos better. Also, you can apply the rule of thirds and make sure your photos are symmetrical as well. For iPhones, go to Settings > Photos and Camera > Scroll down and turn Grid on.

4. Think in grids of 12.
When you're first trying to figure out a theme, make sure to test it out in groups of 12. For example, if you generally have a minimalistic white theme and you want to introduce yellow, the next 12 photos should have a bit of yellow in it. This is so when someone is scrolling through your feed, it will create a seamless experience. Any less will clutter your feed and make things look very messy. Remember, first impressions count. When someone hits your profile page, you want them to follow you immediately after seeing your beautiful feed.

5. Go on Pinterest and find a theme.
There are a plethora of tutorials on how to achieve the perfect theme. After you find the right one, you can tweak it and customize it. You don't want to be a carbon copy of someone else's Instagram, but you can definitely create something that's unique and relative to you by personalization. I personally use VSCO cam for their minimalist filters. 

6. Stick to similar color palettes.
If you scroll through Aimee Song's Instagram, she usually keeps her posts within the same color family. Generally, if your background is similar in color, it creates a very unified theme. That's why minimalist accounts work so well. However, if you want a colorful theme, think about which filter to use to unify everything. Also, download the app, Planoly to see how all your colorful posts lay out. 
7. Think of Instagram as your visual portfolio.
Yes, there are those who prefer Instagram to be a page of candid moments, but if you're thinking of growing your page, you need to treat it like a portfolio. Post only photos that you think are your best work. Don't post something just for the sake of numbers. Remember, quality over quantity.
8. Take time setting up.
It may not be a realistic representation of everyday life, but like the previous tip, treat your photography like it's going into a portfolio. Some of my flatlays take 30 minutes to setup. I have a love for symmetry and that means I will spend extra time in moving things around till they're as close to perfection as possible.
9. Figure out what you primarily want to post about.
Unless if you're a celebrity, you can post about anything and whatever; people will always respond because they're genuinely interested in their everyday lives. I have found that accounts who stick to a particular niche do much better than mine. I don't like posting photos of myself every single day, so I try to mix it up. However, my other fashion blogger friends who consistently post only fashion photos tend to perform a lot better in engagement. So it's up to you on how you want your Instagram to be.

10. iPhone photos work better for super wide shots and close ups.

I find that medium and semi wide shots don't look that great unless if you have an amazing background. I tend to use my phone a lot for wide angle shots to showcase interesting architecture, yummy looking food and #fromwhereistand photos.

11. The background is the foundation of every photo.
The background should always harmonize beautifully with your focal point item, whether it is clothes or food. There's no general rule for this, but whatever the item is, you want the background to help tell the story to make it stand out more. You don't want the two to be competing with each other. Out of all the things I learned from Capture Your Style, that is what resonated the most.

12. Make sure your phone camera lens is clean.

No joke, a lot of people miss out on this one. They think that their camera just suddenly started taking blurry photos because it's old. Nope. Just wipe the lens and your photos will be crisp and clear. 
I've always loved Instagram because I'm a visual learner. I can't do twitter because there's just too much gibberish going on, but Instagram is a platform that inspires visually and I'm constantly discovering beautiful content that encourages me to push myself to do better. Anyway, I hope you find these tips helpful and please let me know if you have any questions! 


Maggie S. 

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  1. Wow! Honestly I saw your title and I just had to read this because I'm always looking for ways to improve my own photo / feed.
    I actually only started a theme in November (so I have a weird cut off from white theme to regular photos haha), and I've never felt happiest about it.
    There's a lot of tips I'm going to try that I never considered like using the grids and trying different angles! Thanks for sharing babe, honestly your iPhone photos look sooo professional I was surprised it was from the phone!


    1. Aw thanks babe! Yes, please try everything and give me an update on how it works out for you!

  2. Haha, I admit being guilty to the last one both with my phone and my camera. I was like "why are the images blurry?" until I realized there was some cleaning to do... Thanks for all the tips and I'll have a look at my grid and see how I can improve it! :)

  3. I'm so in love with your feed! I totally get the "I've changed multiple times'-part. Had to search for só long and then finally found the right theme for me. Different angles is also a great one, because it might just look different and fresh in your feed. Great tips hun! XO Charissa -

  4. Thanks for sharing with us on some tips for taking good Instagram photography. I also can't stress enough that lighting is a hugeeee factor in taking a great photo. :) I love the moody filter you use on your Instagram and your feed looks so consistent.

  5. Such great tips - your photos are so beautiful. I'm still working on cleaning up my Insta visually but it's lightyears ahead of where I was last year so I'm on the right track.

  6. Maggie, you are queen at this!!!!! Thanks for sharing these tips - they are seriously gold!! I've been a huge fan of your pics since day 1 and you already know that :D!!

  7. hello dear!!
    I loved this post is very interesting and practic for me and i think is a lot of time thati need similar posts and now i find it. thank you cutie

  8. Best read ever! Loved all of your advice!! Well done and so helpful! xo, Jessica

  9. Wow ! This blog post came at exactly the right time for me ! I recently decided that was ig was entirely too boring and I have been working hard this past month to improve! I love your idea about a theme and I see what you mean about Aimee Song. Thank you so much!!

  10. these are all great tips! I still need to do a better job to unify my photos to a certain theme, but alas I'll have to play around with it :) Planoly is great!

  11. Really fab tips on creating a great Instagram feed! Your feed is absolutely gorgeous!

    xo, Jo

  12. I love your Instagram photos, the colour scheme is so clean and just a little bit feminine.
    xx Jenelle

  13. This post is so helpful and inspiring to achieve the perfect feed. I definitely need these tips and have to apply them to my feed. I love Song of Styles feed as well and see so many bloggers out there with beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing these amazing tips! Xoxo, Christine

  14. Thanks for sharing so great tips, sweetie! this is such a wonderful and inspiring post! Xx, Gina

  15. Wow these tips are so helpful! I really need to apply them. I rely too much on my husband bc he has the better eye for these things, but 2017 will be the year I pick up a camera (iPhone or DSLR) and take matters into my own hands!!

  16. great post! i love your instagram photos! just followed you!

    xx Nicole -

  17. I love all these tips and I can so relate! I'm generally very indecisive and feel like my IG theme has switched up more then it should but it's all a learning process! You photos are amazing btw!

    Manda |

  18. wow, love all the photos that you shared! thanks for sharing tips

  19. This was seriously so helpful! I definitely need to go find my theme because up until now I've kind've been doing what I think looks right. So that's my theme haha.

  20. Hey Maggie:)
    How are you?
    Thank you for your Amazing Tips, It was so Helpful for me:) You are The Best:)
    Happy Tuesday Darling:)
    Love Open Kloset By Karina

  21. My iPhone photography can definitely use some improvement and these tips are helpful already. Thanks for sharing these and I can't wait to use your techniques :)

  22. I enjoyed this post so much! You got my attention to the fullest.
    Will bookmark this post for sure.
    P. S. Im in LOVE with your photos, i will immediatly go to your Instagram! Great job girl <3 <3 <3

  23. I love all of these tips ! I try to be so careful with my Insta pics but living in cold weather during the winter I have found it challenging to keep up my sunny outdoor posts ! I especially love the grid tip, that will be very helpful to see it all together ! Your pics are great !
    xx, gracie

  24. Such great tips darling! I agree with all of them and I think that lighting is probably the most important factor. Thanks for sharing.
    xo, Maryam

  25. These are such great tips! I feel like I've been struggling with my Instagram lately and it could definitely take a makeover in 2017! I've heard about the rule of 12 before but I need to finally start implementing it!

  26. wow this post is everything!thanks for sharing your tips, this is definitely one topic I always love reading on!

    xo, samira

  27. these are amazing tips girl! Your photos are so stunning! It Won't be impossible you'll grow your instagram more with these steps.

  28. Great post full of great tips! I'm always looking for ways to up my instagram game. thanks for sharing your wisdom babe XOWP

  29. Omg thanks for those super useful tips babe! I am one of those instagrammers who are still trying to figure out a theme for their pages! I do notice that my page doesn't have much consistence and it's hard to produce Sth with a consistent colour theme. I love your idea of the grid of 12! So I can plan ahead and pick a theme for every 12 photos. I never thought about cohesive Instagram photos before neither, as I often take photos at different times of the day. Thanks for sharing those amazing tips and now I can definitely step up my game for 2017 !

    Xx, Jessie

  30. Just by looking at these photos I can feel that your IG feed is UH-Maizng!

  31. Girl, not gonna lie, Aimee Song and her new book is amazing and all, but your post is by far one of the best IG photography guides I've seen yet! I'm seriously hoping this post goes viral because it's THAT good :) I also follow many of these points, but I loved your first point about trying 5 different angles most. Definitely great practice and forces you to think creatively! I might also recommend an app called Unum to figure out the feed layout, plus it's free too! :) Thanks so much for sharing these amazing tips babe!

    xo Soo |

  32. love these tips. I definitely feel like I want to work on my insta game. I'm really into colorful-- and vintage-- and nyc! I'll definitely consider your tips! I hope you are having a wonderful week! <3
    xx Belle

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