instagram polaroid

By Shelby Ballou

It’s okay, you can admit it. When you’re about to indulge in a delicious lunch, snack, or coffee, or stumble upon a beautiful park, sunset, or museum, your first instinct is to whip out your phone and take a photo. Thanks to Instagram, we feel more compelled than ever to document our lives — everything from our breakfast to our holiday decor. So how do you get that perfect Instagram shot? Here are five tips that will lead you in the right direction.

1) Take advantage of natural light.

If you’re indoors, shoot near a window. If you’re outside, even better! Natural lighting is always the best lighting.

2) Consider composition.

Composition is the arrangement of visual elements in a photo. Composing an image means setting up the shot, what you’re focusing on, and what elements you keep in the background. When composing your photo, it’s good to have a mental checklist: What are you focusing on? How are you going to focus on it? Do you want to convey a certain type of symmetry in your photo? With those things in mind, put together your perfect shot. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

3) Find the perfect angle.

Subjects, whether people or food or animals, have angles that are more flattering than others. Take several test shots until you find a great angle. Don’t be afraid to rearrange your subjects! When you achieve that perfect angle, make your photo look even better with editing apps, like VSCO Cam. Brightness and sharpness can do wonders for your image.

4) Don’t be afraid to edit.

With such a vast array of editing apps available, it’s easier than ever to adjust white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation, and brightness. Just be careful not to over-edit your photo!

5) Use a unique background.

Your subject should be the focus of your shot, but a unique background will really enhance your photo. It can add more depth and a more interesting story to a shot. Textures, patterned floors, and colorful walls are great backgrounds, too.

[Original photo here.]