So you’re ready to take your Instagram account up a notch but not quite sure how to get those dreamy Insta-worthy photos? One of our favorite things to do is have Instagram photoshoots to create a photo bank we can pull from. This may take a large chunk of time when we do it but it is seriously helpful to have images already created while we’re working on our weekly content calendar (of course, we sometimes take pictures day-of too to keep things timely!) In the long run this saves us so much time and allows us to use our creativity a little more to get that perfect shot. So today we’re sharing everything we’ve learned along the way on how to style the perfect Instagram photo!
Think of Purpose
While your props and the style of your images will vary depending on your industry, the purpose of your photos will always remain the same. We always keep this in mind when we’re doing our Instagram photoshoots. To determine the type of photos you want and need for your brand, answer these questions:
What do you want to promote?
Do you need negative space in the image to create a graphic?
Do you need something that can easily be mocked up? (Phone screen, blank piece of paper, etc.)
Do you have a product or project to highlight?
Do you have a product or service you continuously promote that you’ll need multiple images for?
During our photoshoots, we keep our answers to all these questions top of mind. Sometimes we want to have a bank of images that we can mock up with recent graphic projects or we have a running blog series called the #BoldBossTribe that we need images for every week. Because of this we’ll gather the props that make the most sense and get ready to start styling!
This is probably the most important piece to getting those Insta-worthy shots if you ask us! Your lighting makes all the difference in the quality of your images and you want to make sure this is consistent throughout your posts. (No joke, when I moved, one of my top requirements was to have an apartment with great natural light! Because ya know.. priorities!)
With that said, I like to shoot with a lot of natural light. I never ever shoot at night (even with my professional lighting) because I personally think the natural light adds so much to the shot. Although it's not the end of the world if you do shoot at night... I just personally prefer to have the natural light!
I usually shoot on my dinning room table which has large windows on one side and my slider door to my balcony on the other. I then set up my lights on the two sides without the windows (I adjust the placement on these depending on how the image is turning out though). While the natural light is really enough, our style is very bright which is why I use the lights as well. Professional lights are definitely not required for quality images (although really helpful if you don’t have a lot of natural light). You can find the ones I have here.
I can hear you now.. Why not just shoot outside where there’s direct sunlight?! I don't do this because direct sunlight can sometimes cause harsh shadows (although sometimes I love that vibe but it's not always ideal). So this might surprise you but shooting in slightly overcast conditions can actually be great for when you want to shoot outside! You still get the natural light but no harsh shadows.
Great lighting will also help keep your images crisp and focused. You never want to post a blurry photo to social media! If you’re using you phone to take your photos and you don’t feel like your camera is focusing on what you want it to focus on, just simply tap the screen where you want to camera to focus and voila!
Now that we have all that technical stuff taken care of… Let’s talk about actually styling your photos! The most important thing to remember with styling is practice makes perfect and to have fun with it!
There are a few other things to keep in mind when it comes to styling your images but it really comes down to color, vibe, and layout. You want to make sure your colors and vibe are always consistent with your branding so when your audience sees your posts they immediately associate them with you. While we mainly use a white background (with the exception of some on my wood table or on some fun colorful background), we love to add our signature bright fun colors through the use of props. Luckily you can use just about anything for a prop to represent your brand or to help highlight your products. If you're looking for prop ideas, we have you covered!
Next up is layout! This is where the answers to those questions about the purpose of your photos will come in handy and you’ll want to consider these key tips when styling your images:
Proportions and Placement
Make sure what you want to highlight in your image is front and center and anything else you use in the image compliments that main focus. I like to start with about 3-5 main props/pieces of varying sizes in the photo. From there I add or subtract depending on if the image feels balanced to me or not.
If you need some negative space, you’ll probably use less props to allow for that space but make sure you keep the proportions balanced.
There are numerous types of images you can take. We typically favor flatlays because those work the best with the props we have but consider these common types of images for your brand to add some variety:
First Person View
Depending on the type of shot, the focus of your image will vary and the perspective will vary as well. Flatlays are typically more close up while a first person view will look like the person is standing right in your shoes.
The most important piece of advice I can give on styling is super simple… Have fun and play around to see what works for you and your brand! What works for another brand might not necessarily work for you but if you give yourself the freedom to get creative, you may surprise yourself with your very own style!
Still need some help styling your social media images or just don’t have the time? We’re kind of obsessed with styling images (if you can’t tell) and we’re just an email away!