Remember those days when being the popular kid was all about having the newest Nike trainers or the latest Nintendo game? Well, forget about that, those days are gone and past, dear readers. Nowadays, your “popularity-o-meter” is directly linked to the amount of followers and likes you have in Instagram, and the secret for that is taking a good amount of amazing pictures. Wondering how to do that? Here’s our IntoTheBlue guide to how to take the best Instagram photos!
Samsung Galaxy 8 and iPhone 7 Plus have some of the best quality cameras in the market.
Which phones take the best photos?
First things first, one of the most important things to take into account if you want people to see (and love) your photos is choosing a phone that can take high quality pictures in the first place! “Because choosing a good phone wasn’t hard enough already!” we hear you saying, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! According to recent articles made by a couple of tech expert magazines such as TechAdvisor or Ephotozine, the phones that take the best pictures are, in no specific order, the Samsung Galaxy 8, HTC U11, iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel. Word of advice! They don’t come off cheap, but then again to get great results, you need great tools.
Fashion and lifestyle are two of the most popular type of photos in Instagram.
Which themes are the most popular?
Alright, it’s time to get to work! So there you are, with your new and fancy phone, ready to jump straight into the world of Instagram fame, but which types of photos do people really like? Are there any specific themes that catches more attention? The answer is “it depends”.
In general terms, travel pictures, urban scenes, delicious looking food, fashion or pet pictures are some of the most popular and reoccurring themes among instagrammers. Having said that, it is important to remember that it’s not easy as posting a photo from your last trip to Europe or what you had for breakfast this morning. The photo has to capture an emotion or to tell a story, all done with a great composition. Also, your Instagram feed will be a reflection of who you are as a person, so make sure to know which can of things you want to show to the world!
If you’re using the Rule of Thirds, don’t forget to use the grid tool in your camera.
What makes a good photo composition?
As we mentioned above, composition is one of the keys to success in Instagram, but what exactly do we mean when we talk about photo composition? Normally, pictures have one clear point of interest, whether it may be a mountain, yourself or a pair of sunglasses. The primary goal of a good composition is to draw the viewer’s eyes directly to the main subject of the photo.
There are a few tricks to perfect your composition technique. The most important one is the Rule of Thirds, considered the golden rule of photography and one of the first things you learn when taking photography lessons. It consists of using a 9 square grid (normally your phone will have this option available) to help you identify the important parts of the photo. Theory says that putting the points of interest on the intersections or along the lines will make the image look more balanced and natural for the eye.
Experimenting with different angles and perspectives is another way of finding new compositions for your pictures. Also, don’t be scared of using props or any other objects to your advantage! You will never know what sort of amazing picture you’ll end up with.
Most food pictures in Instagram tend to use neutral tones.
Which colour palette should I use?
The answer is… All of them! Choosing the right color palette is a huge factor in Instagram, as they can make the difference between a good picture or an average picture. For example, cold tones are often used for landscape or nature photos, while neutral tones (black, white, brown…) tend to be used for “home related themes” such as food pictures, fashion or lifestyle.
Although many experts encourage you to play with different color palettes until you find your own style, it seems there are a few tricks to help you drive more attention to your photos. According to a study made about Instagram, images with blue colors receive more likes than those with red colors and pictures with a single predominant color are better versus those with multiple colors. So be sure to experiment and see what works for you!
Beautiful picture taken during the “golden hour”.
What about lightning?
How many times have you taken an amazing selfie or a scenery photo only to realise that the light was absolutely terrible and not upload-worthy? The same applies for Instagram pictures! No amount of post editing and filters will save an image with poor light. The best way to avoid this is to use natural light and stay away from any sources of artificial light that could alter the photography.
Something else to take into account is the time you’re taking the photo. Generally speaking, photographers and instagrammers love to take pictures around the “golden hour”, also known as magic hour, which is considered to have the best lightning. The golden hour refers to that first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset.
With a little bit of photo editing, you can end up with amazing photos like this!
Anything I should avoid when publishing my photos in Instagram?
Yes, we know. Instagram can be a bit confusing sometimes, especially for those of you who just started, and you might not be aware of what to avoid to not make a fool of yourself. Don’t worry! Here’s a crash course of the big dont’s of Instagram pictures.
- Avoid using the zoom function: If you want to a close-up picture, just get close!
- Quality over quantity: Don’t post dozens of photos in a single day, nobody likes getting flooded with content from the same person.
- Keep the editing simple: Overdone pics tend to look a bit unnatural.
- Don’t get obsessed with likes: At the end of the day, Instagram is mean to be fun!
- Don’t give up! Success comes for those who are consistent and put in the work, so be patient!
Photo editing and filters: Yes or No?
The answer is “yes, but…”. Most popular instagrammers will agree that photo editing apps are a better option than just using Instagram’s own filters, as these tend to lower the general quality of the picture and over saturate them. If you’re going for a professional approach for your Instagram account, we definitely recommend that you download these apps. If you’re still determined to experiment with Instagram’s filters, then we suggest you try those with a more natural looking to it and don’t forget to tweak it!
VSCO allows you to add an elegant touch to your pictures.
What are the best photo editing apps?
We already know that most professional instagrammers use photo editing apps to enhance their photos, but which ones are the best in the market? There are literally hundreds of them out there! We’ll be talking about our two favourites: VSCO and SnapSeed, both available for Android and iPhone.
VSCO is probably the most popular photo editing among Instagrammers. It offers some of the most beautiful and elegant presets and filters for pictures and it’s really easy to use! We recommend you pick your favourite filters and stick with them to keep a consistent and cohesive gallery.
In the other hand we have SnapSeed, which could be considered the multiuse-all-purpose photo editing app. Apart from the usual crop, rotate and adjust features, SnapSeed also offers new original tools like a brush tool to brighten or darken your photo or being able to remove any people from the background. Sounds really handy, that’s for sure!
And there you have it, everyone! The definitive guide to become the next Instagram star. Just don’t forget about us next time you’re getting paid to travel all around the world taking beautiful pictures!
How to become a photographer
To celebrate World Photo Day on the 19th August 2017, we’re taking a snapshot look at how you can become a photographer. Looking at the different photography roles that exist, how to get into them and whether you can make a living from being a photographer.
With the rise of digital photography, having the equipment to be able to take high quality pictures has become accessible to many. Does that mean we can all become professional photographers? Well, many train and work hard for a long time before making it as a photographer.
The different types of photographer you can be
From wedding and portraits, to fashion and documentary, there are more strands to become a photographer than you’d think. All are creative in their own ways, but the lifestyle, working hours and conditions can be very different.
The first step – wedding and portrait photographs
Lots of opportunities to be a wedding photographer – as long as people keep getting married, they’ll want pictures!
Many amateurs make the first step into being a professional photographer by doing wedding or portrait photography. The hours are long and unsociable too, but once you get a name for yourself, this can open up doors and is often a way for artistic photographers to be gainfully employed whilst building up an artistic portfolio. There are lots of opportunity too, with many makeover photography studios all over the UK and people are still getting married!
Into the wild – become a nature and documentary photographer
Capturing the wonders of British wildlife. Pic source: Paul Budd Flickr
Then there’s wildlife and documentary photography. Many start taking photos of the flora and fauna found in the great outdoors as a hobby and there are lots of wildlife photography short courses that exist to develop your skills. Getting your pictures published on things like wildlife calendars and in the National Geographic isn’t easy though.
One route to recommend is entering your finest shot into the BBC Countryfile Photographic Competition. It runs in July every year, with the 12 best photos featuring on the following years’ calendar.
Taking pictures in the extreme – expedition photography
Taking pictures in the extreme – mountains and alpinism photography Pic source: Ben Tibbets
Still outdoors but taking to the photography to the extreme, is expedition photography. As well as being a good photographer you’ll also need to be an adventurist and even an adept mountaineer to get your great shots.
Chamonix resident Ben Tibbetts is an alpinist who is studying to become a mountain guide and has made a real name for himself in alpinism and skiing photography. It’s pretty extreme and you’ll need nerves of steel, as he explains: “I still get a similar mix of excitement and dread before climbing and shooting – will we get up the climb? Will we get some interesting images? Or will we back off, have a gear/psyche/conditions malfunction and head home empty handed?”.
And don’t forget, to get that great picture that documents that climb or ski, you’ll need to lug all your photography equipment up there with you – and back down too – so you need to be physically fit.
Catwalks and models – the life of a fashion photographer
Mario Testino’s famous Vanity Fair cover shot of Princess Diana
Fashion photography is notoriously difficult to get into. Mario Testino must be one of the best-known names in fashion and portrait photography, having captured everyone from Kate Moss (his muse) and Madonna, to Princess Diana and Kate Middleton. He arrived in London from his native Peru in 1976, living in a tiny flat in a disused hospital, making ends meet by selling portfolios to models. Mario Testino’s work first appeared in style bible Vogue in 1983 and that Vanity Fair cover of Diana in 1997 catapulted his career.
Capturing the celebs – the long lens of the paparazzi
Catching the celebs – the life of a pap!
You’ll have to have even thicker skin to be a celebrity and lifestyle photographer (or you could say paparazzi!). The very best have invaluable contacts at airports, hotels, restaurants and at events around the world, as well as those very long lenses.
And like the coveted role of photo journalist, you need to be prepared to drop everything and head off at a moment’s notice to where the person or the story is happening. It’s a fascinating world and the recompense for getting that sought-after ‘money shot’ can be huge (Hello magazine allegedly paid $15,000,000 for the first pics of the Jolie-Pitt twins Knox and Vivienne), but it’s not for everyone.
Always on target – become a sports photographer
Goaalllll! To be a sports photographer you have to capture those winning moments!
Another arm of press photography is sports photography. Once again, competition is fierce, with picture agencies and news outlets all sending their photographers to sporting events. You’re paid to be there and capture that moment of exhaustion and elation when the athlete crosses the line, or the celebration when the multi-million pound new signing scores their first goal. Intense, but well-paid for the best in the game.
Providing a valuable image – ‘government’ photography services
It’s a crime scene – and you as a forensic photography need to be there!
On the opposite end of the scale is medical/police photography. Not exactly glamorous or filled with world travel, but a more stable photography job, albeit one that you’ll need a cast iron stomach for. Medical photographers are there in the operating block to record accurate and objective images of injuries, diseases and operations.
In a similar role is the forensic photographer with the Police. You’ll be called in to produce a visual, permanent record of accidents and crime scenes for measurement and analysis for the enquiry and as evidence in court. Serious stuff. There are also openings in the Armed Forces and other government bodies to become an official photographer.
Marketing the product – sell yourself as a commercial photographer
Food photography – a delicious way to earn your living as a photographer
Somewhere in between is commercial photography. This could be anything from photographing delicious-looking dishes for a food magazine, taking photos of buildings being restored for architectural clients, doing stunning shots of the latest sports car for launch marketing campaigns, to selling images to a stock photo agency. Once again, most people who become commercial photographers are freelance and it’s all about contacts and seeking out the work.
The two essential things (apart from a good portfolio) needed to be a photographer:
Timing. A photojournalist who arrives on the scene after the car has speed off, a fashion photographer who missed the moment the model spins in that gorgeous flowing couture gown, the wildlife photographer who sits all night waiting for the badger to appear only to give up and head off as the appear…it’s all about timing. Admittedly, much of it could be luck, but the best photographers seem to be in the right place at the right time.
Skill. And this is a question of nature and nurture. An inherent eye for good shot is one thing, but can you be taught to be a good photographer? If you’re inspired by and interested in photography, the answer is yes and there are lots of ways to learn how to be a photographer.
The educational route to becoming a photographer
Unless you’re Brooklyn Beckham, it’s not every teenager who’ll be able to release a photography book on a whim and become a photographer that way. Most youngsters wanting a career in photography look to further education.
On the UCAS website (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) there are currently 390 different photography courses available to undergraduates in 2018. They range from one year foundation courses and Higher National Certificate (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND), to three year BA(Hons) degree courses.
Access to further education photography courses varies according to what type of course it is, but is usually dependent on attaining enough UCAS points via A Levels, BTEC, or Access courses. If you browse the UCAS site, each course offered has a full description of what you’ll learn, what you need to get on the course and how to apply.
Many further education institutes welcome applications form mature students (i.e. anyone over the age of 21), who will be considered individually on experience, rather than qualifications. So if you’re looking at a complete career change in later life to be a photographer, further study is a very real possibility too!
More info on how to become a photographer
If you’re feeling inspired there are several websites with essential information for anyone who wants to become a photographer.
Beyond the Lens – the bible when it comes to being a photographer
The Association of Photographers produces the book ‘Beyond the Lens’ which features on pretty much every photography course syllabus in the country. They also act as lobbyists and advisors to their professional photographer members.
The British Institute of Professional Photography focusses on the role of the commercial photographer, but is open to photographers of all professions. They represent photographers around the world, lobby, educate and inform, offering support and networking.
The British Journal of Photography is the world’s longest-running photography magazine, having been established in 1854. It’s all about showcasing talent, keeping you up to date with the latest technology in photography and generally just being the place to look if you want to see which images are impressing eyes around the world.
Just three more places to look if you’re interested for more reading on how to become a photographer.
Valleys and mountains, lakes and rivers, coasts and ridges… our evergreen island might be small compared to other countries, but there’s no doubt we have some of the best landscapes in Europe. That’s why it comes as no surprise that many British people love to spend their days hiking through green fields or finding the best hiking spots. Here at IntoTheBlue we decided to put our boots on and explore the best hiking spots in the UK! Whether you’re an experienced hiker or you’re thinking of taking it as a hobby, our guide caters to everyone!
South Downs Way is one of the best trails for beginners.
South Downs Way, Southern England
Stretching from the historic capital of medieval England, Winchester, all the way to the white chalk cliffs of Eastbourne, South Downs offers a hundred miles of stunning countryside views, beautiful woodlands and charming villages. Recognised as one of the 15 National Trails of England and Wales, South Downs is perfect for both experts and beginners. Don’t be surprised if you find a few cyclists and horse-riders trailing along the roads as well! You can even find a few paragliders up in the skies on clear days with prevailing winds. Once you’re done walking and your muscles are too tired to keep going on, it’s time to head down to one of the village’s pubs for a pint and a tasty meal.
Shining sun, green lands and beautiful coastal views? Seems like a great plan!
Lizard Coastal Walk, Cornwall
For a change of scenery, our next stop is the Lizard peninsula, situated in the southern tip of Britain. This 7 miles walking trail combines dramatic cliffs, coastal views and a wide selection of rare flora and fauna. Not only that, but the Lizard is a great location for those of you interested in geocaching, with lots of brilliant caches hidden all over the place. Most of the trails are quite high and flat, with a couple of challenging climbs here and there, so don’t worry, it’s nothing too extreme! With dozens of different paths to choose from, we recommend you the one to Kynance Cove or the Cadgwith Cove, for those looking for a longer hiking experience.
Feeling brave? What about trying to climb Kinders Downfall in winter?
Kinder Scout, Peak District
Situated inside the Peak District National Park, the Kinder Scout trail is probably one of the most famous and challenging hiking trails in the whole country and all-time’s favourite of experienced walkers. This 8 mile trail starts in the Edale village, which is accessible by train, and takes you all the way up to the highest point of Peak District. Whilst walking along this route, you’ll be amazed by all the different landscapes in front of your eyes: from beautiful moorlands, to rocky valleys and even a waterfall!
This place even comes with its own history lesson! Did you know that in 1932 around 500 walkers from Manchester and Sheffield decided to trespass the land (which was privately owned back at the time) to secure the access rights for local people to enjoy the open countryside.
Aerial view of the ruins of the Roman amphitheater in Cirencester.
Roman Way, Cotswolds
Are you a passionate of ancient Roman culture? Then you’re in for a treat! Although the Roman Way extends for 174 miles all across Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, we will be focusing on the hiking trail around the Cotswolds Hills, that offers some of the best Roman landmarks in the UK. The route starts at Coln river valley and it follows the path along Akeman Street, an ancient Roman road, all the way to Cirencester (also known as Corinium in the Roman times), going through the villages around Ampney and the Churn river. Once you arrive to Cirencester, you’ll be utterly enchanted with the remains of the amphitheater and their magnificent Roman museum in town, with some exclusive pottery pieces and even an ancient tombstone! If this isn’t an archaeological dream come true, we don’t know what it is.
Make sure to stop every once in a while to admire the stunning views!
The Pyg Track, Snowdonia
Buckle up, everyone! Our next stop is the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. As you might suspect, there are dozens of trails to explore around the Snowdon, being one of the most iconic landmarks of Wales, but we strongly recommend The Pyg Track. This path offers an easier and more straightforward route without sacrificing the breathtaking views that Snowdonia is so famous for. With more than 7 miles to explore, The Pyg Track is one of the busiest trails, so make sure you get up with enough time for your journey! Also, we recommend you be extra careful when going up the Llanberis Path – ice tends to be a bit treacherous, especially in winter. Time to get your sturdiest boots out of the wardrobe!
The Striding Edge might look a little bit scarier during winter.
Helvellyn, Lake District
Brace yourselves, here comes the Mother of all the walks! Situated in the middle of Lake District National Park, the Helvellyn mountain is considered the third highest mountain in England at 950m above the sea level, so be aware those of you who are scared of heights! There are many ways to climb the Helvellyn but the most famous trail is via Striding Edge, an 8 miles route which is known for being quite difficult and scary. After all, you’ll be walking through a narrow knife-ridge with valleys falling on each side, that’s why we recommend you taking up this trail in summer time, where the breeze is gentle and the rocks are dry.
As you might suspect by now, this walk is designed for experienced (and brave) hikers, so if you have just got into hiking this might not be the best option, but don’t worry, we’re sure you’ll get there in good time!
Someone is feeling like the king of the world right now!
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Who said you can’t have a great hiking day near the city? The Arthur’s Seat walk is a must if you’re visiting Edinburgh and want to experience the best views of the Scottish capital. Also, it’s completely free! There are loads of routes to choose from, suitable for all abilities. From the easiest trail around Dunsapie Loch that only takes 15 minutes to reach the summit to a longer and more strenuous path starting at Holyrood Palace which can take up to 2-2.5 hours. It is worth mentioning that Arthur’s Seat has some of the greatest picnic spots out there, so don’t forget to bring some snacks to enjoy at the summit or the resting points. Nothing can beat a delicious meal and beautiful landscapes combo!
Whether you’re getting the “hiking blues” or just started getting into the world of hiking, there’s no doubt Britain is one of the greatest places in the world to enjoy a day outdoors, walking around and exploring our amazing countryside. So what are you waiting for? Time to pack up your lunch and putting on your best hiking clothes!