Five Mistakes to Avoid When Shooting Instagram Photos

or any portrait, really.


Five Mistakes to Avoid When Shooting Instagram Photos

L I F E . S T Y L E D .

photo of Lauren Johnson

Things I do day in and day out have become second nature (sipping coffee and wondering when it will kick in to edit out that awfully redundant statement.)

These are rookie mistakes to avoid to help you get clearer, more impactful photos… for Instagram.

  1. Shooting next to brick

    While you might see the chance to have a rustic backdrop or conjure feelings of East Coast mansions, as a photographer I see orangey-red tones reflecting onto your already-beautiful skin tone. There are instances when shooting against brick can work, but on a sunny day, or without the perfect shade of brick, it can leave a color cast on your photos making it hard to have a clean edit as the result.

  2. Standing Against a Wall

    Truth be told, I’ve caught myself doing this before when posing for a photo. Maybe because it acts as a prop, or because we see it as a perfect backdrop, but something makes us go right up against a wall and feel ready for a photo. To create more interest and to put more focus on the subject of the photo, take a step away from the wall. This will give you a more blurred backdrop and, similar to above, you avoid color cast shining on you if the wall is anything other than white.

  3. Letting the Camera Choose the Focus

    Automatic settings can be wonderful, but while shooting portraits, make sure the focus is on the subject’s face. You can do this with an iPhone, a DSLR, and a mirrorless camera, but settings can be different for each one. If you’re getting a walking shot, you can set the focus to either the chest or the face if focusing on just the face is proving difficult. Even if it’s an outfit photo, it’s still a portrait.

  4. Shooting with an F-Stop Too Low

    Again, utilizing what the camera offers can be wonderful. It can be tempting to drop the f-stop all the way down to create more of a blurred background, but in the case of a portrait, or even a product photo, that means that only a very small radius of the subject will be in focus. To achieve that blurred background, create distance between the subject and the background. Shooting with a long street as a backdrop is one example, another is taking a few steps a w a y from the wall.

  5. Not Breaking the Rules

    A cheap get for the fifth and final number, but it’s true. I encourage clients to find a few locations and styles that work for them to achieve consistent branding, but rules are meant to be broken. I shoot with brick, I have clients lean against walls, hell — sometimes I drop the f-stop all the way down to 1.2 (rarely, very rarely). Don’t let parameters stifle your creativity. If you have a vision, see it through. It might not come out exactly as you hoped the first time, but do your research, keep practicing, and learn how to achieve the look you’re going for.

As always, I love seeing your work and hearing how your photos are coming along! Drop me a line, leave a comment on Instagram, let me know if there’s a photo you want me to see!