10 Tips to Level Up Your Instagram Game

Instagram has powerfully changed the way we live our lives. How much time do we spend scrolling through Instagram? How many times have we checked Instagram hashtags and accounts prior to making a purchase? How many of our dinner dates and barkada outings were documented in filtered squares and witty hashtags?

There’s no denying the power of Instagram. Once upon a time, I was completely averse to using it. That was until I realized that Instagram is simply a medium. What we do with it is ultimately up to us. (Related: In Defense of Instahoes and Basic Bitches) There’s also no single way of enjoying Instagram. Some enjoy Instagram as a calculated curation of their picture-perfect experiences. Some enjoy Instagram as a laidback public diary, full of blurry shots and pixelated photos.

I think I belong to the former. I see Instagram as my portfolio, not my diary. And because I’m not confident with my photography skills, most of my Instagram photos and blog photos are shot by someone else–Zeus Martinez! I sometimes browse the web for Instagram tips and photography tips, and I laugh at all the gasgas Instagram aesthetics that honestly still look attractive to me–despite being so cliché!

What started out as random observations of cliché Instagram posts eventually became a full-blown collaboration on documenting a how-to guide on Instagram.

I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as we enjoyed making it!

1.) The more putol, the more sosyal.

…Or in the sosyal blogging world, “#details” and “#detailshot.”

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If you’re into documenting your sartorial adventures, #detailshots are the photos that attempt to capture your accessories, which often go unnoticed when you snap a full-body #OOTD. The whole putol ~aesthetics have transcended into other kinds of photos, though! They’re no longer limited to #OOTD photos only.

I had a good laugh when The Soshal Network did a parody of the putol trend in this blog post.

2.) Props are essential for flatlays.

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Let me show the the Instagrammer starter pack:

  1. Kinfolk
  2. Love Style Life
  3. Cactus/succulent
  4. Coffee/Tea (Bawal daw ‘yung three in one!)
  5. Puting Tela (Pwede na rin ‘pag off-white.)
  6. Ladder (But make sure they don’t see this in the photo! True Instagrammers know that they key to success is to try hard but look effortless.)

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3.) Use plants as props, but remember to keep it subtle.

In this era where everyone’s online, being spotted near plants always adds to your hipster cred. Incorporate greens in your photo, but remember that subtlety is key!

Don’t do this:

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(No plants were harmed in taking this photo!)

In this photo, it’s way too obvious that you just grabbed a branch while you were in the parking lot. The car at the back also takes away from the nature-lover peg!

Try this instead:

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Use the greens as “natural” borders of the photo. Blur it the plants to make them frame the subject.

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4.) Don’t look at the camera.

Personally, I like looking at the camera. It seems most natural to acknowledge the presence of a camera (and an imagined audience) right in front of you:

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But my best friend pointed out how most fashion bloggers she sees never look at the camera! When I started looking at fashion spreads, I realized that she had a point. There are two opposite effects of not looking at the camera:

1.) This shot says, “im so cool. i wont even bother looking at you.”

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2.) This pabebe shot says “im so shy but i want you to look at me parin.”

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Extra pabebe points if you fix your hair while looking at the floor.

5.) Use the sky as your background.

Some Instagrammers go through crazy lengths just to find the perfect wall or the perfect cafe to serve as their backdrop. Some couples and debutants doing their shoots even pay a fortune to book a picturesque venue.

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If you find a space where you could have an unobstructed view of the sky, try snapping a few photos! It’s not as hard as it may seem. When the photographer angles his camera upwards, the ~kaguluhan at the bottom are cut from the shot. We even got lucky; a plane flew by as we were taking this shot:

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6.) Negative space is anything but negative.

I found out that there’s actually a thing called “white feed.” White feeds are Instagram accounts that posts photos on white backgrounds. When you click on a specific photo on their feed, it’s often a cup of coffee or a tiny cactus set against a vast expanse of white.

Sometimes, the subject again the white walls are people:

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There are pros and cons for curating white feeds. Your feed will look like it’s a cohesive portfolio because it follows a specific theme. But I personally find it limiting. Whether or not you choose to curate a white feed, try having fun with negative space!

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Negative space isn’t all about positioning the subject against a while wall. Photography Mad explained,

Put simply, negative space is the area which surrounds the main subject in your photo (the main subject is known as the “positive space”).

One of the examples Photography Mad shared is a photo of power lines (the main subject/positive space) against the sky (the negative space). Using negative space for your photos help strike the right balance for your photo. That way, there isn’t too much going on; viewers could easily spot and appreciate the focal point of your photo.

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