How To Take Instagram Pictures Like A Pro When You’re Not

Hey hey, friends. A lot of you have reached out asking how I make my pictures all look the same and ask if they are professionally done. The answer is no! I do have an awesome photographer friend who I plan on working with in the near future, but for now, I’m my own photographer. Well, sometimes my husband or 8-year-old son are the photogs but for the most part – it’s just me.

So let’s get to it.

First things first, your cell phone takes amazing pictures! You do not need a fancy pants camera. We had one and I sold it because it’s easier to take pics on my phone and I always have my phone with me. I have the iPhone X, but even my old 6 worked fine.

Let’s talk about lighting. When taking pictures inside you want to make sure all the lights are on. Natural light looks best, so if you get a lot of sunlight coming inside don’t worry about turning the lights on. I take all my pictures during the day. I don’t like the way pictures turn out at night or with the flash on.

If I’m taking a “selfie” type of photo or one within close range of an object, I like to use Portrait mode. It looks cleaner and more focused on what you’re taking a picture of. When taking a picture, in general, you also want to tap the screen to adjust the focus and exposure.

Now, this is my favorite tip: You’re likely not going to get a shot you like on the first take, so take tons of pictures. Photo burst like crazy! Then you’ll have options and are more likely to find ones you like. During the bursts, move around, try different poses, facial expressions, etc. Trust me!

When I’m at home or out by myself, how do I take the pictures? I have a portable tripod! It’s super lightweight, comes in a carrying case and sets up in seconds. It also comes with a remote and an adjustable base to create perfect angles. This is the one I use.

If you want studio lighting, perfect selfie light, or light for video recording – you’ll want to go with this Halo light. It’s AH-MAZING. Lightweight and also comes with a carrying case and remote. Perfect to take to events or take pictures at night. They have mini ones for selfies that clamp right on to your phone too. I mean – brilliant.

Photo taken at night with my Halo light. Perfect for headshots.

Okay, so we’ve finished talking about taking photos. That was easy, right?

What do I do with them after I take them? As a blogger, I have to take pretty pictures that are visually appealing or no one will take the time to read my work. Same goes for social media. Your Instagram page is your highlight reel, it better look nice. Save your “real life” stuff for your stories. For my highlight reel, I want everything to have the same theme as far as edits go. This makes the page pretty to look at and streamlined.

Once the pictures are done, I open up my Lightroom App. It’s a free mobile photo editing app that you must have. I’ll wait while you download it.

Okay, once you open your Lightroom App you’ll see all the recent photos you took (if they don’t autoload you can add them to an album in Lr). This is where you’ll want to do your edits. You can pay for upgrades for different features, but I don’t think that’s necessary for these purposes. Label the album what you want to keep it organized.

Then you’ll look for a photo preset you like. A preset is a pre-determined position all (or some) of the of sliders in Lightroom, meaning the “edits” are already done. In other words, you can edit a photo to your liking, and then save that exact combination of slider positions for future use on another image. Get it? Good. I like clean “minimal” presets that I can adjust a little for some variety. You can see what I mean on some of my photos.

Where do I find photo Lightroom presets? You can Google and find some popular bloggers and photographers use. Those are typically more expensive and can be difficult to install if you’re not super “tech-y”. I’d consider myself somewhat tech savvy and some of these higher-end preset download instructions were WAY over my head. They run anywhere from $20-$70.

If you want something easier to use and less expensive, check out Etsy. There’s great presets on there for $10 or less. Each store that sells them has its own download instructions, but I found them to be pretty easy. You download the photo with the preset already in place then save it to your Lightroom App. Once you save it in there in its own folder – you click on the ellipses (or the three dots) on the top right of the preset photo and you’ll see a menu pop up. You’ll click “copy settings” then go to the photo you took in your other album, click on the ellipses on that photo then click “paste settings”. You’ll see the settings from the preset automatically edit your photo to look like the preset photo. If you want to make adjustments you can use the edit bars in Lightroom to do so.

Example of a preset photo

I like having a few presets that look along the same theme to switch it up a bit.

To summarize: Buy a tripod. Capture moments special to you. Load those photos into Lightroom. Buy a preset you like. Copy the preset on to your photo. Save it back to your camera roll and post away! You can follow me on IG for inspo at hollydays_chicago.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any of your own tips and tricks, please share them in the comment section.