I remember the first time I used a real camera. It was in grade 8 before our class trip to Paris and to document the experience, my parents gave me one of those $30 cameras with… *gasp* film! While I never quite figured out how to change film (I ruined 2 rolls before I gave up), the art of photography always remained on my mind.
Fast forward to early 2016, where, following countless blurry bar photos and heavily filtered images on Instagram, I made it a point to improve my overall quality of pictures so that I didn’t need to rely on filters to make it a semi-decent photo. While I’m no expert, after watching countless hours of YouTube tutorials, experimenting and making SO many mistakes, I have learned a few tricks to help elevate your own pictures for Instagram:
Adobe Lightroom: If you’re serious about investing in your photography and Instagram account, consider a subscription to Lightroom. I get the monthly Adobe Creative Cloud service, which lets me use Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 USD – and trust me, it’s worth it. Lightroom is the fastest, most powerful way to edit, brighten and clarify your pictures without compromising the quality of your file size – so key! Personally, I have a difficult time immediately assessing what needs to be fine tuned in a picture – shadows, highlights, luminance, saturation, where’s a girl to start?! So my not-so-secret tip is to use the “Auto Adjust,” which does a great job 80% of the time. From there I can tweak all the things I don’t like and adjust them to my liking. And the best part about it, and the defining feature between Lightroom and mobile editing apps, is that you can choose what file size and resolution you save your image in. As a general rule of thumb, I export my photos as a TIFF file with 300 dpi, no resolution resizing — meaning no grainy photos that are blurry the moment you zoom in.
Adobe Photoshop: If you’ve subscribed for the service I mentioned above, you automatically get Photoshop. Where Lightroom is a powerful way to edit your pictures, Photoshop is the tool to re-touch elements within your picture. I’ve used this to remove a zit or two (ok, many), an ugly metal fence in an otherwise epic photo, and literally removed an entire person who happened to stray into the back of my shot. While Photoshop and airbrushing has gotten a bad rep thanks to the beauty industry, this is an essential in any budding photographer and Instagrammer’s toolkit. As an added bonus, Photoshop and Lightroom talk to each other! If you’re editing a picture in Photoshop, any changes you save will automatically appear in Lightroom – woot woot!
Picture Quality: I’ve touched on this already but I can’t stress enough how important file and resolution size is. The majority of the time I shoot all my pictures in RAW on my Canon EOS T5i Rebel. Unlike a JPEG, RAW files allow you to have full control as you edit in post-processing (i.e. Lightroom or Photoshop). I do use my iPhone 7 Plus when I’m in a pinch, but the moment you edit a photo on your phone the file and resolution is compromised. The other trick I’ve learned to avoid compromising my image quality is to use AirDrop when sharing files between my MacBook and iPhone. There are other apps that also work, like Desk Connect, but AirDrop is the easiest!
And there you have it! Hopefully you’ve found these tips useful. If you have any of your own, I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!