Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone is important for your Social Media Marketing. The best camera you have is in your pocket and you need to take advantage of that. Phone manufacturers like iPhone, Samsung, Huawei and Oppo spend billions of dollars doing one thing well.  That one thing they do well is putting the most up to date camera tech in your pocket. There’s no need to move around with a DSLR to take gorgeous Instagram photos. Your phone is the ultimate image taker. We will show you how taking amazing Instagram photos with your phone in this article will help your Instagram game. We will use specialist bloggers and photographers to show you how.

Step 1: Configure your camera settings/ Equipment 

Clean Your Lens

The first thing you should do is Clean the lens on the back of your iPhone before taking photos. Your phone can get surprisingly dirty through everyday use, and a dirty lens results in blurry photos! All that moving around in your pocked where fine dust particles lurk or handling a call whilst midst hot wing partaking and then leaving greasy prints on your camera will affect the quality. So wipe it down.

Keep HDR On or Off

We will illustrate both sides of the argument because this is a widely debated issue. What is HDR you may ask?  HDR is short for high dynamic range imaging. This function takes images that are a mixture of underexposed, overexposed, and normal-exposure images. What you get is an image that encompasses all three effects.

Arguments for Keeping It On

As with most things in life, there is a time and a place for everything. HDR isn’t inherently evil. You need to know how to use it and when. The hard Photographers state that it’s not real photography but remember we are talking about something that fits in our pocket. We need it quickly capture something when we’re on our way to work or walking the dog.

Iphone photography school states that you must use it for high contrast scenes with dark shadows and bright highlights. This is true because you definitely catch more with this mode when your image has a lot more parts to it. What do we mean by this?

Take a look at these examples.


You need to understand that the sky and the land have a lot of contrast between them, therefore, making HDR suitable for this. The Lifehacker states HDR is capable of capturing the light of the sky and the dark of the land in one shot that doesn’t make either the land too dark or the sky overexposed. This is important to note.

Now let’s look at an example.

                                                             Image without HDR: Iphone photography school

  • Notice that the above Image has no HDR.
  • Brighter parts of the sky are completely over-exposed. They are just white with no real substance or detail.
  • The darker areas, such as the boat and plants in the foreground are under-exposed therefore making it difficult to see the shrubbery.

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone. Image with HDR: phone photography school

  • Notice that the above Image now has HDR. The difference is amazing.
  • Photo is well lit and clear.
  • True colours have been exposed
  • You can finally see the detail in both the foreground and the sky.
Objects in bright or Direct Sunlight.

We all know that sunlight casts shadows. These shadows, therefore, create a wider range of contrast to your photo. To fix this we need to use HDR. Why? Using HDR brings balance to all the elements, both light and shadow.

Let’s take look at an example.

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

 Image without HDR: Iphone photography school

  • Notice how dark or too light these images are.
  • The images are not crisp or clear enough.
  • They don’t look so great.

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Image with HDR: phone photography school

  • Notice how crisp and clear it is.
  • HDR has brought balance to all the elements, both light and shadow.
  • You need a good mix between light and shadow and this is what HDR brings.
  •  HDR is actually for high-contrast scenes – bright sun with dark shadows. This is actually what it’s best for, when you want to recover a bit of detail that’s being lost in the contrasts.
Low-light and backlit scenes

If your photo is a little too dark, HDR can brighten up the foreground without washing out the well-lit portions of your photo.

For example, let’s look at the images below.

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Image without HDR: Cosmopolitan Magazine

  • Image is a little grainy and dark.
  • The subject in the image is not exposed properly.

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Image with HDR: Cosmopolitan Magazine

  • Notice how clearer it is.
  • HDR once again tries to find a balance

Lastly, this point stated by the phone photography school is key to remember “As a general rule, use HDR if you’re struggling to get a good, balanced exposure. If the shadows appear too dark or the highlights are too bright, switch on HDR in the Camera app.”

Arguments for Keeping It Off

Firstly you need to know what you’re doing and it can be hard to get right. HDR may generally increase the amount of detail, which may be bad.  HDR tends to make people look almost cartoonish or unnatural and is generally not a good idea if you are not well clued in camera tech.

Let’s take a look at some examples of when to turn it off.

Don’t use HDR for moving objects or when you are moving.

Below is an example:

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Image with HDR: phone photography school

  • Notice how blurry the person is.
  • The HDR setting will result in blurry images when the photographer is moving or capturing a moving object. (only the latest phones have smart HDR to help in this but generally don’t it’s hard to capture such images)
  • The experts say use Burst on iPhone to capture action shots but I will talk on this later.
Don’t use HDR for High-contrast scenes like silhouettes

The Lifehacker states when taking silhouettes, HDR will make your image less intense, resulting in a less interesting photo. You want to just leave the camera alone for this.

Below is an example:

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Image without HDR: Iphone photography school

  • No HDR was used here as you can see the silhouette created was successful.
  • This is a great image of not using HDR to achieve a silhouette.
  • The silhouette effect is often produced when the subject you shoot has a strong luminosity behind.
  • If you use HDR at this time, the silhouette effect will disappear as HDR can balance the light from your subject and the background and retain the details of the subject.

Lastly, on the issue of HDR, I would say that use HDR and practice. Once you get the hang of it, HDR can be a great tool for getting better pictures. Trial and error always and check out the iPhone photography school they always have good info on taking photos off your phone and even if you have an android it is more or less the same principles. I hope this helps in taking amazing Instagram photos with your phone.

Preserve Settings

If you have a favourite filter or camera mode, you should just save it. You can preserve the last camera mode, filter, lighting, depth, and Live Photo settings you used so they’re not reset when you next open Camera. This is just to make sure you are camera ready for those sudden shots.

Go to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings. You have three options to choose from; Camera Mode (for example, video or square), Filter, and Live Photo

Also, take advantage of the camera shortcut for those sudden snaps.

Check the Photo Mode

Always check what mode you’re in. Modes are crucial to grasp as they all have different effects and advantages.

Louise M states that ” portrait mode gives you the most bang for your buck in the Instagram stream.” Its widely used because it is easier and the go-to. She continues to state that “I don’t recommend the landscape mode  for marketers, as it takes up less than half the space you could snag with a portrait image!” These are things to consider when you are checking your mode.

The reason why portrait mode is liked is because the post takes up more real estate on mobile phones, giving people more to look at before they scroll past.

Let’s go to school again with the Iphone photography school. We love this site because it’s so clear to follow.

Now let’s look at why Portrait mode works well for certain instances.

Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Image: Iphone photography school

  • The above photo is in portrait mode
  •  iPhone 11 Pro, you can switch between the 2x Telephoto lens and the 1x Wide lens. Just tap 1x or 2x at the bottom left in Red. This switches up your photo.
  • When Portrait mode is ready, the words Natural Light appear in yellow.
  • You can also blur the background to make your subject pop. (We will talk about this effect later)

I highly recommend you checkout. How To Take Stunning Photos With Your iPhone 11 Camera.

Now if you want to take images that are moving then Burst is the one for you. Burst is primarily for action shots. What Burst does is that your iPhone will shoot up to 10 photos allowing you to sift through and choose the best one after.

In conclusion, just think about what you want to achieve and as always trial and error is the way to go.

Step 2: Taking the perfect shot for Instagram

This is where we get a little more technical but interesting.

Depth of Field

What is Depth of Field you may ask? Depth of field (DOF) is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

Okay, let me explain a little further basically It’s when you have a photo and an object/person in the photo is nice and sharp and in focus, and the rest of the photo is blurry and out of focus.

Let’s look at the example below:

  • Look at the above picture. Beautiful I know.
  • This is an effect of Depth Of Field.
  • The black swan is in focus, therefore, Click the subject matter and you’ll notice the object will be sharp and the background will be blurry.
  • Tap your subject and wait for a yellow square to appear.
  • When you see the yellow square, that yellow square shows who/what is in focus.
  • Move around to get that perfect DOF.

Turn on the grid feature and Follow the rule of thirds (COMPOSITION)

This is the golden rule of photography. What does it do? This rule of thirds helps break down your image into 3 portions or sections in order to make your image perfect.

Social media today states that “According to the rule, you should line up the most important elements of your composition along the lines or the intersections of the grid. This creates more tension and interest in the subject, compared to an image where the focal point is centred.”

How to switch it on

The rule of thirds puts forward the notion that you must place anything of interest, for example, your subject matter at any of the intersections of the grid (where two lines meet) or along/on any of the lines.

Professional Photographer and expert Dan Cole, @dankhole states in the Huffington Post that  “Whether photographing with my iPhone or my Nikon, I shoot with the grid turned on to aid my composition. Often, I rock side to side on my feet, watching the overlapping elements of my subject carefully on the screen or through the viewfinder, until I’ve found that magic midpoint.” So people if an expert uses the grid feature!!! please start incorporating it. Iphone and Androids make it easy to incorporate this feature

Let’s take a look at the Iphone Photography School example.

Image: Iphone photography school

  • The most important elements in the scene should be placed along the gridlines or at the intersections where the lines meet.
  • The photographer has placed the bird at the junction point where the right vertical gridline and bottom gridline meet.
  • Positioning the important elements off-centre like this, rather than directly in the centre of the frame, tends to create a more harmonious and balanced composition that looks and feels right to the human eye.

Always ask yourself:

  • What’s the main subject in this scene?
  • Will you position the subject centrally or off-centre?
  • You need to create Harmony.

Please check out 10 Ways To Use The Rule Of Thirds In Your iPhone Photos

Step 3: Lighting

Lighting is the foundation of a good photo. Lighting solves everything in my opinion. Now let’s explain further.

Use natural light

Margaret Zhang, @margaret__zhang  states in the Huffingtonpost that “no amount of filtering or app-editing will save a photo that’s poorly lit. Natural light always reads better, so if you’re outdoors, early morning, late afternoon and overcast days are prime times for shooting.”

Her image below explains this point well.

  • Natural light gives photos a glow and makes everything more beautiful as well as professional.
  • I would say that when you get good natural light turn off your flash because a flash can flatten out your image and wash out your subject.  Your images will look so much more professional than shooting inside or with flash.
  • Rule of thumb is to always check your camera’s brightness.
  • Photographers state that if it’s too high, your background will appear white on a bright, sunny day.
  • Just reduce the brightness.

Overexposure and Underexposure

Underexposure in photography refers to an image where too little light was recorded.

Pay Attention here!!!!! It’s important to note that underexposed images can be adjusted later for brightness. We love this because we always set lower settings or underexpose a shot because we know we can remedy this later. It’s safer for us non-professionals.

Where it gets a little complicated is Overexposed images. Overexposure is when there is too much light recorded in the image. This is irritating because you usually find out in your camera roll that your image which you took perfectly is so overexposed that it’s virtually useless.

Pay Attention here!!!! You cannot remedy this situation. Overexposure is a nightmare.

Let’s take a look at the Iphone Photography School example about adjusting exposure.

Take Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

All you do is:

Shoot at The Right Time

The best times of day to shoot are morning and late afternoon as there is super soft and beautiful light. Below are some of the times favoured by people.

Golden Hour

When Is Golden Hour? The golden hour starts roughly one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset.

Expert Photography states that “If you want a more exact time for when the golden hour starts, you can use a golden hour calculator app like the Photographer’s Ephemeris. Or try a free app like Helios Golden Hour (for iOS) and Blue Hour Calculator (for Android).” This is when you want to get really serious with your images. It also doesn’t hurt that  Apple along with Samsung continues releasing these great camera phones.

The Image below illustrates Golden Hour well:

Blue Hour

When Is Blue Hour? The blue hour occurs before sunrise in the morning and after sunset in the evening.
The sun has dipped a certain amount below the horizon. The sky picks up a cool, crisp blue colour before it gets too dark or what we refer to as night.  As the name suggests, your photos will have a bluish tone if you shoot at these times of the day.

The Image below illustrates Blue Hour well:

Cloudy Day

Clouds will diffuse the sun’s rays no matter what time of day it is. This leads to a softer effect. The benefits here is that you won’t get any harsh shadows and the lighting will probably stay consistent throughout your shot. Usually, look for bursts of light.

Convert Portraits To Black And White When The Light Is Harsh/High Noon

High noon is definitely not considered the best time of day to take pictures outside by most photographers. However, they stress that you need to plan well to get that Instagram image you want. Format states that ” it’s not going to be the choice time of day for a wedding photographer, However, an urban landscape photographer will absolutely love the hard shadows. They can lend a really dramatic and look to a photo, which isn’t always a bad thing. This is definitely something to think about.

Step 4: How to take the shot

We are going to illustrate different well known methods to achieve the perfect shot and help you in tking amazing Instagram photos with your phone.

The Flat Lay

A flat lay is basically when you’re shooting items from directly above. What we understand from this is that they also usually are arranged or styled on a flat surface. So basically a foodies or chefs feed will have lots of flat-lay images.

Let’s look at examples.

As you can see flat lay is a foodies dream and it helps in taking amazing Instagram photos with your phone. Try and make sure your phone or camera is parallel to the table or surface you’re photographing. Look I personally would climb on a chair to get a little bit more height for that perfect overlay. Please check out https://www.instagram.com/flatlays/    for the ultimate flat lays.   On this page, you will see the best flat lays from around the world and you will notice that most of them have a flat textured background either dark or light concrete, grid tables or marble.

The Layered Indulgence states that for flat lay photos you can:

  • Take them on a bright surface like a white marble countertop.
  • (You can fake a marble countertop with marble contact paper – so much cheaper!!!).
  • You can also use a reflector like white cardboard to bounce off the light and get rid of shadows. This will make a huge difference in how your images look (read: much better!).

 Choose the Right Background

The Layered Indulgence states. For your background, you can consider the following. If your brand is minimalist, use a white counter, Bristol board, or bedsheets to take your photos. If you have a fun, colourful brand aesthetic, find colourful walls, plates, placemats to take your photos in front of. A right background will aid in taking amazing instagram photos with your phone.

Let’s look at examples.

If you look through the above account, the photos follow a background theme that is white or a soft off white colour to create that minimalistic effect.

If you look through the above account, the photos follow a background that colourful and fun. You have to look at what you want to achieve with your feed when you choose a background.


I like to take my Instagram photos from a number of different angles to get the right shot. Taking photos from a different vantage point will provide fresh perspectives. But in doing this there are certain rules one must follow to have a great shot. As a loyal reader of Cosmopolitan, they have a great example of how to make your images pop.

Cosmopolitan states “When taking a photo, hold your phone 100 per cent upright (or exactly perpendicular to the subject when taking an overhead photo). They state that when you’re holding your phone upright, the subject of the photo will appear clearer and it will look much more professional.”

The images below illustrate their point.

Take Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Image: Cosmopolitan

You can see from the images that holding your phone in an upright position yields a better visual piece but both personally I would say have their time and place. However, you must always look for angles that make your image look more professional or pop.

Move Your Props Around

Props are great in photos. Think about it, how many blogger accounts have you seen with either coffee cup holding or some sort of object playing second fiddle to the main subject. Countless!!! Props are always great in images and create immaculate balance if used correctly. They really help in Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

Step 5: Post-Production & Editing Techniques

 Karan Bhatia@sendingstache  has an important rule that you need to know and I’m sure you’ve done this before. He states in the Huffington Post that “Oftentimes, over-edited shots can be unappealing. When editing with filters, try to be conservative with which ones you use and how strong you make them. Pushing a photo far from its original state isn’t always as attractive as subtle tweaks and maintaining a natural look.” This is important to note because sometimes we get carried away with these cool apps and their ease of use that we forget that our photo was already beautiful.

Do not over-edit.

Let’s take a look at Cosmopolitans example below.

Take Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.

  • This is an editing fail
  • The image looks fake.
  • When you sharpen, increase contrast, and increase saturation of colours, make sure the final product looks normal.


Our Clients Personally Love these apps.

Some Advice from Photography Professionals

Check out the article on 29 Instagram Hacks From People Who Take Really Good Photos , below are some of the points we love when taking amazing Instagram photos with your phone. We also tagged their Instagram accounts so you can see the epicness of their work.

  • Plan ahead, decide what you want your feed to be about by Simone Bramante, @brahmino
  • Don’t get hung up on Likes by Jussi Ulkuniemi, @skwii
  • Use your eyes before you use the lens by Niv Rozenberg, @nivroz
  • Draw the viewer in with a clear point of interest by Sam Horine, @samhorine
  • Take advantage of burst-mode by  Laura Pritchett, @bythebrush
  • Shoot from different angles by Mike Kus, @mikekus
  • Play with props by Kym Pham, @kympham
  • White space gives your feed room to breathe by Hilary Rushford, @hilaryrushford
  • Keep your edits simple by Karan Bhatia, @sendingstache
  • Practice, practice, practice by Sezgi Olgaç, @sezgiolgac
  • Keep your Instagram feed consistent by Monica Rubalcava, @moniqua
  • The best captions encourage people to engage by Melissa Vincent, @misvincent


To conclude I hope you picked up one or two tips from this article on Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone and that we helped a little. We hope that you are successful on your Instagram journey. Thank you again for reading, Taking Amazing Instagram Photos With Your Phone.


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