I can remember before I owned an iPhone, instagram was the one app that I longed for most. And I'm pretty sure it was the first app I downloaded. The most popular question I get asked now is how did I get so many followers on Instagram. Well I'm here today to try and answer this question the best I can. As well as offer some free advice. First things first, a little history. I didn't just start taking photos on my iPhone. I've been shooting off and on since 2000 when I got my first Canon Rebel SLR. I've never taken a photography class. I spent a lot of time, and rolls of film, learning from my mistakes. All my early photographs are black and whites of buildings and shadows. I didn't know it at the time but I was training my eye to see light and composition. The two basic essentials to any great photograph.
I remember the first time I held my Lomo-LCA. The cold metal was heavy and solid in my hands. I knew I could take it anywhere with me. This must have been 2002. I had just discovered the world of "shooting from the hip" and fell in love with the whole philosophy of "shoot now, look later". It totally opened up my mind to what I thought photography was, or more importantly what it wasn't. It was also at this time I was introduced to cross-processing and the holga. Both of which are now popular filters on our favorite photo apps. I wonder how many people really know the history of the filters we use?
Shooting with a digital camera was something I long resisted. I was such a purist back then, and still am today in certain ways. For example, I don't use any app to shoot on my iPhone other than the default camera app. But that's besides the point. The point is, back then I valued the process of putting film in a camera and waiting to see the results once I got the roll developed. But eventually technology overpowered me and I turned digital.
The thing I love most about digital photography is the choice to keep or delete your photos at the push of a button. It's also the thing I hate most. I think anyone who wants to learn photography should start on film before digital. Understanding the basics principles of aperture and shutter speed sink in deeper when shooting film. Not only that but you learn to appreciate a beautiful photo when you see one that doesn't have a million photoshop effects applied to it.
That pretty much brings us up to the present time. I've been shooting with my iPhone now over the past year. I tried to keep a healthy balance of my DSLR and my iPhone, but my iPhone constantly won out. So now that's pretty much my camera of choice. It doesn't matter how many megapixels you have, it's how you use them. Shooting on the iPhone (specifically for instagram) requires much more than just pointing and "clicking" though. Here's some things I've learned about what makes a great photo on instagram:
1. Lighting. Pretty basic, but pretty profound. Learning to use the built-in censor on the iPhone has been a bit frustrating but at the same time I appreciate it. It makes the difference between a boring shot and a dramatic shot.
2. Composition. Another basic principle of photography, but one that should not be overlooked on the iPhone. If you don't understand the rule of thirds, you should. Only after you know the rules can you break them.
3. Quantity. I take a lot of photographs on my phone. I take an average of 10-15 shots of the same picture when I want to post something. That way when I get home I have options to choose from and find the best photo in the bunch.
4. Quality. Sometimes even after shooting a ton of photos I don't have any that I like. And that's okay. I don't post everything I shoot. Sometimes it's more about what you don't post than what you do. It's a hard lesson to learn, but one of great value. Remember, you don't have to share everything all the time.
5. Simple. The less you have going on the better. Some people call this minimalism, but I call it having a focal point. Without it you lose peoples interest.
This is by no means an exhaustive list on how to take better pictures, or how to get more followers on instagram. I can only share with you what I've learned from my experience. I hope it's helpful. I hope you continue to learn on your own and push yourself to do better. There is no secret to success, just a lot of hard work.