How I take & edit my Instagram pictures

flat lay photography

Photography is so important when it comes to blogging and Instagram. I can’t claim to be professional at photography when there’s so many amazing accounts I aspire to learn from whose photos are incredible. However, I thought I would share some tips on how I take pictures for Instagram and edit them. I won’t lie, I used to be terrible at taking pictures, there’s proof of that when you scroll down through my Instagram onto my first pictures. But over the last three years I’ve managed to work on my photography and improve it.

First things first, you need a camera. This could be a phone camera, or a DSLR. I use my iPhone 7 or my Canon 500D. I previously had a Nikon camera but exchanged it for the Canon as I liked it better. If you’re looking to get a smaller camera then I would recommend looking at Panasonic as they have an amazing variety. Their 4K CSC Camera, might be a good option for you as it’s small, compact, and perfect for travelling. I know how uncomfortable it is to carry a DSLR.

Now that you have a camera, these are the tips I’d recommend if you want to take great pictures. Remember, don’t worry if you don’t learn everything overnight. Practice makes perfect.

Natural Lighting

This is so important if you want to take great pictures. The best pictures are taken with natural lighting, because you won’t need to edit them as much and the quality generally is higher. My Instagram theme generally has bright tones with a splash of colour, so natural lighting is definitely important for me.

Shoot during sunrise and sunset

I can’t tell you how many amazing shots I’ve gotten during golden hour, the lighting that time is just on another level. One of my favourite pictures is this one below my cousin took of me last summer in Zimbabwe during sunset. Sunrise is a great time to take pictures as well as depending on where you are you won’t encounter a lot of tourists which is a bonus.

zimbabwe travel tumblr
Have your friends/family take pictures of you

I find that the best way to get your friends to take a picture of you is to show them exactly how you want the picture. What I do is for example, I first take a picture of my friend in the exact frame & position I want my picture, with the background in mind. I then show her the picture, so she can get a mental idea of the kind of shot I want.

Play with Nature

Depending on your Instagram style, you will all have different themes and niches. I find taking pictures of nature makes my feed look colourful and natural. Go outside to parks, hikes or find a new trail. There’s probably so many amazing places where you can take an Instagram shot.

Learn about ISO / Shutter Speed / Aperture

This is a game changer. When it comes to using a DSLR, there’s more to the camera than meets the eye. I took a photography course at Uni and learnt about the different settings on my camera and how to use them to improve my photography. It has honestly helped me understand photography so much more. I will try to explain it in simple terms but I’d say the best way to learn about this is to look for videos on YouTube.

ISO – to put it in simple terms, ISO refers to the sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more light enters the camera, the lower the ISO the less light enters the camera. It’s useful to have the ISO higher if you’re shooting in a dark place, however the images do turn out to be grainy. During the day make sure to have the ISO as low as possible.

Shutter Speed – This determines how long the opening of the lens stays open to let the light in.For brighter pictures, the shutter speed is allowed open for a longer time. A shutter speed of 1/2 will alow more light than a speed of 1/2000. Shutter speed allows us to capture fast moving objects in motion (like a person running), i.e. if I take a picture of someone running at a speed of 1/400 it will capture a clearer image of the person running than if I take a similar picture at the speed of 1/10.

Aperture – This refers to the size of opening of the camera lens and how much light it lets in. Aperture is measured in f/stops, which can adjust the size of this opening of the lens. The higher the f-stop, the smaller the opening and vice versa. Aperture affects the depth of field of your image. Basically if you use a wide aperture (low f-stop), your background will be blurred and the focus will be on one object. Depth of field controls controls which part of the image is sharp and which part is blurry. This setting is what a lot of people use to take outfit pictures where the background is blurred (like the one below).

It’s important to note to play around with these settings you have to shoot in manual mode. If it’s too confusing for you I’d recommend using AP mode, which focuses mainly on aperture. For those shots where you want to focus on a subject, this is a good setting to use (especially if you’re taking outfit pictures). It took me a while to understand this and some practice, with my camera I can luckily see how the image will turn out when I change these settings as they show up on the screen and it helps a lot!

How to Edit

Use editing apps other than Instagram

Personally I used to love VSCOcam,  I haven’t enjoyed it as much since it’s new update. But I must say the filters are amazing and much better than Instagram. I personally don’t use filters and instead adjust settings like brightness, contrast, shadows etc. as I feel they look better with my pictures.

Another app I’ve been loving recently is A Color Story. I find it’s easy to edit on there and they have some amazing filters and effects. They also have a store to buy filters just like VSCOcam, if you don’t like any of the free ones.

Pre-plan your posts

I use an app called PLANN to layout my edited pictures and see if they look good on my feed. Previously, I used VSCOcam to do this but I don’t like it anymore. Plann is great because you can edit your pictures, schedule your posts and set reminders to post on Instagram. Another great app for this is Planoly. It helps to see how my pictures will look with my Instagram feed, but that’s totally up to you!

I hope you found this post helpful. Obviously not everyone does the same thing as me and I’m definitely not a professional in photography, but I hope you got something out of it. Do you have any tips for taking Instagram pictures? Let me know in the comments below!

Much love,


This post is a sponsored collaboration with Panasonic, all opinions and imagery are my own.