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12 Instagram Tips for Smartphone Photography Beginners

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 12 min read
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Instagram is fun to use for photographers of all skill levels. However, achieving success on this platform can also be quite elusive even if you’re talented. That’s why it’s important to research Instagram tips and make sure you get the most out of what it offers. Make sure you know how to get the best from your smartphone too.
Follow these 12 Instagram tips we created for you, and you’ll be on your way to social media fame. We’re not saying it will be easy, but with the right steps, you’ll have better chances to get your work recognised.

12. Explore Instagram for Inspiring Feeds

Still life photography of a pink walled bedroom with shelves. Instagram tips for social media photography.
Before you post your first image on Instagram, look for inspiring Instagram feeds you can use as a template. Find out if any of your favourite photographers are on Instagram and follow them.
Study some of their best photographs and figure out why they’re good. The insights you’ll get from their work will help you formulate your style along the way.
Apart from examining their photographs, you should also observe how they present their content. Consider the overall appearance of their feed.
Does it look coherent? Does it have a particular theme? What types of hashtags do they use? What do they put in their caption? How do they engage with their followers?
List down what you find out and integrate them into your feed.
Ultimately, you’ll have to develop your own methods to succeed on Instagram. But for the meantime, pick up as much as you can from the masters that influence you. The intent is not to copy them, but to build upon what you learn from them.

11. Study Trends

Bright and airy architecture photography of a white walled house. Instagram tips for social media photography.
Instagram is continuously evolving, and as a result, new trends develop all the time. To make sure that you stay relevant, always keep your eye on what’s popular.
It doesn’t mean that you should emulate the latest Instagram craze for the sake of gaining new followers. What’s important is to familiarise yourself with what people currently like. Then think of a way to capitalise on that on your own terms.
The best way to pick up the latest trends is by visiting your Explore page. There, you’ll find the best photos and videos currently on Instagram.
If, for instance, you notice a lot of pictures of buildings that feature one to three colors, you might give it a personal spin by taking photos of food with the same amount of colors. Although it reflects a trend, you can still call it original.
You can also check out Instagram’s blog to learn about the new features they’re rolling out before anybody else. For example, Instagram now has a feature that lets you blur the background just like the iPhone’s portrait mode.
The blog doesn’t just tell you about the latest updates, but it also shows you how to use them.

10. Share Something About Yourself

Close up photo of a hand holding an ice cream. Instagram tips for social media photography.
Before you become “Instagram famous,” people need to learn about you first. So, how exactly do you do that? By creating an engaging profile that catches people’s attention.
When you’re filling out your bio, use a name (either a real name or an alias) that is easy to read and remember.
Next, tell people what your skills are and what you like to do. Make sure to include keywords that will help them find you easily. For instance, you can mention the words street photography in your bio if that’s what you’re into.
That way, people can immediately tell what your feed might be about. You should also include a link to your website or another social media platform (such as Facebook) so people can find out more about your work.
Take advantage of Instagram Stories to share moments in your life as well. Although it’s not necessarily centered on photography, it allows you to engage with your followers.
Remember that Instagram isn’t just about the pictures, but it’s also about interaction with others.

9. Learn How to Compose Properly

Portrait photography of a girl relaxing on a beach. Instagram tips for social media photography.
To create Instagram-worthy photos, you need to compose your shots correctly. Make it a habit to know where to place your subject before pressing the shutter.
You don’t want to waste your time taking photos and end up not using them because they’re poorly composed.
Follow the rule of thirds to help you with your composition. Turn on your phone’s gridline, and place your subject where the lines on the screen intersect.
It doesn’t matter how many points of interest you may have. As long as they’re positioned precisely where the intersections are, you’re guaranteed to have a well-composed image.
Another great way to frame your image is by putting your subject at the center of the scene. Although it’s a direct violation of the rule of thirds, it’s highly effective, especially for Instagram.
When you post content on your feed, there’s a danger the edges might get cropped. However, placing your model right in the middle will prevent it from getting cut off.

8. Get Rid of Bad Photos

Architectural photography of the exterior of a temple processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset. Instagram tips for social media photography.
Remember that potential clients in the future might be interested in checking out your Instagram, so you need to consider your account as an informal portfolio.
Be critical of the photos you post. No matter what happens, always choose the best images, so your feed stays consistent. If people see bad pictures in your feed, they might dismiss you as an amateur and not follow you.
Before posting a photo, ask yourself why you like it. Does it have good composition? Is it properly exposed? Does it have a good subject? If the answer to all these questions is yes, publish it.

7. Tell Stories Through Your Captions

Documentary photography of a woman in a cheese market processed with VSCO with c3 preset. Instagram tips for social media photography.
There are so many ways to approach your captions. You can keep it short, or make it more in-depth. You can also be objective or personal. No matter how you write it, however, you need to keep it exciting and engaging.
The perfect caption should bolster the effect of the photo just like the descriptions in a comic strip would. However, you can’t just caption your image like it’s a part of a newspaper article. You have to inject your personality into it. Make it fun and conversational.
Most of all, you need to inspire people to take action. Ask them a question or tell them to share their own experiences. The more likes and comments you receive, the more people will see your content.
If you want to take your Instagram game seriously, then write your caption in advance. That way, you don’t have to spend your time randomly thinking of something witty to say. And you can put more thought into it.
Ultimately, your captions should tell stories that entertain people. Write about what motivates them whenever possible. Check our post on telling stories through documentary photography for some inspiration.

6. Use Hashtags Wisely

Portrait photography of a man in a vintage clothes shop holding a camera. Instagram tips for social media photography.
In a way, hashtags are like advertising signs that allow people to find you. If you don’t use any hashtags at all, only your immediate followers are likely going to see your pictures. That’s why you need to add them to every content you post to drive up your engagement.
So what type of hashtags should you use? The best way to find out is to check your favourite photographers’ content. List down the hashtags they employ and single out the ones that are relevant to you.
You can also try looking at popular photos in Explore and check out their hashtags as well.
Apart from that, you should also look for widely used community hashtags and integrate them into your content. For instance, if you’re into street photography, you can type #streetphotography so that other people interested in the genre can find you.
Hashtags are even more important now that people can follow them on Instagram. In other words, if you include #sunsets in your content, there’s a good chance it will end up in someone’s feed if they’re following the hashtag #sunsets.
You can incorporate some of the most popular hashtags in the caption. Then you can place the less relevant ones in the comments section. Just remember to hashtag with purpose. If a hashtag doesn’t apply to your photo, then don’t use it at all.
Also, remember to change them up every once in a while. You don’t want your content to end up looking like spam with the same hashtags all the time.
Otherwise, Instagram might shadowban you, and you’ll end up not getting any engagement at all.

5. Stay Consistent

Street photography of a fountain. Instagram tips for social media photography.
People typically don’t like to follow Instagram accounts that are inactive. That’s why you need to post new content at least once a day. It will also help if you post on Instagram Stories on a regular basis as well.
That way, you not only entertain your current followers, but you attract new ones as well.
However, consistency isn’t just applicable to the frequency of your post. It also pertains to the quality of the content you share. As mentioned before, it’s essential that you post only your best pictures.
Apart from that, you should also stay consistent with the type of content you post. For instance, if you want to be known for your fashion photos, then only post what’s relevant.
If you publish baby photos one day and clothes the next, people might get confused what your account is all about.

4. Develop a Style

Overhead photography of a patterned floor and the photographers feet processed with VSCO with c3 preset. Instagram tips for social media photography.
Style is elusive, and finding it can prove to be challenging. However, you need to do your best to show your personality in your posts. Look for something that makes your account different from a billion others on Instagram, and hone it.
So, how do you figure out your style? While there aren’t any manuals that tell you what to do, there are a few techniques you can try to identify it. The best way is to observe your photos and figure out if any patterns keep emerging.
For instance, If you keep finding that you have a lot of photos of people’s shoes, then that could be where your style lies. You can continue to develop it until people start to notice you for it.
Ultimately, you need to follow where your passion takes you. Just because you have plenty of photos of something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your style. Don’t box yourself in and keep exploring possibilities.

3. Stick to a Theme

Overhead shot of two plates with food on a brightly cloured tablecloth. Instagram tips for photography beginners.
If you look at some of the most popular feeds on Instagram, you’ll notice that they look organised. Although it’s not immediately apparent, they often follow specific patterns, styles, and color schemes.
Study them and figure out how you want to create your own look.
You need to treat your Instagram feed as an art gallery. It needs to look coherent and visually pleasing. Therefore, it’s crucial that you stick to a few rules to make sure your photos flow well together when people view your profile.
First, you need to have a consistent photography subject matter. If you like food photography, make sure your account is all about food and nothing else. The same goes if you want to concentrate on juxtaposition or minimalist photography.
Next, choose one to three dominant colors that you’d want to be present in your photos all the time. Doing so will make your feed look more uniform even when the images themselves are different.

2. Interact With Your Followers

Beach landscape shot with two peoples feet in the foreground. Instagram tips for photography beginners.
Instagram is a social media photography platform and it prioritises interaction. It’s not a one-way street where you post photos and expect people to come pouring in right away.
Although it’s true you can get followers by simply sharing content; you can increase your audience even more by communicating with people.
Do your best to respond to other people’s comments and show how much you appreciate them. Furthermore, you should also actively comment on other people’s accounts. Tell them how much you like their photos and do so in a thoughtful, genuine manner.
As mentioned before, you also need to post on Instagram Stories regularly and show your followers your fun, personal side. This is especially true if you post serious photos on your feed all the time.
The content on Stories doesn’t show up in your feed and only lasts 24 hours. Therefore it’s a great way to show other things that you do besides posting awesome photos. It could be anything from hanging out with friends or taking your followers to a behind-the-scenes tour of your photo shoot.
Sharing your life with other people will help them get to know you more. If they like your personality, they’ll be more inclined to follow you.

1. Have Fun Taking Photos

Overhead shot of two people lying on grass, aiming cameras at the photographer. Instagram tips for photography beginners.
Quite frankly, all these Instagram tips can be rigorous and may feel like work sometimes. If you’re serious about succeeding on Instagram, you’ll have to commit to a lot of planning and scheduling. However, don’t ever let it get in the way of your real passion, which is photography.
Focus on photography first before you turn your attention to Instagram. Just have fun clicking the shutter and enjoy the experience.
In the end, your love for the art form will show in your feed, regardless if you post regularly or occasionally.


Even if you follow all the Instagram tips in this article, it’s not going to work if you force it. Just let it flow and enjoy the process. Believe it or not, people will notice whether your work feels natural or not.
Remember that photography is ultimately a visceral platform. People may not know why they like a photo, but they’re always sure about how it affects them. So put your heart into your work.
Your followers will feel your passion for photography through your images, and that will make them stick around.
For more great tips on getting started with social media photography, check our article on smartphone photography mistakes and how to avoid them!