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12 Awesome Tips for Taking Instant Photos

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Instant photos come with instant gratification. That’s something every photographer deserves to experience once in a while.

In addition to being easy to take, instant photos are dreamy and eye-catching. Instax and Polaroid cameras are the perfect addition to every kind of photographer’s kit.

12. Take Instant Photos on Cloudy Days for Well-Lit Results

A person holding an instant photo of a cityscape within an actual cityscape

Instax cameras don’t capture dynamic range as well as DSLRs. If you take photos of a place that’s both shaded and exposed to the sun, you might end up with underexposed photos.

To avoid this, take instant photography when the light is evenly hitting everything. Cloudy days are perfect for this.

You can also take photos in shaded areas as long as there aren’t any dramatic changes in light around you.

11. Don’t Photograph Details to Avoid Blurry Shots

A persons hand holding an instant photo of a beachDetails are often a priority in analog photography. Some analog cameras capture details much more clearly than modern professional cameras.

This isn’t the case for Instax photography. Instax cameras are known for their soft, washed out effect.

They’re ideal for atmospheric photos of people, landscapes, and objects that aren’t too close to the camera.

Always stay over 60cm away from your subject.

If you want to take close-ups, you have to have an Instax Mini 9 with a close-up lens. This will let you focus between 35 and 50cm.

10. Take a Few Steps Away From Your Subject to Take Sharp Pictures

A hand holding a polaroid photo of the words 'don't breathe' on dark green backgroundThis goes hand in hand with the previous tip. Take a few steps away from your subject. This will ensure that your instant photos don’t end up looking too soft.

A few large steps back are good enough for sharp results.

However, keep in mind that there’s a limit to how much your camera can capture, even at a distance.

Too many steps back will give you abstract and unfocused results.

9. Avoid Harsh Contrast to Prevent Unflattering Shadows

A girl with an instant camera looking over instant photosSince Instax cameras aren’t the best at capturing dynamic range, you need to avoid clashing colors and bright light.

You should also aim to take photos using soft light in locations that don’t have too many shadows.

Even a slight shadow in a bright space can ruin your composition.

If you take a photo of a sunset, the surrounding landscape (rocks, for example), will look abnormally dark.

You can use flash to compensate for this. But there’s no guarantee that it will be enough to light an entire landscape.

You can also add more light to a subject using controlled artificial light.

8. Don’t Cover Your Lens or Flash to Avoid Unwanted Distractions

A persons hand holding a polaroid - instant photographyInstax cameras are smaller than most professional ones. They’re also made to look like cute little toys. This means your fingers won’t be able to adjust to all the buttons quickly.

As you shoot, make sure your fingers aren’t covering the lens, flash, or any other features that might affect your images.

Even slightly covering your lens, a technique often used in digital photography, might ruin your entire photo. That’s what happened in the image above.

7. Take Photos of Different Things to Keep Your Photos Interesting

A female model shooting instant photographyIf you have a limited amount of photos available, you’ll want to make the most of them.

If you’re an absolute beginner, take photos of anything that catches your eye. Do it even if you’re uncertain about the outcome.

This will introduce you to many photography genres. And it will make you more fearless in the face of new experiences.

If you’re an advanced photographer, take photos of people and places that you’re not used to capturing.

This will make your shooting experience fun and give you lots of new photos to share in your portfolio.

6. Shoot in B&W to Create an Eerie Feel

Monotone instant photography portrait of a young girl outdoors using multiple exposure techniqueYou can use monochrome film to get out of your comfort zone and take atmospheric photos.

Black & white is often superior to color. It makes images look more emotive and mysterious.

Combined with the softness of instant photos, b&w will make your results stand out.

To make your photos look eerie, use monochrome film to create double exposures. (More on this later.)

5. Centre Your Subject to Avoid Distortion

A hand holding an instant photo of a landscape Instant photos aren’t made for professional photography. You can’t expect them to give you sharp results.

If you want your images to look as clear as possible, centre them as often as possible.

If your subject ends up at the edge of your frame, it might get distorted or ruined by an unexpected light leak.

Centered subjects are likelier to look sharper and more visually appealing in your compositions.

4. Experiment With Different Backgrounds for Unique Instax Pictures

A persons hand holding an instax camera outdoors by the coastYou have to avoid too much contrast and high dynamic range. To do this you can gravitate towards simple compositions instead.

This includes taking photos in front of simple places.

White walls, blue skies, and simple buildings are perfect for this.

This approach to minimalism will help you avoid busy compositions. And it’ll put the spotlight on your model, resulting in more visually appealing images.

3. Use the Double Exposure Feature to Take Creative Photos

Dreamy instant photography portrait of a young boy outdoors using multiple exposure techniqueSome instant cameras offer double exposure features. These are perfect for creating surreal, funny, and imaginative photos within seconds.

The Instax Mini 90 and Square SQ6 have this feature. The double exposure button is symbolized by two squares.

If you have a Polaroid OneStep2, you can manually create a double exposure using Polaroid’s official guide. 

To make your double exposure look interesting, you need to use a bright and dark image. If you use two light or two dark images, they won’t stand out.

This contrast will help the photos smoothly blend into each other.

You can combine a photo of a cloudy sky with a photo of a silhouette. This will create a stunning double exposure.

2. Use Colourful Lenses and Tools to Make the Most of Your Camera

Dreamy instant photography portrait of a female model outdoorsInstant cameras come with affordable tools that can make your shooting process even more fun.

Colored frames, lens filters, and stickers are all available to most instant camera users.

You can use these to complement the colors in your images, take close-up photos, or manually color correct your images.

1. Use Your Instax Photos as Examples to Impress Potential Clients

A flat lay of an instant camera, instant photography gear and accessories laid out on a map

Last but not least, you can use all of your instant photos as examples to find new jobs and impress potential clients.

They’re not professional. But they’re a great way to express yourself and show others how much you can do with a small camera.

They’re also great for test shoots to make models feel comfortable before the actual photoshoot.

Conclusion

Instant gratification is usually looked down on. In this case, it’s a great way to improve your photography and have fun at the same time.

There’s nothing you can’t do with instant photos. You can sell them as prints, store them as memories, or showcase them in your portfolio.

Where do you want to start?

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