You ready for the biggest tip I can offer any photographer today? Make your photos about composition above all else, and you’ll see returns. Of course that’s a helluva-n oversimplification, but it perhaps is more pertinent now than ever because we’re living in a quick media world and the tools used to capture images are often phones, and being posted on Instagram – all of this is to say, we’re working within the boundaries of creative constraints whether it be using a fixed lens camera and posting in a place that has some leniency but still aims for you to be ‘square’.

Given all that, the quickest way to grab attention isn’t via camera tricks but by subject matter and composition. I truly believe that today to stand out we’re in a world so saturated, the careful curation and attention to detail and meaning and concept is what will set you apart. Now, before getting too deep into all of that, the video herein gives some simple advice on how to better your Instagram photos – though really applicable to any photo. Yes, if you’re a photographer you’ll think it’s basic, but again sometimes we lose the forest for the trees and don’t see or skip over the things we deem ‘basic’ and ‘given’; the things that are really critical.

[REWIND: Instagram and The Future of Editorials]

So, I commend Mango Street Lab on their first video offering, and here are the 3 ‘basics’ (see video for more detail):


There are a plethora of them to choose form but 3 stand out as the bases when pertaining to Instagram: neutral, 45 degrees, birds eye.

Overfill The Frame

This is actually so important and critically, so oft overlooked. Putting all of the elements of the photograph within the frame seems sensible, but the effect of showing parts can be profound, and really brings the viewer in. Photographer Elizabeth Kirby, the Instagrammer  known as ‘Local Milk‘ does this extremely well; doing it with precise subtlety that it disarms and it doesn’t shout at you but gets the point across.

This is more of a classical study in framing and composition, dealing with the contradictions and intersections of emotion and gender in relation to line shapes. There is talk about straight lines being more masculine and S curves being more feminine, but I think either way identifying either shows a lot about compelling composition.