People took 1 trillion photos in 2015, and almost 80 percent of them were taken on smartphones. From Facebook to Flickr, it’s infinitely easier to snap, edit, and share a photo today than it was even 10 years ago. It’s this ease of sharing that has led to Instagram’s rapid success. If you’re hoping to increase your likes, or if you just wish your photos were as nice as your friends’, follow these tips for better Instagram uploads.


Use the Human Zoom

While pinching your fingers together to zoom remains convenient, especially when you’re taking photographs on the go, smart photographers know the best way to zoom in is with their feet. If possible, stand as close as you can to your subject, or crouch closer to the ground to get a better angle.

Manual zoom prevents you from wasting pixels and capturing parts of the image that you don’t want. When you crop an image for Instagram, your subject won’t look as fuzzy thanks to endless cropping and zooming. Your image will look much clearer, which both your subject and your audience will appreciate.

Reduce Your Use of the Front Camera

For most phones, like the 20-megapixel camera of the HTC One M9, there are more megapixels on the back camera than the front. The front camera also has a lower resolution, which means your selfies will never be as sharp as you want them to be. Originally, the front-facing camera was meant for video conferencing, so the resolution is lower for easier streaming. It was never meant for selfie culture.

If you want to take an amazing photo with your group of friends or even your pet, it’s worth the extra 10 seconds to set a timer and place the phone in front of you. This way, you can frame the photo exactly how you want and won’t have to do multiple takes.

Try to Find Natural Light

If possible, head outside or toward a window where you can take advantage of natural lighting for your photos. Whether you’re snapping a selfie or capturing a cupcake you just made, natural light will create better colors, textures, and dimension. Natural light also tends to soften faces, which is especially flattering for portraits. Furthermore, light from above or below can add unfortunate shadows under the eyes or even make the subject appear to have wrinkles, which nobody wants.

If you’re unable to photograph in natural light (like in a windowless room or at night), determine where the light originates. A few steps to the left or right can reduce glare or brighten up a photo. If the light is in your subject’s eyes, try to turn the subject so that he or she doesn’t squint and so that the light doesn’t completely wash out the photo. Keep in mind that many Instagram filters bring out the lighter or darker sides of an image, so you want to leave a little wiggle room within your lighting.

Take Multiple Photos and Pick the Best One

While you should avoid the “spray and pray” method of photography, where you take 20 different photos without looking at them, you should definitely snap multiple photo options to make sure your subject shines. If you’re photographing a person, this entails trying different angles and heights to get the subject’s best side, or experimenting with multiple lighting levels until you find the best one.

If you can nail a photo organically after a few shots, then there will be significantly less editing required on your side when you upload it to Instagram. There’s less chance that you will need to adjust the colors or crop the photo, and your use of the #nofilter hashtag should increase greatly.

Creating amazing Instagram photos requires photographers to use the same principles they learned when they were holding a Nikon DSLR. You have to pay strict attention to framing, lighting, and position, or you could miss out on some amazing shots. The next time you’re snapping a photo of your friends, try a few of these tips to help your photos come out better than ever.