Take better photos for Instagram with your iPhone in 5 simple steps

How To Take Better Instagram Photos

Want to learn to take better photos for Instagram with your iPhone? If so, this post is for you

The day I downloaded the Instagram app is a memorable one because it snowed! I was beside myself with excitement at the prospect of being able to apply all those filters to such a picturesque scene. Since then Instagram has become a huge part of my daily life. It is hands down, my favourite social media channel. Sure, it’s owned by Facebook and has its issues since the algorithm changed in 2016 and the rise of the dreaded spambots but it remains a friendly place. For most of us it is an inspiring and creative space that fosters a great sense of community.

When I started blogging I only used my iPhone to take photographs, it’s all I had. I am now the proud owner of a Cannon camera that I use to create images for the blog but on a day to day basis my iPhone is still king due to its practicality and immediacy.

Content and Instagram

In the early days of the blog (and Instagram) my images were inconsistent and I was unhappy with my output. I knew that if I wanted to grow on the platform I had to up my game because, in the end, good content will always win out. You might not grow as quickly as you would like and God knows I share your frustration – but if you focus on your content and nurturing your community you will see meaningful results.

There is an awful lot of advice online that is very helpful, both Emily Quinton and The Online Stylist have written excellent posts here and here and if you head over to Me & Orla you will find the answer to almost every question you could possibly have about Instagram – her blog is a real gem, do have a look. I have learnt so much about Instagram from workshops and various bloggers who are kind enough to share their knowledge that I feel it is my duty to pass it on. If you are hoping to improve the overall look of your Instagram gallery for whatever reason, then this post is for you.


5 simple tips to improve your photography

  1. Natural light: I cannot emphasise enough the difference that natural light will make to your photographs. I’d go so far as to say that if you haven’t got good natural light you should try again another day or move to another room if necessary. I realise this may not always be possible and of course it entirely depends on what you use Instagram for but if you want to create a beautiful feed, I would recommend that you steer clear of unnatural light. Early mornings and late afternoons are known as the magic hour because the light tends to be bright but not too harsh. I usually take my photos at these times and move to the front or the back of my house depending on the time of day to catch the best light.
  2. Shooting: You probably know this already but don’t take photographs using the Instagram in-app camera as the quality of the image just isn’t as good. Always hold your phone completely straight when taking a photo, if your hand is slightly tilted and your phone isn’t parallel with what you are trying to shoot you will end up with odd-looking photos. Tap the screen to focus and click away! It might take 20 shots of the same thing to find the right image, take your time and edit later.
  3. Edit outside Instagram: That’s right folks, don’t use the Instagram filters. Things might change in the future but at the moment Instagram doesn’t give you much control in terms of editing. It’s better to use an app such as VSCO (which I love and use all the time)  PicTapGo or Snapseed for example. Editing apps take a little getting used to but I promise that once you get the hang of it you’ll be thrilled with the results. Most of the time I just turn up the exposure and contrast and I’m pretty much good to go.
  4. Filters: It’s easy to get carried away with filters, they are so clever, so convenient, so versatile. My tip here is narrow down the filters that you like (you probably already have a top two or three) and stick to them! Your feed will look cohesive and much more stylish if you use the same filter time and time again.
  5. Flatlays and style: Flatlays are enormous fun and can be incredibly beautiful but they can be tricky to execute well. Putting a few things on a surface and taking a photo should be simple – and it is if you follow steps 1 to 4 AND if you have some handy props hanging around the place. For a white background I use an off-cut of my glossy white kitchen units, yes really. You can use pretty much anything as a background: trays, fabric and pretty wrapping paper all work well. In terms of composing your image, think about the message you want to convey and add props that might be appropriate, also think about the colours that you like and consistently include them in your photos. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that plants, flowers, stationery and cups of tea are my thing so they tend to feature heavily. Finally I’d suggest taking time to examine your favourite Instagram feeds and think about what appeals to you, having a clear understanding of what you like will help you to develop your own personal style. The key here is to experiment, play around with lighting, props and locations and you’ll see the difference in no time.




I know this post is a little longer than usual but I hope you found it helpful. I have attended workshops at Emily Quinton’s Makelight Studio and at Hero, they both really helped to set me up on my Insta journey, I would wholeheartedly recommend them both. If you have any Instagram or blog related questions for me, leave a message below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Antonia x

PS: Read this post to up your Instagram game further!


  1. 08/09/2016 / 5:35 pm

    Great post! I am loving experimenting with different types of layout and angles. I have been frustrated about light before – you are so right, I should just leave a shot until the light is right rather than mess around trying to make it work… X

    • tinkertailoronline
      08/09/2016 / 9:52 pm

      The tip about lighting is so obvious but you just don’t think about it when you are untrained as we are. It was a real doh! moment for me and I’m sure it’s really going to make a difference to your blog and Insta feed. Let me know if you need a hand with anything x

  2. Natasha
    08/09/2016 / 5:41 pm

    Ooo am going to check out the editing apps – thanks Antonia

    • tinkertailoronline
      08/09/2016 / 9:53 pm

      I love VSCO but see what you think and make sure you persevere for an evening, it’s really worth the effort xxx

  3. Ilaa
    09/09/2016 / 10:04 am

    Its been a while that I wanted to get into Instagram.. You definitely made me want to explore more now. The editing option sounds exciting to try..

    • tinkertailoronline
      09/09/2016 / 10:55 am

      Ilaa definitely have a go! I just love how you can (quite easily) create good images. I look forward to seeing you handy work! x

  4. 13/09/2016 / 9:15 am

    Such great tips and I pretty much break every single rule I miss the days of instagram being what it was originally intended for, an instant snapshot in time, because I just want to capture my daily goings-on BUT I know this is the way to increase following so I’ve been toying for a long time about going down a theme-based route. Thanks so much for sharing what youve learned, I love your feed xx

    • tinkertailoronline
      13/09/2016 / 11:54 am

      I know exactly what you mean Lins, I now agonise over every shot but I do enjoy the learning process. I think your feed is so colourful and real, hell you must be doing something right with all the followers you have! Hope Conwall is treating you well x

  5. 01/03/2017 / 10:10 am

    Your insta is gorgeous. Love these simple to follow tips.

    Much love your biggest fan!

    • tinkertailoronline
      01/03/2017 / 7:42 pm

      Hey you! It’s an old post and probably not useful to someone as talented as you! but it’s good to start wth the basics. Thank you for being amazing! xxx

  6. Lydia (hobbitgirl7)
    02/03/2017 / 9:26 am

    Thank you Antonia, such great tips and I’ve just downloaded the VSCO app! Can’t wait to have a play with it!! Loving your squares always! Xxx

    • tinkertailoronline
      03/03/2017 / 8:30 am

      I’m so happy you found some useful tips in this post. It takes quite a bit of planning but I think it’s worth it! I can just imagine how much free time I would have if Instagram didn’t exist….

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