5 Tips for Insta-Worthy Pics: Good Lighting

We’ve all seen perfect Instagram pics. You know, the ones where the lighting is so bright and crisp, the image quality crystal clear, all the colors just seem to pop! The picture is just so good in every possible way. There’s no way your Insta photos could ever look that good! Well, about that…

I can’t make you and your camera phone a professional photographer overnight, but I can share with you 5 super easy tips that can bring your photography game to the next level. Best of all, every tip is for the blogger on a budget, so you can get stunning photos without breaking the bank!

In today’s mini-lesson, we will be talking about Tip #1: Good Lighting.

Check out the other mini-lessons here:
5 Tips for Insta-Worthy Pics: [Lighting] [Background] [Angle] [Framing] [Props] [Editing]

5 Tips for Insta-Worthy Pics | Super cheap and super easy photo hacks to bring your photography game to the next level! #photography #photohacks #photographyhacks #bloggertips #bloggergirl #mommyblogger #girlboss #blogtips #bloggingtips #DIY #howto #instagram #instaworthy #inspo #flatlay

This first tip is probably the most important out of all of them. Everything just looks so much better in the right lighting!

For quite some time I felt like I had to buy studio lights if I ever wanted nice photos. But I just wasn’t ready to drop some serious dough just to take pictures of stickers in my planner. There had to be another way…

Really, all you need is bright, indirect natural sunlight. That’s it.

For me, I take my best pics with morning sunlight. Morning light is just so fresh and crisp. Timing is so important! The pictures I take at 7am look different than the pictures I take at 9am. The 7am pictures are too bright and sort of yellowish, because the sun is still rising and shining through the window. The direct sunshine is too bright, and casts heavy shadows across my subjects. But by 11am, it’s starting to get a little too late, and my pictures don’t come out as bright and clear.

May 2017 Monthly Spread taken at roughly 7:30am
This photo was taken at about 7:30am.
May 2017 Monthly Spread taken at roughly 9:00am
This photo was taken at about 9:00am, in the same location. I like to use a piece of poster board for a simple backdrop. I’ll explain more about this in the next mini-lesson!

So what’s the magic time to take your pics? I couldn’t tell you. This is going to be different for everyone, because we all live in different time zones. Another thing to keep in mind is that the total hours of sunlight per day are always changing–the days get longer as we approach summer, and shorter as we approach winter. So maybe 9am was perfect for you in the summer, but by winter, 8am sunlight looks better.

There’s no exact science to this. It’s just trial and error.

I recommend setting up your photography area near a bright, sunny window, but not so bright that direct sunlight washes over your subject. If you don’t have any bright windows, go outside! Find some shade and set up your little photography area. I find that direct sunlight is often too bright for me.

Planner supplies in direct sunlight
This is a good pic, but it could be better. It was taken outside in the late afternoon in direct sunlight. Notice the deep shadows cast by the taller items.

To discover your optimal times for an Instagram photo shoot:

  1. Get up early one morning and set up your photography area near a sunny window or outside in the shade.
  2. Take a couple practice shots of the same subject about every 30 minutes. Review each photo, and pick out photos had the best lighting. From now on, take your pictures around then.

Ta-da! Now you know when to take your planner pics!

I’m not promising that your photos will become instantly perfect overnight. Everything takes practice. It took me several months to figure out the whole lighting thing. But boy, once you figure it out, it sure does make a huge difference.

Lighting comparison
The #beforethepen pic on the left isn’t bad, but it looks a bit washed out. The colors in the #afterthepen pic on the right look more vivid. For more pictures of this weekly spread, check out this blog post!

 

2 CFL Daylight bulbs. 75W equivalent (5000K) $8.99 on Amazon

If natural lighting is absolutely not an option for you at all, look for the “daylight” light bulbs that cast white light. Don’t choose the “warm” or “cool” tones, as they cast a yellowish or bluish light, respectively. When positioning your lights, think about where they will cast shadows on your subject. Lighting from directly above won’t cast many horizontal shadows across your subject, but it might be difficult to position your camera in such a way that doesn’t cast a giant shadow right over everything!

If you really want to take your photography to the next level, you could purchase some inexpensive umbrella lights. These help diffuse the light, casting a more even light across your subject and lessening the appearance of shadows. I’ve been eyeing this pair on Amazon for quite some time now… it comes with 2 umbrella lights, one “regular” light, an equipment case, and a light bulb case. This particular bundle even comes with 3 daylight bulbs, too!

$52.99 on Amazon

If you can’t take pictures with natural light, and if regular daylight bulbs are producing “washed out” looking photos, these would be an excellent option for you. These could be worth the investment if you take a lot of photos for your website, blog, Instagram, etc., AND especially if you film YouTube videos, too!

If you have Amazon Prime, you’re just 2 days away from having a little photography studio right in your home. If you’re a student, you can try Amazon Prime Student free for 6 months! If you’re not a student, you can still try Amazon Prime free, but only for 30 days. I seriously cannot recommend Amazon Prime enough!! The free 2-day shipping is uh-maaaazing!!!

Just like with natural light– move your artificial light(s) around to find which set up works best for you! Don’t be afraid to try new set ups, and most of all, be patient with yourself! Nobody is an expert at anything the first time. (:

That’s all for today, sweet friends! Next time we will be going over the importance of a good background in your pictures! Have any questions or comments? Share them below!

Join us in the Facebook group, to chat with others about their photography tips and tricks, and don’t forget to follow my blog to be the first to know about the next photography tips! Thanks for stopping by! 💖

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If you reeeaallly loved my photography tips, consider buying me a cup of coffee to say thanks! ☕💕

This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links is of no extra cost to you, but helps support my blog so I can keep making and sharing freebies! To read my full disclosure, click here.

Check out the other mini-lessons here:
5 Tips for Insta-Worthy Pics: [Lighting] [Background] [Angle] [Framing] [Props] [Editing]

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