INSTAGLAM Tips & Tricks

Tip #1: Strike a pose! Several, actually…

Lately I’ve been attempting to use my Instagram account as a way to experiment and have fun with photo styling. To do so, I’ve been integrating a new bag of tricks. I think it’s all in the angle, cropping and effects, and here I’m sharing a few of my secrets (shhh!)…

First things first, download the app VSCOcam, like right now.


Friday night, my husband and I stepped out for a date night across the street, and I had him take a few quick snaps of me against a blank wall along our walk. I knew I wanted it to be an off-center shot and black & white, but it was fun to strike a few poses and we got a good laugh out of it.

The off-center effect (tough to get sometimes in square format) always looks more artsy to me.  And I think people photos/portraits look better in black & white. What do you think? (I intentionally cropped this one in close to focus on the accessories.)


I’ve been using this one a lot lately.  I like both very stylized/perpendicular prop shots as well as the “randomly placed” prop shots. I usually like these to be very bright, almost overexposed. Desk shots or outfit shots on the bed always work well using these effects. And try using a white backdrop.


If you haven’t noticed, I like palm trees…a lot. It might be the Hawaii girl in me, but every chance I get I try to catch them in different ways: a beach scene, a sunset, a blue sky shot. In every one, they’re abstracted in some way: off to the side, as a sculptural element, or in the foreground framing the shot. Oftentimes we’re not so lucky to capture an amazing nature shot (#nofilter) so here’s how I’ll make my own:


Another angle I use in my shoots for work as well as on Instagram that always proves to be successful is the straight-on shot. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that this simple angle is used in interiors photography quite a bit, and is without fail the most striking. (Patrick Cline’s photography for Lonny is a great example.) If you can, always go for the straight-on shot, rather than at an angle.


It’s crazy how much better a shot will look with the subject matter cut off or off to one side, and unframed. If you’re going for an angled shot, this is a great way to keep it contemporary, especially if overexposed.

Overall, my latest rule of thumb has been “the simpler and brighter the better.”  What are your favorite tricks?

Have fun!!!!

…and come join the party on Instagram!

Erika Brechtel

Erika Brechtel

Creative Director

Desiring an online space to explore well-rounded, inspired content in all topics she loves most, Erika created 'The E List' (formerly the Small Shop blog) in 2010. When not enjoying an “occasional" glass of wine and wanderlusting for even warmer climates, Erika can be found sharing laughs with friends and family, and trying her very best to keep up with her 6-year old daughter (yet failing miserably).

  1. This is incredibly useful! Now I need an Instagram account! But you’re not giving yourself enough credit – you have such an eye! And you are stunning! 😉

  2. This is SO great!! Thx for sharing your tips and tricks! I totally agree with you, the simpler and brighter, the better 😉 I (try to) use those same principles too but sometimes if the image isn’t right, I just do what I can in terms of exposure and saturation to make it pop as much as possible. Xo

  3. SUCH great tips! I love this. Often I see images, and I know they look great but can’t put my finger on why, and here you’ve helped to articulate it (like the straight on shot). So helpful, thank you! PS-total model in those first shots!

    1. Thank you! Yes these are all with the iPhone, but I do have some on my Instagram using my Canon Rebel XTI (it’s old) usually with a 50mm lens or a wide angle lens. Street style shots are taken with a telephoto lens to get that blurred effect in the background. Have fun!

  4. This is So helpful…you have no idea! I have often wonder how people get overhead shots to look so bright! I think I actually downloaded the VSCO Cam but I need to play around with it!!! Thanks for the post! xoxo

  5. Very helpful tips! Love the VSCO app. I feel like my photos look so much more jazzed up whenever I use it. I barely use any instagram filters anymore.

  6. Fantastique! great tips – thanks for sharing.

    But I do think your natural eye for styling may have a bit to do with it;) For an artist I take horrible photos. Ugh.

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