Long gone are the days of lugging around a DSLR to take beautiful Instagram photos.

You can get the perfect Instagram shot by always using what you already have on you – your phone!

We have put together this handy guide on how to take, edit, and share Instagram photos from your phone. Our tips and tricks will get you that A + content in no time.

Step 1: Check your camera settings on higher quality Instagram photos

One of the first things you need to do to improve your Instagram photos is to check your camera settings.

Most phone cameras are very powerful and have a 12 megapixel front camera and one ƒ / 2.2 aperture, But the hard part is learning how to use them.

So the first rule of Instagram photography is: Always see what you are working with before you start taking pictures.

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# 1: turn off HDR

HDR – or High Dynamic Range – is a feature for both iPhone and Androids, and its main purpose is to help you take better-looking photos.

It will take some of the same photos at different exposures and combine them into one, so the final photo will have a lot of detail.

If you are confident that you are working with HDR, this can be awesome. Finding the right one is difficult, however, and sometimes your photos can look unnatural and fake.

Instagram photos: HDR iPhone settings

For ease, let the camera do the heavy lifting and turn off your camera's HDR setting. You still get high quality images without having to think too deeply about your exposure levels.

# 2: check photo mode

There are so many different phone camera settings out there today that it is sometimes difficult to know which settings are useful and which are not.

A popular photo mode is "portrait mode", which automatically detects a well-lit subject at a certain distance from the camera and creates a bokeh effect (depth of field).

Instagram photos: iPhone portrait mode

Portrait mode is great when you're taking portraits – as you called it. But that's not all it's good for! Many bloggers and influencers also use portrait mode for food or product shots!

Now let's talk about the pitfalls in photography. Portrait mode isn't great if you're shooting indoors or in low light.

This photo mode also requires a subject that is still there. For example, if you're taking a picture of someone jumping or walking, you might want to turn off portrait mode and switch to another mode.

But don't let this discourage you, portrait mode should still have a place in your photo arsenal – just be picky about when to use it!

TIP: If you're using an iPhone and you're capturing a moving object, like someone posing against an Instagrammable wall, try shooting in Live Photo Mode or press and hold the capture button to activate the burst.

Instagram Photos: iPhone Live Photo Settings

With Burst, your iPhone will take up to 10 photos so you can browse and choose the best ones.

Don't worry, if you're using an Android device, you can also activate the Burst feature by holding down the trigger.

Step 2: How to Capture the Perfect Instagram Photo on Your Phone

# 1: understand depth of field

Creating DOF (or depth of field) with your phone camera is a really cool way to upgrade your Instagram photo game.

It's not too difficult and once you get the hang of it, your followers will be asking which camera you are taking your photos with!

For example, suppose you are taking a picture of a person facing the water and you want the person to be in focus and the background to be blurry. Tap your subject and wait for a yellow square to appear (if you're using an Android device, tap the screen to focus too!)

Where you see the yellow square shows who / what is in focus. You have to move around to get the perfect DOF.

The best photos are created through trial and error, but we're sure you will find your mojo soon enough.

# 2: get your composition right

Gorgeous Instagram photos guide the viewer to the subject of the photo while capturing an emotion or story.

When you take a photo with your phone camera, composition helps to change your picture from "good" to "good".

How do you get to the heart of the composition? With something called Rule of thirds.

Instagram photos: iPhone grid camera

Known as the golden rule of photography, the rule of thirds helps break your image into 3 parts or sections (you guessed it).

The goal is to insert the most interesting aspects of the photo into the intersections of the grid to create a balanced and natural looking photo.

If you can't imagine the grid yourself, both iPhone and Android cameras can activate the grid when recording.

Note: If you're on an Android phone, go to your camera settings and choose Grid Lines

Like any rule, they're made to be broken, aren't they? There is no need to follow the rule of thirds while taking Instagram photos with your phone camera. But it's only there to help you as a guide when you need it.

# 3: Think about lighting and exposure

You know, when you take a photo outside, are you looking forward to posting it to find out later that it's completely overexposed? It can happen to the best of us!

One of our favorite photography hacks is to counter this: Underexpose your camera!

Whenever you're taking photos, it's always better to freeze an underexposed shot in the post than a blown photo.

This is very easy to do on both iPhone and Android. If you're using an iPhone, tap your phone's screen while recording and wait for the yellow box to appear.

Once it's there move the little sun to the right of the box and you'll see the exposure decrease and keep moving the yellow sunset until you want to.

It's basically the same with Android. Simply tap the screen in darker and lighter areas of the shot to manually compensate for the exposure.

TIP: The absolute best way to get a stunning Instagram photo is to shoot in natural light! If you can take advantage of natural sunlight or are actually outside, go for it. You will find that your photos will look a lot more professional than indoor or flash photography.

Once you're ready to post the photos, you want them to be featured on your feed, right? Plan and reorder your feed posts with Later Instagram Visual Planner.

The Instagram Visual Planner Later is the best way to plan your Instagram feed and make sure all of your photos flow together – it's an aesthetic game changer!

Use Later's Visual Instagram Planner to see where your new photos are in your Instagram feed.

You can also do this directly on mobile devices (iOS and Android).

Later's Visual Instagram Planner lets you quickly schedule new posts, see what your scheduled posts will look like in the feed, and drag and drop scheduled posts to rearrange them.

Are you ready to nail down your Instagram aesthetic? Design, curate, and schedule your feed with Later!

Step 3: learn how to set up the shot

You have set your camera settings and now it is actually time to take the photo.

Whether you're taking a selfie, a flat lay, a picture of your lunch, or a picture of a blogger in front of a wall, it's important to consider the art direction of your shot!

On Android, you can set up and record your recording with voice control. Take a photo by saying "smile," "cheese," "capture", or "shoot".

The voice control feature can be helpful for selfies and moments when you want to have the perfect shot but don't want to hit the button and ruin the moment.

Master the flay lay:

Flat lays have always been very popular on Instagram, but nothing looks better than eating in a dreamy flat lay!

There are a few things to keep in mind when taking photos of food. The food looks best from above and with natural light.

Remember to use textured backgrounds when planning your shot. White, lightweight concrete, marble, wooden tables, and pastel colors are great options.

Jenna Rae Cakes, the cute, aesthetically pleasing Canadian bakery, takes great photos of their baked goods.

Of course, not only does the food work in flay-lay setups – product shots, and the funny "deskie" always works well in your grid!

You don't need a professional photo studio or photo shoot to capture killer content for your brand or business. With a minimal budget, you can set up your own photo studio at home.

Are you ready to take beautiful product shots at home? Read all of our tips and tricks here.

Find the perfect background:

If you want to take Instagram photos with scrolling, you need to find the best photo spots. Remember, however, that you can use your creative eye to make any place Instagrammable.

No matter what city you live or travel in, you can browse places and hashtags on Instagram for inspiration!

Studio DIY wall creep is a great place to find those awesome background walls for your next shot!

Tip: Posing in front of the camera is difficult. Instead, ask your photographer friend to take pictures of you and just move around in front of the camera – some of the best shots are taken on the move.

Think of props

Whether you are the subject of your photographs or taking some product shots, a prop or two can help create a better photo.

From a sweet coffee cup to green leaves to plants, something “extra” can be brought to life on your frame.

Step 4: editing and post-production

You took the photo and you know this is it, but now it's time to take it to the next level.

# 1: Edit with Lightroom presets

Using Lightroom to edit your photos is one of the best ways to make your photos look beautiful for Instagram. And on top of that, super trendy beautiful photos, Lightroom presets Make the editing process super easy and quick.

Plus, you can edit for free with Lightroom CC on your phone!

Once you start editing with Lightroom, even just using the built-in Lightroom presets (as with "filters") You will find that your image quality improves dramatically and you will develop a style that is unique to you and your Instagram feed!

When you are happy with your content and feel ready to post, save time by scheduling and automatically posting your content with "Later".

If you take the time to schedule a few days at a time, you can stack posts at the beginning of each week so you can spend more time recording and scheduling your content without spending so much time on your social channels each day to have to !

View your scheduled Instagram posts on mobile devices in a list, preview, or calendar (iOS only).

Later's Visual Instagram Planner lets you quickly schedule new posts, see what your scheduled posts will look like in the feed, and drag and drop scheduled posts to rearrange them.

Are you ready to nail down your Instagram aesthetic? Design, curate, and schedule your feed with Later!

# 2: edit with edit apps

Are you looking for lightning-fast changes to enhance your photos? There are tons of apps that can help you with this – with trending filters, clever editing, and perfect color correction tools.

These are some of our favorite photo editing apps to try out.

  1. VSCO
  2. Tezza
  3. Snapped
  4. A color story

But the editing fun doesn't stop there. For more great photo editing tips and tools, check out our 12 best photo editing apps for Instagram.

# 3: Stand out from the rest with collages and stickers

Instagram overlay stickers and collages are the new creative trend on Instagram.

Lots of users hop on the trend and it works! If it's your brand, you can add overlay stickers to your photos for a little fun.

In fact, we love the Instagram overlay sticker trend so much that we created our own stickers for you to use on your posts!

Instagram photography shouldn't feel overwhelming or out of reach. With just one phone, you have all the tools you need to create great pictures and posts for your profile.

But the first step to getting this gorgeous grid is to come out and record your content!

To spend more time taking and scheduling your photos, automatically post your content with Later!

Plus – if you have an Instagram business profile – You can activate automatic publication directly on your mobile phone (for iOS and Android).

If you are a beginner, stick to these tips and you will soon feel confident in your photography skills.

Are you ready to post your gorgeous Instagram photos on your grid?

Don't forget that with Later you can plan, schedule and automatically post to your Instagram account for FREE. Register today!

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Written by

Jessica Worb

Jessica is a creative problem solver and content writer. Jessica is from Winnipeg, a city in the middle of Canada. She currently lives and works in Paris, France. Follow us on @jessicaworb.

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