How To Take Bright & Airy Instagram Photos

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Instagram photography tips

       1. Myth:      

The biggest myth on the web is that you need a DSLR to take beautiful images. Well actually, I'm in two minds about it, to be honest. I don't think you need a fancy camera to take beautiful flatlays or any fashion & beauty photos for Instagram. However, in my opinion, I do think it's necessary to have a DSLR or a bridge camera for blog photos and outfit photography. It's the only way to get that nice bokeh effect {blurry background}. 

For most of my Instagram photos, I use my iPhone and I don't think anybody can tell the difference between the photos taken on my camera vs the photos I take on my phone.

QUESTION TIME! Which photo below do you think is a DSLR photo and which one is an iPhone photo? ;-)

DSLR vs phone photography

  2. Taking the Photo:  

1. White Background: A white background provides a bright & airy feel to a photo before you've even edited. 

White background ideas:  

  • Your bed sheet
  • A throw
  • A white table
  • Plain white paper

2. Utilise your phone's camera: 

Tips for an iPhone:

  • Use the square feature on your camera
  • Tap every corner of the screen and the middle to brighten up the photo
  • Turn on HDR

3. Shoot beside a window: My house is actually quite dark and I live in Ireland so getting a bright set up to work with is very difficult. To combat this problem I take my photos beside a window.

4. Use a mirror as a reflector: I spoke about this on my Snapchat recently {@clionahill - Come join the snaps & the chats ;-)} 

If you place a mirror {big or small} beside your set up and face it towards the window it will the bounce the light back and give you a brighter photo.

How to edit Instagram photos

  3. VSCO CAM:      

Step 1: Bump up the exposure to 2 or 3 depending on how bright your photo already is.

Step 2: Contrast the photo to setting 1 or 2 depending on what brightness setting you chose. I never go higher than 2 because I find that it makes the photo look overly edited.

And that's it! That's how I went from that dull photo to the bright one above.

  4. Instagram Editing:   

I absolutely love the in-house editing software that's available on Instagram! It compliments the editing from VSCO Cam very well and the filters are much better than the ones offered on VSCO Cam.

Step 1: Select a filter. I use Gingham because it looks natural and really brightens up those photos and gives them an airy feel. 

Step 2: Lower the filter down to anywhere between 30 - 50. It just depends on the photo but I never go higher than 50 because it makes the photo look overly pink toned *insert thumbs down emoji*

Step 3: Adjust the brightness. Yep, that's right, we need even more brightness! If you've done the steps above then you'll only need to higher it to around 5-8.

Step 4: Adjust the contrast. This is a golden rule of mine: if you touch the brightness then you must follow through with the contrast! Just think of them as a married couple - they go together ;-) I usually only set mine to around 3 or 4, but again it depends on the photo.

Now, you're all set to upload your photo!

Instagram editing -step by step guide

    5. How To Cover Blemishes:    

As you can see from the photo above I've had some trouble with blue tack on my wall *insert monkey with his hands over his eyes emoji* During the Leaving Cert I thought it would be a clever idea to stick my timetables up on the wall and now I can't get the blue tack off. So whenever I take photos of my vanity table (blog post) you can see big blue tack marks on the wall and it really obstructs the photo.

To Remove Unwanted Marks: I use the healing feature on Snapseed.

Question! For this post, I mainly focused on how I edit my photos and I was wondering if anyone would be interested in a post about how I take flat-lays, from where I stand photos and maybe my set-up/props?

Don't forget to follow on Bloglovin' to read more posts from me!

More Instagram Tips:

How do you edit your Instagram photos?

Cliona xx


  1. I love the things you've done with these photos! Really proves you don't need a DSLR :) although I think your talent with taking the pictures probably helps ;)

    Alice | Whiskey Jars Blog

    1. Aw thank you so much! It's all down to the editing really! My photos look terrible before I edit haha! Thanks for reading xx

  2. This was so helpful I love your Instagram pictures so it was great hearing you use your phone. I have been using my DSLR recently but I might go back to my iPhone :) also have you tried using a bigger piece of blue tack and rolling it over the wee bits stuck on your wall? Helps me get mine off... Use it like a rubber :) I also would love to see a post about how you take flat lays :) xx

    1. Thanks so much for the tip Rachel - I'll definitely try it out! Xx

  3. This is really helpful - I take most of my photos on my iPhone and love Afterlight for editing them!

    1. iPhones have great cameras & it's amazing the things you can do to improve a photo when editing! I've never tried Afterlight - I must give it a go! Thanks for reading xx

  4. This is so useful �� I always take my Instagram pictures on my iPhone . Would love to see how you do flat lays! Also where's your lamp from? Been looking for one like that for ages now! Haha


  5. Thanks Marie! I'm glad it was helpful :-) I got it in Homebase - they still have some left online! Xx

  6. Your Instagram feed is gorgeous so was interesting to see how you edit your photos. I would love to see a post on creating flat lays.
    Lucie xo |


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