6 types of photos that work on Instagram

by Arik Hanson on Aug 06, 2012

Originally published at Communications Conversations

Hi. My name’s Arik. And, I’m an Instagram addict.

It’s darn-near my social platform of choice these days (less and less time for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn).

Yeah, I’m the guy who stops at the water park with his kids to get a snap of them coming down a waterslide. I’m the guy who take Instagram photos of the sky (have you SEEN my cloud/sun pic above?). I’m the guy who takes pics of his beer for the love of God.

Yeah, I’m an addict.

I’m closing in on  just passed 1,000 photos. And with each photo I get smarter about what kinds of photos resonate and get likes and comments. I think that’s part of the reason I like IG so much. I love photography, and I’m a huge wannabe photog. But, I also love experimenting. And IG lets me experiment–not only with the photos, but with the way I set the photo up with the caption.

I’ve learned a lot over the past year-plus since I’ve been using IG. And although the lessons I’ve learned aren’t directly related to the lessons brands learn, there is some general crossover. So, I give you 6 Instagram lessons from my personal addiction.  Have at it.

Photo: The close-up

Brand lesson: When possible, zoom in.

I see too many brands using wide shots on Instagram. The problem with wide shots is they don’t translate when you’re talking about viewing that photo on a 2X3 inch screen. When taking your shots, always lean toward using more close-ups vs. wide shots.

Close-up shots are easily recognizable and the level of detail is easier to see. Here’s a shot I took of my parent’s patio table. Another of a lighthouse on the North Shore here in Minnesota. Simple, easy, close-up. Both shots had more than 15 likes.

Photo: Beer me!

Brand lesson: Give your fans what they want–even if it’s not “on brand”

OK, I’m not condoning you reel off 15 straight shots of that beer you just drank. But for me, shots of the geeky craft beer I drink always generate a lot of likes an comments. Why? Because a number of the folks who follow me on IG are also beer geeks. I know that (and happen to like craft beer), so I post a lot of beer pics.

The lesson: Give your  Instagram followers what they want. Give them something to like–even if it doesn’t relate to your brand. Beer isn’t really part of my “brand” (at least I hope it isn’t). I like craft beer. I talk about it alot. But professionally, it has nothing to do with what I do. But, it’s a topic a lot of people I know like to talk about. So, I take pics of the beer I’m drinking from time to time. These kinds of beer pics routinely get 20+ likes.

Photo: Flowers, flowers, flowers

Brand lesson: Flowers are the kitties of Instagram

Flower shots are the one shot that always generate  a lot of likes. The brand lesson here is to find your “flower shot” and lean on it every once in a while. Mine typically get anywhere from 15-30 likes. Why? Because they’re beautiful (the flowers). They’re colorful. And they just make you smile.

Photo: The “jaunty” shot

Brand lesson: Try a different perspective once in a while

Jaunty’s a term I picked up from Meghan Burnt. She’s referring to the off-kilter camera angle I use all the time. I like it because it’s different. And apparently other people like it too because I get a number of likes each time I use it.

It’s all about your point of view. For me, some of my better shots have been what could be called “run of the mill” shots of landscape or seascapes–but, I took them from a different perspective. I’ll usually take my phone right down to water level to get that feeling that you’re right on the water.

How can you make different visual perspectives work for your photos? That alternate point of view really draws viewers eyes. Take advantage.

Photo: Action shots

Brand lesson: Don’t settle for posed shots

Some of my favorite shots I’ve taken over the last couple years have been of my kids at the Edina Pool–a nearby neighborhood pool that has slides for the kids. I’ll stand right where the slide ends, with my camera, to get a quick shot of them coming out of the slide (see above).

Invariably, the shot is fantastic because it’s an action shot. Water spraying up at the camera. Kids with excitement splattered all over their faces. Find opportunities to get action shots–no matter what your brand.

Photo: The one-of-a-kind shot

Brand lesson: Get the shot no one else can get

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch the Major League All-Star Game at Target Field with a friend who’s a season ticket holder. The Minnesota Twins only invited 200-some ticket holders to this event, so my friend and I had Target Field virtually to ourselves.

Hence, I had shots that only 200 people in the ENTIRE city could get on that night. Take advantage of those opportunities you have for photos that very few other people have. Photo shoots. Concerts. Events. Look for your chances to capture images that few others could get.

Post Author

Principal-ACH Communications Minnesota digital PR consultant, blogger, co-founder-HAPPO, co-founder #mnblogconf, husband, father, beer snob...

  • http://twitter.com/TrinityPinesfun Mary Ellen Malone

    Great tips. Thanks! 

  • Suzanne Perry

    great article! I also noticed that when I add hashtags, I attract likes and followers who share the same subject matter interests. 

  • http://twitter.com/DaveQuinn247 Dave Quinn

    Great tips. thanks for the post. I am DaveQuinn247 and, I’m an Instagram addict also. Make it a Great Day! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kay.rogal Kay Rogal

    It is very popular. My son loves it! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/annie.noll Annie ‘Timmons’ Noll

    I hope this is not the dumbest question ever, but did you take all these with your iPhone or Android? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1304370770 Dave Vanz

    First of all, props on the love of beer!  If you like, join our Craft Beer group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebrewskies/.  I too am an Instagram addict and it’s taken away from my other networks.  I think there are 2 different types of users.  The ones that love to use Instagram as their camera of choice and those that like to build a network of people.  I started out using Instagram early on and snapped away at just about everything.  I learned that large amounts of photos deter people from following you.  Nicely chosen photos with the correct description/hashtags will encourage people to follow.  Although I enjoy having a network, I enjoy having awesome photos as well.  Cheers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/arikhanson Arik Hanson

    Took with iPhone.

  • alikkuswara

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  • http://www.wheretolog.com digitalbrian

    Great pictures, I never really got into Instagram myself.