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10 Tips for Taking Better Instagram Photos for Your Small Business

by Greg Stone

Crappy photos.

You may be able to get away with it on your personal Instagram account, but this isn’t the case with your small business Instagram account.

Your photos need to be colorful, sharp, creative and fun.

If you can accomplish this then your Instagram can become a lucrative channel for you this year.

For example, one of my clients obtains over 85% of their online traffic from Instagram - and guess what? Over 70% of their sales start from Instagram.

Don’t ignore it. Instagram is a powerful platform.

But we have to be honest. People judge. Even more, they will judge your small business by your Instagram feed.

So how can you take better Instagram photos that your followers will start liking and commenting on?

Here are 10 surefire tips for taking quality Instagram photos your followers will enjoy that will boost your small business to reach more people and ultimately drive more sales.

1) Take your original photo without a filter

Most people may not realize it, but this makes a huge difference.

As a general rule in all of design, especially in photography, you want your original work (in this case, a photo) to have all of the raw colors and the raw lighting.

Using a filter to take a photo will only limit you in the long run and give your photo an over filtered look as you try to adjust it post production.

So don’t. Don’t snap your Instagram photos with a filter. (You can apply a filter afterward, just don’t start with one.)

Even better, if you can hire a professional photographer to do a photoshoot of your business, then import their raw images to Instagram - you’re going to win.

But if you plan on being in charge of snapping photos yourself it’s a good idea to use your original camera app on your smartphone.

I personally even try to stay away from taking my photos directly in the Instagram app. Whether it’s preference or that it actually makes for a better picture, I don’t know. But I do believe you’ll find more ease of use in utilizing your native camera app.

2) When you do apply a filter, try a photo editing app that’s not Instagram

Honestly, over the years Instagram has gotten so much better with its ability to edit your photos within the app. But there may be some better apps for you out there for editing your photos.

In fact, to the trained eye, some may be able to tell when an Instagram filter was used. It’s not that Instagram filters are evil, but when recognized it can take away from the uniqueness of your photos and account.

If you’re really interested in applying filters and having more control over the color and exposure of your photo then try one of these 2 apps: VSCO Cam or Afterlight.

These are incredible apps that gives you both professional filters to use. Some filters are free and some you can pay for.

All in all, it’s a well rounded way to make adjustments for maximizing your photo quality and style.

3) Choose a favorite filter and run with it

Speaking of filters. Redundancy is okay.

The best and most followed Instagram accounts out there are full of photos that use the same filter over and over and over again.

“60% of the top brands on Instagram use the same filter for every post.” (WebDam)

Heck, even the photos themselves are similar in style.

It’s the consistency of quality and style that makes these accounts highly followed and their photos highly liked simply because they’re predictable and consistent.

Don’t feel like you have to be a versatile beast and try to use every filter available to you. After experimenting with a few filters, pick your favorites and use them over and over again.

4) Let your background determine your photo

Something most people don’t realize is that more often than not the background is the dictating factor in a quality photo.

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Your background will usually take up most of the photo. Plus it creates the context.


Before placing too much focus on the subject or the object of your photo first find a great background that will give your photos quality.

5) Be creative and stay away from overused photo shots

Sunsets, selfies and shaved legs at the beach. I think we get the point. We’ve seen these same photo shots over and over and over again.

I’m not saying we should never post a picture of a beautiful sunset, but if that’s all your Instagram feed is full of -just overused photo shots- then you’re not likely going to draw too many followers and likes.


As an example, sometimes we’re quick to whip out our cameras upon the first sight of a sunset in the distance and snapping it immediately instead of trying finding a unique way of capturing the sunset.

Now with sunsets, that could be okay. But applying the same practice to your small business photos is a quick way to fail.

Instead of just posting images of your products, employees and services - think about how you can you creatively communicate your brand’s value through the camera lens.


6) Be symmetrical

This one is short, sweet and to the point.

Symmetry goes a long way in photos. It organizes your shot and gives it an intentional look.

It’s always tragic to see a photo that’s almost really good, but because it’s off center it’s just…not.

Take a look at these photos as a good example for creative symmetry.

7) Try using the Rule of Thirds

Applying the rule of thirds is simple and it can give your photo an incredible look. Instead of placing your subject smack center of the photograph, try placing them in the right or left third of the photo and let the background consume the rest.

8) Bless the Mess

Sometimes great photos are simply just an organized mess of items brought together in a creative way.

9) Include cultural objects, like a cup of coffee or a journal

This tip alone can give you a huge boost in post engagement.

People relate to culture, and every photograph has the opportunity to touch on culture. With that, there are certain objects that have a huge cultural following.

For instance, both coffee and journaling are popular culture points. So when you focus a photograph around these culture points you’re going to almost immediately get brownie points.

Think of ways you can showcase your brand by touching on strong cultural points. It works. Big time.

10) Sometimes, just break all the rules

Sometimes the best and most creative photos come down to just breaking all the rules and applying a style that is uniquely creative.

It’s not something you have to try to do -it just happens.

Be open to trying new angles and perspectives that go against the flow. These kinds of photos often turn out amazing.


In the words of Ansel Adam,

“You don’t take a photograph. You make it.”

So stop taking photos for your small business. Make them!

Need help growing your small business this year? Click here to learn more.

About the Author

Greg Stone

Greg Stone

Greg loves a good cup of coffee, the Pacific Northwest and helping small businesses thrive. As a seasoned full stack designer and marketing director he helps small businesses and startups with everything from branding, powerful websites and digital marketing. With a proven track record, he helps them grow, prosper online and establish a standout reputation.

Does your small business need professional help in design, web or marketing? Let's Talk if you're interested in working together, or visit to learn more.

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