How to create content for Instagram? I get daily questions about this topic in my direct messages. This a step by step guide how our photo ideas turn into the final post you see on Instagram.
1ST STEP: CHOOSE THE LOCATION
Choosing one or several locations for your shoot in advance is an important step! Most pictures you see on Instagram look like a spontaneous click. But that’s rarely the case. If we travel to a new destination, hotel, etc. I always do my research first. My favorite platforms for inspiration are Instagram itself or most of all Pinterest. I have several folders/pin boards for any place we are about to visit or which are on my bucketlist. Even if you’re not traveling Pinterest can help you to get inspiration for a place to shoot in your hometown, a new outfit combination, another pose, ….
Check out my Pinterest Page to see my inspiration boards.
2ND STEP: THINK ABOUT A SPECIAL OUTFIT OR REQUISITES YOU NEED?
This may sound a little exaggerated but sometimes this question is really essential if you want to create eye-catching content for Instagram.
For example some places have a special color so maybe you want to wear a dress, jacket, etc. with a nice contrast to pop out or a special outfit which fits the surrounding.
Accessoires always give a little extra to a photo and make them more interesting for the viewer. That’s why I sometimes pose with a hat or like to set up a breakfast, some pillows, flowers, … which make the scene look more authentic. Additionally accessories make natural poses a lot easier. Just get creative with your surrounding and what could fit to the scene.
3RD STEP: SHOOTING THE PHOTO
THE RIGHT CAMERA
At the very beginning we took all our shots with our iPhones. And still now I think they do pretty good jobs! The only minus is that you can’t shoot in RAW which is limiting the editing possibilities – but more about this later!
Before our first “around the world”-trip we decided to buy our first DSLR camera which was a Nikon D3500. It was the best decision we made since it’s a great camera for beginners with a good lens.
Later we upgraded to a mirrorless Nikon Z6 II with a 27-70mm lens and an additional wide angle lens (14-30mm) which makes landscape photography a lot easier!
ARGUING WHILE SHOOTING IS NORMAL – AT LEAST FOR US !
I wont lie – for some shootings we need forever. We shoot maybe 500 clicks with different angles or poses until we find one we both like! This can be harder than it sounds. We often have different opinions about how a photo could look the best. Anyone who knows us knows that we almost never argue… Until it comes to taking pictures The reason for that is that we mostly have different visions about how a shot could look the best. But in the end we mostly get a photo we both like and forget about all the arguing we did before.
FIND A NEW WAY OF SEEING THINGS
After getting a lot of inspiration from other pictures it’s is important not to copy a photo but to create your own version of it with your personal unique touch. Look for another angle or maybe a captivating pose. Otherwise people will see your post on Instagram and think ‘nice but I’ve already seen it a 100 times before!’
SHOOT IN THE RIGHT MODE
While shooting for Instagram it is important to shoot your photos in portrait mode. Landscape shots never work very well on the platform.
If you use a camera make sure to change the settings before shooting. All your photos should be RAW-Files which makes editing a LOT easier later. Using the lowest ISO and a high shutter speed is also key for a sharp & detailed photo. Unless you want to play around with a long time exposure of course. Don’t be afraid if your photos may appear “too dark” on your camera! To have a darker pic is always better than having one which is too bright. You can fix this in the edits later and will still have all the details in your shot. But it’s almost impossible to heal an overexposed photo.
4TH STEP: GOING THROUGH ALL THE PHOTOS AND CHOOSING THE BEST ONES
When we’re on the road I often have to go through thousand of pictures after a day to see which ones turned out nice. Thats probably the most time consuming part of creating content for Instagram.
Step one is saving all my photos from the SD-Card to an external hard drive. Memory cards are very fragile and you can loose them super fast. Thats why it’s important to have your work stored somewhere else too!
After this important step I open all pictures on my Macbook. I do the first sorting and delete the pictures which are a 100% NO!
Then I start to upload the photos into my Lightroom cloud to do the fine screening. I give the ones I want to edit a five star rank which makes it easier for me to find them back later.
5TH STEP: EDITING THE PICTURES
CHOOSING A PRESET FIRST
As already mentioned above I work with Lightroom to edit all my pictures with my own presets. I prefer the cloud-based option which makes it super easy to convert all our work directly to the mobile App on my phone.
If you just started with Lightroom you can use the free mobile version first to get familiar with it. But if you want to use it in longterm I can’t recommend you high enough to get the desktop version. The price for Adobe Creative Cloud not only includes the full Lightroom version but also a license for Photoshop. You can read about how I use this program below.
The next step is going through my presets folder with setting I have saved over the last years. That’s how I can first see which “editing-style” works the best for my pic. Maybe a light pink-pastel edit? Or better a deep & moody one? I have a wide variety of different presets so I always find one I like.
Every photo is different when it comes to light conditions and colors. Thats why I usually do some fine editing after applying a preset. I change the lights, shadows, … until I have a result I’m happy with.
ADDING A LITTLE EXTRA SUNSHINE
If you go through my instagram page you will notice that I like to add a little sunshine to some of my photos. I do this with the brush- or radial-tool in Lightroom. I mark a specific area of my picture on which I like to have a little light added and create a “fake” sunshine.
But be careful: Always look where the shadows are in your photos and apply the light to the right side of the photo. Otherwise people will feel like your post looks very unnatural.
The right crop
The last step is cropping your photo: 4:5 is the best size to create content for Instagram. With they format users will see the maximum of your photo on their phone screen while scrolling through Instagram.
ERASING UNWANTED OBJECTS …
When I’m done with the Lightroom edit I sometimes open my photos in Photoshop. That’s where I erase unwanted objects out of my photos when they are distracting for the eye from the main object in the photo.
If getting a license for Photoshop is not an option for you I can recommend you the app ‘Retouch’. I always used it when I first started and I still use it for quick edits on my phone even now cause it works very well.
… & ADDING NEW ONES
Another plus to get Photoshop is that you can not only delete objects out of your photos – you can even ADD some. From birds or flowers to whole skies! But this requires a little training to make it look natural. I’m not the biggest fan of photos on Instagram with the obviously fake sunset or birds in the sky. The added objects should always fit to the rest of your photo and the color hues.
THE FINAL STEP: POSTING!
Now we finally have our photo ready ! It’s been a long way BUT WE MADE IT! Great photo! But we’re not finished here…
FINDING THE RIGHT CAPTION
Now we have to think about a nice caption for your photo. It can be a special memory you have from the moment which is captured in your photo or something completely different. Most important is that people are bei willing to read it and in the best case leave you a comment. The best way to do this is by leaving a call to action question under your photo. It can be something very simple like “What are your plans for the weekend? What is your favorite summer destination?” or you give room for a discussion “…what is your opinion about this topic?” Just make sure the question fits to the rest of your caption.
THE MAGIC OF HASHTAGS
If you want your picture to be seen by more than just your followers than the usage of hashtags is key!
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per photo- no matter if right in the caption or in the comment. Where you put your hashtags doesn’t make a difference for your reach but remember to vary your hashtags for every photo. Depending on the location or the people you want to reach with your post. Using the same hashtags over and over again can eventually be tracked as a spammy behavior by Instagram and limit your hashtag reach. If you need some inspiration search for a basic hashtag like #travel and Instagram will automatically give you suggestions of similar ones. Or use one hashtag in different languages.
KEEP UP YOUR GREAT WORK!
Yes it really is a lot of work to create content for Instagram. But no worries! The steps which will take a lot of time in the beginning will work a lot faster after a little practice.
And don’t let the Instagram algorithm bring you down… It’s changing all the time so it’s very natural to see some ups and downs in your reach.
Do you want to know how I became a travel blogger and which tips I have for beginners to grow their Instagram page? Click here to find out!
MY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
We never go on any trip without these essentials