We were recently privileged enough to attend Huawei’s launch of their flagship P20 series in Paris. And we picked up more than a phone of our own. Here are a few tips we learned to level up your Insta game:
Hold the goddamn thing still(er).
This one seems obvious yet you’d be surprised at how much even the smallest of your trembles and shakes will show up in any given snap. Most smartphone cameras needs around five seconds to properly process their surroundings. Rushing it would be like if your boss asked you to do a day’s worth of work in under two hours. Thankfully, you won’t need as long as five seconds with the P20’s camera tech co-engineered with Leica, but giving it a moment to pace through steadily will still go a long way. Peep the deets.
You can make yourself stationary with a few old tricks.
A follow up to the previous tip. For those of you less inclined to throw your phone on a tripod for the shot, whether it be reasons of access, portability, or TITF, there are actually a few old tricks to keep your rig still. Tricks that are almost as old as the camera itself. As a certain Mr. Leigh Stark explains it, you can tether yourself by hugging a pole, tree, or any other immobile object to reduce the tremble and shakes. And yes, you can even bring a pole of your own to hug.
Layer your composition, pay attention to depth and scale.
Ever take a photo and feel as though it’s too… flat? Pedestrian even. That can all change if you pay attention to the layers of a composition and depth. For example, if you were required to take a picture in front of a white wall, stand at least 30 to 50 centimetres away so you get a hint of shadow, and to make it feel as though there’s something solid/material behind you.
In a more applicable scenario to everyday Insta usage, the next time you need to take a group pic, have people staggered and layered behind one another. By that I mean person A stands in front, person B stands two steps back and one to the side from person A, and person C stands a step or two back behind person B in view through the gap of A and B, and so on, and so on. Compare that to having all three or so of you lined shoulder to shoulder then get back to me on the difference.
Bonus tip, the next time you have a video interview, give your plain background of a wall a bit more depth with a bookcase, lamp, or pot plant raised to camera level. It’ll do wonders (apparently).
Source your lighting right.
Lighting is the most important element of photography but also one of the most neglected. Pick your spots appropriately and be vigilant about what angle your light comes from. The most basic rule that most will abide by is to always have the source of light behind the camera, and that’s a good start. But be sure to play around with alternate angles and elements of lighting you can introduce to the side and above the subject.
Find that photoworthy framing and sub-framing.
There’s the frame where everything in the picture occurs, and then there are sub-frames. Once again, this largely has to do with composition. Where Renaissance painters once used the Fibonacci spiral or “The Golden Ratio”, we have now adopted the rule of three. Subject in the centre, and things on either side to balance it out. Or subject in the centre, and things above and below to balance it out. Similarly, subject off-centre to a corner, and something in the opposing diagonal corner above to balance it out. Framing and use of strong lines help draw someone’s gaze to what you want to show. The most on the nose example of this is taking a pic of someone peaking through a window or door frame, with the door/window askew in such a way that your eyes wander to the secondary subject. Like a pot plant or something.
Go native with the cam.
Lastly, be wary of Instagram’s built-in camera versus the camera your phone comes with. Chances are, your native camera will shoot in higher quality as opposed to Instagram’s, the latter being known to be wildly inconsistent with integration and quality variables. So next time you’re tempted to shoot straight from the Insta hip, switch out to your phone’s built-in cam and snap a portrait shot (landscape makes it harder to see the full frame the way you want it).
Huawei’s P20 series will be available domestically in the coming months. You can visit here for more details.