How to Curate the Perfect Instagram

I spent the past two years honing in on my ability to take the perfect shot for Instagram. From forcing my sister to take a million pictures of me on a DIY photoshoot to doing real shoots with local photographers, I have gotten a pretty good grasp on the method. It’s super simple and can easily be executed by an amateur. You’re welcome ;)

  1. 1. Visualize the Aesthetic

    The first step is deciding what you want in your photo. This can be inspired by many occasions. For example, I find that when I buy a new piece of clothing such as tennis skirts or roller skates, I want to photograph myself wearing it. I must then determine the right aesthetic. Most of my planning happens on Pinterest and occasionally Instagram if I stumble upon a picture I want to recreate. Once I have the clothing inspiration, I usually type that generic term in and add aesthetic to the end of the search (such as “tennis aesthetic”). If that doesn’t yield anything worthwhile, I’ll try to search the word plus “photoshoot inspiration.” The limit doesn’t end at clothing, however. It can extend to pretty much everything, including coffee shops, travel and much more.

  2. 2. Pick the Outfit

    If your photoshoot is based on a piece you bought, then you’re already halfway there! But if not, don’t stress. Go through your closet and find colors and patterns that don’t clash with the backdrop you’re planning on (unless that’s the look you want). Look for items that will complement the aesthetic you’re aiming for: vintage, sporty, etc. You can also use this step to make an impulse buy (it’s okay to splurge every once and a while—you deserve it).

  3. 3. Know the Pose

    Again, Pinterest is your friend. With the same concept as step one, you can find the perfect picture to imitate or poses that work for your body type/aesthetic goal. The next part of this step is practicing those poses. Getting out in public and posing is the most awkward thing for many people, so it’s better to know what you’re going to do beforehand. Find a mirror in your house that is large enough for you to see most of your body (pro-tip: bathroom mirrors can work too if you can stand far enough away). When you start your practice, don’t forget that your face is a part of the pose too! My favorite part about photoshoots is trying out new faces to create a different mood in the picture, and if it doesn’t work out as well as you planned, it’s always great finsta material.

  4. 4. Work the Angles

    Sometimes I get to the photoshoot and set my sister up at the exact angle I want her to take it, but most times, this ends up to be not the most flattering one. Let the photographer try many different angles. When the camera is above you (meaning angled down towards you), remember to lift your chin a little so your forehead won’t appear to be twice its actual size. If the camera is on your level (between eye and face level), consciously drop your chin and roll your shoulders back to fix your posture. If the camera is below you (like almost on the ground), BEND AT THE WAIST SLIGHTLY. This can create a really cool shot. It’s going to feel really weird, but it will look so much better; you can’t even tell you’re bending in the shot. Other general reminders are to elongate your spine, move around slowly between poses and if candidness is your goal, verbally fake laugh in the most obnoxious way you can. It will probably make your photographer laugh and then you can actually laugh too (this is also a great way to get cute group candids because it makes your friends more comfortable).

  5. 5. Get the Post

    By now you should have several options to work with from shooting. I go through and pick my favorites first by favoriting them. Next, I upload them to the app VSCO and edit them. This is a good way to maintain a “themed” feed, which I personally don’t have but admire often. Then, with your absolute favorites, you can hop over to the app Facetune if you have a little something you want to fix, but DO NOT over-do it; a little goes a long way, and you’re perfect the way you are. Lastly, I usually send my top 5-8 to my friends and family and have them vote (iMessage is super convenient since you can like and love images). By this point I usually know which ones I like, so the votes don’t sway me too much, but feedback is always nice, especially for that crucial cover photo.

Once you post it with the cutest caption you can think of, you can basically consider yourself an Insta-queen and an amateur model. Go you!