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Do it for the ‘gram: A social media expert’s tips on taking great IG photos

Whether it’s a shot of your brunch or your favourite lipsticks, we’ve got the low-down on nailing that shot
 

Image: 123rf

We talk a lot about Insta-worthy food (weekend brunches will always have a soft spot in our hearts) and makeup essentials that aren’t just great products, but super pretty too.

But what’s the point of being Insta-worthy if we can’t, you know, take an Instagram shot worthy of your beloved brunch?

So we spoke to Zara Salahuddin (@zaaras), the second-generation owner of the Bib Gourmand-awarded eatery Bismillah Biryani, former Creative Director at design studio Bloesem and at present, a freelance content creator who has worked with some pretty big local and international names (though we, unfortunately, cannot divulge who).

And here’s how you can get started on beautifying your Insta-feed. Just in time for your weekend brunch, of course!

 

1. Let it breathe, girl

 

 

A post shared by Zara. (@zaaras) on

 

It doesn’t matter what the object of your attention is, you’ll definitely need to do some arranging. Yes - even if it’s your newest pair of shoes perfect for that shoefie. How do you go about doing it?

Well, Zara recommends starting with a specific vision in mind. “If you’re going for a minimalistic approach, then really go for it with the blank spaces (in between the items). And if you want to scatter items all around, then do so. It’s about making it look intentional rather than an accident, which leaves your setup looking visually imbalanced.”

And one thing to note is the space between your items and the space around the whole setup. “You have to leave enough space for everything to ‘breathe’,” says Zara. “It makes it look less cluttered.”

 

2. It’s all about perspective

 

 

A post shared by Zara. (@zaaras) on

 

You’ve taken note of the space, painstakingly arranged your favourite lipsticks but that picture still doesn’t look quite right. What gives, you ask?

You’re just not close enough. We know, we know. Usually, we’d recommend taking a step away from things. (It’s Friday night. Leave that work behind!) But in this case, getting all up in your camera’s grill is the way to go.

“Your arrangement is not going to look exactly the same when you look at it through the camera lens,” says Zara. “You’ll notice the spacing might look a bit off: Things might be too close or some of the items overlap.”

So arrange your products, take a look from your camera and adjust it through your camera lens. In other words, be the camera.

Zara’s pro-tip: You may think you’ve got the shot down pat, but don’t clear up just yet. Get to editing first because you can easily change anything you’re not too happy with without having to set it all up again.

 

3. Light play

 

 

A post shared by Zara. (@zaaras) on

 

You’ll know how important lighting is without us having to tell you, but to give your photo a little more ‘oomph’, try adding items that are clear (like your see-through bottle of perfume). “The sunlight streaming through will create an interesting light play.”

Her personal favourite trick? “I love playing with direct sunlight for that harsh graphic shadow,” she says, “But it depends on the look you’re going for.”

Quick summary: Going further away from the light means subtler shadows, while going nearer makes it more dramatic.

 

4. Touch up time

 

 

A post shared by Zara. (@zaaras) on

 

And because we love our phone apps (especially the ones that save us money and time), here are Zara’s usual picks for editing pics: Snapseed for some basic editing, Retouch if she needs to doctor out some marks and of course, VSCO for its famed filters.

 

5. But...what about the food?

 

 

A post shared by Zara. (@zaaras) on

 

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about your weekend brunches.

If you’ve ever faced the struggle of shooting your food from above only to realise that the light hanging on top is ruining your picture with weird shadows of your arms, then you’ll know that where you choose to sit is extremely important. Light source, remember?

So Zara recommends opting for the outdoor seat or near a window. (We know how hot Singapore’s getting so we’ll take that window seat, thank you very much!)

And feel free to use the props on the table: “A plant, your cutlery or that a glass of water with light streaming through...they all add visual interest to the story you’re telling.”

 

6. To tag or not to tag?

 

 

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And finally, hashtags. Where would we be without the ability to easily find useful #hairhacks (for days where we’re in a rush) or gorgeous #nailspo (for days where we’re not rushing, and would actually really enjoy a nice pamerping)?  

At the same time, we probably all know that one person who uses about 30 different hashtags in every post. (Or you may be one of them. We’ll leave it at that.) But should you get on board with it?

“No,” says Zara. Well, not the 30 hashtags, at least.

“Hashtags attract people to like your post or leave a comment,” she agrees, “but if you are using hashtags, I’d suggest capping it at five relevant tags that actually make sense. You don’t need to be hashtagging everything.”

#Duly #noted!

So go forth, dear readers, and slay that Instagram game. Don’t forget to tag us (@Herworldsingapore) with your favourite brunch spots! Just maybe leave it out of the hasgtags…