How To Take the Perfect Instagram Pic with Gia Canali

I’ve made my career by getting photos taken of me and not necessarily taking them myself. So when social media became all the rage, I knew I wanted to learn how to step up my photography game. The best part about new technology is that you don’t need an expensive or professional camera to get the perfect shot. All you need is your iPhone, great lighting, and a little creativity.

I love the concept of Instagram because I love sharing my pictures and getting inspired by others. My photographer, Gia Canali, has taught me some tricks along the way that I use daily when taking a photo. It’s not just aim and shoot, people! There’s really an art to a great Instagram photo.

Here are some tips that Gia taught me to step up my social media game (so you can step up yours too!):

  • Be Selective: The best photographs for Instagram are just great photographs, period.
  • Make It Stand Out: The best compositions read well both big and small — so the photo that stands out to you when you’re scrolling through the tiny thumbnails in the Instagram app is probably the one to use!
  • Don’t Over-Filter: Don’t go crazy with filters or fads. Filters = fads.  Those things come and go. You want your photographs to both represent the time in which you made the photographs *and* to transcend it altogether.
  • Be Creative: At the same time, you want to both meet people’s expectations and to foil them.  So the pet photo should look like a pet photo, just a little different.  The selfies should do what a selfie does, but perhaps with a little twist.
  • Keep It Consistent: It pays to be consistent. This is an aspect of meeting people’s expectations, but you will also be setting the tone and expectation with the photographs you use.
  • It’s All About The Light: Make a point of using great light. It’s your biggest asset!

Now for a little more detail…



TIP #1: Get close enough to make an interesting composition.


TIP #2: Use natural light whenever possible.

TIP #3: Don’t be afraid to modify the light or move things around a little bit.  In other words, be your own stylist!


TIP #1: One way to think about landscape or environmental photos is like you’re sending a postcard.  Post cards are supposed to sum up a place.  What do you see that sums it all up?

TIP #2: Don’t be afraid to go on a little walk.  Sometimes the obvious view is just right and other times; a shift in your viewpoint can be really delightful.

TIP #3: Perspective is everything in a landscape — so you can tell what’s big and what’s small.  Human size references get used a lot …  how tiny a human looks in this giant canyon, or how huge this wave looks with my pedicured toes in front of it … but there are endless ways to show perspective and size.

TIP #4: Think big and small.  Sometimes you can see the forest for the trees.

TIP #5: Think about presentation — with instagram in particular, you can have squares or a series of squares so people will see them when they scroll through all your instagrams.



TIP #1: There are all kinds of exceptions to this, but if you just want a flattering selfie: go for a high angle — it’s flattering on pretty much everyone! Molly does a great job of this!

TIP #2: If you decide you want to retouch it, use a light touch! The best retouching doesn’t look retouched at all, just saying.

TIP #3: Be your best editor.  We see a zillion selfies nowadays, so if you’re putting one out there, make sure it’s one that you really love.


TIP #1: Take a few! I never trust everybody not to blink on the first one, and sometimes it takes a few to make sure you have one where everybody looks good.

TIP #2: Don’t be afraid to use flash! In general, I think natural light is great, but flash is a tool meant for these exact situations! It can look great, especially in black and white.

TIP #3: Let people be themselves.  Sometimes the most delightful group photos have a bit of chaos going on …