But the seemingly simple compositions are surprisingly tricky to master. (How exactly do you take a photo of your brunch from above without casting your shadow over it?!)
Luckily, some Instagram users - who almost certainly have way more followers than you or I - have shared their best tips on how to build your following and take beautiful photographs.
Settle on a theme
“Having a theme makes your photos identifiable and enables peoples to know what to except from your account,” says vlogger and presenter Grace Victory, who has over 110,000 followers.
“I go for a mixture of backgrounds, usually white, grey or my wooden floor. Although my Instagram photos don't always look the same, I make sure I edit them the same so the colouring is similar.
"If I show a pink top one day, I will then post something else pink a few days later - it just ties everything in. The best accounts in my opinions are ones with a little routine and ones that look tidy and put together.”
“If it's a fashion, make sure your photo is clear and the items of clothing can be seen. If you have a statement item, like patterned boots, make that the focus point. Selfies always do well too so pose, have confidence and show off that face.”
Meet the stars of Instagram
Meet the stars of Instagram
1/10 Charlie Barker
Barker’s following is greater than the combined circulations of Hello! and OK! magazines
2/10 Charlie Barker
Barker says: ‘I wanted to get a tattoo on the palm of my hand and because it was painful I was like, 'what do I believe in enough to get tattooed on my hand for the rest of my life?', and I was like – Hello Kitty’
3/10 Charlie Barker
With a photographic glimpse – or at least suggestion – of a life of colour and attitude, Barker has earned the sort of fame that only exists on Instagram
4/10 Brian Whittaker
Sixteen-year-old Whittaker has a quarter of a million followers
5/10 Brian Whittaker
Whittaker’s style and physique make him popular, but conversations with girls typically end when they ask his age
6/10 Brian Whittaker
An image of Whittaker's dog on Instagram. Whittaker says he has made new friends in real life, and thousands more on Instagram, many of whom he messages
7/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Twenty-year-old Knight-Butler has 15,000 followers
8/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Knight-Butler calls her account a channel, and fills it with fashion and lifestyle shots
9/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Knight-Butler says: ‘There are followers who like my photos without fail, and they're mostly younger girls who want to know about my life.’
10/10 Olivia Knight-Butler
Knight-Butler had eating problems when she was 15 and 16. A need to be best at everything bled into social media and she later had to decide if Instagram was part of the problem or solution
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
If you want to have a successful Instagram, prepare to be “that guy” who makes everyone pause for a few minutes to take photos before letting them tuck into their meal.
“To perfect a flat lay photo, taken directly above outfits, accessorises, or food, be sure to take the photo directly from above and be conscious of the lighting,” says fitness and travel Instagrammer Lizzie Earl, who runs MUNCH, a PR and creative content agency for brands and celebrities. She has over 2,500 followers.
“The image needs to look flat, so keep shadows to a minimum by making sure your flash or lighting is coming from above and be sure to avoid capturing your own shadow across the image.”
She also advises playing with perspective. “Instagram is a scrap book that offers little glimpses into someone’s life, so play with perspective to give your feed a more intimate feel. For example, while lying on the floor admiring a view, point the camera to the sky and capture what you see as you see it."
Curate your images
“Think of your Instagram feed as one piece of work, rather than lots of individual photos,” suggests Earl. “You want to make sure the images work together, not against each other. Try not to have the same sort of photo next to one another – such as a portrait next to another portrait - or the same colours (unless that’s your style of course). A good way to approach it is to vary the above compositions evenly, so no two similar images ever touch each other on your feed.
Never, er, use Instagram.
“Always use your phone's native camera function and not the one in Instagram,” says travel and lifestyle Instagrammer Sophie Raine, whose account has over 6,000 followers. “The quality is far better and you are able to shoot at speed.”
Volume is key
Those perfect photos on Instagram are almost certainly not the first ones the user took, reveals Raine. “You’ll probably only really want to pick one out of every 20 or so to post, so snap away with some different poses. If you’re with someone else and you start giggling, this can be the money shot, just keep pressing the side button. Then go through and delete - keeping two to three to work from."
Explore the App Store
“My go-to app is beauty365 which allows you to brighten your eyes, remove blemishes, lighten dark circles and even add some eyelashes," says Raine. "Don’t go overboard, though, as you never want to look over-filtered. Next step is using Instagram’s incredibly flattering native filters. I prefer ‘Valencia' and ‘Crema'. If you’re not planning to add the picture to Instagram you can still use their filter function and then upload from there."
Victory, meanwhile, opts for VSCO Cam and Facetune. “VSCO is great to change the saturation, the general colour grade and to add filters - all that good stuff. FaceTune I use to whiten my backgrounds so my photos look fresher and I often use the detail tool to make certain things pop.
“To help with an Instagram theme and being able to plan your feed, I recommend Unum, its literally the only reason I am able to have a tidy Instagram - it helps a lot.”
Post at peak times
“In order to grow your Instagram, you need people to find your account,” says Victory. “The best way for this is to post daily if you can and at peak times. My photos will get double the likes if I post it at 7pm, when everyone’s home from work and school, than if I post it at 2pm."Reuse content