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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.


outdoors, extreme sports, climbing, user feature, howishoot, Instagram,

How I Shoot: Photographing the Extreme Outdoors with @jimmy_chin

For each How I Shoot, we ask an Instagrammer to tell us about their creative process. For more of Jimmy’s photos and videos from his outdoors expeditions, follow @jimmy_chin on Instagram.

"I find I get a lot of my inspiration from the core community of athletes I spend time with, and I have been able to make a career shooting amazing athletes doing amazing things in amazing landscapes," says Jimmy Chin (@jimmy_chin), a professional climber, photographer and cinematographer based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While his athletic career came before his photography pursuits, Jimmy quickly developed a passion for documenting the beauty of nature and the talented athletes who interact with it. His passion for exploring extreme environments around the world and incredible eye for landscape photography have landed him opportunities shooting for National Geographic, The North Face, GoPro and more.

On Instagram, Jimmy likes to share day-to-day inspiration as well as some of his assignment outtakes. His iPhone has become a handy tool to catch interesting perspectives that he normally wouldn’t take with his professional cameras, and he also likes having the control over the stories he can tell through his Instagram account. “At the heart of my work, I am always looking to share stories about the human spirit or the never ending instinct to push human potential and progression.”

Here are Jimmy’s tips for capturing dynamic landscape photos:


iPhone 5S, GoPro and Canon 5D

Vantage Point

Whether it’s running, hiking, climbing, skiing or swimming, finding a unique perspective in nature means getting active and dirty. “My favorite moments are the unplanned and spontaneous visual gems you find when you are out in the wild doing what you love.”

It’s also crucial to “know the sports, know your comfort level and stay ahead of the game out in the field.”


No matter where the focal point of the image is, Jimmy likes to frame his human subjects to convey the scale of the landscape next to human experience. “I try to shoot anything but your medium frame at eye level, because that’s the perspective from which people normally see the world—and why show them what they already see?”


When he has time, Jimmy likes to use Snapseed (iOS or Android) or VSCO Cam (iOS or Android), but otherwise he often makes subtle adjustments (sharpening, adjusting contrast, changing saturation or adding vignette) with the Instagram editing tools before posting. “Editing is a big part of the creative process, and choosing a mood you want an image to evoke can be just as fun as shooting.”


photography, animals, landscape, ranch, Colorado, sheep, lamb, horse, howishoot, Instagram,

How I Shoot: Capturing the Colors and Characters of the American West with @iamstephensmith

For each How I Shoot, we ask an Instagrammer to tell us about their creative process. For more of Stephen’s photos and videos from life on a ranch in the American West, follow @iamstephensmith on Instagram.

For Stephen Smith (@iamstephensmith), documenting life on a ranch in Colorado requires a shift in perspective. “I try to imagine what the world looks like from the height of a baby lamb or way up high on my draft horse, Brutus,” he says. “My work is inspired by the contrast and connection between expansive, humbling spaces and the objects and creatures that inhabit those spaces.”

Here are Stephen’s tips for vividly capturing the colors and characters on a ranch in the American West:


iPhone 5S

Vantage Point

"At eye-level with the subject to create an intimate connection. If you are shooting an animal, for example, and it is shorter than you, it might be difficult to keep the horizon line in the photo. Drop down a bit, enhance the presence of that shorter creature and keep that horizon line in the frame so that the image has depth."


"I try to shoot just after sunrise while we are doing chores or just before dark. The sun in Colorado is very strong and a midday shot can wash out images shot with an iPhone."


"I use VSCO Cam or Afterlight, and Instagram’s new creative editing tools are convenient. I just tried them out with my latest post.”


howishoot, User Feature, nicole franzen, flowers, plants,

How I Shoot: Photographing Flora with @nicole_franzen

For each How I Shoot, we ask an Instagrammer to tell us about the process behind their photos and videos. For more of Nicole’s photos and videos of plants, food, and day-to-day life made beautiful, follow @nicole_franzen on Instagram.

For Nicole Franzen (@nicole_franzen), a self-taught lifestyle photographer, springtime is very special. “In New York,” she says, “the winters are so long and grey. When we finally start getting green back into our lives, it’s almost spiritual. I can’t seem to get enough.”

Nicole says that she’s always been interested in things that grow. “When I was a kid, I would help my neighbor in the garden, asking lots of questions,” she says. “I typically have flowers in my home and admire them every day. Like most of the things I photograph I feel that it all connects.”

Here are Nicole’s tips for capturing the perfect picture of a plant or flower:


iPhone 5S

Vantage Point

"No right or wrong answer here. It depends on where the plant or flower lives. Get in close or pull away. Rows of lilacs, a close-up shot of a peony’s layers or a desert botanical scene–you can do no wrong."


"Ideal scenarios include fog, mist, dew and a fresh summer’s rain. A common misconception is that a sunny day is ideal for a photo, but sometimes it’s actually really harsh. For the best light, get up early and catch that morning light and dew in the garden. You won’t be sorry."




howishoot, dancer, ballet, photography,

How I Shoot: @darian_volkova’s Dancers

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. For more photos and videos of Darian Volkova’s dancers, browse the #soulinfeet hashtag and follow @darian_volkova on Instagram. For more great photos and videos of ballet dancers, follow @ballerinaproject_, balletzaida and @balletbeautiful on Instagram.

"Ballet is a lightness and heaviness. Hard work in the classroom and weightless beauty on stage."

These are the words of Russian Instagrammer Darian Volkova (@darian_volkova), a dancer based in St. Petersburg who regularly takes photos and videos of her ballet friends on Instagram. “Dance has always been a part of me. More than anything because of its association with movement. I like to take pictures of dancing people: they are elegant and make striking lines.”

Darian is part of a growing community of dancers who want to share their unique and extraordinary profession with a wider audience. She started her #soulinfeet series six months ago, giving a rare insight into the life of a ballerina through video clips of rehearsals, classroom warm ups and backstage. Instagrammers such as the artist JR (@jr) have also explored the world of ballet and how to shoot dancers on Instagram through his collaboration with the New York City Ballet.

Want to learn more about how to shoot dancers on Instagram? Here are Darian’s tips:


"On Instagram I shoot with an iPhone 4S, but I love to shoot with my film camera Yashica Mat-124G, often using Ilford film.”

Vantage Point

"My ballet friends have become accustomed to posing for my Instagram shots. During rehearsal, when a dancer moves I may ask them to stay in a certain position. The human body is like clay: you can mould it. And the body of a ballerina is super soft, like plastic clay, which can be very beautiful.

"Ballet poses can look completely different depending on your point of view. If you ask a ballerina to stand in an arabesque and walk around her, providing she doesn’t move, you will get different shots and angles. Just like the little spinning ballerina in the music box. The dancer’s body creates lines which intersect and sometimes it looks open and sometimes it looks closed.

"I shoot in ballet halls. Often there are large rooms with large windows and nothing to interrupt your view—lots of natural light for the dancer’s body to catch."


"Ballerinas often like to pose for the camera. So the perfect recipe for those who want to take photos and videos of ballet dancers is simple: get the ballerina and ask her to move.

"In ballet, there is often an important special moment in the middle of a move. If you are interested in ballet, pay close attention and speak to the dancers so you know when to push the shutter."


"I like to use VSCO (iOS and Android) filters. I use the same exposure, brush and small edits for some moments on Snapseed also (Apple/Android).”


howishoot, tips, user feature, england,

How I Shoot: Capturing Fog in England’s Countryside

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Luke Cotton (@takemeonacruise) shares how he captures and edits foggy scenes from the English countryside.

Buckinghamshire, England, Instagrammer Luke Cotton (@takemeonacruise) doesn’t have to search hard for the beautiful foggy scenes he shares on Instagram. “I live in the English countryside and work as an agronomist, so I’m always outdoors in fields,” Luke says.

Capturing foggy landscapes is an art form, and Luke provided these tips for shooting and editing in foggy conditions:


"I always have my iPhone with me but just recently bought a Fuji x100s to make the most of low light situations.”

Vantage Point

"Trees dominate the landscape where I live, so that’s why I have so many in my feed. I find myself constantly scouting out new solo trees or perspectives. I like vanishing points so try to make the most of what lanes, tracks, fences or hedges can add in terms of leading lines in a photo. I sometimes use a tripod and a timer to add myself to shots—anything to add interest really."


"I try to shoot at golden hour or in fog as it adds drama to the landscape. I follow the weather forecast very regularly looking for signs of mist or fog hopefully combined with some sun. I also track the time of sunrise and sunset. The light at dawn is my favorite, but you need to be up early to make the most of it. It can be frustrating if the conditions aren’t what you expected, but that makes it all the better when you get good shots. There are some lakes near where I live that attract fog so I often head there.”

For photo taking, “I tend to use the Camera+ (iOS) app as the stabilizer function gives a crisp photo.”


"I more often than not edit in VSCO (iOS and Android), but sometimes the filters are too much for the subtle light at dawn, so then I might just tweak the photo a little in Afterlight (iOS). I try and crop to the rule of thirds but sometimes just go with feel.”


howishoot, portrait, wesley taylor,

How I Shoot: Capturing Portraits of Friends with @wesleytaylor

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the setup and process behind their photos and videos. For more portraits from Wesley’s adventures, follow @wesleytaylor on Instagram.

For Instagrammer Wesley Taylor (@wesleytaylor), every portrait is an opportunity to connect more deeply with a friend. “I enjoy shooting portraits because the possibilities are so endless!” he explains. “The range of human emotions is there just waiting to be captured. I love how even the same emotions can look different depending on the person or their surroundings. I get a jolt of adrenaline when I see a portrait begging to be made.”

Want to try your hand at capturing portraits of your friends? Wesley provides the following tips:


iPhone 5

Vantage Point

"The majority of my shoots are spontaneous. Often a patch of light catches my eye, I’ll see a wall that someone matches perfectly, or I’ll have an idea and grab a friend who’s nearby. Over the last year I’ve focused on staying aware of my surroundings and making use of them to the best of my ability.

"Typically I take a quick survey of the surroundings, live in the space for a few minutes when possible, and then decide how my subject could fit in and interact with (or sometimes ignore) what’s going on around them. I’ll look for the way light is hitting a spot, or how the shadows can convey a specific mood."


"Have your subject face toward or stand in the light. Pay attention to what moving them around does to their face, or to the feel of the portrait in general. One quick way to tell if you’re in good light for a close crop: take a picture and check their eyes. For most portraits, even moody ones, you’ll want to use the energy and emotion in their eyes to convey your message. Making sure the face is well-lit also gives a solid base to any portrait.

"For me, using an app that allows me to split and lock focus and exposure is invaluable! I love being able to choose how I want a portrait to look—often it’s a matter of tricking the camera into seeing things the way my eye does. Find the brightest light source, and move the exposure reader closer to it to make the portrait darker or further away to make it brighter. Don’t forget to double-tap to lock it. Always make sure your focus is in the right place—it’s a very simple detail that can make the difference between a perfect or unusable shot.

"Don’t be afraid to take as many shots as you can! Have your subject do different things with their body and hands. Sometimes it’s the ‘in-between’ shot that is the best! Get creative, and always keep shooting. Regardless of what you’re shooting, where you are or what your purpose is, never forget to enjoy the process and the people you’re with. What’s the point otherwise?"


"For the last year or so I’ve used VSCOCam exclusively, with the exception of the native camera app for quick shots. I’ve used a wide variety of apps in the past, but I’ve found that being in control of the focus and exposure combined with the finesse of the tools VSCO provides works best for me. I’m a fan of the film-inspired filters as well, and loved the ability to give the Faces of Friends portraits a uniform look despite the fact they were taken on different days at different times.”


howishoot, swaying structures, hashtag highlight,

How I Shoot: Creating #swayingstructures with @renecharlesrichie

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. For more from René Charles Ritchie’s series, explore the #swayingstructures hashtag and follow @renecharlesritchie on Instagram.

"The moment an iPhone landed in my hands, it was over. I was documenting everything," says Instagrammer René Charles Ritchie (@renecharlesritchie) from Portland, Oregon, who has always been passionate about capturing photos and videos.

One day, when he was out shooting and experimenting with his iPhone’s panorama feature, he ended up with an unexpected effect. “I was taking a vertical panorama photo of a building and didn’t keep the phone straight. The result turned out to be pretty cool.” The accidental tilt as René Charles moved his phone caused a distortion in his photo, making it seem as though the building was swaying or leaning to the side.

"My first couple posts got some really cool feedback," René Charles says. He started a hashtag for the effect, #swayingstructures, and loves seeing how it’s started to catch on in the community. “I actually think a lot of people are better than I am at the technique. I let a few people in on the secret of how to take a #swayingstructures photo and was blown away by their posts. Every time I see one coming through my feed, I get really excited.”

Want to try creating your own #swayingstructures photo? René Charles provides the following tips:


iPhone 4S or above

Vantage Point

"It all depends on what angle you want to get. I usually like my structures to lean up into a vanishing point. To achieve this I stand maybe twenty feet in front of the building. (This often puts me in the middle of the street.)"


"Once you’ve found the building you want to sway, you take a vertical panorama of it. So, instead of side to side, pan upwards. While you are panning upwards, you tilt your phone to the left or right to ‘sway’ the building. I find the best technique is to lock my arms and bend my body rather than just the phone. This helps to get smoother edges. It usually takes me about ten shots before I get one that looks natural."


"I usually use an app called Afterlight (iOS and Android). It has a pretty simple interface and I love the adjustable filters. If I am using a filter, I’ll use Russ, Coral or Lume—and then maybe a little vignette to help with the focal point. I’ve been finding lately, though, that less is more when editing a photo. So I’ll maybe just turn up the shadows 30%, if at all, before posting.”


howishoot, Instagram video, tips, time-lapse,

How I Shoot: @sweatengine on Capturing the Perfect Time-Lapse Video

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Kevin Lu (@sweatengine) shares how he captures time-lapse videos. See more of Kevin’s tips on his website.

Since the launch of video on Instagram last year, New York Instagrammer Kevin Lu (@sweatengine) has been on a quest to perfect the art of capturing time-lapse videos with his iPhone. “Time-lapse" describes the technique of creating a video by stitching together a large sequence of photos taken over time, which makes slow changes appear to happen faster. These days, Kevin’s feed is full of spectacular time-lapse videos from around New York City.

For those interested in trying their hand at capturing a time-lapse video, Kevin provides these tips:


iPhone (4 or later recommended)

Vantage Point

"Choosing an appropriate vantage point is crucial to the success of the result. Often the subject of a time-lapse video is movement itself. Pick a subject that changes, moves slowly over time or makes intermittent, unpredictable movements for interesting results.

"As a rule of thumb, each frame of a time-lapse video should also be as good as a still photograph."


"There are many time-lapse apps available in the App Store. I personally prefer TimeLapse (iOS, $4.99) for its user interface and control settings. Lapse It (iOS and Android, Free) is another popular choice. They all do similar things—the difference is usually in control or output resolution.

"When shooting a time-lapse video, pay attention to the following technical details:

  • Secure the iPhone (on a small tripod or solid object) to eliminate camera shake.
  • Turn off iPhone’s auto-lock feature.
  • Make sure the iPhone has enough battery power.
  • If possible, from your time-lapse app lock the exposure settings before you start shooting. This will get rid of a distracting effect called ‘flickering’.

"The shoot duration, final length, and shutter speed all contribute to how the final video will look. For a final video length of 15 seconds, I typically use the following shoot settings for duration:

  • 5-10 minutes for slow to average city traffic
  • 10-15 minutes for pedestrian traffic
  • 15-20 minutes for clouds
  • 20 minutes or longer for sunrise/sunset

"Of course, as I mentioned earlier, these are not strict rules for this is a dynamic and creative process. It takes patience and practice to get it just right. Some apps let you adjust shutter speed as well. In general you can leave shutter speed on ‘auto.’"


"I do the majority of my editing with an app called Videon (iOS, $4.99). Videon allows me to straighten and sharpen my videos, as well as make adjustments to important parameters such as exposure, contrast, temperature and saturation.

"My editing usually begins with straightening my video, followed by slight sharpening and brightening underexposed shadowy areas. After these adjustments, I trim the video to 15 seconds before exporting it to camera roll. I then use another app called Lumify (iOS, Free) to pair my video with appropriate background music. Frequently I put on an Instagram video filter before I share.”


User Feature, tips, video, howishoot,

How I Shoot: Videos that Tell Stories with @hamadahideaki

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Hideaki Hamada (@hamadahideaki) shares his tips for telling a story using video.

Instagrammer Hideaki Hamada (@hamadahideaki) based in Osaka, Japan, finds his creative inspiration in people. Interested particularly in portraits, Hideaki’s favorite models are his two sons, Haru and Mina. “I try to take photos of scenes with people or anything that hints the presence of people,” he says. “I have always taken pictures of my family and ever since I realized that Instagram is the perfect tool to tell real-time stories about your everyday life, I have been posting multiple times a day.”

When those stories involve movement, sound and atmosphere specific to that moment, Hideaki switches to video.

Here are Hideaki’s tips for making a video which tells a story:

Camera iPhone 4S


  • Think about the structure of the story you want to tell in the video. Hideaki often uses four cuts in his videos which give the story a plot.
  • Just because you are shooting a video, it doesn’t mean you have to capture moving things. The story may gain depth by including both static and dynamic cuts. Hideaki relates this to still photography: “People sometimes gain more inspiration from things that look very insignificant and unrelated.”
  • Look around and decide what the important elements are before you start shooting. Since you will be filming and editing at the same time, get a sense of how to allocate each cut in the 15-second frame.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected and be flexible with your storyline when you film.
  • If you wish to keep an archive of your videos, create an original hashtag like Hideaki’s #hamadafilm.


howishoot, User Feature, puddlegram, nokia lumia, tips,

How I Shoot: Snapping the Perfect #Puddlegram with @mortenordstrom

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. This week, Morten Nordstrøm (@mortenordstrom) shares his tips for capturing and editing the perfect #puddlegram on a Windows phone. Follow him on Instagram for puddle shots of Copenhagen and browse the #puddlegram hashtag for more inspiration!

When Morten Nordstrøm (@mortenordstrom) isn’t working or studying business administration and communications, he’s out showcasing the beauty of Copenhagen, Denmark, as reflected through the city’s many puddles.

Getting the most out of a puddle’s reflection is an art, and Morten offered these tips for capturing and editing a #puddlegram on a Windows phone:


Nokia Lumia 925

Vantage Point

"First of all, when shooting puddlegrams you will obviously need a puddle. The bigger the better, but you will be surprised how little water you need to make a big impact.

"My experience is that I get the best effect when I look for a strong central focal point and try to get some depth in the perspective, maybe even a vanishing point. That’s one of the reasons why the majority of my puddlegrams are shot on streets; they often meet these requirements. Moreover they are often full of life, which gives life to the picture and helps to tell a story.

"If you want to do a proper #puddlegram, make sure your lens is as close to the ground as possible—even if it means you have to turn your device upside-down. It’s a little effort and it makes a huge difference. Moreover, mind the weather. Windy puddles won’t serve you well."


"I often think a lot about my perspective before I shoot. Other times I just walk around and look for details and shoot what I find interesting and inspiring.

"I’m always shooting with my Nokia Lumia 925 and I have been experimenting a lot with the different camera possibilities. Normally I just use the native camera, other times I use the Nokia Pro Camera which gives me more adjustability. My best advice when taking puddlegrams is to experiment with the number of shots you’re taking and see the different outcomes you can get. Analyzing strengths and weaknesses in these will help make you a more skilled puddleshooter!

"Note that people will be looking when you sit down and place your phone in a puddle. But remember, that is only because they don’t know about the magical perspectives you’re capturing. I sometimes pretend to tie my shoe laces, until the largest group of people has passed."


"This is where the magic happens. After extensive exploration of Windows Phone options, I ended up always using the same two apps: the Nokia Creative Studio and an app called Fhotoroom. They are very different but complement each other well. I like to keep things simple and often aim for a high sharpness, cold tones and not too strong colors, since I find them disturbing. Finally, I pay a lot of attention in the cropping process. A good crop can change a picture entirely—and so can a bad one.”