Snapping my outfits quickly with my iPhone before I leave the house has changed the way I share my passions online and introduced me to a whole new world of “everyday fashionistas”. The photos I posted when I started using Instagram were quite crude, kind of boring and lacked a bit of imagination. It’s only after a few months of watching, engaging and learning about instagram and outfit photos in general that I’ve picked up a few tricks to make your outfit photos as awesome as they should be and gain new followers and countless ‘likes’. I’m in the process of putting everything I’ve learnt into practice myself so please don’t consider me an expert on the topic, just enthusiastic. Below I have critiqued a few random outfit photos that I thought everyone could learn from and hopefully be inspired by.
CASUAL: This is how most newbies start out sharing their outfits on Instagram as it’s simple and gets the job done. Using a full length mirror is the key to getting your entire outfit in the frame without the need for a tripod or a unwilling assistant. If you’re anonymous online and prefer to keep your face hidden that is completely fine, thousands of people never show their face leaving the emphasis on the clothes.
CLEAN: Take it up a notch by concentrating on photography basics like lighting and composition. This woman is using a full length mirror as well but she’s created a frame within a frame, using the textured brick wall to give the photo depth. It’s also a great example of “the rule of thirds” a composition technique which breaks up an image into three equal parts which can be done vertically or horizontally. Imagine three vertical columns within this image, one being brick, one being the woman and the last one brick, it gives a sense of balance to the photo. Also you can tell she’s in a well lit place (possibly a store) with downlights, one directly above her so you can see her hair catching the light and another just behind casting an interesting shadow at her feet. She’s not being overly dramatic with her posing and she’s not even looking at the camera but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to share.
KOOKY: See the three columns I was talking about, even though these are three totally separate photos melded together using an App (I’ll list some cool ones at the end) by using the rule of thirds as well as a basic colour palette in her outfit the image still feels balanced. Her face isn’t really shown but her clothes say a lot about who she is and the possibility of finding out more draws you into the image. If she’d taken a photo like the woman with the brick wall it may appear to be a pretty basic outfit, without the close up shots you’d miss the little details like the small silver love heart on her glasses or the sweet tiny jade earrings. The details make you unique. Natural light is the best way to show off details or texture in an outfit, she seems to be standing near a large window which creates subtle shadows adding interest to the image.
FOCUSED: As you can tell the three columns thing is pretty popular and that’s because it’s effective, you can cram much more information about your outfit into one single Instagram frame. Here she’s taken a casual full body outfit photo, presumably at night time with a ceiling light a few feet behind her as a backlight and a busy cluttered background. The picture is grainy due to lack of exposure and the dirty mirror isn’t helping things either. If she’d posted this on it’s own I wouldn’t have clicked on it but by adding another two images which are clearer and more detailed I was drawn into the texture of her outfit and look she created. Sometimes piecing together parts of your look can be more effective than presenting it in one shot.
OTT: If you can’t decide which full body photo to focus on as your main image delete them all and start again. I like that she’s chosen to showcase her amazing make up, I mean check out her eyebrows, cheeks and lips! But rather than see the other three photos of her standing in almost the same position (simply because she couldn’t choose which facial expression she liked best) I would have loved to have seen a close up of her watch and perfectly rolled cuff or the buttons on her denim shirt and cardigan. No one needs to see your head cocked at three different angles. Also it’s not for everyone but a colourful frame that coordinates with your outfit can make your photo pop in a feed and draw more attention.
MULTIPLE: If you like posed photographs, want to show of the versatility of your outfit, movement or just simply can’t decide on which one to publish, this might be your answer. It can be extremely dramatic if done correctly and only if there is something really different about each one. Tilting your head from the left and to the right doesn’t count. Unlike the other examples this was taken by someone else but you get the general idea. It is also the first one taken outside in natural light, it makes a huge difference to the colour and clarity of the image. You’ll also notice he’s forgone the frames and somewhat blended the images which is made easier by the blank uncluttered background.
MAGICAL: Stylish kids on Instagram are easy to come by and not just girls either. I liked the simplicity, three frames featuring a full body shot then a close up of her hair and one of her shoes. You get to see the whole outfit but the finer details of it too. This is a great example of how even just the subtlest filters can add a touch of magic to a photo without getting too over the top or serious. Just don’t get carried away, sure you want the photo to look awesome but don’t distract from the outfit, making sure people are able to see it is the whole point after all.
POP: This is the mother of the little girl above and she’s just as playful as her daughter when it comes to fashion it seems. Most outfit photos tend to be full body shots so you don’t see square frames very often but it’s perfect for detailed shots like these. Without seeing the entire outfit front and center we’re forced to piece together bits of the puzzle ourselves creating interest in the viewer who is then drawn into the fun, colour and details. She’s done it her own way and it’s worked, don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for you.
ANGLES: Another example of a four square layout this time without the frame. What I like about this one is that each photo is taken from a completely different angle; downward at the shoes, across from the shirt, down at the ring and upwards to her face. A seemingly basic outfit with little detail is made much more interesting by its composition in both capture and edit as well as the use of light. Remember that there is more than one way to look at the world and even more ways to capture it.
CLIMATE: Outfit photos flood instagram from all over the world and it’s not uncommon to see a swimsuit in one photo and the next is someone showing off their new ski pants. I thought this was a cute example of how to record what you’re wearing and why you’re wearing it, in turn making the photo more personable with the viewer as it’s like a story all in its self. You can tell she’s not particularly pleased by the forecast by her expression and she shows the viewer how she intends to get through the cold including a textured close up of layers she’s wearing and her chilly toes warming in the morning sun.
ENVIRONMENT: Most of us dress to reflect our environment, where we work/rest/play so why not ditch the blank wall and incorporate your surroundings to create a dynamic photo giving the viewer a little more depth into who you are and what you do. This man is at work in a barber shop, you can tell by the products, chairs and posters around him. From his watch you can see that he’s just started his day and possibly waiting on a client. When maintaining appearances is your job you take care in the finer details and he’s shown the viewer his favourite piece in his outfit, the little astronaut which goes completely unnoticed otherwise. Tell your viewers a story, excite their imagination but most importantly be engaging.
DETAILS: Sometimes it’s not what you wear but how you adorn it and this woman has drawn attention away from her clothes and put the focus on her bling by dominating the space with close ups of her finery. What makes this successful is that the composition and lighting of each close up image is quite similar, if they weren’t the five frames could easily look cluttered making it an unattractive image for the viewer despite how awesome her outfit might be. With a photo like this I’d also recommend the less filters the better, keep it simple.
TUTORIAL: There are quite a few instructional Instagram photos in cooking and beauty categories but I’ve only seen a few in fashion. I liked how this woman shows the viewer how she layers a basic dress to create a finished outfit. Breaking down the process into separate stages/photos makes it easier to see what’s going on and can inspire the viewer to try and recreate the look themselves. What comes easily to you might not be so easy for others and to share your knowledge and be considered as someone useful or informative, you’ve created value for that viewer and essentially gained a passionate follower who will then share their discovery (you!) with others.
On that note I hope you’ve gained a few ideas from this post and that it has pushed you to experiment a little further with your outfit photos or at least encouraged you to give Instagram outfit photos a go, it’s really not that scary. The Apps listed below is all you really need (in my opinion) for awesome outfit photos and I hope you start utilising them straight away. Please feel free to note what Apps you use as well as your Instagram username in the comments section of this post so we can all follow along. Tomorrow I’ll go into a bit more detail about my favourite photography apps and share some examples of how you can use them.
Feeds are fueled by hashtags (#) it’s a way of streaming data and keeping it organised by grouping similar images and content together. Simply add one or more of these by typing them into the description in each outfit photo you upload and it will be instantly added to the associated feed making it easier for your potential new followers to find you. I’d also recommend tagging the labels you’re wearing (ex: #target pants, #countryroad top, #wittner shoes) as it can help fine tune a search even more and help your followers see which brands you love. Note: If you forget to include a hashtag you can always include it in the comments after it’s been published, it will still be effective.
- #ootd (outfit of the day)
- #danifashion (my personal outfit feed I created)
- #motd (makeup of the day)
- #wiwt (what I wore today)
So there you go! All this week I’ll be talking about my love of Instagram, sharing a few projects for crafts and gifts as well as ways you can incorporate the images into your blogging routine to increase your networking and exposure, hopefully turning you into a certified “IGer” (Instagramer). Don’t want to miss a post? You can subscribe and get them sent straight to your inbox otherwise check back in tomorrow to see the next instalment… happy snapping!
I’d like to say thank you dear fashionable strangers for being unknowing participants in this post and sharing a snippet of your life and sense of style with us, I hope you see this as a constructive and helpful post that will bring new followers your way.