How To Get The Perfect Summer Instagram Photo

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through an Instagram with epic summer photos thinking "how can I make my photos look like that???" 

It's hard to put what's around you into a picture. Sometimes the photo you took just doesn't portray your summers day how you saw it. But there are a few things you can do to help you get the image that you want. You'll be happy to know that you don't need a $2000 camera to achieve this. What it really comes down to is the lighting, the content and the editing. You can get a cool photo if you have a smartphone or any sort of camera. A more expensive camera might give you a crisper outcome that will be amazing quality if you ever decide to print it to billboard size, but for Instagram, it’s really not necessary. A disposable film camera will get you some superior results if you're on a budget especially if you like the vintage summer look.

Here are a few tips to get a perfect summer photo for Instagram:


The content of your photo (what’s is in your picture) should include some summery themes. The ocean, the beach, fruit, the sun, friends having fun or anything you can think of that relates to summer. A good tip is to try and get the horizon as level as possible and the objects in the picture balanced so that there's an even number of things on either side of the photo. If you take a few photos of you and your mates you should choose one that everyone looks good in. They will thank you for it. 


To get a summery feel, most often you don't want your image to be too dark. Lots of photographers slightly over exposure their photos so the colours are lighter. This gives a happy, sunny vibe like the sun was out to play on a hot day. Be conscious of where the sun is in the sky and what happens when it is behind or in front of the people in your photos. Sometimes faces can be in shadow and other times everyone might be squinting into the sun. Warm light can also make your picture more summery. Photos in the late afternoon will be warmer, the colours more orange. Taking a photo on a cloudy day probably won't look so summery.


Editing will help to make your picture more picturesque. Travel bloggers like Lauren Bullen (@Gypsea_lust) use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to help get the perfect tones. You can achieve a similar look with some free smartphone apps and even some of the filters on Instagram. If you want the light summery look to your photo you should increase the exposure, shadows, temperature and highlights. If there is lots of water or ocean in your photo you might find that decreasing the temperature gives the blues and greens a nice tone so it really just depends on the photo and what you like most.

If you want more of a 'film' look then you can put fade and grain onto your photos in an app like VSCO. This app has lots of functions for you to change up your picture. You can use a bunch of filters to get your desired look but the ones I find most helpful are ‘fade’ and ‘shadows tint’. In shadows tint, you can put a bit of colour into the dark areas of your photo. I like to put a bit of orange or red to give it a vintage, warm and summery feel. The photos below are before and after edits done on VSCO cam.

The photo above was taken on a Canon 70D camera and edited with the M5 filter on VSCO mobile app. The shadows and exposure were increased, the temperature was decreased and fade and grain were applied. 

The photo above was taken with an iPhone and edited with the A5 filter on VSCO. Shadows, exposure and temperature were increased and fade and grain were added for a film photo look. 

The above photo was taken on a Canon 70D camera and edited on the Lightroom mobile app. This one has had the exposure, blacks, shadows and temperature increased. Fade was added in VSCO app.

You definitely don’t have to edit your photo but it can help you to achieve a more summery look after the photo has been taken. I like to think of editing like a film being developed in a dark room. Keep in mind that everyone likes different things and will have a different style. This is just how a few people create their photos for Instagram. Play around with the settings on your camera or your phone and learn what you like.

Download VSCO here 

Download Lightroom here


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