To find success on the Instagram platform, you’re going to need eye-catching Instagram photos.

As a social platform built on videos and imagery, ensuring top-notch visual content should be your number one priority. Followers matter, of course – but they won’t come knocking without unique, quality uploads. That’s how you build your audience in the first place, after all.

While plenty of apps now exist to enhance raw photos, it’s important to note how to take a high-quality one in the first place.

So, What Makes a Good Instagram Photo?


Ever see a fuzzy, pixelated image appear on the Explore feed? Probably not, since these types of photos are often scrolled right over on people’s feeds. On the contrary, the types of photographs you’ll often see on Explore are crisp, detailed, and present a clear view of the subject matter.

Instagram travel influencer

Viewers aren’t able to appreciate a blurry photo – but one that displays a sharp look at the person or object. (In fact, an old case study by Curalate showed that pictures with more apparent texture generated more likes than those that didn’t.)

Good Lighting

As with our first point, presentation matters. A photo that’s dull or darkly-lit will often be overlooked compared to those with vibrant, flattering lighting.

Brunette girl posing for camera

Lighting can help set the mood for your photos, enhancing your narrative in selective ways. Warm lighting can help create a more romantic, feel-good vibe, displaying less shadows and contrast.

On the flipside, harsh lighting can be used to convey a darker, more brazen story; offering greater contrast and deeper shadows.

The right lighting evokes the right emotions from your audience. It plays a vital part in storytelling through photography. Generally, it’s recommended to make use of natural light, though this can also be easily staged with the right equipment.

Proper Composition

Composition dictates what visually appears in your frame. Good composition will appropriately direct the viewer’s attention, helping them see your photograph as intended. This is where you determine your primary subjects, and what you wish to exclude.

There aren’t any hard and fast rules on what proper composition should entail, but your primary goal is to communicate a clear message, by displaying all the necessary visual information in your shot.

Person holding polaroid photo

Consider any lines or forms that may help guide the viewer, or whether you’ve centered your most important elements. You may also want to implement the Rule of Thirds – in which your core focus takes up at least two thirds of the frame.

A Distinct Visual Style

Finally, a quality Instagram feed won’t catch attention without a unique aesthetic and style. High quality photographs are all around us, but they’ll rarely stop a passing viewer unless they offer something new.

The best of Instagram know all the tips and tricks for high-quality photography; but those who build a steady, loyal following can offer exceptional visual concepts to boot.

Murad Osmann - #followmeto series

Courtesy of muradosmann (Instagram account).

For example, plenty of professional photographers can expertly capture travel shots of landmarks and landscapes. It was Murad Osmann’s creative “#followmeto” series, however, that made internet waves; conveying POV shots of him led by his wife into some of the world’s most iconic locations.

The 7 Best Apps For Better Instagram Photos

Editing your photo in post can help remove any errors or unnecessary elements, but snapping the right image the first time can save you hours of frustrated tweaking in Photoshop.

Unfortunately, some edits just can’t be avoided. And sometimes, you may just want to add that extra bit of “oomph” to turn your Instagram photo from “good” to great. 

Below are some of the best mobiles apps for editing your shots, giving your overall feed an instant aesthetic boost.

Snapseed – Edit Your Instagram Photos to Perfection

Snapseed is a favorite for any Instagrammer, with a complete toolkit for all your filter and editing needs.

The app is currently available on both Android and Apple devices. Its interface is simple to use, with a collection of functions that range from basic to advanced-level edits.

Snapseed features - iPhone Photography School

Courtesy of iPhone Photography School.

Users are offered with flexible tools that allow them to adjust the framing, colors, and lighting of their photographs. Additionally, Snapseed provides an incredibly useful “brush” function. This allows users to delicately tweak specific areas of your Instagram photo – including the ability to remove minor, unnecessary elements or imperfections.

Snapseed app features - Apple Store

Courtesy of the Apple Store.

Additionally, users can choose from a generous collection of pre-made filters. These range from soft, glowy styles to sharp, cartoonish aesthetics. Selfie-takers can make use of the app’s face-enhancement tools, adding emphasis to certain features or smoothing out any blemishes.

HUJI – Give Your Instagram Photos a Vintage Touch

Love the look and feel of 90’s style photographs? HUJI caters to the inner hipster in all of us, offering both a camera and photo-editing app that captures shots in retro, polaroid styles.

HUJI app

Courtesy of HUJI app.

Celebrating the look of analog film, HUJI primarily functions as an alternative smartphone camera. Users are treated to the look of an old, disposable cam, where a preview of your Instagram photo is seen through a tiny viewfinder in the upper left-hand corner.

Simply snap your photo, and the app immediately “develops” it, generating your shot with an overlayed grainy filter. These resulting photos can be found in the app’s built-in gallery, often with added lens flares that harken back to flawed “analog” aesthetics.

HUJI app - Google Play store

Courtesy of the Google Play store.

HUJI is the ideal app for anyone (on Android and Apple) looking to give their photos that kick of nostalgia.

Picframe – Create Beautiful Photo Collages

Looking to share a handful of shots, all in the same Instagram photo?

Look no further than Picframe – an app that easily compiles multiple shots into an attractive collage.

Users are offered with 36 frame designs to choose from. All frames are customizable, with adjustable borders, colors, and shapes. Depending on how you’d like to display your shots, you can also choose from six ratio formats – including the typical 1:1 Instagram photo ratio.

Picframe app - Google Play store

Courtesy of the Google Play Store.

In addition to arranging your photos in a single frame, the app provides a selection of filters, text, and stickers you can add to your design. You may also edit each individual photo, adjusting their colors, brightness, and contrast as needed.

Picframe features - Google Play store

Courtesy of the Google Play Store.

Both Apple and Android users can enjoy this app for just $2.99. In addition to direct publishing on Instagram, the app also shares to Facebook, Twitter, and through your personal e-mail.

Facetune – Achieve Picture-Perfect Selfies

Though a rather controversial Instagram photo tool, Facetune remains as one of the best, high-level editors for serial selfie-takers.

Available on both Android and Apple devices, Facetune allows users to tweak their portraits to literal perfection; offering enhancements from teeth-whitening to literal facial restructures.

Facetune app features - Google Play store

Courtesy of Google Play Store.

As such, the app has raised questions on dishonest beauty standards in the Instagram community, along with its socio-emotional impact on the self-esteem of young teens.

It’s therefore recommended to tread Facetune’s features with caution, keeping edited photos as authentic-looking as possible. Nevertheless, the app provides a generous collection of editing tools.

Facetune selfie - The Verge

Courtesy of The Verge.

Users can remove any subtle imperfections with Facetune’s skin-smoothing functions, enhance eye appearance, or even add virtual makeup. Of course, a wide range of filters is also provided to further spice up your photo.

Whatever you need for that perfect selfie, Facetune’s got your back.

Canva – Create Professional Graphic Images

Also a well-renowned desktop tool, the Canva app allows users to design professional-looking graphics in a matter of seconds.

The app offers an a versatile toolkit for any graphic design or style – be it flyers, posters, logos, or the ideal Instagram photo.

Canva app

Courtesy of the Google Play store.

Users can choose from a ready-made design or start completely from scratch. The editing suite offers about 60,000 free templates, all created by top-notch graphic designers. You’ve also got a generous range of stock photos, vector images, and illustrations to choose from and add to your design.

Of course, most professional graphics aren’t complete with a striking text design. Canva provides over 500 font options, all adjustable in size, spacing, position, and color.

Canva app - Google Play store

Courtesy of the Google Play Store.

Additionally, you can use their image editor to add basic tweaks to existing photos, including their brightness, contrast, colors, and more.

This app is currently available on both Android and Apple devices, completely for free.

Prisma – Turn Your Instagram Photos Into Works of Art

Consider yourself a fan of traditional art? With the Prisma app, you can transform your ordinary photos into instant iconic paintings.

A popular photo editor among art geeks and photographers alike, Prisma offers a library of over 300 filters to give your photo that artistic boost. Whether you’re a fan of Munch, Dali, or Picasso – you’re sure to find an art style to suit your aesthetic.

Prisma app - Google Play store

Courtesy of the Google Play Store.

Watch as the elements of your raw photo turn into gorgeous oil paintings or wacky mosaics. If you’re looking to give your feed an instant eye-catching factor, Prisma’s photo effects will surely deliver.

Prisma app features - iMOBDEV Technologies

Courtesy of iMOBDEV Technologies.

The best part is, new art filters are released every single day. You can also join Prisma’s “Creators Community”, where you can share your creations and gain inspiration from other users.

Font Candy – Add Striking Text To Your Instagram Photos

A little bold text can do wonders for an otherwise ordinary photo.

With Apple’s Font Candy photo editor, you can turn your photos in to graphic text images in seconds. The app offers a wide collection of over 45 artistic fonts – all with fully adjustable features.

Font Candy app

Courtesy of the Apple Store.

Edit their curves, adjust their opacity, and add shadows for an interesting touch. Animation tools are also available for an extra element of fun. If you’re looking for memorable quotes to use, the app also offers a library of pre-designed quotes and statements.

Once you’re done, you can even add a watermark to ensure brand ownership.

This app is not only perfect for designing an Instagram photo, but for anyone looking to create posters, t-shits, or even iPhone cases.

Creating a Unique, Consistent Visual Theme

Creating the ideal Instagram photo is important, yes – but so is the overall aesthetic of your feed.

Having a distinct, consistent theme among your posts can help you build your individuality as a brand. With a distinguishable style, you’ll stand out from the crowd of billions of users; many of whom also sport high-quality photographs.

Consistent theme on Instagram - innisfree.instalog

Courtesy of innisfree.instalog (Instagram account).

A good visual theme offers an attractive, pleasing color pallette. This can evolve over time, and many profiles tend to transition from one color scheme to the next. Unique composition techniques and outstanding visual concepts all contribute to an effective profile aesthetic, as well.

For example, Vanessa of the “@sparklesandbloom” Instagram profile (pictured above) displays an appealing color scheme of whites, pastel pinks, blues, and yellows.

sparklesandbloom Instagram account

Courtesy of sparklesandbloom (Instagram account).

Her photos evoke a consistently sweet, dainty feel. They feature her child, DIY projects, and her daily life as a mom.

To find success with your Instagram photos – determine your niche, and develop a distinct, original style surrounding it. Being able to visually plan your entire feed helps, which is why we recommend….

Later – The Ultimate Instagram Planner

Later markets itself as Instagram’s #1 marketing platform, and they’ve got the features to show for it. Not only does this app allow you to schedule your posts in advance, it also provides an innovative visual calendar for overlooking your pre-planned feed.

Instagram scheduler - Later

Courtesy of Later.

Later allows users to import their all necessary media content from their computer, Dropbox, and Google Drive. You can further organize these photos with labels for easier navigation. Then, simply drag and drop your photos to their Visual Instagram Planner. This lets you preview how they tie in together, helping you maintain a consistently-themed, cohesive feed.

Visual planning with Later

Courtesy of Later.

You can then schedule your photos for automatic posting. Business profiles get the extra advantage of auto-publishing right to their feed, while personal Instagram accounts will receive push notifications prior to uploading.

Instagram post scheduling with Later

Courtesy of Later.

With a convenient visual planner and easy scheduling features, Later helps in your Instagram growth – by automating regular uploads and ensuring a well-assembled feed.

Create Better-Looking Instagram Photos Today!

Creating a successful Instagram feed has become increasingly challenging as the platform continues to grow. You needn’t be an expert photographer off the bat, however; what matters is continuous improvement with your content, style, and overall aesthetic.

These online tools are an easy way of experimenting with such, helping you achieve quality Instagram photos for any niche or online community. Whether it’s an artsy-fartsy Pinterest-look, or simply a well-polished selfie, these apps are sure to serve your needs.

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