Do you want to make your Instagram photos stand out? These 6 tricks are all about using natural light to make your photos stand out on Instagram. And it’s very easy to do!

You don’t need a DSRL. Your iPhone or Android phone is perfect to use all these tricks.

I am loving one Instagram account at the moment: @katgaskin. So I will use Kat’s photos to illustrate my points.

Kat is using all these little tricks to make her photos POP!
I am sure you have liked one of her photo once in your life – this is how eye-catching they are.


1. Silhouettes

Silhouettes are amazing to convey drama, mystery, emotion and mood to the viewers. They are a unique way to visualize the world.

Silhouette photos often stand out on Instagram because they are simple. And they tell a story. The viewers use their imagination to wonder about that silhouette.



  • Choose a strong subject: like a person, a big object like a bridge, a coconut tree, a house etc…
  • Hide the sun behind the subject for a cool effect
  • The photo will be better if the background is simple and bright (like a sunset)
  • Don’t use flash
  • Force your camera to set its exposure on the brightest part of your photo (the background) and not the subject
  • Focus on the subject to make the silhouette sharp (almost black)

2. Reflections

Reflections come in many different forms.
Find a reflective surface: water, mirrors, glass, metal, varnished wood, sunglasses, shiny cars…



  • Take the photo from different angles. The angle of the light affects the reflection. Explore different viewpoints to find the angle where the reflection is the most visible. Sometimes you might have to go down on your knees.
  • Get close to the reflective surface for a dramatic effect.
  • Lighting is important to make the subject stand out in the reflection.
  • Lighting coming from behind the subject or above the subject is usually better (like a sunrise or sunset).
  • Focus on symmetry for a dramatic look.
  • Focus your camera lens on the water for an even more dramatic look.
  • Avoid flash.

3. Shadows

Our eyes don’t pay attention to shadows. But if you train yourself to see through the eyes of your camera, you will take photos that will stand out.

Shadows give photos another dimension.



  • Make the shadow your main subject.
  • A background with only one color is better.
  • Shoot in harsh sunlight (mid-day) to get dark & dramatic shadows.
  • Increase contrast a bit more to make these shadows pop.
  • Try to turn your photo in black & white for a dramatic effect.
  • Turn your photo upside down to make the photo stand out even more. Rotate in the Photo Editor.
  • Shadows will be long at sunrise or sunset (when the sun is low in the sky).

4. Negative space

Negative space is the space / emptiness around your subject. The space will make the subject in your photo stand out. It will attract the viewer’s attention.

People love photos with a lot of background and not many details in them.

According to research, photos that have more background and less close-up get 30% more likes on Instagram. Source

Using negative space is great for:

  • A minimalist Instagram theme.
  • To make your feed more “scrollable” (photos with negative space act as breaks for our eyes).
  • To make your subject stand out.



  • Clean and simple background is better.
  • Use the rule of odds.
  • Use the rule of thirds.
  • Use a lot of space around your subject.

5. New angles

A great way to capture the eyes of the viewers is by taking photos from completely different angles than we are used to.

Photos taken in different angles distracts us when we scroll down. They are unusual and intriguing. They make us tap to see more.



  • Stand up on a chair (for food & fashion photography)
  • Get close to the ground (for landscape photography)
  • Shoot along a wall (for fashion & landscape photography)

6. Saturation

According to research, images with lower saturation get 18% more like than those with more saturation. Source

But I think it depends on what your subject is.

For example, a highly saturated sunset will get a lot of likes. Similarly, a saturated plate of food will attract our attention more.

2016 has been the year of saturation. Photos with high contrast and saturation seem to dominate.



  • The level of saturation will depends on your Instagram theme.
  • Avoid using too many colors in one photo (unless you have a colorful theme).
  • Keep your saturated photos simple. People will “double-tap” more.
  • Increase saturation to make the colors pop.
  • Decrease saturation if you want a minimal, monochrome theme.

Pro Tip

You can combine photography tricks to make your photos pop.

For example: Negative space + silhouette.

Taking photos is an art, not a science. Now that you know some tricks, just go out and experiment. Have fun!

Until next time, see you on Instagram!

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