How to Shoot Photos for Instagram

Get concrete tips for how to photograph your artwork for better performance on Instagram.

Find out how to create a stronger engagement with your audience by shooting photos that represent your creative process as an artist in a manner that is visually stimulating and also informative.

Specifics such as how to set up your process, what angles to take, and how to balance your posts are all explained, Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Deepti Menon & Cat Huang.

Mia Rozear
Mia Rozear

Video Walkthrough

  • Photos for Instagram are very different than photos for an artist website.
  • Photos for an artist website should be clean, cropped and show only the finished artwork.
  • Instagram photos should be a lot more casual, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at an artist.
  • Get ideas for types of photos to shoot by looking at other artists’ Instagrams.
  • Instagram exercise: Observe your own behavior.
  • Scroll through your feed and take notes on which photos get you to stop scrolling, which ones annoy you, which ones you like or comment on.
  • Use this as a strategy for how you can change your approach on your own Instagram.
  • Cat’s observations from this exercise: she always tapped on a photo of the artist, and feeds that had diverse photos were more engaging.
  • Ask yourself: what is your story that you want to tell on Instagram?
  • Who are you, and how can you share that with your audience?
  • Photos for Instagram Stories are different than photos for Instagram posts.
  • Photos for Instagram Stories tend to be a lot more fun, casual, in the moment, silly.
  • The people who look at your Instagram Stories are often your biggest fans.
  • Shoot photos of your art tools and materials.
  • Your tools and materials help tell your story and reveal what your process is like as an artist.
  • Place the tools next to the artwork; this shows scale and also connects the material with the artwork.
  • Show your hands in your photos, it can create an intimate look at your process.
  • Hands show how someone can interact with your work as an object.
  • Hands quickly communicate scale in a way that a text caption cannot.
  • Have a variety of photos that are very close up views of your artwork, and others that are from very far away.
  • Show your face, at least once in a while.
  • Many people are nervous about showing their face, but it can be really helpful to let people see who you are to create a following.
  • You don’t need a fancy glamour shot to show your face!
  • Photos of you in the studio, or even sitting at a cafe with a sketchbook are effective.
  • Showing what you’re drawing is a great way to show your inspiration and the development of the artwork.
  • If you’re drawing a landscape, take a photo of the landscape.
  • Show the reference photo of you’re using one.
  • People love seeing WIP and sketches, often it’s infuriating how a sketch can perform much better than a finished artwork!
  • Show the progress of your artwork, it can build anticipation and your audience becomes invested in your process.
  • Take very close up detail shots of your artwork to show details that would otherwise not be seen in a photo of the entire artwork.
  • Carousel posts are very handy, you can put 10 images into a single post.
  • Make sure all the images in your carousel posts are related somehow.
Drawing Crabs, Mia Rozear
Mia Rozear

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

One of the biggest hurdles in terms of establishing an online presence is having a big stock of photos. Sounds simple, but often people don’t think to take photos of their work and studio space, or they don’t shoot enough photos.

Instagram: Clara Lieu

Instead, try to incrementally snap a photo here and there when you remember. That way, when you need to post something, it doesn’t feels so daunting since the photos are ready to go.

I have tons of broll footage, photos of everything that I’ve accumulated over the years. You can keep using this stock over the years, it’s hilarious to me how often I will use photos from 6 years ago!

Drawing a Male Portrait in Soft Pastel, Clara Lieu
Drawing a Male Torso & Portrait

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