Between the filters, the Gaussian blur, and the "creative" photo angles using a phone produces, getting a reasonably flattering picture on Instagram can seem like a challenge. Fortunately, there are a some easy and smart ways to make sharing your #selfie on the popular picture-taking app work in your favor. So before you start showing off your holiday hair and makeup, check out five simple ways to get better Instagram results when you read more.
1. Choose your filters wisely
Did you know that differently colored lights can make your skin tone and hair appear prettier? It's the reason soft, pink sunsets and candlelight are both known for their beauty-boosting prowess. The same holds true for Instagram filters. While you may like the low-fidelity look of the Lomo-Fi filter, the orange-brown color distortion can make everything from under-eye bags to blemishes stand out. Instead, stick with a filter that makes your photos a little brighter (unless you're already using flash) and has a subtle gold or rose tinge. Try the Valencia filter if you have ruddy skin, or the Hudson if you tend to look a little gray or orange in photos.
2. Keep your chin down
Compose yourself before you shoot by tilting your chin down slightly (not too much or you'll give yourself a case of digital fivehead), and try to hold your phone slightly above your head. Holding your camera below the plane of your face creates a "heavy" image that makes your chin and jaw look wider. If that's something you want, then go ahead. Otherwise, try to keep your lens a little bit higher than the actual center of your face.
3. Know your lighting situation
Camera phones are notorious for taking abysmally dark pictures, so Instagram tries to compensate by offering filters that lighten things up. Sometimes, this is a great thing, and if your photos are dark, filters like Amaro (which basically mimics a flash) and Walden can be a great asset. However, if you're taking pictures under good lighting conditions or have a smartphone with a flash, brightening filters can make images seem flatter, so your face and body look less contoured.
4. Focus, focus, focus
If your camera has a focus tool (usually activated by tapping your desired focal point a couple of times), you should always use it before you snap your image. Why? You'll get a photo that centers on what you're actually interested in showing people, and a well-focused photo is a prettier, more interesting photo. Showing off a braid? Don't be afraid to focus in on your plait, then. It doesn't mean that the rest of your face needs to be blurred or left out, but it will make your image more interesting and appealing. This is where putting a frame around your image (use the picture frame icon) can really help, too.
5. Blur wisely
The blur tool on Instagram (it's the little water droplet icon) is great for taking out extraneous background stuff that's not pretty or important, like the garbage bin in your bathroom or an errant body part from someone standing next to you. It's not, however, very good for using up close. It's tempting to make those stray hairs blur into oblivion, but it also creates a weird artificial line between blurred and crisp that's very noticeable on a human body or face.