Instagram Photography for Community Managers: How To Get Fans To Double-Tap That

The list of things a community manager needs to know seems to keep growing. It now includes everything from writing abilities, to analytics assessment, to a sense of humor paired with a sensei-level patience. With the high engagement rates that we typically see on posts containing visual content, here’s one more to be added to the list: photography skills.

Gone are the days of stale stock photography and repurposed print content – which is a great thing – so here are some guidelines to ensure your own photos are top-notch, thumb-stopping and thoroughly engaging on Instagram (and across the web).


You can always count on the rule of thirds to keep your photo game in check – which is what you’re really supposed to do with that pesky grid that pops up on your phone’s photo feature. But here are some extra composition tips you can use:

– Center your subject! While you’re at it, why not play with a little symmetry?


It’s all like, centered. And like, the same, but different.

– Make great use of your negative space:


Nothing negative about these spaces.

– Or you can fill your frame almost entirely with your subject! Just make sure your choice is deliberate:


Feast your eyes on this full frame fest!

– Watch your lines. Keep everything “feng-shui” by paying attention to where the leading lines in your image are. You want to make sure they emphasize your subject, not take away from it.


Can I play wit yo composition lines?


GET OUTSIDE and shoot with natural lighting! If you absolutely can’t, get near a window or set up a lighting kit. Indoor lighting like strobes and umbrellas or softboxes will help you achieve good lighting, but stay AWAY from direct flash. Those photos look yucky and cheap (technical terms).


This setup plus a few rearrangements later equaled this image for @vidalsassoonproseries. #ThatCMLifeThough


This goes without saying, but you should always ask yourself if the what in your photo matters to your who. Always make sure your photo tells a story about your brand, and isn’t just arbitrary. Your fans are following you for a reason, so stick to that reason like white on rice.


@chobani is all like, “This is pretty and you can eat it, too!” with different and unexpected ways to eat yogurt.

You can always get creative when it’s time to announce new products, promotions, or important offerings that you’d like your fans and followers to know about.


@starbucks reminds fans that when life gives you lemons, you can take a gorgeous photo. Jeez, this is pretty.


Simply put, cut the crap. Crop out anything that’s going to take away from your photo, and let one main thing be the focus of your image. Don’t tell multiple stories because it might get visually confusing.


@fresheffects before and after photo of some port-a-potties. The “after” makes toilets almost dreamy.

1112 – This amazing photographer thought of everything: the composition, the lines, the focus and the crop. See those windows disappear at the top? See the booth lineup nicely with the frame? See the horizontal lines all in complete agreement? The after to this before is bloody brilliant. 


There are many apps out there that can help improve your photo even further. Just remember not to rely on them before you shoot. Think of these apps as accessories. Super awesome accessories, though.

13Afterlight – Generally great vintage filters and light manipulation tools.

sparkSparkmode (formerly Mirrorgram) – Creates a mirror image of your photo, relying on symmetry and awesomeness to fashion new compositions.

15PicFX – More filters, and fun add-ons like bokeh lights and frames.


VSCO Cam – One of the most popular apps to add filters and make your photos seem so much cooler. 

Take a Step Back: the Overarching Picture

This is the most difficult of all categories. Does your image, no matter how different its subject matter, fit within your entire body of work as a channel? The litmus test is obviously looking at it all together. If you hid the brand name at the top of the page, all your content should speak to a cohesive, consistent story throughout. That story is really what social media is all about anyway – so stay true to your brand.

Nike is obviously a pro at it. Get it, pro? Like a sports pro. Okay, bye.

Nike is obviously a pro at it. Get it, pro? Like a sports pro. Okay, bye.

Now you can add photographer to your list of community manager-related skills. Remember that simplicity is always your friend and get to snapping. Follow these tips and to improve your social media photography skills. Embrace them and get ready see the double-taps rain on your brand!

Ignite Social Media