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Instagram Photos: Secrets From the Pros

Instagram Pros and Tips

Instagram Pros and Tips

You know when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and come across a photo that stops you in your tracks? Well, like most people, you probably wonder how someone can take such a great photo. Granted, a good photographic eye is key, but that’s just the beginning.

I had the pleasure of interviewing four Instagram Pro’s and got them to spill a few of their best-kept photo secrets that will have your photos going from amateur to gallery-worthy in no time.


Ashley Brooke Designs, 117K followers

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Ashley Brooke is the owner and creative director of Ashley Brooke Designs. She has a background in interior design and is a self-taught illustrator. The ABD blog (aka the happy place) is where Ashley Brooke shares secrets and swaps stories of her daily living; Playfully giving her two cents on fashion, beauty, décor, travel, and entertainment. She is passionate about creating a collection of lifestyle products that are encouraging, useful, and a little bit sassy.

1. What is/are your favorite Instagram photo editing app(s), and why? 
Oh gosh, there are so many, but I really love ColorStory and PS Express. ColorStory is great for pumping up the saturation and adding natural filters and PS Express is a tiny version of photoshop!

2. What makes a great Instagram photo?
Personally, I think composition, attention to color, and the use of white space make a great photo. Everyone has their own style, but those are the things I look for when instagraming for ABD!

3. What are the “Do’s and Dont’s” of photo captions and hashtags?
There really isn’t a right and wrong way, just a preference! I prefer 1-4 relevant hashtags at most, and captions that aren’t just statements. I like to use captions that get a reaction or response! I love using social media to be “social”!


STIL Classics, 21.2K followers

STIL Classics

Marissa Cristina is the founder and principal designer at STIL Classics, a company she founded in April 2016 and that was rebranded from Design Love Co. STIL Classics uses proponents of Swiss and Dutch design principles to create organizational luxury products for the modern working woman. STIL’s products are functional, sophisticated and timeless.

1. What is/are your favorite Instagram photo editing app(s), and why? 

My favorite photo editing app is VSCO Cam for sure, but a close second is Afterlight which I use for its amazing clarity feature.

2. What makes a great Instagram photo?
I think what makes a great instagram photo is really up to your followers. For us we find that a really solid flatlay often does the trick. There is really nothing better than a good flatlay using some of our favorite products or showing our customers how to use our planner.

3. What are the “Do’s and Dont’s” of photo captions and hashtags?
I think as a general rule only ever use 3 – 5 hashtags. When you are tagging people in captions, never mention more than 3 people. If you have to mention more than three tag them in your photo instead.


Emily Quinton, 80.2K followers

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Emily is a photographer, writer, blogger and maker who has worked as a professional photographer for a decade. She creates images on both her iPhone and DSLR, every single day, to build a visual journal and as a way of making time for a daily creative meditation.

1. What is/are your favorite Instagram photo editing app(s), and why?
Without a doubt it is PicTapGo. I have tried so many but always come back to this one. It’s easy to use while still having so much control. It suits my style of photography perfectly. I have been using products by the team behind this app (Totally Rad) for years, so when they launched PicTapGo I knew I would love it.

2. What makes a great Instagram photo?
An image that stops you in your tracks and makes you stand still for a moment. We are all bombarded by so much content and life is so busy that we need images that help us to slow down and savour the moment of looking and being inspired. To create an image like this you need good, natural light, great composition and a good visual story.

3. What are the “Do’s and Dont’s” of photo captions and hashtags?
Do put a caption on your image but don’t turn it into an essay. Write a blog post if you have lots to say and link to that instead! Short and sweet but engaging. Funny is good too. I do like a good giggle!

Definitely use hashtags. People can’t find you if you don’t but don’t use too many. Between 3-11 is perfect. Spend time researching hashtags in your niche, so that you are using ones that are going to help you to grow the right audience for you, It is so worth the effort.


Paige Vuoto, 19.3K followers


Photography-loving, plant-eating, adventure-seeking sunflower.

1. What is/are your favorite Instagram photo editing app(s), and why? 
My favorite photo editing app is definitely VSCO cam. It’s very natural/vintage. I can appreciate when colors are crazy edited but I definitely like more of a natural look & that’s what vsco does! Very ‘artsy-fartsy’.

2. What makes a great Instagram photo?
To be honest I really have no idea. I could post, what I think is, the most epic photograph ever and it gets no love on IG.

3. What are the “Do’s and Dont’s” of photo captions and hashtags?
I never have been and never will be a hashtagger, so personally just don’t hashtag . But if you have to, make sure they’re funny. Why so serious?


Did you find these tips useful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!


Maria M. Ruiz About Author

Working on your creative goals, too? Follow me, Maria M. Ruiz of, as I explore my love for photography, writing and poetry — and attempt to make it all work seamlessly together.

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