How To Get Perfect Instagram Lighting

Insta Lighting

@Stacwa_’s Instagram Lighting is on POINT!

While the team at Social Envy can help you gain genuine followers on Instagram. It’s the continuity and quality of images, especially Instagram Lighting will help you to retain and engage your newly-gained followers.

There are many parameters that go into creating a high quality Instagram photo, but most successful Instagrammers (including Margaret Zhang) all agree on one thing: lighting is everything.

When done well, Instagram lighting will not only set the brightness or darkness of your photo, but convey the tone, mood and atmosphere of it. It can even completely transform the way someone’s face looks.


Instagram Lighting 1

Single source light from the right casts a shadow on the left.

Instagram Lighting 2

Single source light below the face casts shadow above and exaggerates the nose and under-eye area. This makes for a sinister look.

Instagram Lighting 3

Single source light from the left casts a shadow on the right.

Instagram Lighting 4

Single source light above the subject countours the face, enhancing the eyes and creating a more sultry, romantic look.


You can see here that even with the same facial expression the model could go from looking sinister to romantic, just with the use of light. The light distance, colour, position all affect the way an object or person looks in a photo.

Done badly, lighting can make even the most gorgeous make-up look, athletic physique or landscape look dull and uninspiring in a photo. Hence why it’s important to use and manipulate light to produce emotive, professional images that are more likely to appeal to your followers.


Sooo…. Natural Light

Soft, natural light is best, as it doesn’t create strange shadows, tends to be more flattering on our faces and looks more organic in photos. Best time of day to take photos is in the first hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset, or in the ‘golden hour’. During this time the light is soft and diffused, which is more flattering than light we get in the middle of the day, that can cause unflattering shadows and overexposed images.

We understand that most Instagrammers default to taking photos with their phones, so we have sourced this video here where a professional photographer explains and demonstrates how to use window light and sunlight to make the most of phone photography.

Jana doesn’t recommend using backlight for camera phones, and we agree – it’s best to have the light behind the camera to avoid those weird glares you can see at 2.13.


What About Artificial Lighting?

The benefit of working with artificial lighting is the freedom to manipulate it in any way and there are no time constraints, like there are with natural lighting. If you are serious about Instagram photography and can afford investing in ring or umbrella lights and light diffusing  equipment, we highly recommend it. Especially for those of us using Instagram Lighting to showcase our physique or make up looks.

However, if you’re on a budget and are relying on the lighting in the room, or god forbid, fluorescent lighting you can always rely on apps like VSCO cam to adjust the temperature if the image too yellow, or on Snapseed to take out any strange shadows, and to improve the colours with Lumiensce.


If you are in a truly poorly-lit space, like a nightclub or a restaurant, you may be tempted to use your phone flash for that selfie, but we must warn you: you will end up with a grainy photo. We recommend investing in a light phone case, like LuMee.

Now, go forth and light up that gram, just don’t get too caught up like Jimmy here:


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