Series: Step up your Instagram Game: Lighting

Hey guys,

I'm back after a super long blogging hiatus! 

Decided to ease back into the blogging world with a continuation of my Instagram series. Today's topic is a short but crucial one:


As in, your photos will only ever be as good as the light you take them in.

This one’s the most frustrating to me, but has also been one of my biggest lessons:

Photos taken indoors with artificial lighting tend to look pretty much shitty, no matter how much you edit them.

Does this mean you have to trek outside everything you want to take a picture? No. (Although you’ll be shocked by how much better your photo looks when you do; there's a reason wedding photographers love to do engagement photo shoots outdoors).

Don't stress if you can't make it outside, but you do want to try to take your photos near a window or light-filled room during the day. 

Sucks, right?

There’ve been many a time when I want to take a picture of a fabulous cocktail in a dark, cozy bar, or take a picture of my dog looking particularly cute curled on on the couch on movie-night. 

And look, I'm not telling you not to take the dark-lighting photo. After all, photos are supposed to be about memories and moments, right? I'm just pointing out that lighting might be a reason why your photos aren't coming out the way you want, and that said-photo might be a better fit for Facebook or SnapChat, if your angle is a "pretty" Instagram feed.

Take for example the below photos:

Both have been edited equally, but you'll see right away that there is no comparison in which one is the more attractive photo.

No amount of editing could make that delicious poached salmon look good. Why? It was taken indoors, at night, with nothing but the regular old kitchen light on. In person, the colors were gorgeous. The pink of the salmon, the green of the spinach, the red of the pot, the yellow of the wine, the silver glint of the lid ... you'd never guess it, but this actually was a gorgeous moment.

But without good lighting, the camera just couldn't capture the moment as my eye saw it. The end result ... well, let's just say that one didn't make it up on Instagram.

By comparison, check out that photo of the Wynn I took while in Las Vegas. It took almost no editing to make that photo look gorgeous. Why? It was taken outdoors on a sunny day. That's the best photo trick you'll ever learn.

But wait! There is hope for indoor photos!

Still determined to take a picture inside? You do have another option, although it's not for the faint of heart ... if you're determined to be an Instagram star, but you can't be booking it outside all the time, or are tired of positioning everything near a window, consider investing in some good studio lighting. Mr. Layne and I found a decent set for under $100 on Amazon, including stands and lights and everything. 

Something like this would do the trick.

This is especially important if you're looking to dip your toes into the world of food-photography. Food is hard enough in general to make look "good," and damn near impossible without good lighting!

Speaking of food, Mr. Layne just relaunched his website today, and he takes some amazing foodie photography. And yes, every single picture on this site has made it directly to my stomach. He actually cooks like that. Crazy and delicious. 



Lauren Layne

New York, NY, USA

USA Today Bestselling Author & Lifestyle Blogger.