Instagram OOTD Tips and Tricks

I am admittedly the last person who should be giving any kind of photography advice, but since a couple of people have asked me how I take my Instagram OOTD pictures, I wanted to share the strategies I've learned along the way. I don't think I have any original or secret information, but I am all for sharing whatever tips and tricks I can.

Cami: Express ("Pink Ribbon".) / Jeans: Express / Sandals: Nordstrom (Similar) / Necklace: Old Navy / Bracelet: Express (Similar) / WatchFossil / Bag: Target (Similar) / Nails: Essie "Blanc"

First, I would never have gotten started with sharing outfit pictures on Instagram without the help of Carylee. She gave me lots of help behind the scenes before she could convince me to start my own account. And once I did, I encouraged her to share her helpful techniques in a blog post, which you can find here.

The Basics:
There are a few basic things I do with each picture
  • Square Root: Set your camera to square before taking the picture. Otherwise the proportions of your body and outfit will look "off" even if you crop it to a square after the fact.
  • Outward Bound: I'm lucky to live in a climate that allows for this, but outdoor lighting is always best so that's what I do now, rain or shine. I also try to find a spot completely shaded or out of the sun to avoid washing out some detail of my outfit or my fingernails. I ended up not sharing the outfit below because I thought I was out of the sun, but my fingernails and the glare on my necklace told a different story.
Top: Express / Necklace: Express / Pants: Express / Shoes: Target / Belt: Express (Current) / Watch: Fossil / Bracelets: Express + Nordstrom / Sunglasses: Firmoo
  • What's the Hold Up?: I have to make fun of myself for all the cliché things I hold in my pictures now (flowers! coffee cup! sunglasses!), but as Janet said here, your free hand just needs something to do! Feel free to join me with #noshameinmypropgame and hold up whatever you have on hand (no pun intended). It just looks and feels more natural, even if it's overdone.
Sweater: Express (Similar) / Tunic Tank: Target (Similar) / Necklace: ExpressBoots: Target (Similar) / Watch: Fossil

Hold the Phone: 
Carylee and Janet have both done a great job of showing how to hold your phone to take a picture using the reverse facing camera and how it looks from a third-party perspective. In this picture, notice how Carylee is holding hers out to the side, which gives the side-view angle on her outfit in the final pic on the right:

And here's Janet holding her phone out in front at an angle, with the resulting front-facing angled view:

And a side-by-side of my early attempts at each of these angles, front view vs. side view:
Chambray Top: J Crew Factory / Black Cami: Express /  Chevron Necklace: Express / Shorts: J Crew Factory (Black & White) / Silver Tassel Necklace: Target / Pink Bag: Express (Similar) / Peep Toe Booties: Forever 21 (Similar) / Black Sandals: Sam Edelman

Exercise Your Options:
Unfortunately it's no exaggeration to say that it can take a few dozen attempts to get just one outfit picture where my necklace is hanging right, my shirt is tucked right, my pants don't have a weird bulge at the button area, etc. I took a screenshot of my camera roll after one afternoon of attempting an OOTD pic and this is how it looked:

There are always an embarrassing number of selfies on my phone, so I guard it carefully and live by this meme:

But it pays off to have as many options as possible, and all of those options above lead to the one picture I like enough to share:
Top: Express / Jeans: Express (Similar) / Necklace: Express / Bag: Forever 21 / Watch: Fossil / Bracelet: Express / Shoes: Calvin Klein "Dolly" (Similar) / Nails: Essie "Blanc"

After selecting my best photo from the dozens I just took, I start editing to get my picture share-worthy. In the beginning I loved using all the different Instagram filters, but now (just like Tatiana said here) I try to achieve a more natural-but-enhanced look. (You know...like Bella after she became a vampire in Twilight!)

Aviary is my number one favorite photo editing app (once again thanks to Carylee). I have experimented with Snapseed, Afterlight, and VSCOCam after reading other recommendations for those, but I always come back to Aviary. I don't know if it's just because I learned it first, but I find it very intuitive and user-friendly. (Even my kids use it and have taught me a few things with it if that tells you anything!)

Other Resources:
If you still want more on this subject, here are a few other links you might like:
  • I'm a broken record here, but Carylee's post on how to take selfies is really comprehensive and has a great list of other helpful apps she uses for Instagram.
  • This Song of Style video has some good visuals and tips, especially for other types of pictures (that I haven't even attempted) like food and accessories.
  • Each of my past three Coffee Date/Spotlight guests shared more great tips on taking outfit pictures, so check out these posts with: @tatisbonilla, @janet.lowe and @teacherfashionista for more!
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  1. This is so helpful, Gina! I've a got a long way to go and that's why I rarely take selfies but this definitely makes the process easier. I absolutely love that outfit with the bright pink top and leopard pumps. ~Cynthia

  2. These are good tips! :) I'm lucky, with my camera I can get it to send photos to my phone after I've taken a quick picture of my daily outfit for the blog, so I can always just grab that one for my OOTD! I do try take one picture further away from the camera so I can fit more of my outfit into the little square, haha! :)

    Thank you for the link up!

    Away From The Blue

  3. Wow thanks for those tips Gina - I really think I wont ever master doing the OOTD look ever haha!


  4. I need to start holding my phone upside down like that, great tips :)

  5. SO HELPFUL to late adopter-Instagram peeps like myself!! LOL!! I'm still learning about the props thing....flowers, coffee, puppies, veggies.... :) HAPPY MONDAY! XO

  6. Ew I need to redo my tutorial photo! Haha I need to ease up on that angle so it's not so top down. But anyhoo- principle is still the same, just funny how it continues to evolve over time! This is like the Wikipedia of outfit selfies! Nice job compiling everything into one post!

    1. Well I still think it's a good visual in terms of capturing what you're doing versus the final result! But it just goes to show how much "practice" it takes to get a good pic. If you look back at ANYONE's feed who does OOTD selfies, they have all improved over time.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your selfie process, I've been waiting for this post!


  8. Great tips! When I do these types of pics for #ootd, my arms get so tired from holding it at all the funny angels.


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

  9. Okay seriously this was so helpful because YOU KNOW HOW BAD I AM AT THIS. ;) I just clicked on several of you links and read more. Before you know it, I'll be a pro. Okay, that's never going to happen, but a girl can dream right...

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  10. I need all the help I can get with my outfit selfies! Thanks for sharing all of these great tips!

    Doused In Pink

  11. Great tips! I use VSCOCam, and totally helps! I will love to try the other apps you mentioned! Thanks for sharing!
    We Shop in Heels

  12. I loved this. I'm forever practicing, but these are great tips. I hadn't heard of Aviary before and will check that out. I want to look like Bella after becoming a vampire. Ha!

  13. So thanks to all the tips you have been giving..I have been trying different selfie angles and it has been major fails for me so far.. have to master the techniques better...

  14. Thank you for posting!! I've always wondered!

  15. I'm always guarding my phone too, haha! I also screen shot a lot of things I like, so sometimes theres pictures of total strangers on my phone, if someone saw that, they would probably be like...what?

    pumps and push-ups

  16. These are great tips, Gina! Thanks for sharing!


    I hope you are having a great week so far!


  17. Thanks for the tips! I have watched the Song of Style video before - love how she is standing on her chair during dinner to get the best angle - too funny! Not sure I would have enough guts to go that far for a good photo.

    Daily Style Finds

    1. I don't think I would stand on a chair either...but I do take selfies in the middle of the street so I guess it's not much different! I loved her honesty in that video. :)

  18. Selfies are seriously an art, I also take about a bajillion photos before I find one I find half decent! HA!

    Eleventh & Sixteenth

  19. oh my gosh, laughing so hard at - you know, like Bella from Twilight! hahahaha. and #noshameinmypropgame - love it. I never have anything to hold and my hand looks awkward.
    i need tips on how to have cute outfits that are cute enough to instagram ;) just kidding. that screen shot of all your selfies is hilarious - that's definitely how mine looks sometimes. i end up deleting the ones that don't work so that i don't accidentally out myself when someone is looking at photos and there is like 100 of my face. oops. anywhoozle, that's a great tip about being in the shade. i never thought of that, the sun washing details out. interesting! thanks for sharing Gina :)

  20. Gina great tips for instagram pictures. I think you've mastered the selfie both here and on instagram and have given some really helpful tips. I laughed at holding smt in your hand part as I sometimes forget to do that and regret it haha. Flowers seem to be a hit on IG and of course like you've mentioned coffee :-)))
    The pink outfit of yours seriously rocks btw. Have a lovely new week. XOXO, Elif

  21. I love each of your outfits!! And you really have mastered those 'from where i stand' posts. I can never seem to get the angle right. My arms are short! Great tips! I'll have to give it another try!

    The Closet by Christie


  22. Great advice! I have never taken pictures like this way! Lol! I am a little bit out of fashion trends lately. ;)

    They look great and I may have to give it a try!


  23. Thanks so much for the tips, Gina! I rarely take OOTD photos but definitely can use these these helpful tips. Your photos are always on point =) Happy Monday!

  24. Really great tips. I am usually in a hurry out the door when I take mine and never get that "just right" shot. You're getting really good though!

  25. Great tips but since I am hopeless when it comes to tech, I'll need months of practise! I have to give it to you - your pictures are always amazing. Kudos!

  26. Gina, you ROCK! Your selfies are the best and this helps so much as I am not so great at it but learning!! I delete a lot but laugh usually before I do. :) Thank you for tips from a pro like you!!! Hope you're having a great Monday!!


  27. I actually really do love how you take your pics. My "outfit" pics are laughable and best and never see the light of day. Maybe I'll use these tricks! lol

  28. What great tips. The square picture is great idea, and that I think that is what I have been missing. Will look at the photo editing app too.

    Kreyola Jounerys | Instagram

  29. This is such a helpful post! Thank you for the tips!

  30. omg it's always so embarrassing when i forget to delete all my selfies out of my phone. And my camera stay on square haha


  31. Loving these tips! And the struggle is real..... So many "outtakes" before finding one you want to use :-P

  32. Your OOTD pics are always on point! Great tips, lady! :)

    Le Stylo Rouge

  33. Loving this post! I definitely have struggled with mastering this technique and I will take sooo many photos just for one! I definitely struggle with accessories and lighting inside!

    Denise | Fashion Love Letters

  34. Love these tips! I will be trying them soon. Thanks for sharing and hosting the link up :)

  35. Awesome tips for snapping fashion selfies! I'm working on using the timer on my camera and then uploading the edited photo to my phone.


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