Five Tips from Boston Instagram Pros

The moderators of IG Boston bestow their knowledge.
Boston has an overabundance of photogenic locations. Whether it’s the BPL or the Esplanade, Instagram sees its fair share of pretty pics. But sometimes, taking your Instagrams to the next level only means considering some expertise from the pros.

Photo hubs like @IGBoston are these pros. Founded in 2013, IGBoston selects the best photos from the group’s members and features them on its account. Members are inducted once they complete a “challenge,” like an architecture or food shot. IGBoston moderators act as a sort of jury, voting on the best photos to post.

If you’re struggling with your square or if you’re always looking to improve, IGBoston moderators Alena S. Heath, @burnashburm, and Mic L. Angelo, @miclangelomusic, are here to help.

Explore new angles.

Nobody wants to see more of the same. Whether “the same” means posting a picture of a landmark you’ve seen a million times before or shooting the skyline only at sunset, it gets boring.

“Our idea is it’s something that’s distinct and from your point of view,” says Angelo. “How does it identify you as an individual?”

Heath says she’s always looking for something she’s never seen before, encouraging users to explore unexplored perspectives.

“We call ourselves the Innovative Hub,” she says. “We’re looking for something different.”

When in doubt, summarize the day.

The “instant” part of Instagram should play a role in your photos. The moderators explain they’d rather be looking at photos taken that day.

“If it was a rainy day or a crazy fun day, or if there were clouds going on… Or some kind of unique activity like the first Red Sox game, capture that within your image,” says Angelo. “People are looking at hubs to figure out what’s going on in Boston.”

This is especially true for people who don’t live within the city. Heath advises to go out out when other people might not be out, meaning even if it’s not a perfect, sunny day. Inopportune times should be captured, too.

“People want to see that because they’re at home. They want to see what the city looks like,” says Heath. “Our idea of instantness in the city—you want to capture the essence of the city for that day.”

You don’t want selfies every day.

This isn’t to say selfies are bad—just that selfies should really only be broadcasted in moderation.

“Every now and then you should do a selfie, so people get to know who you are as an Instagrammer,” says Heath.

In short, people are curious to know what you look like, but not curious enough to see you everyday.

“Find other creative ways to let people know who you are and what you’re about,” says Angelo.

Captions count.

(This photo’s original caption read: “But the allure of the game keeps calling your name.”)

Captions can be hard. People struggle with them. The trick is to make them both relevant and interesting.

“Incorporating a creative hashtag as part of the caption is an art form itself,” says Heath.

Heath and Angelo provided a popular list of hashtags for your reference:

#lookup – A picture looking up from street level
#whenpeoplematchplaces – When a person in a photo matches the scenery of the shot
#puddlegram – A shot with a reflection of a puddle
#lowgramz – A shot taken low on the ground
#strideby – Shot with a person walking by
#friendsinmyfeed – Picture of a friend
#steamology – A picture with some kind of steam in it (like from a street grate)

Angelo recommends to check out other peoples’ feeds to find tags that fit your own style.

Developing a style is important.

Angelo explains keeping a consistent aesthetic identifies a person’s style, so knowing your options when it comes to editing is imperative.

“For me, editing your photo is almost more important than taking the photo,” he says. “Do I need to increase the saturation? Do I want to remove one of the colors? Do I need to crop it? Do I want a really, bright, clear high definition kind of feel? Now that they’ve removed the square restrictions, do I want a portrait or a landscape?”

There are a lot of choices, so it’s necessary to become comfortable with all of the filters. Heath and Angelo encourage the use of editing tools like VSCO and Adobe Lightroom.

Follow IGBoston at @IGBoston,