How Art Can Improve Your Instagram Photos

It seems like everywhere you look, there’s a new “How To” guide on taking better photos for Instagram. The plethora of tips usually cover a lot of the same subjects: cameras (DSLRs and smart phones), lighting, photo editing apps, color schemes, etc.

It’s all solid advice. However, I’ve found that what takes my favorite Instagrammers and bloggers’ feeds from good to great is the fact that their photos are always artfully composed and executed. Literally. Their styles each remind me so much of specific artists, I thought I would share with you examples of some of their amazing photos and the art they make reference to—at least in my mind!

olivia lopez
OLIVIA’S DARK AND MOODY PHOTOS MAKE ANYTHING LOOK BEAUTIFUL; FOOD, FASHION, INTERIORS AND LANDSCAPES. SHE’S A MASTER AT PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK WITH LIGHT AND SHADOW—OR CHIAROSCURO—MUCH IN THE SAME VEIN AS CARAVAGGIO. WHEN HER PHOTOS ARE SOFTER WITH LESS CONTRAST, THEY REMIND ME OF DUTCH PAINTER VERMEER’S SCENES OF DOMESTIC INTERIORS AND THE DUTCH GOLDEN AGE TRADITION OF FLOWERS AND STILL LIVES.
INSTAGRAM: @LUSTTFORLIFE
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Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632 - 1675 ), Woman Holding a Balance, c. 1664, oil on canvas, Widener Collection 1942.9.97
Jacob van Walscapelle (Dutch, 1644 - 1727 ), Still Life with Fruit, 1675, oil on panel, Juliet and Lee Folger/The Folger Fund
erica choi
ERICA’S SUNNY SCENES OF NEW YORK CITY LIFE AND HER ENVIABLE VACATION SNAPSHOTS ALMOST ALWAYS FEATURE DIRECTIONAL OR ZENITHAL LIGHTING. THAT, PAIRED WITH THE COOLER TEMPERATURE OF HER EDITING EVOKES THE LANDSCAPES AND EVERYDAY MOMENTS OF AMERICAN PAINTER EDWARD HOPPER.
INSTAGRAM: @EGGCANVAS

Working Title/Artist: Edward Hopper: Office in a Small City Department: Modern Art Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: photography by mma 1979/89, transparency #11ad scanned and retouched by film and media (jn) 5_16_07

courtney trop
COURTNEY’S SPONTANEOUS “SHOOT FROM THE HIP” STYLE HAS TUMBLR WRITTEN ALL OVER IT. THIS FREE, STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS APPROACH TO HER INSTAGRAM AND BLOG PHOTOS REMIND ME OF THE KING OF THE VERNACULAR AND THE DEMOCRATIC, WILLIAM EGGLESTON. VINTAGE CARS, PARKING LOTS, KITCHENS, RANDOM L.A. CORNERS WITH PASSERSBY INCLUDED; COURTNEY’S BACKGROUNDS ARE NOT SOMETHING YOU’D CONSIDER CONVENTIONALLY PRETTY ON THEIR OWN, BUT THEY LOOK SO COOL.
INSTAGRAM: @ALWAYSJUDGING

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rachel nguyen
RACHEL IS A TOTAL BADASS BABE WITH SUCH AN ORIGINAL, EFFORTLESS STYLE. HER PHOTOS ARE JUST AS CAREFREE AS HER SARTORIAL DEMEANOR. THEY HAVE A SOMEWHAT RAW AESTHETIC THAT REMINDS ME SO MUCH OF JUERGEN TELLER. OFTEN OVEREXPOSED, SOMETIMES EMPLOYING A FLASH EVEN WHEN THEY’RE SHOT IN DAYLIGHT, RACHEL’S PHOTOGRAPHS SCREAM “ZERO FUCKS GIVEN”, JUST LIKE HER PERSONALITY—AT LEAST FROM WHAT I GATHER THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.
INSTAGRAM: @THATSCHIC

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alice gao
ALICE IS A VERY TALENTED PHOTOGRAPHER WHO CAN PULL OFF ANY STYLE OF PHOTOGRAPHY. FORTUNATELY, SHE’S ALSO A BLOGGER WITH AMAZING TASTE, STYLE AND A HIGHLY INTERESTING DAY TO DAY LIFE. I SPECIALLY LOVE HER ODD COMPOSITIONS WITH PEOPLE, USE OF REFLECTIONS, AND PLAYFULNESS WITH FOREGROUND AND BACKGROUND ELEMENTS. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, I AM REMINDED OF THE WORK OF VIVIANE SASSEN WHEN I PERUSE THROUGH HER BLOG, LINGERED UPON.
INSTAGRAM: @ALICE_GAO

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Photos via Lust For LifeNational Gallery of ArtCaravaggio.orgEgg CanvasWhitney Museum, Met MuseumAlways JudgingEggleston TrustThat’s ChicVogue UK, Vogue.comLingered UponWe Folk.

  • Taylor

    Great post!
    xo.
    http://www.itswhatsin.com

  • Good advice and great list! A great camera is nice to have, but it won’t make up for poor composition.

  • incredibly talented bunch you’ve shown here!

    http://www.prettyinleather.net

    • They are my daily reads! I love their blogs/Instagram feeds 🙂
      xoxo

  • Very nice comparisons. I never really thought of having traditional art as an inspiration for IG photos, but I really like how you’ve tied it all together! It shows even further how inspiration comes from everywhere.

    • Absolutely! Thanks so much for your comment, I’m so happy you liked this post!
      xoxo
      Maristella

  • Jessica Luxe

    Oooo some accounts in here I’ve never heard of – thanks for the intro to a few new reads!

    BLOG | FOLLOW ON BLOGLOVIN’

    • You’re welcome!!! They are my favorites, I know you’ll enjoy their content! <3
      xoxo
      Maristella

  • This is great, I know where to look for more inspiration now!!

  • Pia Hocevar Mucic

    I think people underestimate how creative many instagrammers are! It takes a lot of practice to master the photographies to perfection!
    Fash ‘n’ fudge
    Fash ‘n’ fudge

    • Absolutely Pia!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂
      xoxo