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While so many Instagram users bang on about their favorite filters, we find lifestyle photographer Amy Neunsinger’s pictures refreshing. “No filters, just the warm light at night,” she says, describing a shot of a Moroccan medina. So we implored Neunsinger to share some of her easiest tips for helping us rookies up our Insta feeds as well. Here, a picture-taking tutorial from a pro, using her own Instagram feed (@amyneunsinger). Back to school! 

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Color Is Everything

If there’s a vibrant cluster of color in a landscape, shop or natural moment (hello rainbow), grab it. Because you’ll be sure to energize your Instagram feed and everyone who looks at it.

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Think of the Push and Pull of Your Grid

“I shoot my Instagram like I am laying out an editorial spread, with something tight in one photo then something far away in the next, so it gives a push and a pull,” Neunsinger says. “Otherwise, it’s hard to read the images if you have two things that are the same focal length next to each other.” In Neunsinger’s feed, she’ll feature a close-up of a flower next to a landscape.

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Remember the Props

Play set decorator and stylist IRL. For example, on her recent birthday trip to Morocco, Neunsinger was determined to get fezzes for everyone to wear for birthday dinner. Because everyone looks better in a party hat (even when they’re walking away).

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Pay Attention to Light Warmth

Natural light, which is warmest at the end of the day and coolest in the morning, is Neunsinger’s lighting of choice. For non-pros, try shooting a blue scene such as a vista with a lot of water or sky, earlier in the morning. A field of wheat or a cement jungle will look better in the afternoon.

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Go Off the Grid

Do something unexpected in a picture. Shoot from an unusually high or low angle; or don’t line up your sightlines perfectly. Here, a view-from-above pic of Middle Eastern slippers. Suddenly, the image becomes dynamic with its little bit of striped textile contrast against the brick floor pattern.

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Pay Attention to Your Emotional Response

Neunsinger teaches first and foremost to have an emotional connection to your subject. “How does it make you feel?” she asks of every image in her viewfinder. “I am in advertising, and I have to make people feel before they can be irrational and spend their money on it.”

To see more of Neunsinger’s work, check out her new book with Rachel Ashwell.

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