Instagram Next Level Amazing: Inspiration, Tools and Tricks | Tyson Wheatley | Skillshare

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Instagram Next Level Amazing: Inspiration, Tools and Tricks

teacher avatar Tyson Wheatley, Photographer, Journalist, Dad

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Inspired


    • 3.

      What's in My Camera Bag


    • 4.

      Shooting New Perspectives


    • 5.

      Shooting a Puddle Gram


    • 6.

      Editing Tools and Apps


    • 7.

      Thank You


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About This Class

Join photographer and professional Instagrammer Tyson Wheatley (@twheat) for a 30-minute journey into capturing unique images of places, people and patterns, and putting your own spin on a photo.

Tyson shares:

  • what equipment he uses outside of his iPhone
  • how to find inspiration and capture interesting compositions
  • the latest editing tools and apps for Instagram

Whether you’re traveling abroad to a well-documented destination, or simply looking for a fresh take on a place you know well, Tyson walks you through how he finds a unique twist on the photo – from portrait to landscape to "puddle gram."

This class is perfect for the photo enthusiast, the Instagrammer turned pro photographer, and anyone looking to freshen up their photo feed. Take your Instagrams to the next level with Tyson – and most importantly, have fun in the process. 


For a deeper dive into Tyson's favorite shooting and editing apps, join 12,000+ other students in his previous class, The Possibilities of Instagram: Sharing Your Best Photos.

Meet Your Teacher

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Tyson Wheatley

Photographer, Journalist, Dad



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1. Introduction: The first tip to being a professional photographer, is to get a pashmina, or a cool scarf like this, and wear it. Hi, my name is Tyson Wheatley and I'm a commercial photographer based in New York. A lot of what I do, is making Instagrams. I work with a lot of brands, helping them have success on Instagram. A lot of that is creating images. A lot of it is strategy. But most of it, is a lot of fun. Today we're going to do a Skillshare class called Instagram Next Level Amazing. The things about photography that are interesting most, are design and architecture. I'm really drawn to leading lines, strong patterns. I love reflection, and I also love landscape, shooting landscape. So, in this class, we're going to cover; how to get inspired, and how to stay motivated. We're going to talk about how you make your Instagram feed stand out, and we're going to take a much deeper dive into composition, and lighting. So one of the reoccurring themes of this class, and you'll probably hear me talking about it a lot, is taking unique images, and finding a new perspective, and trying to do something different. So, we are here in Central Park. As you can see, beautiful, iconic Central Park. It's one of the most photographed places in the world, and our challenge is going to be, to try and take photos that maybe are a little different. We're going to challenge ourselves a little bit, and that is going to be your class projects. At the end of this class, we're going to ask you to go out, and shoot something. But put a unique perspective, a unique spin on it. 2. Getting Inspired: All right. Before we go out and shoot, I want to share a couple of thoughts on inspiration and staying motivated. For me inspiration comes in many forms. Let's focus on one of the easiest ways which is by following people that inspire you on Instagram. This is just for me. These are the folks that inspire me Paul Octavious. His feed is inspiring to me because he is constantly challenging himself, and also he doesn't take himself too seriously which I like. I feel like particularly on Instagram it's gotten people taking it way serious. Paul is fearless in that he's not afraid to take risks and I think that's also important. That inspiration for me personally is a reminder that it's okay to try something. Even if you don't quite succeed in what you were doing, the important thing is to continuously try to push yourself creatively. I think his feed does that. So go check it out. Michael O'Neal, his Instagram handle is Moneal. He is probably one of the most important influential photographers in my life. Certainly, he was one of the first people that I followed on Instagram. I've had the opportunity to meet him in real life and then develop actually like a real life friendship with him and he's been inspirational in a lot of ways. What I love about Michael's photography and his Instagram feed in particular, is that he can do many things well, he can do it all really well. He can do the landscapes, he can do portraits. He's got a new puppy and he has a dog account and he does it really well. He can mix in commercial work really seamlessly. So, for me that's inspiring because I realized like you don't just have to do one discipline, you can actually evolve your skills in a lot of variety of ways. That inspires me, that motivates me to get better and to try different kinds of photography. Emily Blincoe. So, one thing I like about both Paul and Emily is that they've got reoccurring themes. So, in essence they've created standalone series that are unique for their style of photography that they come back to. They don't do it all the time but they'll come back to on their feeds. For example, Paul Octavious, he revisits a hill in Chicago where he lives, he goes to a particular hill and he will shoot it throughout the season, and this is a place that he returns to. As the seasons change, the dynamics of the hill change. Emily has a couple of themes as well. She's probably most well-known on Instagram at least for doing her arrangements which are just things that she finds. If she's on the beach she'll collect things that she finds on the beach and then she'll arrange them in a very interesting way. I mean there's obviously a lot of other ways to stay inspired that don't involve Instagram, the things you read, the things you watch, the things you put in your brain to keep you inspired. I'm a big fan of consuming lots of media that doesn't involve Instagram. Then let's not forget that you have to take, you have to find that right balance anyway. You can't spend your entire time like with your head buried in your phone, you've got to experience life. So, go to an art show, go to the ocean, go travel. Those are for me, the big ways to maintain inspiration. Throughout this class, you're going to hear me mention probably several times the importance of consistency and staying consistent. I think that's important in terms of a routine, and a consistent routine, and a consistent strategy in your Instagram account. Consistency is important in terms of shooting and always shooting and I always like doing it. You don't necessarily want to give yourself too long of a break. However, it is really important that you evolve. When you run into a creative wall, what can you do to sort of overcome it? You'll be hearing me a lot in this class talk about consistency, but I also think it's important to evolve. If we do the same thing over and over and over, it just gets boring. So, I'm going to encourage you to try something new. When you hit a creative wall what's really going inside is you're bored and it's time to try something new. Meet someone new that you are inspired by on Instagram and go out and shoot with that person. It's always great to have another creative mind with you on a shoot or when you're feeling like you're hitting a creative wall, it's always great to go talk to somebody else and see what they're doing. It never ceases to sort of motivate me and get me inspired. In sometimes what you just need is that confidence, and so, when you're out with someone, there's like a mutual admiration. It's going to give you that confidence to continue doing what you want to achieve. If you're feeling like you're in a rut and you're filling your confidence is a little low, here's what you should do, you should go back to a familiar theme or familiar place. So, go back to a location that you know really well and you've nailed it in the past, but this time put a new twist on it, either go with someone new, or take a different camera, or try a different approach that you haven't in the past so that you can give yourself that confidence to know that you're evolving in a new direction. The most important thing is to just keep shooting, and also remember that this is supposed to be fun, you're supposed to be having fun. Everybody struggles, everybody goes to creative ruts. At the end of the day we're just talking about Instagram. I mean, it's just Instagram. It's not anything that you need to be upset of. Remember, shooting and creating is about having fun, it's about expressing yourself, so let that pressure go and go out and have fun. 3. What's in My Camera Bag: So, I'm just going to quickly go over some of the things that I brought with me for this project. This is a tripod, all right? I don't know what really to say about that. There's tons of great tripods on the market. I have one by MeFoto. For me, the key thing that I like about it is that it's light and that it's steady. This is a reflector. These you can get for like 15 bucks probably. Then there's different versions this one's big. Actually, it's going to pop up. You'll put that on slow-mo and show it smack me in the face. A reflector is basically just a good tool to reflect light. It's great for a low light situation or when you need that extra boost if you're shooting indoor. This heavy. Let's see what's in the bag. This a bag by Ona. They're are local bag maker here in New York. They've been really good to me. We've done a couple of things together. This is a great little sturdy camera bag. With me right now are two camera bodies. They're both Canon. This is the 60. I guess this is the first DSLR camera that I got when I first started doing some commercial work. The first three years on Instagram I was just only using an iPhone, and the iPhone is still the most powerful tool that I have. We'll get into that later. I got a Canon 60 for a commercial job because if you're working with a client, you obviously want to take. They're going to probably want high res images, so it's important to shoot in raw on a DSLR. Canon 60. I really like it for a lot of reasons. I guess the main reason is it's really lightweight. It's also got a built-in Wi-Fi which you can transfer images to your phone if that's how you like to edit and operate, and I've got a 40-millimeter pancake lens on it. I also have the Canon 5DSR. It can shoot with up to 50 megapixels. That is like way more than you will ever need for Instagram, but it's been fun to play with. I'm working on trying to do like prints and some other things, so I wanted to get a top-of-the-line camera. This is my go-to lens for right now, which is 24 to 70-millimeter ultrasonic Canon. Lens. I have a couple of backup lenses in here. This is a little beat up. My buddy, Sam, sold me his older version. It's another Canon lens. It's 17 to 40-millimeter. I like to have a wider-angled lens in my camera bag. Wide angle lens is just a preferred way for me to shoot and capture a lot of different angles, so I think it's good to have a wide-angle lens. I bought this guy I guess about a year ago while I was in Japan. It's an 85-millimeter. This lens is fantastic. It's fantastic for portraits. It does a good job of like if you want to focus in on one subject and kind of blur the surrounding edges, it's really fantastic for that. You'll see a lot of wedding photographers use this. Oh. Oh. I do have another camera. This is a PowerShot G7 X. I did a project about a year ago. I was on this trip with a bunch of YouTubers, and these guys were just completely filming themselves the whole time like, "Hey. Here we are. We're doing this thing." These guys were a riot, but they really inspired me to shoot more video. I thought I would have a higher success rate of shooting video if I actually bought a camera specifically to do that for. So, this is very simple camera. You can flip the screen and see what you're filming while you're filming it, or it's actually great for doing selfies. I've got SD cards, lots of SD cards. Well, you always need to carry a backup battery or two or three in your bag. So, we've got that. These are cloths. These are to clean your lenses. This is like super important. Of course, we're going to be talking a lot in this class or predominantly in this class about the most important tool, and really the only tool that you need which is your mobile device, in my case, this is an iPhone six. So, I don't even have the most recent version of iPhone, but I'm happy with it. Probably the rest of the class we'll be talking mostly about how you can get the most out of your iPhone in terms of editing and other things you can do to play around with it. 4. Shooting New Perspectives: I think one of the most important things when you're out shooting is location, right? I mean, there's lots of factors. We're going to talk about lighting, We're going to talk about weather, and the conditions, and today, we've been blessed with snow. There's snow everywhere today which is, it kind of transforms Central Park into a wonderland. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a lot of the photographers out here today. Well, when I think about location and trying to take a unique photo, part of that is maybe just trying to find a place that's a little different or a little less iconic. So, we've just been walking around this morning and we found this tunnel. I really like this a lot. Again, I'm really into strong lines and we have that here. We have some red stripes going across the top of the tunnel and I think this is going to be a fun place for me to play around with some perspective shots. I think it's important when you're shooting to try different angles, shooting up high, shooting down low. These are all things we're probably going to play with. You can do a very direct shot here. You can also come on the sides and use some of these lines. In this case, if we have a model, we can use, in this case, we can use a human to sort of try different perspectives and to give the impression of different perspectives by putting a subject in the frame. So for instance, we could have Lily stand right in the middle, right? Stand right there. I'm going to try to shoot down a little bit, this. I can use her body to frame the negative space, right? So in this case, I can just sort of stick her in the middle of the negative space and use that body and silhouette as an outline playing with light but we can get a lot closer and really start to change the way that that looks by removing some of that negative space, so it ends up being a similar image but we're now playing with that perspective a lot. So these are just basic things that we can do to have fun. So, I'm going to come in a little close. Basically, what I'm going to try and do is line up the outline of this tunnel with the shape. I'm going leave just a little bit of light. I'm going to let a little bit of light come across the edges. So, yes, that's kind of cool. So, this is okay. This is interesting. I'm going to switch lenses though. So I brought a wider lens but with this one, I'm not going to actually shoot that. I'm going to shoot with an 85. We're going to try that because I find it's a better portrait lens and what we're doing here is we're basically shooting a portrait or we're going to shoot her straight on. I think typically, shooting someone straight on is not the most flattering or interesting photo. Typically, that looks just like it can end up kind of looking like a mug shot. But in this case, because we're going for symmetry, we're going to try to get away with it. Wow, okay, so already, this has created a different look and feel. It's actually much harder to lineup. Yes, I like you looking off a little bit. So, we'll try another shot. We're going to move you down. In this case, obviously, if she's down here and I'm shooting over there, there's going to be a lot more of the empty space with the light. So, I don't know. We can kind of create the impression of a different perspective and if we time it right, like if we have Lily jump or elevate a little bit, and I'll take a photo and it'll sort of give the impression she's like floating in space. Okay, one, two, three. Okay, yes. Good, we got it. Thank you. With this kind of image, I mean, I don't know, it's a little cliche but I like it. There'll be a lot of things post that you can do that can sort of really bring that out. So, we might play with that later. Okay, let's keep going. 5. Shooting a Puddle Gram: So, I guess it would be more accurate to say that one of my favorite times to shoot in a day is catching that right moment between two different weather patterns. So, just after it rains, for instance, or just as a big storm is coming in. Typically, that is when a lot of exciting things will happen and as it pertains to light. So, this is a cool moment right now because a snowstorm has just ended. So, we have beautiful snow on the ground, fresh snow on the ground which is cool but also the clouds are starting to move away and more light is coming in. So, the potential for a cool photo exists there even though it's not magic hour or sunrise. All right. So, let's go explore. So, I think the thing to think about when you're shooting, when your composition, when you're shooting and framing something is to just, I guess the basic thing to think about is just not letting one thing overlap into the next, making sure there's a clear space line of sight between your subject, your focal point. In this case, I guess I like those building so I want to make sure that those buildings are clear of the rest of the space. Okay. We got it. We were just walking along and I noticed that the conditions are right or ripe for a puddle gram. So, puddles are really fun for reflection, they're really fun in New York but the conditions for when they're right, it is not always easy to get it just right. So, but we're close to it right now. So, the conditions that you want, you want a clear puddle. You don't want it to be actually raining when you're trying to get a paddle gram, or snowing, or windy because the puddle needs to be still. All right. You also want a little bit of light in the sky. So, you don't want it to be overcast and dark because then you won't pick up the right color. So, but we have enough. We have, I wouldn't say clear sky, but we're getting a little bright and there's a little bit of blue. What we're going to try and do is shoot a reflective shot, we'll maybe pick up a yellow taxi which, of course, is iconic New York and we'll see what we can get. The idea is basically to get your camera lens is right here on the top. So, basically, you're just going to flip it upside down and you're going to bring it as close as you can to the puddle and then you're going to shoot. I'm holding it upside down, and I'm just tapping the button. Then you have a puddle gram. So, it's maybe not the most interesting compositionally. So, we might wait, try to isolate a taxi on its own. Let's try to do that. We've got two interesting things to choose from. It's kind of fun, kind of like that one, kind of like that one. But I think the idea, generally, is to just once you find a puddle that ran into you just kind of camp out as long as you can and wait for something interesting to pass by and its New York, so you always got fun things walking by and interesting characters. Hopefully, lots of color. All right. That's how you do to make a puddle gram. 6. Editing Tools and Apps: We're going to look at some of the new ways that you can edit your images and some of the new tools that you have. For that, we're going to go with our iPhone screen cam. In the first-class, possibilities of Instagram, if you took that class, you know that we already covered some of the basics and the most important apps, and those still apply. Ones I mean by that are VSCO, Snapseed, TouchRetouch. I talked about Photoshop Express. Those are still the essentials, but there is a new player to the game. It's called Priime, and it's right here. So we're going to do a deeper dive into Priime. If you want to know about those other ones, just go take the first-class, and you'll be all set. Let's start with Instagram itself. Let's start with Instagram tools itself. Two big differences right now on Instagram. One is that you'll notice that there's used to all be square and, of course, now it is different. You can do landscape, and you can do portrait size. So, that just gives Instagram more flexibility in my mind but also gives you more flexibility when you go out and capture images. You don't always have to be thinking about square when you post your images. However, when you're editing, you also need to be thinking. Now, it's also a new challenge to the editing because you have to think about am I creating a landscape image, am I doing a portrait size, or am I going to do a square? Totally up to you on how you want to approach it, but it's just a new thing to consider. Let's talk about the tools itself on Instagram. Here's a photo that we took earlier today. There are new filters. They're improved filters. They're not as harsh as they used to be, in my opinion, and I think, therefore, they're very good. Of course, the key takeaway is that there's the slider on any filter that you use on Instagram, and so that gives you a lot more flexibility on the amount of filter that you want to apply to your image. I find, I don't know, somewhere in the middle is the part where I'm enjoying it right now. But if we push this button here on the right with the little tool symbol, you'll notice now that Instagram has a whole host of tools to use. Obviously, there's highlights and shadows which are pretty standard in a lot of the apps that I mentioned in the first class. The truth is really you can spend a lot of time playing around with the Instagram tools itself, and you can get close to where you want. I guess one other thing to point out. One of the big differences in the new tools is their adjust bar. You can straighten horizontally. There's a lot of flexibility in how you can straighten your image. So the straightening tool on Instagram is top notch. It's really great. It's a great improvement, vast improvement from what they did have. I like to edit in separate apps if I'm going to edit in mobile. My favorite thing right now is Priime, so let's go ahead and talk about Priime. So full disclosure. I have been collaborating with Priime. I have some styles, I guess, or filters for lack of a better word. I've developed some styles on Priime that you can use. So now we're going to go into Priime. Let's take a look at Priime. So these are some of the photos that I shot today. The styles have all been developed by some pretty amazing photographers out in the field. This is one of my favorites. It's Cathedrals by my friend, Jessica Zollman, who goes by Jay Zombie on Instagram. I find that the aesthetic of it goes in tune with a lot of the things that I shoot, good for interior design and architecture. Since we were shooting in the Oculus, let's use her filter for this particular photo. So you can adjust again. This is similar to some of the other apps out there. Like this scale, and also, in the Instagram tools itself, there's an adjustment bar, so you can get to the right amount of what you want in terms of applying that style and the level of it. But then, there's also the contrast, the structure, brightness, warmth, tint, saturation, highlights, et cetera. I tend to personally bring down the highlights a little bit. With the shadows, I like to typically bring those down. I like to put the brightness up, and I like to bring the shadows down. I'm just playing around with this right now, but I'm getting to where I like it. The straightening tool on Priime I think is pretty excellent. So when we're cropping, again, I think, in this case, I mean, you can do square one-on-one format. In the past, that's how we would edit for Instagram, but, of course, now we have a lot of different options. If you push it twice, it will just change the length from horizontal to vertical. See how I'm doing that. In this case, I like this cropping tool a lot because it allows me to see the rest of the space as I'm doing it live, and then you can try it. If I don't like it, I just hit the crop tool again and it saves it there. I really like this app. I really like the cropping part of it. Let's get it how we like it. How about right there? I don't know that I need to straighten it, and then I can finish it. What I love about this thing [inaudible] is I can just save it, and it'll save the actual image, and it'll save it right to my camera roll. It will replace the version that I had. If you don't want to do that, you can simply save a copy, and then it'll put it to the top of your queue, a copy, but it'll keep the original that you're at. If at any point you just press your finger down over the image, you'll see where you were as opposed to where you are now in case you want to look again, make any more last-minute decisions. But I am generally happy with that. I like it. I might actually bring up the contrast a little bit. My buddy, Manal, has a good philosophy on this. He says that if you're really struggling and you're working, I think, it's more than 10 minutes on an image and you just don't feel like it's right, he says scrap it, move on to another image. So, that's a good sign that you didn't nail all the original, like you just didn't get enough of the elements when you originally wanted to do it, it's just a good sign to move on. What I mean by that is maybe you just didn't have the right lighting or compositionally, you weren't hitting the right zone. So, that is Priime app. 7. Thank You: Thanks for taking this class. Hopefully, it was helpful for you. The most important thing now is your chance to go out and try to apply some of these skills in a practical, real way and share the results with me and the rest of the class. So again, your assignment is basically to put a new spin on an old image or an old idea. Whether it's a location that's been shot to death or a concept that's been done to death, go and try and put your own spin on it and upload your images. I don't know, one, two, three different, you can do this as many times as you want. Do me a personal favor, when you have done this assignment, come and tell me on Instagram that you've done the assignment and I'll come check out your work, and that's it. Good luck.