James Ting's Instagram account. Pictures / @jting26

Instagram Tips from James Ting

We ask Auckland-based James Ting how he got his Instagram looking so good

We quizz Auckland-based James Ting — the guy behind the #sofresh and #soclean Instagram account @jting26 — on the secrets behind his perfect ’grams and how to take a great flat lay.

How long does it take you to post an Instagram?
It usually takes me around 15-30 minutes from shooting to posting on Instagram.

What do you take your pictures on, and how do you take them?
Mainly with my DSLR using a wide-angled lens. I usually hold up my camera with my offhand, so with the wide-angle I don't have to stretch too high up and I am still able to capture as much as I can to fit in the ‘square frame format' (before Instagram introduced the non-crop feature). Whenever possible, it is best to use a tripod to capture a flat lay (with both hands in the picture), but when I shoot outside in a cafe or at places where bringing a tripod would be a hassle, I would take two separate pictures and post process it on Photoshop.

Do you use any apps to edit your pictures?
I use Lightroom and VSCO for the post-processing. I will always shoot my photos in RAW format, which gives more room for post-processing in some cases where lighting is not enough or shadows are too dark. On my phone, I would use the VSCO app for editing and they've got some nice filters too. I do not use Instagram filters.

What’s the secret to creating the perfect flat lay?
1. Great natural light - it always provides the best exposure to your pictures. Artificial light often creates shadow from the top, hence casting shadows of my camera (or my head) on to the picture.

2. A contrasting backdrop makes the subject you are photographing visible and clear. Also, try to avoid reflective surfaces (if you do not want to have your own reflection appearing in the picture).

3. Have a clear idea of what you are taking - always focus and be clear on the subject you are capturing in the frame. Too many will make it look messy, too little makes it look dull.

What makes a good Instagram picture?
I like posts that look sharp and clear. Creative layouts and composition are also important to make a good picture.

How often do you post?
I try to post every morning before leaving for work.

Who are some of your favourite Instagrammers?
Ria Sim @coffeecakescafe
Bryan Schiele @letsbrew.coffee
Lex @mrgumbatron
Kaz @55coffee

Do you use hashtags?
Yes, I find hashtags to be useful for exposure and being discovered by people around the world.

Top tip for getting a good gram?
Know your audience. Experiment with posting at different times of the day and different hashtags.

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