As much as people might deride thirst-trap content on Instagram, one thing’s for sure: It’s way harder than it looks. Truly. Have you ever tried to get a perfect bikini photo with tons of people watching? Good luck.
Thankfully, we got some legit Instagram influencers to spill their secrets on everything from posing to the exact filters they use and more.
1. Shoot from an angle.
Instagram influencer Stephanie Yeboah recommends taking photos at an angle as opposed to face-on to create a sense of intimacy. “I prefer a high-above angle, as it’s easier to fit in the silhouette of your body,” she says.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/BwXcIHXhBFq/[/instagram]
2. Your legs are way more powerful than you’d think.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/BnsHeQcnmP6/[/instagram]
Jessica Wu, a stylist/producer and model, explains that alternating leg stances in a few different shots can help your odds of finding the ~perfect~ snap in your camera roll upon review. “I tend to alternate my leg stances a few different times to get multiple angles—having a wider stance, putting one leg out to the side or in front of the other, and standing with your feet together are usually flattering,” she explains.
3. Arch that back![instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/BjYBND6jS4W/[/instagram]
It makes your booty pop while accentuating your waist, explains Sam Feher, Cosmopolitan’s own editorial assistant and an Instagram influencer in her own right. “In this photo, I’m angling my upper body away from the camera too, so it makes my butt/thighs look thiccer than my waist, which is fuay [ed note: hot].”
4. Utilize windows and mirrors.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/BkalrX2HtNX/[/instagram]
Windows and mirrors are your best friends! Says Yeboah, “I find posing in front of—or on the side of—a window with the sun streaming in creates an almost ethereal glow that promotes an innocent-yet-sexy aesthetic. Investing in an oversize white shirt helps too.”
5. Stand on your tiptoes.
“It makes your legs look ridiculously long,” says Feher. Another way of elongating your gams? Tilt the photo forward from the bottom. Wearing shoes that are the same color as your legs or pants also helps with the illusion that your legs are 30 percent longer.
6. Shoot from below.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/BuWtCdVB41E/[/instagram]
It makes you look taller! While common sense might seem like it’s better to shoot from above, Feher says that photos angled above can look wonky. Yeboah agrees, saying that she prefers to shoot from below to give the impression of height.
7. Take selfies from under your face to accentuate your jawline.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/BvXcVO6hTd2/[/instagram]
While this might’ve previously been thought of as a double-chin angle, if you jut your chin out dramatically, it makes your jawline look so sharp it could carve stone.
8. Natural lighting is always best.
The only thing that compares or could come in second is a ring light, says Feher, but if you don’t feel like having to travel with a whole other accessory, natural lighting is your best friend.
9. Golden-hour shots are a lot easier when you plan ahead.
Explains influencer Shaunda Necole, the best lighting is just as the sun is rising or during “golden hour” right before the sun sets. She recommends the Golden Hour app, which allows you to input your location to find the exact window of time for optimal photo-taking.
10. To make something look less pose-y, stick a hand in your pocket.
Wu recommends putting one hand on your waist or pocket or breaking your leg. Plus, less pressure about where to put your hands! I, for one, never know ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
11. Posture is everything.
Sorry to sound like a school marm for a hot sec, but just remember that you’re here for a crash course in thirst-trap photography, so bear with me. Stick your collarbones out for any photos so your spine is aligned as straight as possible for the best pic.
12. When it comes to sexy poses, it’s all about the hip tilt.
Putting one foot in front of the other makes your hips tilt and can make you look curvier while also elongating your legs, says Feher. “That’s my go-to because it’s fast, looks natural, and you can pull it off in the MoMA without getting anyone else in your photo.”
13. Always hype up your photographer, especially if you’re feeling any insecurity or embarrassment for asking them to take 30 bajillion photos.
“My tip for getting over the embarrassment is to ALWAYS hype up my friend first and be like, ‘You look like sex, lemme get a pic,’ and then they’re so embarrassed that they make me do it, even if that was my original goal all along,” says Feher. You get to boost someone else’s self-esteem, take cool photos of your friends, and get the photos you wanted all along. It costs literally nothing! Adds Wu, “If you focus on the person taking your photo and don’t get distracted by people walking by, you’ll definitely get better photos! I usually ignore people who snoop or take photos and just focus on the camera.”
14. For brighter colors, go with C1 on VSCO.
For the trendy orangey one that’s in right now, Feher suggests Lightroom presets from your favorite influencers. What better way to skip right to the finish line than by using an influencer-approved filter?
15. Don’t bother importing your DSLR pics into your phone just to edit with VSCO.
“Lightroom is better for camera/DSLR photos,” says Feher, whereas she prefers editing in VSCO for iPhone photos.
16. Chipped mani?
No problem. There’s no need to spend money getting a new manicure or taking the time to remove all your polish when there’s an easy, free fix. Feher says to use the color picker/airbrush tool on Facetune to fill in the spots where you’re missing color.
17. Find the right framing from the start.
Feher says one of her rules for photos is that she won’t zoom or crop. “It makes the picture look weird and f*cks with the quality,” she explains. So it’s worth taking the time to figure out the perfect framing before shooting, so you don’t have to do too much work fixing anything afterward.