Instagram is better when paired with other apps.
I'm a total Instagram convert. I've loved slapping filter effects on my photos since the early days of Android (largely thanks to the excellent app Camera ZOOM FX
), but I was never a rabid addict until Instagram came along. There's something addictive about the simplicity, and inspiring about the timeline, that keeps me shooting.
Yet it was the timeline feature that initially baffled me. I started seeing triptychs and images coming up on my feed that were altogether too beautiful. I wondered: were they features that iPhone users had that us Android plebs missed out on? So I dug around a bit and realised that the very best Instagrammers actually use a selection of apps to perfect their images. From frames to funky effects, the use of a workflow-style suite of apps will bring out the very best in your images -- in Instagram or elsewhere.
The most common (and best) effect to add outside of Instragram is a frame. You can add a simple border around a single image, or you can combine multiple shots into a single image, scrapbook style. For either outcome, I use PicFrame
(99c on the Play Store). PicFrame allows you to combine up to five photos in an array of frames. You can also pick the width of the frame (or remove the borders completely), its colour and how rounded you want the corners to be. Alternative apps include Photo Grid
(Free or $1.69 for Pro) or Diptic
Get creative with the images in the frames! The most obvious application is to tell a mini story, but you can also do things like combine two images of different objects in a way that links them, or get tricky by combining images of the same scene, but with repeated objects or people in it (doppelgangers!).
You can also run your photos through Instagram's filters before
you move them to PicFrame. Consider taking a photo, making two copies with different effects and then combining them together (with or without visible borders). It can really bring attention to two different aspects of a single image, or create an eye-catching, top-and-bottom frame. You can also run your images through another app's filters, such as Camera ZOOM FX
($3.99), or Camera360 Ultimate
(free), among many others.
Instagram sets itself apart from the slew of photo editing apps in that it also includes its own (well-populated) social network. So, if you're sharing your images, you might as well try to get them noticed. To do this, you need to use hashtags. Anyone familiar with Twitter will already understand hashtags, but for those who don't, they're simply keywords that describe your image, optimised for searches. For instance, #lake, #food, #park are obvious ones that would return your image when searched, along with thousands of others. To get noticed, however, you should also try combining them with more specific tags, such as #lakeeyre, #sausage or #hydepark. Also, keep your eye out for hastags that describe a type of photo (#lookingup, #wakeuppics or #ministory, for example) or trending tags in the 'Popular' section of the app.