How to Push Your Creative Boundaries + Write Meaningful Instagram Captions

On a normal day, it sometimes seems challenging to break through all the noise online with creative content and meaningful Instagram captions. And nowadays it’s even more of a challenge to get into a new creative groove.

Many of us who are used to creating outside or while traveling are forced to adapt to shooting indoors. I have to say, it’s also allowed people to create and connect on a much more real level.

People are getting more real than even these days. I mean have you seen my video featuring my dad? I’ve probably watched it 100 times and still laugh hysterically!

If you needs some tips check out my best tips for surviving social isolation here!

Here’s the deal. Your audience can cut straight through the bull, and at a time like this they want to follow someone they can trust and who makes their lives better in some way. Always keep in mind how are you providing value to your audience. Are you making them laugh, teaching them something, reflecting on something, or inspiring them?

So how can you push your creative boundaries and write meaningful Instagram captions that provide value to your audience? Below I’m sharing some of my best tips to do this.

Don’t miss the rest of my tips and tricks series including my tips for working with brands with my FREE media kit template, my tips for growing a community on Instagram, and my tips for growing your blog and email list. Plus, get my top tips for editing in Lightroom and a FREE preset here!

Think Outside of the Box

When getting creative, you don’t need to break the bank or break your head. Get crafty! Consider new perspectives and shapes, play with lighting, play around with household items…YOU GOT THIS!

Lisa Homsy on a road trip in Utah

Shooting Instagram Content at Home

I know that I personally never really feel inspired to shoot at home. I guess it’s because I live here, so my city doesn’t feel new and exciting to me. Consider the fact that much of your audience has maybe never visited your hometown though.

While shooting at home might not be groundbreaking, it’s definitely relatable, especially right now. Suddenly it seems I’ve found myself rediscovering new spaces in my house I never found interesting before.

Here are some accounts that I personally love, find super creative, and killing it with the work from home content!

Choosing Your Outfits for Instagram Photos

When your travels pick back up, consider playing around with your environment, your angles and of course your outfits! Find some accessories that can double as a prop for your photos and will match most of your looks on the trip.

A photographer I’ve worked with numerous times always comments to people on how I have the perfect outfit for every location, and it’s because I plan it out! It definitely takes a little more time when packing to map out outfits for each location, but I have to say, it makes a difference in photos!

I’ll often be able to pack up my favorite small backpack with my camera (maybe another lens) and another dress in case I need a plan B. Never underestimate the power of a flowy dress!

Lisa Homsy looking like Princess Jasmine in Egypt
Thought Process: I wanted to channel my inner Princess Jasmine!

Using Props for Photo Shoots

Props are your best friend! A prop is a really simple way to really enhance a photo. It doesn’t need to be something cheesy – it can be something as simple as a bag, hat, sunglasses or even flowers.

Using sunflowers as a prop to help with posing for Instagram pictures in Amsterdam
My thought: We had just gone to the flower market to purposely get props. Since the Amsterdam waterfront was so brown I wanted to pop with colors

It essentially gives you something to do with your hands and can make you feel more natural when posing. Especially if you’re still unsure about posing in front of the camera, a prop (or your bestie) can sometimes help loosen you up. Seriously, I always love adding more people to my photos. It’s so much more fun and it gives a more natural photo!

Using lavender as a prop in Canada at a lavender field
Thought Process: Matching my dress to the lavender (ps. the lavender in the photo I purchase at the gift shop, it was not picked!)
Lisa Homsy and Mel Vandersluis with breakfast on a river cruise in Europe
Thought Process: I will never say no to a twinning photo!

How to Pose for Instagram Pictures

Another commonly asked question is how to pose and feel comfortable in front of the camera. First things first – when I first started out, I was not the most comfortable either.

The more you play around, the more you figure out what you like. In the beginning, I really didn’t know what I liked and would wind up overshooting and still hating everything.

Posing in a Tulip field in the Netherlands
Thought Process: I wanted to shoot from now to capture the depth of the field and add some flowers in the foreground

Know Your Angles

Practice your poses, and when you find a photo you like, analyze it. What do you love about it? Do you prefer yourself side profile or straight on? What are your best angles for sitting vs standing?

One thing I can say is don’t slouch – instead, roll your shoulder back. Always have one leg slightly more forward, and stand on your tippy-toes. This will elongate your legs.

Shooting through the trees to add depth to a photo is one Instagram photo idea
Thought Process: I wanted to shoot through the trees to add green in the foreground.
Notice my tippy toes, one leg in front!
Using shadows adds something interesting to your Instagram picture ideas
My thought: Play with the concept of shadows. We used a palm leaf the hotel had just chopped down.

Try to Work With the Same Person

Another thing that I found helpful was shooting with the same person. I’m fortunate enough to have started my Instagram journey with my bestie. We would and still do take turns playing both photographer and model.

Establishing trust with your photographer is key because they can help guide you to get the best results. Because we work so closely, I can tell you that she knows my preferred angles but she also knows my insecurities and can look out for those when shooting.

Lisa Homsy and Mel Vandersluis in Paris at the Eiffel Tower

Whether it is a partner, a friend, a family member or another creator, try to find someone you can meet up with in your town or travel with on future trips. The better you get to know each other, the more comfortable it gets in front of the camera. Plus, you tend to be able to get that perfect Instagram picture faster as you get to know what works.

Flow it Out

Having movement in a photo is a great way to add depth and make it feel more “in the moment”. Even if you are sitting, change up your expressions or where you are looking, grab a prop, pretend to eat food, etc. You have to work that chair!

Continuing to move as you take different photos gives you more options for later. If you end up liking multiple options, you can save them for later or use them in a carousel post. It also makes it more likely you have at least one image that you like at the end of it (because we can all be super critical of ourselves in photos!).

PRO TIP: If you’re not super comfortable in front of the camera have your photographer shoot on burst mode. This will take a continuous of photos and you can just move freely. If you want movement this is the best way to achieve it.

Lisa Homsy in Cuba with a broken ankle posing by the pool for an Instagram picture idea

How to Write Better Instagram Captions

I’ve personally always written lengthier captions. I never really felt like keeping it short and sweet helped me connect with my audience (although it would make posting a lot faster). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stared at a photo for hours or even days trying to figure out what to say.

It’s said that meaningful captions are more important than ever in 2020. People are looking to connect with authentic creators who continue to provide value to their audience. They are also more likely to save or share a post they find useful.

Consider it microblogging. Don’t be afraid to write a longer caption if it provides value to your audience. If you are writing just to write, it isn’t helping anyone, including you.

Something to keep in mind – when posting to Instagram I always ask myself:

  • What value is this bringing to my audience?
  • Am I teaching them something?
  • How am I inspiring them?
  • How is it engaging/ connecting with my tribe?

Here is an example of one of my captions:

View this post on Instagram

Is Egypt safe for women? This is a question I’ve gotten a lot during my time here and my answer is YES! (Save this post if you’re planning a trip soon!) 💃🏻💃🏻💃🏻💃🏼 Is it more conservative, yes. Should you dress more modestly, yes. Will you be haggled, yes. But never once did I feel endangered in the country. Like any country as a tourist you will stand out but a few ways to draw less attention to yourself are: . 🗿Covering up. Although we were told you could wear anything (within reason) we chose cover our shoulders and knees as much as possible to out of respect for the Muslim culture . 🗿Keep your cameras tucked away in a bag until ready to use them to draw less attention to yourself. I always travel with a mini backpack for a day bag . 🗿Rent a guide!!! THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE TIP FOR EGYPT! Of course you could do it on your own but with any country so rich in history I tend to prefer to pay a guide. Plus when you have someone local with you who can speak the language it makes a huge difference! Our guide Sam from @traveltalktours was the best guide I’ve ever had… EVER! . What else do you want to know about #egypt? 🇪🇬 📷: @explorerssaurus_ @boostsociety_ #thisisegypt #visitegypt

A post shared by LISA HOMSY 🌟 Travel (@lisahomsy) on

For every photo, think about a way to provide value. That can feel like a lot of pressure, but that value can come in the form of an entertaining story, helping your audience get to know you, allowing you to get to know your audience, or sharing tips with them.

For example, if you are in the travel niche, share tips about that location. Where should people stay? What should they see and do there? When is the best time to go?

If you are in beauty, how can people get that look? What products do they need? (Bonus: some of the brands you tag might want to work with you!) What are some tips to help someone use that product? IGTV and Youtube tutorials are a great option too!

For my fashion people, what are you wearing? How did you put that outfit together? What made you decide that was a good look or something that would be a fashion hit and not a fashion miss? Help people understand your thought process so they can start making similar decisions. Styling videos are super popular right now and so much fun to watch!

If you are in the food niche, you already make me hungry, so now help me make that recipe! It doesn’t always have to be you sharing a recipe in the caption though. What products do people need to make it? What are some tips to get the recipe to turn out the right way every time? What are some simple and quick recipes they can use for a party or for the picky eater in their life?

Here are some other examples of great captions:

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HOW TO FIND YOUR CREATIVE VOICE: Fake it till you make it – this is huge. Show the world what you’re made of!!! Just decide you already are what it is you want to become and own it. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Make them!!!! Ask ask ask. Ask for help. Ask a friend, ask a college, ask GOOGLE. Trust me, the info is out there is you are open. When the student is ready- the teacher will appear. Invest in yourself! If a creative profession is something you want, your body and your brain is your business. Take care of it. Find your tribe. Surround yourself with people who inspire and challenge you. Let go of relationships that “SUCK” Make some mantras! A few that have really helped me “IM EXACTLY WHERE IM SUPPOSED TO BE” “be brave, be kind” “just you wait” “be the change you wish to see in the world!” “Impossible things are happening everyday” Start the day by saying your thank you s! Think about what you’re thankful for, and let that gratitude and energy fill your cup. Visualize it filling your whole body- then you can start your day full! TAKE RISKS and leaps of faith. Maybe you need to quit your side job or try something new? If you dont believe in yourself- how can you expect anyone else to? BE VULNERABLE. this is one of the hardest but the most effective ways to find your voice. It isn’t easy to put yourself out there… but the response can be so powerful when you do. People relate to real, not perfect. Finding your voice doesn’t mean finding how to be “cool” or “trendy” or “the best” … it means being you… and that includes ALL of you. So share your moments of joy but also don’t be afraid share your fears. When others relate to you that’s when connections happen and there’s nothing more powerful than a voice with an army behind you to back it up. // Have any ideas to add?! I’d love to hear them!!! Let me know how you tap into your unique superpower below!👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 // Wearing brand new @needleandthreadlondon – my favorite brand. Can’t wait to show you more from this shoot! It was my favorite shoot of the year so far! I’m also hosting a dinner with the brand tonight so head to my stories to see the fun! Xo, Quigs

A post shared by Quigley Goode (@officiallyquigley) on

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Last summer we spent a romantic week in Tuscany where we would spend Mornings bathing in cliff top hot springs, dancing around sunflower fields with the warm sunset against our skin, spent our nights indulging in pasta wine in charming little villages 🍷 my heart aches for it! MY MUST SEE TUSCANY LIST: Stay at the small quaint village of Bagno Vignoni. It’s everything you imagined when it comes to the Tuscan countryside. Here you will find a secluded cliff top hot spring overlooking rolling green hills Plan your visit around Sunflower season and frolick around hundred upon hundreds of blooming fields My favourite hot spring is called Bagni San Filippo. We had the place all to ourselves and a lot less crowded then the famous Saturnia springs Take a drive to a location called Strada Provinciale del Pecorile to witness the classic Tuscan sunset (photo 1 & 2) Save this for when you visit Tuscany next! Hopefully in the near future 😍 #haylsapresets

A post shared by Hαуℓeу αndersen ❥ (@haylsa) on

Inspiration for captions can strike at odd moments, so keep a note on your phone with ideas. Write down things you could share whether it is funny stories, great tips, or inspirational/motivational topics, write it down. Even if it is just an idea of a topic you want to bring up with your audience, write it down.

Then, on those days where you feel like you have nothing to say, look at your note for ideas for captions. Even if none of them work, they might help spark an idea for a caption.

More Instagram Tips and Tricks?

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the rest of this series for my tips for working with brands with my FREE media kit template, my tips for growing a community on Instagram, and my tips for growing your blog and email list.

Bonus: Get a FREE Lightroom preset and my top editing tips here.

I’d love to heat from you if this was helpful or what tips & tricks you want to know more about next. I’ve got a couple more posts already planned for this series, but I’m happy to add more if you have more you want to learn from me – let me know below!

xx Lisa

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Struggling with posing for Instagram pictures? Figuring out what to shoot for Instagram content? Writing Instagram captions? Click here to dive into pushing your creative boundaries to get the perfect Instagram photo and how to write a meaningful Instagram caption to go with it. #instagram #instagramtips #influencertips | Instagram tips | Instagram caption ideas | Instagram caption tips | Instagram influencer tips | Instagram influencer poses | posing for Instagram ideas | posing ideas Instagram

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