For photographer and filmmaker Gareth Pon, the simple things in life are often the most inspiring. This accessible approach to the human spirit can be found in everything he does and has earned him acclaim that spans the globe. Since giving up his childhood dream of interstellar travel, Gareth has combined his passion for creativity with his love for people and progress. Today, he is the founder of the South African Instagramers Community, and in 2014 was named Africa’s top Instagram artist. A staunch believer that, “Creativity is found when we are wildly innocent,” Gareth is regularly invited to share his knowledge of photography, creative expression, and online communities to help increase awareness of products and brands throughout the digital world.
With more than 230K Instagram followers, Gareth has built a highly engaged audience that finds inspiration in his attention to beauty, texture, color and emotion – all part of his knack for telling a compelling visual narrative. Despite his busy schedule, he was gracious enough to provide us with insight into his creative process, as well as a few tips, tricks and techniques for taking better photos on Instagram.
1. Create a conversation.
There’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to taking photos. But there is an underlying story, and that’s what an image should show. He says, “You should always be communicating through your image. Whether it be a subtle message of beauty or a visually compelling story of hope.”
Gareth adds, “It’s the story that will always make you feel the image rather than just seeing it.”
While an image can spark conversation, a few carefully placed details can enhance its overall reception. Gareth’s image above illustrates this well. Not only is it visually compelling, but Gareth also uses Instagram’s geo-tag and captioning to add invaluable context. From the image, we see a man, we see glass, and we see buckets of sand. By tagging and captioning his photo accordingly, Gareth invites us on an adventure, transporting us to Petra, Jordan and introducing us to a local artisan and his craft.
2. Have a perspective.
It’s easy to take a photograph, upload it to an app, and think great, my work here is done. But Gareth would argue that you’re missing out. Some of the best images, he believes, can be born from the same scene. It’s all about thinking outside of the box and being playful in the environment you’re in.
In Gareth’s words: “Be sure to always approach the subject you’re shooting from different angles and distances. Experiment with different framing and interesting perspectives while still keeping in mind that composition makes a good image.”
3. Look to your lighting.
Inside or outside? Flash or no flash? Dawn or dusk? “By studying light and how it affects the way your scene looks,” says Gareth, “you’ll get the result you want in an image.” Gareth explains that light can be complex, but there are certain elements to seek out to make your photos shine. “Consider the time of day, the character of shadows, and the color of the light,” he says. “Remember that light is ultimately your tool. The more you learn how to use it the better your photos will be.”
Level Up Your Instagram Game
Learn more about Gareth and 11 other top Instagram influencers in our latest guide: Instafamous! In it, you’ll find 25 tips and many more beautiful images to inspire your next photoshoot.