Home Instagram How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram

How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram

January 19, 2017

How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram | Happy Grey Lucky

One of the things that draws me to photography is trying to capture something you see everyday – something completely common or mundane, if you will – in a different way. I’m always looking for that unique angle that catches the eye and draws you in. One of my favourite ways to take Instagram photos these days is from way up top, looking down. Whether it’s a shot of Nicolas sleeping in his crib, wrapping presents on the bed, or sitting on the sofa, I love the perspective of watching the scene unfold as if you were a fly on the ceiling.

I get quite a few questions on how I take these top-down photos on Instagram, so I figured I’d write up a quick how-to post. And good news: My method requires no #InstagramHusband or fancy camera equipment. Just some painters tape and a piece of cardboard. Oh and a free iPhone app.

How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram | Happy Grey Lucky

[ Step 1 ] Fold your piece of cardboard into a little shelf. I just took an Amazon box (I order my entire life off of Amazon) and cut off a strip hence my perfectly rounded sides. (I’m not that OCD.)

How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram | Happy Grey Lucky

[ Step 2 ] Tape your little contraption to the ceiling, place your iPhone on your “shelf”, et voilá, you’ve got yourself a phone holder. It might not look pretty but it gets the job done and doesn’t ruin your ceiling.

How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram | Happy Grey Lucky

[ Step 3 ] If you don’t already have one, make sure to get a self-timer app for your phone. I use Photo Timer+ (free) and it works pretty well. It let’s you set up how many photos you’d like to take and the interval between photos (I do 10 photos with 3 seconds in between). It has a set countdown of only 3 seconds before taking the first photo so you will get some lovely setup shots like these:

How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram | Happy Grey Lucky

There’s probably a better app out there that gives you the option to extend that countdown to let you get into position before it starts snapping away, but I’ve honestly been too lazy to look. This works just fine for me and I just delete the less-than-stellar first couple of photos as I’m getting into place. (If you find a better app, let me know!)

Note: The native iPhone camera lets you self-timer a photo but (as far as I can tell) there’s no way of doing a photo burst (aka taking more than one photo at a time).

How to take a perfect top-down photo for Instagram | Happy Grey Lucky

That’s it! Easy peasy. I also love that, since the phone isn’t handheld, you don’t need quite as much natural light to get a decent photo. The light in my living room is generally too dark for iPhone photography but these self-timered shots come out pretty decent!

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16 comments

Angela Kim January 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm

These are great tips. Thanks so much! Love your photos and your blog. I visit frequently. 🙂

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Sina January 19, 2017 at 10:09 pm

That’s so sweet of you to say, thanks Angela! And I’m glad my post was helpful 🙂

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Jenn January 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

This was extremely helpful. I would have never thought it was this easy.
The Pepper Express

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Sina January 19, 2017 at 10:13 pm

I’m glad I could help! It’s definitely a nice and easy solution (albeit not very pretty haha)

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Linda January 19, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Sometimes the best things are just the simplest ones 🙂

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Sina January 19, 2017 at 10:13 pm

Absolutely! 🙂

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Ana January 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm

But maybe you can’t get up to the ceiling, maybe you can make a shelf on the wall, and set your phone on it like that too? I mean, my ceilings are pretty high but I always admired these pictures haha

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Sina January 23, 2017 at 11:12 pm

Yes, absolutely, lol, wall would work as well. I’m 5’11” and my ceilings aren’t that high so I can reach them with standing on furniture 😛

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ashley January 24, 2017 at 10:37 am

okay this is amazing. who would have thought it would be so easy! thanks for sharing 🙂

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Sina January 25, 2017 at 8:18 am

You’re very welcome! 🙂

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Alisa January 25, 2017 at 6:54 pm

There’s a tiny blue tooth camera remote you hold in your hand to take photos with your iPhone. It’s called HISY. You can hide it in your palm so it won’t show up in photos. I’ve never used one, but I’ve seen it used on Instagram. Maybe that’s something you’d want to try? Thank you for this post. I’ve always wondered how these types of photos are taken.

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Sina January 25, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Thank you so much for the tip! That little remote looks amazing, going to go buy it now! xx

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Amanda April 3, 2017 at 11:08 am

Was so curious how everyone did this shots! I imagined someone balancing precariously on their tippy toes just out of frame holding a phone way up lol. Thanks for sharing!

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Sina April 7, 2017 at 8:54 am

Haha that’s how it started but eventually I wanted to be able to take photos without my hubby 😛

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Katie McC | Katie's Kronicles April 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Wow pretty awesome! I seriously never thought of doing that. I just figured people had husbands or people who stood over them all the time taking the photos lol. Good to know! This could potentially give so many other cool photo ideas, especially for when my fixed lens is what to zoomed in to capture what I am wanting. Thanks for the tips.

-Katie
http://www.katieskronicles.org

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Sina April 13, 2017 at 11:22 am

I definitely used to have a husband standing over me taking photos but his pesky 9-5 job was getting in the way haha. 😛 There’s definitely so much potential there! I’ve used my mirrorless camera with a fixed lens on the ceiling before as well. I love that it distorts less than when you use a wider lens but closer to your subject.

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