Popular Pictures on Instagram: A Virtual Feast for the Eyes

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 27, 2024

Want More Real Instagram Followers?

What makes a good Instagram photo? What makes popular pictures on Instagram popular? Knowing and applying the basics of good photography can help you get more likes on your post. But you can leave the technical details to the pros. Just take photos of what you love and use your personal aesthetics. 

If you’re a fashion influencer, share photos related to your fashion niche. If you’re a pet lover, take photos of your pets. Getting lots of double taps on a picture is mostly about what you and your target audience find appealing and can relate to. 

Photo of the milky way at night with trees below.

Most Popular Instagram Photos: What Types of Photos Get the Most Likes?

Excluding celebrity photos, what are the most popular Instagram photos? What types of photos get the most likes? Here are the types of images that get the most appreciation and become popular pictures on Instagram.

  1. Nature photography. This type of photography includes landscape, panoramic, and wildlife images. Pictures that capture the beautiful colors of nature or animals in action never fail to rack up the likes. 
  2. Macro photography. Thanks to the fierce competition in smartphone technology. Stunning macro images are just a few clicks away with the right phone camera. 
  3. Beauty shots. Selfies and professional beauty shots are all over Instagram. These are a must, of course, if you’re a model or beauty influencer. Find the most flattering angles and light. Use a pleasing background. Make sure you or your model connects with your audience through the image. 
  4. Urban photography. Depending on your target audience, aerial or architectural shots or images uniquely framing urban life often become crowd favorites. 
  5. Events and sports photography. If the most-liked IG photos are any indication, pictures of sports events are huge on the platform. You don’t need to be as famous as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to have popular pictures on Instagram. You’ll have a winner if you can capture that one perfect moment for your Instagram audience.  
  6. Editorial shots. Editorial photography covers a wide range of concepts, but the basic idea is to tell a story in your picture. An article on Adobe.com elaborates on the narrative element of editorial pictures: “Editorial portraits can focus on an individual’s life or passions, while a fashion editorial could focus more specifically on an individual garment or fashion line.
  7. Unstaged or candid photographs. Time-lapse photos capturing candid moments, behind-the-scenes shots, and other perfectly timed images of people in action easily wow audiences. 
A photo of a family of orca whales as one of Nat Geo's popular pictures on Instagram.

Popular Photos on Instagram for Businesses: 6 Tips To Get the Perfect Shots

Businesses on Instagram have to get creative to “sell” themselves to their audience without being salesy. You know you’ve found the sweet spot when your pictures are greatly appreciated. Here are six tips to help fill your grid with popular photos on Instagram. 

1. Post Enticing and Relatable Product Photos To Have Popular Pictures on Instagram

This is marketing 101, and your followers already expect to see product photos on your page. But you can level up a post’s appeal by sharing a picture of your product being used, whether by a model or a customer. Or put products against an unexpected background or within a unique setting. You can get as creative as you want as long as you stay true to your brand identity. Make it easier for your followers to learn more about your products and to shop by adding product tags to your posts. 

Here are additional tips from Instagram:

  • Highlight unique features by showing products in use.
  • Keep colors consistent with your brand.
  • Use natural light for bright, balanced photos.
  • Tell a deeper story with up to 10 pictures and videos in a carousel post. 
  • Showcase different angles to highlight benefits.
  • Use hashtags to make posts more discoverable.
  • Tag partners to bring them into the conversation.
  • Add your location so customers can find your business.

2. Join the Seasonal Hype With Seasonal Images

The hype surrounding different seasons and holidays is an opportunity for you to join the bandwagon of popular pictures on Instagram. Make your posts stand out with a unique theme, whether it’s a simple color theme or a full-blown concept. And don’t forget to use popular hashtags for the #holiday or #season! 

Incorporate the warm colors of fall into your content strategy. Use summer elements to make your images bright and cheery. Share pictures that depict romance, family togetherness, or gratitude to fit the season and get more likes on your IG posts

Are you a beauty influencer? Create different looks for different seasons. Are you an interior or furniture designer? Share ideas for how to spruce up a home for the holidays. Do you sell custom-made jewelry? Set up a themed background or display for your pieces. 

An easter-themed cupcake with tiny easter eggs on top.

3. Post Popular Photos on Instagram With a Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes

Some of the most popular pictures on Instagram are those that take viewers behind the scenes. You can try this strategy yourself by sharing a carousel post of your products being created, packaged, or used. Create a story around your products. 

Feature your raw materials. What’s the inspiration behind your newest product? Can they be used in different ways? Show your employees at work and engage with customers. Share photos that illustrate your company culture.  

If you commission artwork, share photos of your work in progress. If you’re a baker, take photos of customized cakes you create for your customers. If you have an organic store, feature your local suppliers in your pictures. 

4. Show How Your Brand Fits Into Your Local Community

If you have a physical store, take photos that show how welcoming your place of business is. Capture your busiest hours. Take candid shots of customers hanging out with their family and friends, laughing, or just spending some quiet time by themselves. Make your store more inviting by taking pictures of your interiors and exterior at different times of the day. 

Give your local followers a sense of community and connection. Share images of the immediate areas surrounding your store, taken from a customer’s viewpoint inside, maybe while they’re enjoying a cup of coffee. You can also walk around outside and take pictures of well-known and beloved local landmarks, the city skyline, or folks going about their daily life. Capture a rainbow in a picture, your business sign while it’s raining, the month’s full moon, or similar images that local followers can relate to. 

Man waving and leaning out of a store window.

5. Know What Your Audience Wants

While earning more followers is a constant goal, keeping your current followers happy should always be one of your top priorities. Remember that high engagement trumps high follower counts in terms of business performance. Take advantage of your existing followers to help you attract new ones. Know what your audience wants, give it to them, and they’ll help you have popular pictures on Instagram through their engagement. 

It’s also important to regularly reevaluate your audience’s interests. What has always been a big hit with them in the past may no longer have the same impact on them today because their interests have evolved. You should adapt to their changing needs and the changing times while remaining true to your brand.  

Another thing to remember is that the larger and more diverse your audience is, the more diverse their interests will be. So the saying “You can’t please everybody, and you shouldn’t try to” applies here. The best you can do is create different content strategies that will appeal to the different interests of your various follower sub-groups. 

Ask yourself the following questions to help you craft a suitable strategy for sharing photos your audience will like:

  • Which of your photos had the most impact on your audience? 
  • What hours of the day and days of the week do you get the most views and engagement?
  • What types of photos get the most engagement on your competitors’ pages?

6. Engage Your Audiences Daily Through Stories To Have Popular Pictures on Instagram

When you share a post that you want to rank as among the popular pictures on Instagram for that day and the days after, post the photo to your stories as well. Add a call to action to prompt viewers to tap the photo and check out the original post. Arouse your followers’ curiosity by adding multiple photos to your stories to share fragments of one photo. Again, prompt viewers to check out the original post to view the complete image. 

If you’re still struggling for inspiration, it’s always a good idea to take a look at what brands similar to yours are doing right. Find out what posts make the most impact and get the most engagement. 

Photo of an egg which quickly became the number one most popular photo on Instagram.

How To Get Your Picture on Instagram’s Popular Page: Shine the Spotlight on Your Photos

We’re not talking about just using #popular in your caption. You can get your pictures on Instagram’s popular page in several ways. The platform features users and their photos in their official account’s story highlights. For example, you can instantly have popular pictures on Instagram if you get featured in their FutureMakers or Creatives story highlights.  

How can you create photos that are worthy of such a spotlight? Here are some pointers for picture-perfect IG posts!

  • Use symmetry in your photos. Symmetry appeals to most people’s visual aesthetics. Symmetrical patterns evoke a sense of “rightness” in the world and give viewers a sense of pleasure. 
  • Use a captivating background. The right background can instantly add character to or create the desired atmosphere for a photo. Make sure not to use a background that’s too light or too dark and unflattering for your main subject. Put anything plain or “basic” in front of a gorgeous backdrop to play around with composition. Or choose bold and contrasting colors or patterns to focus viewers’ attention on your subject. 
  • Simulate motion. Motion adds personality and depth to an image, whether the photo is candid or staged. It can make a picture come alive in every sense of the word. 
  • Know what’s trending. If your main goal is to be featured on Instagram’s page to get tons of likes and have popular pictures on Instagram, find out what types of content are getting the spotlight. Don’t just copy what you see in these popular IG photos. Study the elements that jump out at you. Use the same elements when you create your own images and add your unique identity to your shots.  

Young woman wearing makeup art and gothic clothes featured on Instagram's page.

You Need More Than Popular Pictures on Instagram for Rewarding Growth

Having popular pictures on Instagram is a good indicator of Instagram success. For brands, determining why pictures become popular among their target audience is crucial to sustaining their success. 

Take note that Instagram growth is a continuous process. Your target audiences’ interests will keep changing. Industry trends will come and go. Your popular pictures on Instagram today may not have the same appeal when you share them again, or similar ones, a year later. You must keep tabs on what types of visual content your followers like to consume. You need to keep pace with their changing needs. 

Growing a business on Instagram requires constantly earning new followers. Reaching a new audience is always tricky, whether you’re targeting a new demographic or not. And if you’re new on Instagram, getting your first 100 followers and then growing this number to reach the 1k mark is a slow and frustrating process.  

If you have already mastered the art of creating beautiful content, you can get expert help to put your stunning photos in front of an appreciative audience. A company like Path Social can help you do just that. 

Path Social uses advanced, proprietary AI technology for precise audience targeting. They will track down real users who are right for your brand, whatever niche you’re in. Their in-house team of social media specialists will help you promote your content to your target audience. You’ll be able to reach potential new followers whose interests align with the content you’re offering. Your brand will grow with followers who will deliver quality engagement time and time again. 

Trusted by more than 20 thousand Instagram brands across all niches and industries, Path Social is your best bet for lasting and rewarding growth. Start growing and gaining Instagram followers today!