Photographer Allie Provost’s Tips for Creating Viral Instagram Content

by Alexandra Ilyashov

The secret to great #content? Follow these hacks from experts on both sides of the camera. Here, photographer Allie Provost, aka pret a provost, shares her top tips. 

What initially interested you about photography?
While in college, I started teaching myself photography around the same time I began working on my own fashion blog in an effort to create higher quality images for my site. Needless to say, there was a lot of trial and error and I can’t forget those late-night YouTube tutorials. But I absolutely fell in love with photography and I never wanted to put my camera down. After I graduated college, I moved to New York for my first post-graduate job at Bloomingdale’s while still maintaining my blog on the side. It was at this time that I started taking photos for one of my friends Dana Mannarino, another NYC-based blogger, to really help me work on my skills. After a few months of shooting content for her, Dana texted me and told me to make a rate sheet because she was going to recommend me to another blogger in the city.

How did your business grow from there?
After my first official paying client, I slowly began to gain clients through word-of-mouth and photo credits on Instagram to the point where I couldn’t take on any more clients because I was still working full-time but now at Kate Spade. I realized after a few months of turning down jobs and client work that I wanted to try this full time. I left my full-time job in October of 2017 and I haven’t looked back. Since then, my work has been featured by Vogue.com and Instyle and I’ve had the opportunities to work with incredible clients like Wendy Nguyen of Wendy’s Look Book and Krystal Bick of This Time Tomorrow and travel to once-in-a-lifetime destinations like the Maldives and Lapland, Finland to photograph for clients and projects.

What makes for a really great photo for Instagram?
One of the main factors I take into account is the crop/framing. Instagram has completely shifted the format of how we, as the viewers, prefer images to be presented on our feeds. The 4:5 ratio has now dominated the space and it’s something I am constantly aware of when taking photos. Additionally, images on social media are viewed and scanned much quicker compared to traditional media, so it is integral that they are “scroll-stoppers” to keep people on the image longer. I always try to integrate some sort of wow factor in my client’s photos, whether it is interesting light, framing, location, or styling.

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strutting into the weekend 💛💜

A post shared by allie provost•nyc photographer (@pret.a.photo) on

How do you help or encourage influencers to be really comfortable in front of the camera?
I love helping people feel at ease when they are in front of the camera. For me, it’s getting people to laugh, smile, and feel good about themselves. Genuine expressions shine through best! I always give positive reinforcements or suggestions on what we should try next instead of focusing on something that they may be doing wrong, especially if I feel like someone is feeling uncomfortable. I’m never afraid to throw in a “YASSS!” to really get them to laugh and relax! If I’m in the studio, putting on music will always make shoots more fun and livelier, but if we are on location on the streets of Soho, don’t be surprised if I break out into an unrequested and off-key song! And finally, movement is key. Walking shots are always a classic. Not only does it take the stress out of posing, but it showcases how the outfit moves.

Filters or no filters?
I think filters are an amazing tool when used appropriately. I personally love edits that enhance the colors and textures instead of completely altering them. I’m not a fan of filters and edits that are so heavily applied that it distorts reality and the true tones are lost.

Any photo editing apps you swear by, or recommend to pros?
I use a mix between Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop on my desktop for 95 percent of my photos. Lightroom for global edits and overall tones, and Photoshop for local and more specific edits. Because my photos are taken in RAW format, these programs are able to read all of the data in these files with ease. When I’m on the go, I love A Color Story, VSCO, and Lightroom Mobile: all of which are very user-friendly. Each of these also allow me to make specific adjustments outside of simply adding a filter and having the ability to shift specific hues is a must for me.

What are your go-to locations for shooting influencer clients around NYC?
While I love the classic and iconic New York shots like the Brooklyn Bridge, Top of the Rock, and Central Park, I tend to favor locations that are off the beaten path like a quirky side street in TriBeCa that has the perfect amount of light peeping through.

What’s your biggest social media pet peeve?
When an influencer complains about the algorithm or their engagement. While I understand that the algorithm has seemingly made metrics fluctuate and can be frustrating, it’s important to remember the incredible benefits this platform has given so many people in this industry, including myself.

How much do you shoot on an iPhone vs. an actual camera?
I shoot the majority of my personal content that’s posted to my feed and all client photos on my camera. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV with a variety of lenses, but my most commonly used lens is a 50mm f/1.2. My Insta Stories are almost always from my iPhone XS Max.

Who are your favorite people to follow on social media currently?
Photographer @mrwhite_, because he captures light so effortlessly and has such a unique eye for composition. Shoe and accessory brand @brothervellies, which offers more than just the typical picture of a pair of shoes. Also @brookedidonato because her pieces are so surreal, all while remaining aesthetically pleasing

Who are your dream brand clients?
I would love to shoot something for Miu Miu, Lela Rose, or Kate Spade.

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