From a self professed Instagram addict, I have to admit – Instagram is my jam. All those pretty pictures for inspiration I can look at, at the drop of a hat, just really puts a boost in my day. But while I’m addicted to this particular form of social media, I think my profession as a photographer gives me a little leeway for my visual obsession. It took me a while to get used to taking photos with my phone, I was after all a “real” photographer (phone snob). But eventually I relented and the social media app has kind of transformed how I see the world. ” Oooo gurl that would be a great Instagram ” I overheard someone say at a coffee shop. It has singlehandedly developed new subcultures around taking photographs so much so , there are parodies constantly being made about this phenomenon.
Some people however, don’t get how it works. They will post 8 similar photos in a row (unfollow) or never wipe the smudges off their phone lens so everything is…well cloudy looking. Or they are still using out of date filters that look like they are gramming 2010. Some they simply don’t know how to take decent photos or don’t care. If you are interested in this this at all ( which I think you are because you have read this far), I hope I can help. Instagram has become a community where meet ups happen, friends are made, and advertisers sell. The way we take photos has changed because of it.
I don’t have the best Instagram in the world but I know a little something about taking photos after 10 years of doing it professionally. Mine is usually associated with day to day stuff so there’s not really a niche to it, but I enjoy the challenge of making ordinary things look pretty. My husband is annoyed by my food photos, my friends roll their eyes at me when I ask them politely to “take it again but like this…” photos are my world, they have always been. But this social media app as actually encouraged me to DO more things. It’s even changed the way I travel. Suddenly I started appreciating the environment that surrounds me in a way that I wouldn’t have before. Places I wouldn’t feel comfortable whipping out my giant DSLR (to avoid looking like a tourist), I can now capture in seconds with my phone. When I have free time, I think about photos I would like to take that would inspire me. It’s given me a platform to want to take more photos daily. Sometimes that is a photo of my coffee and sometimes it a sunset in Bali. Either way my world become a lot more beautiful.
You don’t have to be a blogger to start creating art. “But Alea, it’s Instagram…it ain’t even that deep…” Trust me, I hear you.
For the few people that don’t give a damn about making new connections, business, inspiration, or simply sharing their world with the world – this post is not for you. But recently I have been getting asked over and over from a photographers perspective, how people can visually help their instagram feed to attract new followers, engagement or the like. So from what I gather, this is my opinion on why no one cares about your boring Instagram.
1.You have no aesthetic. You forgot about the feed as a whole. Serious Instagrammers live and die by the feed. You kind of take photos of things at random with no rhyme or reason. Some people can do that well because they have chosen a color palette that they stick to , or even just a certain edit that gives their feed a cohesive look. Everything doesn’t have to match but cultivating a style creates a visual voice. Apps like Vsco, afterlight, or snapseed are great go to’s. Choose a look you want and stick with it ( at least 12 posts at a time I say).
2.Your photos aren’t good. This is a hard one to explain because who determines what a good photo is? “How dare you criticize my art!” I know. Well bad filters will mess up a good photo right away. These hyper vintage looking filters that just throw up all over your photo are out. People got tired of it and now seem to prefer more clean looking palettes. It’s likely why Instagram changed their classic blue interface to white. It’s cleaner. Also, you might notice the majority of photos taken of “regular” things are taken from birds eye view (symmetrically above). Visually most people are attracted to balance/symmetry. Flat lays are an integral part of Instagram. Next is, you’re likely taking a photo with a phone so make sure you can account for good lighting. Natural light is my go to, but I see other people using flash really nicely with a nice filter and making it look cool. But if flash is too advanced, stick with natural light. Just look up ” How to take a good photo with your phone ” and I’m sure you will find a myriad of blogs to assist with that. Someone is going to hang me for saying this, but everyone can be a good photographer. It just take a little effort.
3.You want people to follow/like you but you don’t do the same. Don’t be an IG snob. This is a community, share the wealth. Go to your favorite hashtag and see all the photos that might inspire you to do better and like them. You get what you give.
4.You don’t know how to tell a story creatively. Ever heard a picture is worth a 1000 words? Photos tell stories. Find a way to style your photo to tell a story. I was going on a road trip so I thought this ( left photo) would be a cute way to tell the world I’m going on a trip rather than just shooting a photo of me in the car. One of my best friends and I wanted to make pancakes one morning but I decidedly knew I wanted to make a bunch and stack them on top of each other for this (on the right) photo. Utilizing props are a fun way to spice up your feed. ” Wow Alea, you are such a fake, none of your life is actually real” I hear the haters, but when it comes to styling a photo, you can use props that make sense to tell a story. We ate the pancakes for breakfast so…. it wasn’t fake, we just made something ordinary, extraordinary. Being a wedding photographer , you really think the bride’s shoes and dress just happened to get placed all gorgeously in that window on its own? Hell nah. I put it there to tell a story of the day, and you can do that too.
5. You don’t share who you are. People want to follow a people not things, so show your face! I’m not saying make your whole feed selfies of you in the car before work (unfollow) but show who you are ! Be a little vulnerable and let us into your life because you also have an unique perspective to give to the world. I know it sounds weird but in a world that has primarily turned to social media for connection, you might as well make the best of it. I started a very vulnerable fitness journey IG (not shared here) to help myself stay accountable in losing weight. And in my vulnerability, I made new encouraging friends that helped me believe in myself and keep me accountable and I have lost 20 lbs! Sometime’s its not about how good the photo is but how much you open up. Sharing is caring. I get the highest amount of engagement from selfies that don’t look like “Yup I’m the shit, look how good I look ” because those are annoying. I typically share selfies when I’m about to share something personal about myself.
6.You don’t post enough or your post too much. 1-3 times a day is enough. But when you post 10 posts in one day ( if you’re traveling I get it, I’m guilty of that) But 10 posts of your kid or dog or outfit is too much. Or you’re on the other side of the spectrum and you post once a month, you can bet that either people will stop caring or forget about you all together.
7. You’re captions are lame. Get creative or descriptive with what you want to say. Add your own voice/life into it. Don’t just use someone else’s quote every time you post something. It’s ok once in a while but it gets old fast. People want to know what you think. Clever captions get likes from me every time.
8. YOU are boring. You enjoy comfort too much to get outside of yourself and see the environment around you. This post is not meant to say you need to be inundated with your phone but instead sharing your world around you. Making art out of the experiences that you have daily and giving beauty to the rest of the world. Who knew a social media app could do that very thing? Sometimes friends and I leave the house just to “take instagrams”. It might sound dumb but the aspect of creating art on a daily basis has gotten me off my derrière more than a few times to take photos and thus given my life more experiences I wouldn’t have had and thus more excitement.
I hope this post inspired you to do more with not just your instagram but your life! Get out and go make experiences so you don’t have a boring life . Until next time! ❤ Alea
99% these photo were taken with my phone.