February 05, 2016

How I Got Serious With Instagram – Part One

How I got serious with instagram

Instagram and I are in one heck of an ongoing serious relationship. If Instagram is the cool calm and collected husband with the ability to seduce with one scroll of his perfect looking feed, I am fast becoming the obsessive wife, ever eager to please.

All crazy relationship similes aside, I did wonder at the point of starting this post just how I was going to avoid actually end up writing a book on the subject. When asked about Instagram I can go on for HOURS about how and why I love it.

In the interest of not having you sit here reading this until next week, I decided on making it a two or possibly three part series.

Right off the bat let me say that there are so many brilliant Instagram hints and tips posts out there with fellow bloggers, photographers and all round general good eggs willing to share their knowledge. Sharing is good – we like the sharing.

The other thing to point out before I launch my own well-intended wisdom *coughs* out into the blogosphere is that Instagram can be exactly what you want it to be. Instantaneous, branded, curated, raw and unedited, random, bright and colourful, minimal and monochrome or all of the above mixed together – Instagram welcomes you whoever you are.

Some people don’t enjoy a perfect looking feed, feeling it creates a false impression of “the perfect life” and likewise, other folk get most irate when they come across a feed full of five fuzzy pictures of the snapper’s kid/dog/new handbag/hamster in a row. RIP Fluffball and #Hamstagram.

This post is written from the perspective of one who has been using the platform since approximately 2.00pm June 4th 2011 (use Iconosquare? If not you really should!) and, having been in both of the above camps, now feels like she’s finally getting closer to nailing that minimal Instagram feed thing. My 10k goal is looming somewhere out there on the horizon, I know it!

So if you’re after a consistently beautiful and edited feed that you feel represents your brand/blog/business/personality etc. but are left wondering every time you come across another gorgeous feed, how DO they do that, this is the post for you!

white roses from flower stall

PIN DOWN YOUR AESTHETIC

It took me eons to realise that the thing that made my clap my hands in delight on finding another beautifully minimal Instagram feed to follow was that it was consistency of tone and shade that hooked me in. And to a degree, the subject matter of course.

My tones are black and white (like you didn’t know that already), caramels, a touch of blush here and there, silvery grey, gold, the palest of blues and cream. The colours that are definitely NOT allowed in are green, bright red, purple and bright orange. I’ve learnt to not take photos that have too many of these tones to help simplify the process.

Look at your 3 x 3 – does it feel cohesive? I have days when it doesn’t and it really bothers me. Any Instagram obsessive who says they don’t feel my fanatical pain is fibbing!

minimal instagram feed

EDIT OUTSIDE OF INSTAGRAM

Having spent years messing about with the filters on Instagram and wondering why my feed still looked like a hot mess, I finally got on board with the concept of editing before getting anywhere near Instagram.

I mentioned Snapseed and VSCO in this post here and since that workshop in October, have been working on pinning down my editing style in both. For Snapseed I use Tune Image to up the brightness, take down any shadows, de-saturate and then up the contrast.

Then I use VSCO to add a filter – I bought the Minimalist collection (natch) for about £3 and love love love J2. I adjust the level of this according to the subject matter of the photo. By following the exact same process for every image, give or take a necessary tweak here or there, my feed generally ends up with the same overall feel to it.

You can see the before and after below after of taking this image through the process above. It sounds laborious but now I do it about ten times a day, it takes a matter of seconds.

Before and after edting

EVERYDAY’S A SCHOOL DAY

Be prepared to always be evolving. I thought after I attended this workshop I knew it all – Pah Ha Ha! There is ALWAYS something new to learn or try with Instagram. I learnt at least two more things from reading this brilliantly curated (there’s that word again!) Instagram improvement post from Monica.

Experiment with your photos – thats the beauty of editing outside of Instagram. Follow feeds you love and scroll through, taking note of what it is that they do that turns you onto their particular aesthetic.

Spend time practicing the art of the flat lay. Hell, I’ve only just discovered this entire feed DEDICATED to the flat lay. I may have danced around the room a little bit.

coffee notepad and pen

Photo by Marlene Lee (one of my Instagram wives!)

GET YOURSELF AN INSTAGRAM HUSBAND

If you’ve seen the hilarious but teeth grindingly true Instagram Husband video (if not, stop what you’re doing and watch it here now!), you’ll get what I’m talking about. A bit of fun but honestly, having someone else to take the shot when you really need it sometimes helps. I now have an actual Instagram husband, an Instagram daughter and several Instagram wives fellow bloggers/Instagram obsessives who when we meet up, are willing to be on hand when my bodily contortions no longer suffice.

On a similar note I no longer blush furiously whilst looking like a loon in public just to get the shot I want. This involves anything from standing up on one leg in a coffee shop and holding my phone high in the air to repeatedly walking backwards and forwards outside a really attractive front door.

Sorry if that was you inside your house listening to repetitive footsteps and a husband shouting instructions from across the street.

Sophie Hulme bag and studded flats

KNOW YOUR CONTENT? REPRESENT IT!

If you’re building a brand, (possibly the most used phrase among bloggers but not without good reason) make sure your Instagram feed reflects what you’re all about.

In several vain attempts to get my Instagram feed how I wanted it, I spent a lot of time posting a myriad of different things and without much impact. It wasn’t until I sat down with a very creative and clever friend who pointed out what she thought my blog stood for that I realised it had all gotten a bit random.

This is still a work in progress for me but I’m attempting to incorporate a more even mix of personal style, blog content related pictures and elements that help to #ElevateTheEveryday. More on that and those other pesky hashtags next time.

In concentrating on making my feed feel more cohesive with the blog, I was finally able to nail down my Instagram and other social media profile descriptions too.

So there you have it – a condensed version and I’m not even close to done yet! If you want to know more, check out Part Two here!

Happy Snapping! xx

Recommended (REALLY GREAT) Reading & Resources

How To Improve Your Photography in 2016 – Emily Quinton’s free online taster course

Five Articles To Help Improve Your Instagram Game – The Elgin Avenue

iPhone Editing 101 – Sarah Sherman Samuel


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17 comments on “How I Got Serious With Instagram – Part One”

    1. Thanks Simone! That’s the good thing though don’t you think? Little, none or some knowledge and everyone can create their chosen feed. I have to stop myself from losing hours on it. What with that and Pinterest its a wonder any blogging happens at all! xx

  1. My new year’s resolution was to be a bit more consistent at Instagram, so this is a massive help, thank you! (Unfortunately I now seem to have gone from posting lots of random stuff to posting very little. Partly that’s down to working full time and not getting anywhere photogenic often enough! ) Just love your feed x

    1. Thanks so much Julie! It is really time consuming if you want to make it more consistent and as you say, actually having time to go places is difficult. Building up a stock of lovely images when you’re able to and posting them as later-grams is really great for that. xx

  2. Amanda your feed DOES look incredible – I think having a colour scheme is what it’s all about!! I’m very much in favour of a feed that has a cohesive look to it, I tend to follow accounts after I’ve glimpsed at their profile, not just at individual images. Your neutral tones are superb… I just couldn’t do minimal myself (though I wish I could!) – For my IG I went for the colour scheme of my blog which is soft peaches, pinks and blues, and I ban black and green. Your tips are fantastic – and good luck with the 10k!!

    Catherine x

    1. Thanks Catherine! I’m with you on the having to see the whole feed and the magical 3 X 3 to get a feel for it. That’s the beauty of it isn’t it – to be able to have it echo your blog colour scheme makes for a cohesive overall message. So glad you liked the post and Happy Snapping! Amanda xx

    1. VSCO is brilliant isn’t it Kayleigh? It took me a long time to get on board with the editing outside of Instagram concept but once you do it there’s no looking back! Enjoy your Insta-snapping! Amanda x

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