According to the app, its a grand total of 78 weeks since I joined Instagram and I feel like its taken me until fairly recently to really 'get it'.
Its not that I'm a social media newbie, or that I'm not really into photography. (In fact nothing could be much further from the truth!) Its just that its taken me a while to work out how I want to use it and what I want to upload there. So I thought I'd share my thoughts with you so you can be a bit quicker off the mark than my 78 weeks! (note- I did have a baby in the middle of that so I was a tad busy at times!)
Life before I joined Instagram...
For me, Instagram was something I saw cool folk using from their iPhones and it seemed to have an air of 'geek chic' about it. At times that was a bit intimidating- especially when I was off on maternity leave; I didn't think my life at home with endless feeds and nappy changes was cool enough compared to my friends that seemed to be out and about in London, Paris, well, anywhere other than Maidenhead really...
Nowadays you can get Instagram on iPhone, on Android, and if you use a third party app like 6Tag you can even get it on Windows phones too. So its everywhere, accessible to us all.
But I don't think I'm the only one that has felt a bit intimidated by it as I often see people join and then not post anything (or just a photo of what they're having for tea, or duplicates of photos they've stuck on Facebook already) so I've put together a few tips to get you thinking and hopefully to help make you a bit more confident about sharing photos. Bear in mind these are just my humble opinions, I'm very aware that its not only a social site, but a creative and photography site too so there shouldn't really be any rules!
Have a workflow
Oooh, now doesn't that make you sound like a professional photographer already!
All this means really is that you need to think about what you post and take your time over it instead of uploading every photo you take. I like to take lots of photos, choose a favourite, edit in an App like Snapseed or PicTapGo and then upload to Instagram. Sometimes I'll use the Instagram built in features too. If that sounds too long winded then you can go straight to Instagram and use their effects on their own. I like to think its worth taking a bit of time over it though!
|Some of the apps I use (not all at once!)|
|PicTapGo gives you lots of great effects to choose from|
Imagine that you're the editor of a glossy magazine and you're looking for a shot for the front cover or to catch people's eye as they read an article. If you've taken 5 or 6 shots of the kids having fun in the park, work out which one of those shots is the killer photo, crop it, edit it if you need to, upload it and then move onto your next inspiration. (It can be really hard to decide, but its worth it!) For me, Instagram is about bold statements, not narrative so you don't need to upload lots of versions of the same shot. Save those similar shots for your Facebook album if you want to show people more than one photo, or make a collage photo using an app like Pic Frame or Collage.
Choosing one bubble shot was hard, there were lots more, but I loved her expression here!
I couldn't decide which was my favourite so I made a collage. You can lose hours doing this!
This is the most important, but sometimes trickiest bit to master.
Getting creative doesn't just mean 'add a sepia tint' to your photo, although we're probably all guilty of trying to do that sometimes. Instead, I think you need to look at the photo, decide what it is about the photo that you like - decide what it was that caught your eye in the first place, and then look at how it could be enhanced- if its something brightly coloured then use the different filters to accentuate. Instagram is a creative space so people won't be judging you for enhancing you photos or making them look unrealistic, you can be as arty as you like.
Here are some of my 'before and afters'. For me its all about colour and crop! (Although I acknowledge that at least 50% of these contain alcohol, whoops!)
Add a caption. And a hashtag!
On Facebook the most popular status updates and posts are ones that have photos in them too and the same theory applies on Instagram. Tell people whats in the shot, tag yourself at the location, tease us, talk to us. Its all part of the fun! Look at what you've taken a photo of and add hashtags as labels eg 'sunset'. That way other people will be able to find your images and you'll broaden your Instagram circle by being able to find other people with similar creative styles and inspirations too.
Its cool to be square
The square crop took me a while to get my head round. Years of using my 'big' camera for landscapes and travel photography meant that I would take photos using as wide an angle as possible. It was all about sky, clouds and architecture for me. I wasn't used to getting so close to the action or singling one thing out to focus on. Plus, these all needed my SLR, my tripod and a very expensive lens! Not to mention a computer and expensive software to edit them.
|Lovely images, but you should have seen the size of my camera bag! HEAVY!|
But there's a simple answer to working within squares.... decide what it is thats caught your eye and then get VERY close to it. Don't use the zoom feature on your smartphone (unless its the 41megapixel Nokia 1020) as you'll just be reducing the quality of the image. Use your feet, crouch down, stand on tip toe, whatever it takes to mean you get a great shot. Plus, your phone is always with you so its really quick to snap away as many shots as you like and then edit them later when you get chance- no need to wait till you get to a computer at all.
I wanted to take a photo of her new wellies, this was my first snap and then I got inspired to be more creative when we went outside
Funky Crop? Check. Added Vibrance? Check? Result: Looking Good!
Still stuck for ideas?
Just have a go. It doesnt matter if you dont think you have anything inspirational or photogenic to post - don't get photographers block like I did to begin with. Remember that Instagram is a global community so whats mundane and terribly British to you (rain, brollies, wellies, puddles, and then rain again) might be uber cool to someone on the other side of the equator. Just look for patterns, colours, shapes, anything that catches you eye and be creative.
If you're still stuck for inspiration then I can recommend a book which I came across last week and that will look great on your coffee table, that is if you're lucky enough to live in a house where its possible to have a coffee table without everything getting little finger prints all over it. (I don't!)
Its a great one to add to your Christmas wish list too.
Its called 'A Beautiful Mess' and is written (and photographed!) by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. They write a great blog which you can find here and as they say in their book ''We may not be professional photographers, but we are in love with photographing everyday life, and thats what this book is all about". Nice work ladies!
I really hope that something here has inspired you to get snapping and get uploading, and, *crosses fingers*, not just photos of what you're having for tea (although I admit, it IS exciting when you're in a posh restaurant and the food arrives, you just don't ALWAYS have to take a photo of it!)
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