Instagram is my baby. I adore it but it drives me crazy and eats up all my time just like a small child. I was an early adopter of this platform and always enjoyed playing around with composition and filters, back in those days it was the antithesis of Facebook. I kept my account private and only followed a very small community of close friends and people who genuinely inspired me with beautiful imagery. It was a cosy and comforting world.
Things have changed significantly since those early days, the community is a lot bigger and the environment is much more competitive with brands and individuals realising the marketing potential of this social media platform but… I still love it. I get a real buzz from the creative process of a flatlay, I care about how my feed looks (not just individual images) and I obsess about colour palettes and cohesive design for those little squares.
My Instagram feed is constantly evolving as I learn new techniques and continue to develop my style but I simply couldn’t do it without help from some rather good apps and a few techniques (read the post here) that I follow religiously when taking photos.
First of all comes all the fussing and faffing with props until I have created a vignette, image or flatlay that I am happy with. It might take up to 60 photos of the same thing until I get the right shot but it’s worth it. I mentioned the importance of lighting in this post and I promise it will make the job of editing simpler.
My favourite app for editing is VSCO which is a bit fiddly but get cosy with it one evening whilst sitting on the sofa and you will soon get the hang of it. Most of the time all I do to my photos is crop them to the right size – 1.1 or square for Instagram.
Turn up the exposure/ brightness but not too much or the image will be overexposed. Then a turn up the contrast a little bit which seems to make the image pop. I occasionally adjust the saturation too.
After that I apply a filter but not always as my style doesn’t always require a filter but my favourites on VSCO are HB1 and S2 both of which I bough for around £1.99.
PicTapGo is another great app although I don’t use it much because storage on my iPhone 6 is so limited. PicTapGo has a ‘lights on’ filter which will brighten the image in one tap and make it look ten times better. Snapseed is another popular editing app but I’ve never really got the hang of it.
Planning your feed
It sounds obsessive and it is but if you want a well curated feed where the images flow seamlessly from one to another and looks its very best then you need to plan your feed. I used to take a good guess, I would even upload a photo and quickly delete it just so I could see what it would look like. Now I use an app for this, it’s called Mosaico and it is a really useful as I like to plan my posts a couple of days ahead.
Mosaico can be used as a scheduling tool so you can prepare you posts, captions and simply choose the time you want to post.
Planoly is also a popular planning tool and it works really well. My only issue is that you are only allowed a certain number of uploads in a month on the free package and I have often had to switch to Mosaico again to tide me over.
This is something you may not need but if you use your Instagram account for business it will be very useful as you can prepare content ahead of time. I use Hootsuite from time to time. It allows me to schedule my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts. It is a great tool although people who are much more organised than me tell me that Buffer is better. I have downloaded it to my phone but haven’t got round to trying it yet – another item for my to-do list!
Finally, just to say that I have learnt a great deal from Emily Quinton and Sara Tasker. Both are talented photographers and brilliant Instagrammers, you can access free resources and helpful blogposts from their websites here and here.
I hope you find this post useful and get in touch if you too have some Insta secrets to share!