16 January 2017
Algorithms, themes, optimal posting times - just when did Instagram get so damn tricky? Long gone are the days of "oh shit, that's cute, let me post that now", and the likes of Amaro and Juno are a thing of the past (Valencia has always been a shit filter, and we all know it too). Don't get me wrong, the 'gram will forever be my favourite platform. As a teenager I used to organise mini-photoshoots with friends and wannabe models from my town (I actually wasn't terrible - see here for rl evidence) so photography and image sharing is always something that's come naturally to me. It's no surprise then that I found my way into blogging, and that Instagram has become an integral part of what I do.
In being an integral part of my job, however, there's a certain amount of pressure that comes with it. I have to get my uploads right, or I potentially jeopardise my biggest platform for sharing my work. This is the same for most bloggers, and so we've found ways to make sure everything looks *just right*. Thus Instagram themes were born - a way of looking at the Instagram theme as a whole *flowing* entity, rather than a base for individual, non-associating single uploads. But how far has the Instagram theme gone on to hinder creativity and expression, rather than help?
Scarf - ASOS
Shirt - ASOS
Duster - Missguided (sold out - sale ASOS alternative here)
Jeans - ASOS (cut the bottoms and distressed myself)
Shoes - Mango
I've recommended Instagram themes in the past, but I've also questioned them, asking how far is too far? I yoyo between thinking they are extremely beneficial to thinking they are extremely limiting, often finding myself coming to a decision at somewhere in between. I, myself, have dipped in and out of themes, switching it up occasionally by changing my filter or finally breaking out of the white wall background rut (all of my images ended up looking the same, and whilst this is great for keeping a blanched out theme, it's not great for making outfits look exciting). I used to use the VSCO filter F2, and now I use A6, and if your an Instagrammer, you'll know how ridiculously big of a deal changing your core filter can be *first world problems*. Over the past few months, however, I've found myself largely abandoning the rules I previously lived by.
These aren't the best set of photos to demonstrate my point, but there is still something in them; previously I would have banished all greenery from my feed, trying to keep it as neutral and monochromatic as possible. All hues were desaturated and the tone was cooled down to an icy blue, with the exposure amped way way up to make the whites as bright as possible. This led to an over-edited, contrast-city-central finished product, but it fitted perfectly into what I thought was most important: a cohesive, light, bright and white theme. That's what was successful, so that's what made sense to do, right?
And I'm not knocking the white Instagram aesthetic at all. A lot of people do it incredibly well, but I didn't, and I found I was just doing it to try and keep up with what seemed to be the standard. Much like I mentioned in my last post about genuine sharing and passion in blogging, my theme was based around what I thought people wanted to see, rather than what I actually wanted to share. I was pigeon-holing myself into one type of post, and felt that my content would suffer if it didn't align. The truth was, my content was suffering because of the "Instagram theme"; I was stopping myself from posting images that I loved, because they didn't fit in with images that I maybe wasn't so crazy about.
And of course, I do understand that an Instagram theme can be important. I use the same filter on nearly every single one of my photos, and I try to keep the editing much the same throughout my uploads. However, I've pledged to not put a stopper on my creativity. If I see a bright red wall and I'm wearing a bright red jumper, I'm going to stand in front of it and snap away. If there are more than three colours in my 1x1 square, I will not delete or turn everything black and white. If there is an unsuspecting car in the background of my quick OOTD shot, I will not try to desperately Photoshop it out and fail. This is my pledge as a Brownie and a blogger (yes, I was a Brownie, and a very good one). I've realised that whilst the appearance of a feed as a whole can entice a new follower to come onboard, creating interesting and diverse images in their own right will make them stay.
How much do you think about your Instagram feed? Does it play a big part in how and what you share? Let me know in the comments down below or find me over on Twitter and Instagram. Instagram is an ever-evolving platform and as it's my little darling, I'm always keen to hear your views on how you think the community is developing!