Instagram for Dummies

Words & Photographs: Fiona Christensen

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It’s about 4pm and time for my Instagram fix. I open up the app and pour through  photos, liking here and there, admiring a use of filter or the billion amount of likes someone managed to hustle up on their photo of a wheatgrass smoothie. I love it here, my news feed is filled with amazing pictures of landscapes, beautiful people, and, wait… what the hell is that?! A picture of someone’s strange circumstantial selfie pops up. I retrace, go to the account and review. It is all a collection of bad filters and narcissism. I unfollow immediately and feel a cleansing feeling that my feed is once again righted.

I resume my scroll through artistic photos but I start thinking… Did that person think it was ok to post about 5 selfies with ridiculous hashtags in one day followed by a few pictures of her shoes and the toast she made for herself? Who are her friends and why are people following that rubbish?

I personally see Instagram as a photographic platform, more intimate than other sites like Flickr or Redbubble where people actually sell their work, but less of a showboating zone than what I deem Snapchat to be. Snapchat, for those of you who are unaware, is another photo based social network where images can be viewed between 3 and 10 seconds and can be sent between friends or added to your 24hr story. It’s a marvellous invention whereby people can selfie themselves all day, take photos of every meal, every location conquered and every mood swing they have and people can choose to view that for however long they wish and then it is gone. Forever. Inconsequential moments of the day documented to feel like life happened.

The problem arise when those same moments are then posted all over Instagram. All 5 selfies pop up in the space of 10 minutes followed by a course of food and an emotional throwback.

 So we here at Archetype decided something must be done and have compiled a guideline of ways to up and improve your Instagram account and hopefully in turn, your following and likes. Bitches love likes.

Step 1: What to Photograph….
Most of us use our smartphones to capture images, which means we tend to capture everything, all the time, simply out of the convenience of having a constant camera. I myself am guilty of that, however, it’s the selection process afterwards that matters. We live in a world where constant beauty surrounds us and so it can be tricky to choose. So here is a short list of common things to photograph

  • animals
  • beautiful people
  • weather
  • landscapes / nature
  • art – including cool design stuff
  • cool machinery or historic items
  • food
  • a cool activity
  • cityscape

And there you have it. I avoid quotes and regrams, because I feel they belong on sites such as Tumblr or Pinterest. And we encourage your own pictures here as well. Now just because it is on the list doesn’t mean you need five of each in your feed. Think tastefully. Don’t Instagram every lunch, or every time your cat looks cute, or it rains. Think special moments like a celebratory dinner, a dramatic sunset or your dog running in a pretty landscape. You can bore the hell out of everyone else on Snapchat with your cute animals, babies and lettuce lunches.

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Step 2: How to Photograph…
Another issue falls into place on how to photograph. I like to think I know a thing or two from studying years of art and so I would love to spread some knowledge. Firstly, a very important concept which some people seem to struggle with is focus. You need to make sure your subject is in focus, all lovely and clear for us to actually see whether we have a dog or cat in our midst instead of a furry blob on the screen. This follows with angle. We all love a good close-up every now and then, but when you squish your camera up in the space and cut out all the important bits and we are left with a strange patch of skin obscuring the view, then no. Think “four corners”. Look to the outer edges of your pictures, look at background placement and make sure you cut out your nephew picking his nose in the background.

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Step 3: Editing…
Now we all love this fad of our generation called filters. The warm colour that instantly makes you feel like you are in the tropics or the multi-coloured Amaro that supposedly makes every selfie better. Sometimes though a filter isn’t always the way to go. Look at your picture first and see if all it really needs is a contrast touch up or slight brighten. Thankfully Instagram has added a few new filters which are actually decent and also a filter control which I also encourage you to play around with. Put the filter on half and let the beauty of the photo work for itself. There are also numerous free photo editing apps that can be downloaded that have quirky text options, borders and other filters. Use them at your own discretion and don’t cut out things because you want the text. Then there is the tilt-shift setting. The soft focus can be great and then all of a sudden it’s blocking out everything. Use it sparingly and move it into the right position so it doesn’t look like you had a fight with the blur pen and lost. Editing should be subtle.

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Step 4: When to upload…
My sister is a stickler for a one a day upload which is great for her and keeps her uploading controlled. That is too little for me and I tend the stick to a max 3 photos a day upload rate. The rest I save for myself. I love the world knowing I’m doing things, but I don’t want them to know every detail of my life. Great, you went to Europe and did a bunch of cool things with cool people but people really don’t want to see all of it on Instagram with a dreamy black and white filter. Put those in a Facebook album and put one or two special ones on Instagram. Limit limit limit! Don’t clog up newsfeeds. Also, spread out the uploads. Don’t upload 10 at once. Chances are, people will skim over the other eight after seeing the first 2.

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Step 5: #Hashtags…
I’m all for promotion with a good old hashtag section in your comments. But be reasonable with them.  My sister read out some hashtags of a girl that had asked to follow her on Instagram and she had us in hysterics. You don’t want to be the #butt of everyone’s joke so please let’s not hashtag every #nailcolour #hairstyle #bodytype #amountoffatyouhave #raceofyouandyourbitches #allotheuneccesaryhashtagsthatdontevenrelatetothepictureandaredifficulttoread.