Whether you have 100 or 100,000 followers, developing your Instagram feed can be an extremely therapeutic (and super fun) creative outlet. In other words, it’s not just about the “likes,” but it’s also about cultivating an artistic process and a photo sensibility that’s enjoyable to you.
Grace Atwood of lifestyle blog The Stripe has made her Instagram feed her career, documenting her outfits and escapades for her 70,000 Instagram followers. Her success, she says, is largely due to her ability to craft a personal aesthetic that’s cohesive and easily recognizable.
“I just gradually honed it over time,” explains Atwood, who’d previously worked in social media for Bauble Bar. “I’d describe my aesthetic as happy but mellow, and warm and inviting. Each post I do, I assess if it’s on brand for me, and think about what’s going to look good together in my feed.”
That theory works for whether your thing is fashion and beauty or smoothie bowls and yoga poses, say experts. Create and Cultivate founder Jaclyn Johnson, who hosts fashion-forward conferences for innovative, emerging lifestyle bloggers, says it’s best to find a focused style that differentiates your feed. “The markets are so over-saturated, it’s key to find something that makes you stand out from the crowd,” she advises.
Get more tips from Atwood on how to boost your photo skills and Instagram game, below. —Jamie McKillop
1. Assess your feed first. Look at the photos you’ve just posted to make sure your next post will be aesthetically cohesive. “If I’m taking a lot of photos of fall leaves and green, I’ll make sure my next few posts have those same colors,” Atwood says. “It’s kind of an art.”
2. Hold the camera flat. Whether holding your phone upright or facing down, Atwood recommends holding it as flat as possible. “With food and with photos of people, straight on always looks best,” she says.
3. Avoid over-filtering. “I don’t think people even use filters anymore,” Atwood says. “You can edit a photo by changing the brightness, saturation, temperature, etc. Sometimes too much filter can look overdone.”
4. Make your whites whiter. “I actually use a tooth whitening tool to whiten shirts and backgrounds, and it’s really helpful when things look too yellow,” she explains. The app Atwood likes is called Facetune.
5. Photograph food overhead. “Always photograph food from straight down overhead, and use Facetune to whiten the plate,” she advises. “Some people can get annoyed by food posts, so make sure it’s always something really delicious.” AKA you don’t need to post every single snack you eat.
6. Do a flat-lay. While Atwood personally doesn’t enjoy Instagramming her workouts, she’ll do a flat lay or composition of her gym accessories with her sneakers, a towel, a water bottle, and a healthy snack. You can also do a natural beauty product flat lay by mixing it other pieces like flowers, a magazine, or jewelry to give it depth.
7. Keep the caption simple. For Atwood, shorter is better. “I’m pretty straightforward,” she says. “People look at the photo and don’t read the captions, so it doesn’t make a huge difference.” And whatever you do, don’t go crazy with the hashtags.
For more information, visit thestripe.com
Got questions for Grace about what camera to use, how to take selfies, and more? Post them in the Comments, below.