I was lucky enough to attend the Instagram Debunked by Stephanie_Somebody class at The School on Saturday. Well i say "lucky". . . i'm pretty sure my enthusiastic registration moments after the class was announced had me guaranteed a spot. Along with many errands, an unexpected dinner with a new friend & a business meeting i tied into a whirlwind 26 hours in Sydney . . . i was here, iPhone ready, eyes wide open.
We were welcomed by lovely The School Principal, Megan Morton, with an informal speech about the pretty world of Instragram, then introduced to Stephanie_Somebody. While Stephanie remains anonymous on social media, i hope she doesn't mind this little sneak picture of herself here. She didn't say 'no photos', however, this is her first class series & perhaps didn't think request we not publish her full face.
The class included Stephanie's journey to Instagram fame, with discussion on how she goes about her photography, methods & a print out listing suggested application filters. She was honest about how her followers went from 2000 in her first year . . . to 135 000+ after being featured on the Instagram 'who to follow' page. While gracious with her success & literally quitting her day job to make good use of her audience & pursue a career in selling beautiful images (i can imagine future contracts with big brands as she sees things very differently to the average person, in particular, corporate clients) . . . her following is for good reason - she puts a lot time, effort, skill, filters, editing & thought into her images, they are deliberate, patiently uploaded & carefully considered. I love that she even admitted she contemplates how the image will flow with her 'grid' & never posts similar photos (colour, subject, theme) in a row. Me too, unless i'm doing a colour/ subject/ theme series.
Personally i found the class was for those who want to make their Instagram feed more beautiful, with quality & considered images. Stephanie might have won 'Instagram Idol' however, she knows her stuff & even if she was presenting the class with her original 2000 followers, i would have been impressed, paid my $180 to attend the class & soaked up her knowledge, methods & experience. As i've only been on Instagram for 4 months & i'm also new to smart phones . . . i found this experience & Stephanie's knowledge was precisely what i was after. There were new Instagrammers in the class, many still fumbling with filters & those who are not posting to build a brand, reputation or business profile . . . i heard some ladies saying they were now horrified about their current account (after seeing Stephanie's stunning, harmonious & balanced images) they want to delete & start again. No doubt Stephanie has inspired them to do better, but not to delete their past - especially as you learn from experience!! I believe that not everyone has an eye for photography, natural style or even capturing good content, like not everyone can write a blog, cook a roast, run a marathon or become a doctor - not all social media, just because it's free & available to anyone, is for everyone to do well, or at a semi/ professional level which will attract thousands of followers. Stephanie posts about 5 times a week, extremely restrained & disciplined . . . i completely understand why, especially as she had a very demanding job in interior design, Instagram was her little hobby, instead of television. She's equally choosey about who she follows, for her it's all about inspiration.
The top Instagram suggestions from Stephanie, which i was already doing (thanks to being a seasoned blogger) so i'm not stealing her Intellectual Property include:
use the same profile picture/ image/ logo across all your social media
your bio should include a relevant description & include a link to your website
add a story with your photos (mini blog) & name the place/ event - for community building
use hashtags '#' so people can see others doing the same thing, but ensure they are relevant
don't over do #, they might gain you followers, however, it's quantity not quality, possibly spam
be active in your community, leave engaging comments
continually look at your visual style, does your feed flow harmoniously
post frequency - try to stick to a rhythm (i post about 3 times a day, 8 hours apart)
always have your phone/ camera ready, looking for something special, unique, interesting
pureists insist it's all done with smart phones & uploaded 'insta-ntly' or tagged #latergram (i'm late to the party so the rules have already been broken, however, i do reference #NikonD70SLR if it's not a genuine iPhone photo & i rarely post images while i'm at an event, for privacy, so almost everything i post is a #latergram)
keep your smart phone software up to date
constantly hone your skills & try new styles, stay fresh
be confident to take photos in public places or practise stealth
consider symmetry, horizons, natural light, subject, blank spaces & composition
use the camera phone app first, contrast brightness, crop, edit, then upload to Instagram with filters, or save & edit more, add another filter, keep playing
really consider what your Instagram account is for - personal/ business, a suitable blend of both or have separate accounts!!
Finally some beautiful quotes from Stephanie . . .
"represent your own beauty"
while i enjoyed Stephanie_Somebody's photos, her life is completely different to mine - eating out to cafes with her boyfriend in Melbourne, finding interesting angles to shoot & starting a new business . . . i hope her words ran deep in everyone, that we all see things differently & seek our own beauty, with a variety of skills to deliver them to the world. Right now for me, it's country properties, shacks, flowers, baking, chickens, vignettes & my family. Ladies at the class said i had a lovely balance on my Instagram feed, content & rate of posting, which was lovely unsolicited honest feedback. All i know is that i'm maintaining my 1% "selfies rate" & i've always mixed up my feed so you're not bombarded with 10 of the same image in a row, i respect the time anyone takes to look at my images/ social media, hold their attention & hope to take them on a little adventure, they might even choose to follow me to discover more, against millions of others doing similar things.
"Instagram is about being lovely"
that is precisely how i feel about it. Light hearted snippets of loveliness. Stephanie did say she's had a lot of spam from her 'who to follow' exposure, including negative comments, to which she responded with 'hey, i'm a real person here, you found me' . . . personally at my age & life experience, i'd just hit the delete & scrap them, they're clearly not real fans, genuine followers or people i wish to learn anything more about. Love Posie