At a recent workshop, Emily asked a group of florists,“How many of you spend more time curating your Instagram than your blog or website?”14 out of 15 raised their hands.
What’s more, 10 out of 15 said almost all their weddings for next year came from Instagram. [Big eyes emoji.]
Instagram is creating a huge and rapid shift in the way the wedding world is working, for better or for worse. Do you think it’s an overstatement to say one must have a winning IG account to maintain a growing wedding (or any creative) business these days?
This development is pretty good news for the photographers in the group as it leans so heavily on a skill set where they’ve already got a leg up on the rest of the crowd--who are equally required to have a compelling image to accompany every single statement. Florists, planners, calligraphers, rental companies, stylists, designers, caterers, bloggers, interior designers, everybody has to add photography to their list of necessary competencies now.
But even for the photographers there are some real challenges. (Can I get an amen?)
Some of these challenges lie in more psychological territory.
Most everyone I know, myself included, has a love/hate relationship with Instagram.
It tends to shake out something like this:
I definitely can’t answer the question of can I like being on IG, mostly because it is one I’m still considering for myself and there’s no way I can answer it for another person even if I had it figured out for my own life. But I am beginning to see some answers to a very similar question how can I like being on IG?
Certainly one key to liking IG is focusing our energy on the LIKE side of the column and dealing in healthy ways with everything on the DISLIKE side of the column (that mostly have less to do with IG and more to do with all of our own regular, non-IG insecurities and hangups).
But as I’ve given it a little more thought lately and as it happens to coincide with the time I’ve been writing this course on composition, I’m beginning to think my biggest hangups with IG are actually a combination of an unhelpful perspective and more of an artistic/visual issue. I want to confess here, that I have never really felt like my IG was a creative outlet. Unfortunately, I have always seen it as more of a one-more-thing-I-have-to-do thing (so I only ever engaged rather reluctantly/half-heartedly) and it’s only recently dawned on me that it could be a genuine creative outlet for me.
There are two main realizations that may prove to be turning points for me...I just might be able to like Instagram!
As I was writing this course I scoured a lot of Instagram feeds and found SO MUCH beautiful work. I was inspired! There are people doing some really beautiful things with their IG accounts. Things that look like art. I noticed though that these people seemed to put real effort into each image and to their feed as a whole body of work.
While on the one hand, that kind of feels like more of a commitment than I want/have time to take on, I think I may be more inspired than I am overwhelmed at the moment. I think I mostly feel overwhelmed and discouraged when I look at my own IG and don’t see art--and I don’t see me. I don’t look at my feed and feel like--oh, I like that, that’s a good representation of who I am. It feels good for me to make that realization so consciously because that’s just a classic artistic problem--I know how to deal with that.
It takes effort, yes, but it’s not the sign of a terrible platform, it's just what happens when I haven’t been applying my artistic knowledge to my Instagram account in very meaningful ways.
Writing this course on composition was a wonderful refresher/reminder of some of the basics and a significant part of that artistic knowledge that I could apply more meaningfully to my Instagram. IG is a different medium of art and like all other media, it kind of has its own rules, but they all stem from the same foundation: composition.
In a blog post on composition, Will Kemp mentioned that all the old master painters always worked in a rectangular format (aspect ratio) because it was easier to organize a lot of elements well in a rectangle than in a square; squares tend to work best for very simple or abstract compositions. Instagram! (Lightbulb.)
I instantly realized that I’d been struggling to cram compositions better suited to the rectangular formats I was accustomed to, to the square I so rarely used in IG. I instinctively knew simple images tended to do better on IG but I kept trying to (consciously and subconsciously) force my own images to be more complex because, well, I just like complex images.
But this fundamental compositional reminder is helping me accept IG and square/medium format for what it is a little more. (Even though we can use rectangles on IG now, we still have to use them in the grid when we see someone’s whole feed.) And spending all this time reviewing the basics of composition is reminding me that making beautiful images can be quite simple and is more attainable than I tend to build up in my own head. And while I believe in mastering the technical aspects of photography, I believe that mastering composition is more valuable; being better at composition will get most people farther than having better gear. I realize I’m a little late to the party and that there are so many people who have already embraced IG as a genuine creative outlet but I am just encouraged to see some real potential there for me.
How are you feeling about being on Instagram?
Are you liking it? It is a fulfilling creative outlet for you or does it feel more like a drain or a chore?
Are you getting work through your IG account?
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A brand new online course on visual composition and design.
We take a closer look at what it takes to compose a great image, be it a daily snap for your Instagram feed, a professional image for a client, or simply improving your own photography skills.
Written by Joy Thigpen, this course is not only for photographers,
but also anyone with an interest in composition and design,
such as florists, stylists, interior designers, and bloggers.