As the unofficial “memory-keeper” for my family, I’m constantly brainstorming creative ways to get photos off our phones and hard drives and into our hands for enjoyment everyday. One of the ways I’ve done this is to utilize my Instagram for both personal and professional purposes. Personal in that I share snippets of my real life with the goal of posting enough on a regular basis to make a Shutterfly calendar at the end of every year with photos from the previous year. Sneaky, right?? And professional in that I curate my feed to reflect my interests and eye for beauty — two things that come in handy in my freelance work as a writer and stylist.
Because my account is public, it helps motivate me to stay on top of my feed to share what is going on in my life in a creative and fun way, on a regular basis. I’ve always found that strict parameters often boost my creativity, and by limiting myself to just using my Instagram feed to make our annual calendar each year, I take a lot more care to capture something worth remembering almost every single day.
Professionally, I work in digital, so utilizing social media platforms is kind of de rigueur. What distinguishes my feed from others, as I already mentioned, is that I try to be meticulous about what and how I share. You won’t often see birthday shoutouts, photos of me in my workout clothes, or photos of uninspired lunches, because that’s not how I want to utilize my feed. I love and appreciate beautiful everyday moments and curate my feed to reflect that. The difference, perhaps, is that I don’t typically do things “just for the ‘gram,” although I definitely did that when I was still new to the platform (back in 2012).
In my work, I often talk with clients about “managing their brand” but I don’t view my feed as “my brand” so much as it’s my life, with “my brand” influencing how I edit what I do share. If you look at the feeds for various brands, like J.Crew or Whole Foods, to name two examples, you’ll notice a very specific look and feel. The photos may differ, but often, there’s a stylistic choice in how they’re edited, what is shared, and how things are captioned and that is on purpose. For those of us without massive ad budgets and design teams, you can mimic that same curated look by following some simple rules. Be strategic! It starts with photo curation and is followed closely by how to edit.
Part 1: Photo Curation
– CHOOSE ONE (You won’t often see three photos from one activity or event)
– VARIETY OF SUBJECTS
These include: books I’m reading, whatever we’re up to/activities, beautiful landscapes, garden, plants, food, seasonal activities (pumpkin picking, etc) and finally, my family and kids, (though as they grow older, I prefer these not be of their faces.)
Part 2: Actual photographic editing (the technical)
– NO FILTERS
– NATURAL LIGHTING
– INTERESTING COMPOSITION
– MUST BE SQUARE
Before Instagram, in late December we used to scramble to get all our photos organized to make our annual photo calendar, but now it’s a simple process. Instagram is my favorite platform for so many reasons, but more than anything, carefully curating and managing my feed forces me to stay on top of editing and sharing what is going on in our lives which, in turn, makes it easier to create the treasured calendars Brian and I have put together over the years.