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How I Use Instagram

5 Nov

How I Use Instagram

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.

Instagram Tips

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.

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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). img_8115

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

img_8113.pngBefore 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.

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Digging Lately: Poetry + Kids

9 Sep

Fearless Flying hotdogs
For a few weeks now I’ve been casually searching for a poem to read with E before her first day of preschool. One of my favorites since I was in high school is a poem titled Good Timber, by Douglas Malloch. I recite it to myself whenever I’m experiencing anything particularly challenging, sort of like an anthem to remind myself that challenges make us stronger:

A tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.

Weirdly, just know when I Googled to double check that I’d remembered it correctly, I realized I must have memorized an abridged version because the above is actually just a re-arranged excerpt. As I read the poem in its entirety, I realized perhaps I was aiming a bit too high with the message of determination, resilience and strength that I hoped to impart on my daughter as she started her school career. After all, I had fallen in love with poetry as a kid via nursery rhymes like Wee Willy Winkie, and poets like Jack Prelutsky whose magical way with words and ideas had enchanted me as a young kid. Maybe I could give her that before I hit her with the John Donne.

 

And truthfully, Wee Willie Winkie remains a favorite. I love to act it out with my oldest daughter. I still vividly remember my mom reading nursery rhymes and poetry to my siblings and I growing up. We were always at the library refreshing our book collection. She recently gave me one of my most treasured tomes: The Humpty Dumpty Book, illustrated by Jean Chandler, which flooded me with memories. The illustrations in particular always struck me — I was obsessed with the faces of the little girls and boys.

But poetry in particular, paired with beautiful illustration, always really resonated with me as a kid. Maybe it hinted at my love of language and literature later on, but having so much exposure to it from a young age probably encouraged the affection along.

With my revised goal in mind, I continued my hunt for the right poem again earlier today as Brian flopped himself on our bed. I found myself looking up one of my favorite Jack Prelutsky poems so I could read it to him to see what he thought. Brian loves a good hot dog, so it was an easy choice since it’s one of my all-time favorite Prelutsky poems: Fearless Flying Hotdogs.

While I was Googling around trying to find it, I happened to see that today is his birthday — what are the odds? I feel like it’s a sign.

What do you think? Do we have a winner? I think Emilia will love it.

 

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/good-timber-by-douglas-malloch

Creative Uses for Kid’s Artwork

6 Sep

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My daughter produces a LOT of artwork and like most parents, I have a really hard time parting with most of it. I’ve seen a lot of cute ways to display or use children’s artwork, which we do, but the other day inspiration struck and I had an idea for the really awesome pieces — cut them out, scan them and then arrange the motifs using Photoshop to turn them into fabric!

I got the idea when I saw a hand print my daughter had traced, cut out, and then colored using a mix of marker and crayon all on her own. I was so impressed. But more than anything, I was struck by how graphic and pretty it was (not to mention sweet since it’s her little hand print and she left off her thumb). I’ve always been really drawn to bold color combinations and even keep a Pinterest board dedicated to “Pretty Patterns” so this was right up my alley. She’d colored each finger a different color and had traced in a way I wouldn’t have done if I’d assisted her. It really illustrated for me (no pun intended) how incredible kids’ imaginations are and how important it is to allow them independent time to create.

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It’s not the most easy/breezy project since some knowledge of how to design in Photoshop is required, but if that’s not in your skill set, you could just cut out all the art you want to use, arrange on a large sheet of paper, using tape or glue to keep the arrangement, and then scan. I know online sources like Spoonflower offer the ability to upload your design for printing to fabric or even wallpaper which could be really cool.

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Depending how this turns out, I may use the design to create some upholstery fabric to upholster a loveseat I’ve envisioned in the girls’ shared room since before I even had kids. But I also love the idea of a simple blanket too. Can you imagine the possibilities for grandparents gifts too? Maybe even wrapping paper.

Just like I’m always telling my photography clients to PRINT YOUR PHOTOS, this project gets the art out of the file folder (or pile, in my home), and into our lives so we can enjoy it now. Plus, what a huge boost for your child to see you proudly utilizing the art he or she has created in a unique way.
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