It’s no secret that Instagram can feel pretty much impossible to grow on unless you’re thin, white, rich and look like a supermodel (obviously there are exceptions but that’s generally the rule). And let’s not even get started with the algorithm changes and bots!
When I first created an account Instagram was instant; you took a blurry selfie with your pals and posted it for all your other pals to like then and there. Even when I set up my blog Instagram account (*cheeky plug* follow me here) there was a big focus, especially within the travel blog community, on gorgeous photos of your latest destination.
Now though, it seems like you have to be featured in the majority of your shots, and they have to be taken by a professional. You have to be selling something, your photos have to be bright and candid. No more fun holiday snaps because now you have to be looking wistfully away from whatever should be the focus of your image. No more walking around new cities in leggings and trainers because now you have to be wearing long flowing dresses to fit with the Instagram aesthetic.
Why I still love Instagram:
I love photography, it really is as simple as that. I love seeing other people’s fabulous shots of their latest holiday destination and I love posting my own (because, honestly, I sometimes love a #humblebrag). I love curating a theme or finding a new way to edit my photos so they fit together perfectly. I love the satisfaction of seeing some of my best photographs together in an aesthetically pleasing grid. And – as basic as this makes me sound – I love visualising an image and how it will look on the ‘gram before I take it.
I also like that, with the addition of stories and the rise of micro-blogging, it has become a place to be ~real~ with your words. Captions are now important and you can’t get away with a few dull emojis anymore. Stories have made it so you can post your not-so-great images and show what goes on behind the scenes.
Why I don’t love the direction Instagram has gone in:
I don’t love this new direction that Instagram has headed in where gorgeous locations and real life has taken a backseat and supermodel shots and advertisements have come to the forefront. I’m not mad about the fact that Instagram doesn’t show what a popular tourist destination is really like (i.e the fact that the pyramids are in what can only be described as an industrial estate) because people have always loved to show the best of places and their lives online.
What I am mad about is how photos have been edited and filtered so much that a place in real life is pretty unrecognisable. I also don’t like how influencers post a picture of themselves in a popular tourist destination under the disguise of travel photography when really it’s another brand campaign. This not only blurs the lines between travel blogging and fashion blogging but it makes working with brands even more unattainable for smaller bloggers who maybe don’t have a lot of money to spend. If brands can get people advertising their products from exotic locations what hope does a poor young girl who has no choice but to shoot in her hometown have in securing these partnerships?
What I’m wearing;
Jacket: Ebay lol
Shoes: Converse, obviously
Jeans: Topshop like everyone else except mine are Jamie not Joni
Awkward mug prop used because I don’t know what to do with my hands: my grandma’s – she bought it from Dunelm
Why I’ll never be an Instagram ‘It Girl’:
I like to put an outfit together and I feel good when I have a outfit that I love on. However, I don’t have the money to be doing weekly ASOS hauls and most of my best outfits are put together from clothes that are a few months/years old (the jacket in these photos is one of my mum’s Ebay purchases from years ago #vintage).
Aside from that I just don’t have the confidence in my body or the way I look in photos to be indulging in photo shoots or posting pictures of my face every day. Most of my Instagram followers have come for travel content; pretty buildings seem to do well, pictures of my face don’t. I have a tendency to take things to heart so when a photo doesn’t get many likes I feel horrible about myself. I also don’t like the way I look in photos anymore. I’ve spent so long avoiding taking selfies that I don’t know what makes me look good now. I used to look put together every day, I used to spend time on my hair and make – up and I used to be thinner so I’d take photos of myself all the time. This meant I knew what angles worked and what didn’t, and I knew what editing techniques made me look good. Now, I haven’t got a clue.
Maybe if I liked the way I looked and bought clothes more regularly I could compete with the Instagram queens but I still don’t think I’d want to. Like I mentioned above I love visualising an image before I take it but I couldn’t imagine having to think about how to co-ordinate my outfit with whatever particular landmark I was visiting that day. I couldn’t imagine spending most of a relaxing beach day getting the perfect shot of me frolicking in the sea in a bikini or drinking cocktails in an infinity pool. I prefer to spend my time on holiday exploring and capturing the moments and then trying to find the best picture of the bunch to upload to social media.
Being an Instagram ‘it girl’ seems like far too much effort and a good way to waste a chance to see a beautiful new country. I’d rather live in the moment than be thinking of my social media following.
Why you shouldn’t worry about following the crowd
Obviously, Instagram can be and is a lucrative business for many but becoming ~Instagram famous~ (excuse me while I go and vom) is hard work! It’s also making what should be an interesting, fun and inspiring social media platform boring. You could easily win Instagram influencer bingo every time you log into the app – pretty girl in a bikini? Check! Pretty girl on the beach? Check! Mug of tea or a cocktail? Check! Professional looking photo with a blurred background? Check! A girl with perfect beach waves in her hair holding her head and staring wistfully out at a lovely new city? Check!
With everyone creating such similar looking feeds it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd and it’s easy to ‘give in’ and start trying to emulate those accounts with thousands of followers. If you genuinely enjoy taking photos like that then by all means do so – after all it’s your Instagram and I’m all for people pursuing their passions. But if you don’t enjoy creating this content ask yourself whether it’ll be worth it and whether, even if you build up a big following, you’ll be able to keep it up. Chances are if you’re not creating images you love and enjoy creating you’ll burn out and start to hate Instagram and stop posting all together.
Not following the crowd is, in my opinion, brave. No, not fighting on a frontline of a war brave, but brave all the same. When everyone is trying to fit in and fight their way to the top it takes a confident person to say I’m going to be authentically me and head off in a different direction. Sure, you might not become one of the biggest Instagram accounts that everyone is lusting over but, by just being you and posting what you love, you’ll attract people who will see your joy and see the worth in your photos. It’ll be disheartening when you see people gain hundreds of followers overnight and sometimes it’ll be tempting to think fuck it and climb a mountain in a flimsy maxi dress and sandals to get that ‘gram worthy selfie at the top – and that’s okay too as long as you know that you don’t have to follow the crowd to have an Instagram feed you genuinely love.
I would love to see Instagram go back to the days of posting pretty pictures of your day/travels instead of influencers flocking en masse to the latest ‘it’ destination to flog their latest gifted clothes/bags/jewellery. I don’t want Instagram to go completely back to basics with the dark, blurry selfies because I love an aesthetically pleasing photo as much as the next person – I just wish more people were posting more of the images they genuinely love and are proud of taking themselves instead of yet more model like poses and advertisements.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Instagram as it is now or do you wish it was a little bit more genuine? Let me know in the comments!
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