With Instagram becoming an ever increasing cycle of coffee shots, Kinfolk, flowers and pretty doorways (guilty, guilty, guilty), it can be all too easy to fall in line with the trends and never innovate. How do you develop your own unique style and create an account that will stand out, whilst at the same time trying to reach out and grow your audience? What if Barbie is doing Instagram better than you are??
In a world where bananas and sunrises and new notebooks and budgies exist, it’s hard to believe that any photographer can ever run out of inspiration, but what if you do?
If you’re using Instagram to try and grow your personal brand or business, it’s likely you’ve found yourself wondering things along these lines. I’ve definitely had my spells when the insta-muse has abandoned me, but as I’m in the midst of a reasonably creative flow, and get asked these questions quite a bit, I thought I’d try and answer them as best I can…
Creative block – getting the insta-muse back
- Check your day to day life to make sure there’s nothing you’re neglecting that’s holding you back. For me it can be something as simple as lack of sleep, worrying about a missed deadline or putting too much pressure on myself.
- Taking a break often fixes the points above, and gives your mind, eyes and VSCOcam app a much needed rest. I find it works best to stay off Insta altogether for a few days if I’m taking a break -no liking or browsing at all.
- Find outside inspiration is a golden rule for keeping your content fresh and honest; if you only ever use IG for ideas, you’ll quickly fall into the matchy-matchy groove. Photography blogs, magazines, visiting new places and trying new things get my creative juices flowing and help me create my most original images.
- Have some time by yourself to relax and think – taking a walk, a long drive, a half hour bath. For some reason my best ideas always come when I am alone and unable to write anything down – perhaps it’s to do with being completely disconnected from my smartphone.
- Live life. The best shots are always the ones you didn’t need to set up or contrive. Getting on with life usually throws these opportunities your way.
- Accept that it will ebb & flow. You are not a machine, and your brain is not the predictable, unchanging organ we like to imagine. Some weeks you’ll be good at Instagram, others at falling over stuff in the street. C’est la vie.
follow your heart
All that being said, I absolutely recommend finding a set of kickass accounts to follow for a whole world of ideas and inspiration. If nothing else, these amazing ‘grammers keep me striving to improve, and prove that you don’t have to resort to Instagram cliches to be a success…
credit where it’s due
Ever posted a brilliant picture that was entirely your idea, only to realise later than an account you love posted something similar the week before? And that you liked it and commented, then totally forgot about it?
The scenario above – realising you were subconsciously drawing on someone else’s work – is a definite pitfall of the constant consumption of content that Instagram (& the internet on a wider scale) provides. It was a bit of a wake up call for me: I generally consider myself pretty insightful and self-aware, so to stumble across proof that I had accidentally appropriated someone else’s idea really gave me pause to think. I wholeheartedly believe that taking inspiration from others is a-ok, but credit should always be given whereever it is due.
These days I have an Instagram inspiration Pinterest board where I save & share the pictures that capture my imagination (side note: I really want to portmanteau those two words but I can’t seem to get it to work. Instaration? Inspogram?). It’s a really useful tool for when I hit a wall, especially if I have a product to feature and can’t think how best to showcase it. It also means I can keep track of the images and photographers that really inspire me, and use their ideas as a springboard for my own instead of accidentally creating a carbon copy.
Ever had the dreaded Insta-block? What do you do to keep your creativity alive? Any tips for great accounts to follow, or places to get inspired?