One thing that runs constant amongst almost every student studying abroad? Pictures. It’s nearly impossible to not want to take pictures when there are so many new sights and places to capture. While taking photographs may not appeal to everyone, the instinct to share our experiences with those loved ones who are far away is natural.
Today I wanted to talk about some things I have learned in regards to photography, specifically to get that A+ study abroad instagram (I don't claim to be an expert in any way, but I've learned a few things). Some of this information can be transferred to other social media as well, but this is tailored specifically toward the 'gram (it’s what I like to share my experiences through the most).
Take “Good” Photos and Take a Lot
It’s ok to take a lot of photos. Sometimes, people seem to judge you for having to stop to take a picture, but if there’s a scene or setting that inspires you it’s better to get it than regret it. Take them from different angles, different distances– whatever you need to feel satisfied. A lot of people will take one photo of themselves in front of a landmark and call it quits, but try getting pictures of the places themselves as well. Variety is good.
What qualifies as good though? It will depend on what exactly you want to present in your instagram, so in some ways this and the next tip will go hand in hand. Good, though, should not to be defined by how many likes you got or followers you gain. Good means pictures you feel proud of. Did it make the landscape look as beautiful as it felt to you in the moment? Do you look happy to be with all your friends, like you’ve captured a memory?
Good is up to you in a lot of ways, but don’t post something just to post something. If you aren’t happy with it, wait. There’s no time limit on when you need to post again. It’s better to feel proud in your pictures then like you're posting and it’s a chore.
Make Aesthetic Choices
There are many different ways to approach an instagram. There are themed accounts– pictures of only cafes, meals eaten, castles, etc– or accounts that are more random but held together by the artistic style of the pictures. I, personally, like space to be present in my pictures. If there are too many lines or people in a photo and it sits next to a picture with a similar style, your instagram can begin to feel chaotic. This isn’t to say chaotic shots can’t be cohesive, but you need to make strong choices on how you want the overall appearance to look and follow through.
Some people forget that what’s neat about instagram in the first place is the grid it becomes, so while a photo may look cool by itself it may not look cohesive with the past photos you have posted. If you really want the strongest profile you can have, consider if the style of the photo you want to post works with that of the past photos. Some people like to stick to certain colors or a color scheme while others take many photos from similar angles and spacing to achieve this.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish the cohesive look comes from making smart filter and editing choices. Which is to say…
Stick to an Editing Routine
Probably one of the biggest errors made comes when people only edit on a photo by photo basis. You try to make the picture you’re about to post look the best it can, but it doesn’t look anything like the last photo you took… so how do you remedy this from an editing standpoint?
First things first, I suggest using the app Snapseed if you want greater editing capabilities. With Snapseed, there are several additional editing tools that can be helpful in bringing your photos to the next level. Just make sure to not over-edit photos. It may seem tempting to change saturation to crazy levels or heighten the contrast, but it might take the natural beauty right out of your photo. Another popular editing app to consider is VSCO.
Secondly, I recommend sticking to one or a handful of filters for your profile. I edit my photos and then always use the same filter on Instagram. The percentage of the filter on my photos varies (did you know that if you click the filter you can change its intensity on your photo? If you didn’t you really should), but the filter is always the same. This makes sure the coloring stays consistent, and if you want that uniform look, this may be an important step for you to take.
Playing the Caption Game
You’ve taken your pictures, picked out which one to post, and edited it… now what? It’s time for that fun little tagline that can cause all too much anxiety. This, too, is an aesthetic choice. Do you want to post funny little quotes or puns? Stories about your travels? Music lyrics? Or maybe just a date and a location?
All of these are right as long as they’re right for you. Think about how you want to present your travels and take it from there. Remember: if you’re feeling anxious because you can’t think of a caption that you deem good enough, there’s no rush to post. Sometimes, it feels like you need to get your content out there as fast as possible, but that’s just not the case. Wait to make sure you feel actually, genuinely proud of what you've produced before hitting the post button.
Overall, it’s important to remember that this is your profile and you should post the content you want. Don’t feel pressured to present yourself in a certain way just because that’s what your friends do or what you think is most popular. Instagram should be a way to share your experiences, but it’s also a form of artistic expression. Only put out work you feel great about being in the world.
Posting shouldn’t be stressful, if it feels stressful that’s probably a sign you should step back from it. Remember that you’re taking pictures and posting to have fun and feel good. If it’s not making you feel that way, then you probably shouldn’t keep doing it.
With that all being said, hopefully this 'express' lesson was helpful to you. Just take what tips you liked, leave the ones you didn’t, and go out there to do your own thing. I wish you the best of luck!
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<p>Annie Lindenberg spends the majority of her year in Boston, MA where she is studying Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College. Along with her creative writing pursuits, she also writes film and television reviews as a staff writer for Emertainment Monthly. When not writing or exploring, you can find her eating copious amounts of guacamole and starting books she has almost no time to finish.</p>