Creating a beautiful Instagram feed- Aesthetics, content creation, and editing

We all have those certain accounts we follow on insta simply because their feed is just to. die. for. The look and feel is consistent, the colors are lovely, and we just can't stop scrolling and double tapping. While it can feel daunting at first, creating a feed that flows just takes a little thought and a few apps. I'm going to share a few of my personal tips and tricks to creating a feed you love looking at.

Establishing an aesthetic:

So, you know you want your feed to look beautiful and flow well but you have no idea where to start? Start by looking at feeds you follow and love on Insta! Pull up 5-10 feeds of accounts you follow and obsess over and try to identify a few things about each one that you love. As you move along you’ll start to notice a few consistencies. Maybe you like darker moody images, or maybe you’re more drawn to bright colors and blown out skies! Use those things that you find yourself most drawn to as your goal, write them down, and reference them whenever you’re posting!

Content type:

Okay, now you have a general idea of what you’d like your feed to look like but…what do you post? I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t post just for the sake of posting. Your audience can always tell if you’re not being genuine so share things that are important to you, inspire you, make you or someone else laugh, or are relatable/helpful, that make you feel something!

Give yourself some structure to take some of the stress out of sharing frequently. Decide what type of content you want to share and how you might be able to share it. For example, I typically have a fitness related photo, something outdoors, something with my family, an a progress photo within my top 9 photos. These are consistent things in my life and that I like sharing about but they also provide a visual consistency to my feed as well. These types of content give my feed structure and when I feel stuck on what to shoot I might realize I haven’t shared a certain type of photo in a while and it gives me some direction. Over time these core image types can, and should, evolve to fit with you and your life, don’t be afraid of that natural shifting of things.

Equipment:

You don’t need a fancy camera and photoshop to create a beautiful feed. Seriously! Up until the last month, when I finally got the nerve to buy a real camera, I shot almost all my content using my iphone. Yes, a nice camera might give you higher quality images, but you can do sooooo much with a smartphone with a decent camera. I do sometimes shoot with a photographer but the majority of my images I shoot myself. Now, if you’re thinking you need an aIf you’re going to shoot on an amazing instagram husband, you most definitely do not! My husband humors me from time to time, but generally haaaates shooting images for me. Poor guy. So how do you get around that? You buy a $20 iphone tripod with a cheapo bluetooth remote on Amazon! I’ve used this one for a couple years.

Shooting content:

The most important thing about shooting nice images, on and iphone or camera, is LIGHTING! Natural lighting is always best, side lighting is the most flattering when it comes to shooting people, and shooting indoors with no window light should never happen. It’s not always convenient, I know, but it’s necessary.

Set up your shot, pair your remote, and start shooting! Move your body, your face, change expression, look one direction then change the angle, get A LOT of images! After you’ve taken a bunch review them and see what’s working and what’s not and reshoot as needed. You’ll probably shoot 30-50 images and only end up with 1-2 that you like, but that’s enough!

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Clean up:

The next step is cleaning up your image! Maybe you shot a photo you love but there’s an outlet on the wall, a piece of track on the road, or some other unsightly thing distracting from the focus of your photo, so let’s fix it. The easiest way is to use the patch tool in an app called Facetune. It allows you to select a region you need to replace and the region you want to replace it with. It takes a bit of playing around to get it to blend just right but it’s a great quick edit tool. Facetune also has a great smooth tool if you forgot to shave your leg or need to buff out a little blemish. Be careful though! Don’t use it all over your face to give the appearance of smooth skin, it always, always, always makes the image look fake and over-edited.

One other trick to making your photos look nice and clean? Desaturating all your whites/greys! Even in natural light whites and greys can sometimes be overly yellow/orange. If your aesthetic doesn’t look great with those warm colors, tame them! I like to pull my images into and app called Snapseed where I use the brush tool and adjust the saturation down to -5 or -10 (depending on the image) to pull out those warm tones I don’t like! You can also use it to bump up exposure on certain areas of the photo if you want to brighten up faces a bit, again, just be careful not to go overboard.

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Filters:

First, please don’t use instagram’s filters. Please. I use the same filter in the same app on every. single. photo. I do vary the intensity of the filter, however, using the same one on all my images helps in creating a clean, flowing, uniform, aesthetic even when your images are taken in different places with different lighting. VSCO is my favorite for filters, it has a ton of lovely filters with different feels so you can get whatever look you're going for. Personally, after clean up, I pull my photos into VSCO, slap on my A6 filter adjust it, and then evaluate any additional changes that might need to happen.

Fine tuning:

I always play with the exposure, white balance, skin tone, and HSL features in VSCO to get my photos looking just right. I focus specifically on making my top 9 images look as cohesive as possible and these settings help me do that.

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-Exposure allows you to boost the light in a photo, just be careful not to wash everything out by taking it too far. I feel like the exposure control in the VSCO and lightroom apps are best phone editing exposure adjustments out there.

-White balance lets you control the temperature of the image if you want things to look warmer or cooler and lets you adjust the red/green underlying tones. My images usually fall neutral to slightly warm and always a bit on the red side.

-Skin tone will adjust anything near skin color more yellow/greenish or orange/reddish. I use this to counter weird lighting effects that make my skin appear a really different color in one image vs. another.

-HSL is really cool! it allows you to play with the colors in your photo individually. If you want water to appear more teal rather than dark blue, you can do that. If you want the trees behind you to pop less, you can pull down the saturation for green. It allows you to really fine tune your color scheme and gives a whole new level of control when it comes to making those photos floooow. I love it! 

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Don't be afraid of change:

When I first started working on creating a feed that flowed, and had a look that I liked, I was incredibly strict with what colors I allowed in my shots. It really stressed me out! Everything was so monochrome I didn't feel like I could post any photos I shot outside because green and blue were too overwhelming for my feed. Take the stress off and make sure you give yourself space to create instead of creating a trap. I've slowly learned how I can keep my feed feeling clean and still incorporate color in a way that suites me.

If you post a photo and hate how it looks in your feed, we've all been there, don't stress it. It'll live in your top nine briefly and then slowly get buried so don't delete it, just let it move away on it's own keeping in mind you're probably the only person who noticed it was out of place anyway. 

If you decide that you want to take your feed an entirely different direction, do it! Your feed should be something you enjoy creating and looking at, never let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you need to stick to something if it's no longer making you happy.

 

I hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions drop them in the comments!