Instagram: Beating Comparisonitis and How I Edit My Photos

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a WONDERFUL week. I am writing this on August 12th, but on the day that it will be published, I’ll be in a totally different place, so I’ll write from the perspective of future me  ;)

I left for my road trip on Monday. Even though we've only been traveling for 3 days, it has been so much fun and I'm honestly so excited for what's ahead. One of the facts about myself that I shared as my first post was the I love to travel. It's so true!! Also, the road trip snacks I packed have really come in handy.

I’ll be posting a trip update soon, but for now, I wanted to talk to you guys about Instagram! There’s no better place for health and wellness nuts like us to find like-minded people. It must have something to do with the fact that Instagram is so photo-centric, and, well, are you really a health nut if you don’t take pictures of your smoothie bowls and salads?

All jokes aside, Instagram is incredibly expansive. If you’re looking for easy, come to Instagram. After all, the only thing you have to do is post a photo!  And if you’re ready to dive in further, you can learn about direct messaging, stories, live streams, hashtags, links, advertisements, etc. And you’ll always have an audience - with over 700 million users, you can find your tribe no matter what hobby you have (there is an #underwaterbasketweaving hashtag). So, aside from the stupid new algorithm, Instagram is pretty cool.

But with all of those people, it can get a liiittle bit overwhelming. Especially when there are thousands of accounts with perfectly themed feeds, gorgeous food, gorgeous clothes, gorgeous backgrounds, gorgeous everything. Comparisonitis takes over and I, for one, become paralyzed. May I suggest a few cures for this debilitating condition? One - just stop comparing. "Like" the photos that show up in your feed, but quit scrolling through profiles. Two - find one of those “perfect” accounts and scroll alllll the way down to the bottom of their feed, back to square one. 9 times out of 10, in that deep abyss of 2011s and 12s, you’ll find, dark, grainy, vignetted photos. It’s a shock, I know. But guess what? Those Instagrammers kept at it. They practiced and practiced and practiced.

So just post what you have.  Have confidence that you are not alone. Keep improving, keep changing, and trust in the process.

Now, I’d like to share with you the process that I use with most of my Instagram photos. 

Capturing

Most of my Instagram is good. So first, I make a pretty food. This means I spend more time cooking something than is really necessary, arrange it on a plate in just the right way, and use colorful toppings I wouldn’t have otherwise used.

Sometimes I take photos with my DSLR camera. I use a Nikon D5200, usually the kit lens, but sometimes I use my AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G if I want those EXTRA blurry backgrounds. Considering that I usually shoot overhead photos, and that the 50mm lens is always very zoomed in, the kit lens is usually more practical. 

I also use my iPhone 5c (I know, I need to upgrade). I use it when my camera batteries are dead, when I don’t feel like getting my camera, or when the lighting is really good (the DSLR performs much better in low-light situations). Honestly, I really think that you can get by with a smartphone, especially if you have one that's newer than my old thing ;)

Uploading

I don’t upload photos immediately. I usually do it about once a week. I have a whole routine for that, in which I sort personal photos, family photos, back them up, etc. But for now I’ll just share the part that pertains to Instagram.

I plug my phone into my computer and slide my SD card into the slot. I use the Apple Photos app to import everything. I then select the photos that are for my Instagram and drag them into my computer folder titled “Instagram” (how surprising). Then, I click on over to Adobe Lightroom, and import those new photos into there. 

Editing

In an attempt to keep my feed looking somewhat cohesive (I’m still working on that), I always use the same preset. It’s one I made myself by experimenting with settings until I found something I liked, and then saving it. Here is an article on creating presets if you’re interested.

I apply the preset to each photo, tweak the settings, then repeat for each of the photos. Then, I select all of them and export them into the same “Instagram” folder, but an “Edited” subfolder.

AirDrop

iPhones and Macs are a match made in heaven. I don’t make use of nearly all of the syncing features available, but I love AirDrop. I don’t like dealing with Google Photos, Dropbox, etc, so I just AirDrop the photos onto my phone. It’s kind of like sending a text except… you don’t send a text.

Upload to Unum

To plan out my Instagram feed, I upload all of those shiny, new photos onto an app called Unum. Unum allows you to lay your photos out on a grid, move them around, edit them with the (basic, yet useful) in-app editor, “delete” photos temporarily to see what your feed will look like without them, shift your feed to see what it will look like when you post something new, and more.

It’s really an all-around tool. There are even some analytics features, which I haven’t explored a ton, but I’m definitely considering getting the premium membership to see more detailed insights.

Another app I used in the past is called Planoly. It serves a similar purpose, but Unum just seems to me to work more smoothly. However, I definitely recommend trying both and seeing what works best for YOU!

Posting

Finally, I post. Sometimes I have a caption planned, sometimes I just write about the food in the picture and whatever is on my mind :) I’m a fan of long captions. I think it helps you to get to know the person behind the feed. Because remember - behind those perfect feeds are REAL people who work REAL hard photographing, editing, planning.

Other helpful tools:

Afterlight
I really like this photo editing app for when I just want to edit some personal photos and don’t want to spend the time uploading to my computer and using Lightroom.

VSCO
This app has gorgeous filters, so if you’re a fan of that, you should definitely check it out. Although… the app is so popular I assume you have already used it!

Blur Photo
I used to be really into pen palling and this app was incredibly useful for blurring out addresses on envelopes. I loved that they had a bunch of different “styles” of blurring. I always used the pixilation one, set to a very small pixel size, just big enough to make the writing illegible but small enough that the photo still looked crisp and beautiful.

So - let me know, do you have an Instagram? What’s your handle? I’d love to follow you! :) Ooh, also, bonus question - how do you feel about the new algorithm? Clearly I’m not pleased :P

Happy Thursday!