14 March 2017

Pretty pictures


Because I haven't been able to choose between two post topics, I haven't written anything. 'Write both and save one', ya say? Pah. Far too simple.

Anyway, I've mused on the subject of bringing your body - not just your mind - back into the moment, because it's becoming my favourite, most effective way to get past random anxiety. Mused. Not written. Yet. Instead I being you...Instagram!

Instagram is 'my favourite and my best'. The micro-blogging aspect with longer captions...great. The new 'like a comment' feature and scrolling...love it. Stories...not really got to grips with that yet but I watch other people's. A simple picture with a couple of words...yes.

I follow about 600 people and although, thanks to the backworkery, I don't get to see all of them all the time, I do see most. I follow friends, acquaintances, a couple of family members, lots of dogs and their people, rescue organisations, plant-based people, podcasters, artists, bloggers and even a couple of 'influencers'. And Alan Cumming because it feels as if he's all those things in one person. I see pictures that range from my nephew with his underpants on his head (he's two) to swoon-inducing, perfectly curated galleries.

I do not follow people who use Instagram to lie, using smoke and mirrors. If you lie to me on something as trivial as Instagram, my experience is that you lie about more important things too and I don't have time for that nonsense. But even though we might fall for this stuff at first, I think over time it becomes apparent that something is just a bit 'off'.

My irritation with that used to make me over-reactive to anything that wasn't just 'messy 'n' real', lovely photography, or a good caption. Then I started to appreciate the work going into curating a good gallery. At first it was with the dog accounts I follow. Some are so beautifully shot, matched with good captions and maintain a really high standard. Much better than my higgledy piggledy mix of good and bad photos (HE MOVED!) with hastily tapped in captions.

I hated real hashtags used to gain likes and follows. But why? Instagram is a social platform built on connection. Why would you use it and hide, unless you're keeping your account private? It's like writing a book, sealing it, and then putting an entirely blank cover on it.

Somewhere along the line I came across Sara Tasker at Me and Orla. Her Instagram is not only stylish and beautiful, but she's also a very likeable person who's great at passing on her expertise. I read her blog, downloaded her free resources and now I listen to her podcast. It's fun and inspiring, not just for would-be influencers but for anyone wanting to create something beautiful.

Not gonna lie, it's made me really want to try out building a curated gallery on Instagram. As a creative project. I've been in love with blogging for so long - right down to the techy side - that this feels like a natural extension. And it gets me really excited which is also a sign.

Over the last couple of months I tried setting up separate accounts for trying this out but neither really grabbed me (I already have an account for endless pics of my dogs but that's different). There's a school of thought that says, if you want to up your Instagram game, stay with your existing account and show the evolution. Also, who scrolls that far back on other people's accounts? (Well...me actually, but that's not the point) But that doesn't sit well with me.

I stepped back and tool a mental look at my feed (sorry Mel) and suddenly I was wondering why exactly I even do it! A handful of friends aside, why do I feel the need to show pictures of my daily life to complete strangers? It's bizarre! I started to feel a bit icky about it. Not because of privacy issues but just because who cares? Who cares what my garden looks like or the inside of a tattoo studio I'm sitting in on a random Tuesday? (See: the screen grab above.) Who cares what I'm doing day in, day out? And why?

I'm still sitting with that one. I'm open to either shutting it down, going private (as can be with 500+ people already in) or even just carrying on as I am. I just need to think it through and decide. I might even keep a 'record of my days' account that's uncurated and just 'here's today..what are you up to?' but only send invites to people I think of as friends. I like taking photos on my phone. I like sharing them. I love to see what my friends are up to each day, how their kids and dogs and cats are, what they've just seen that made them go ,'OH!'. It's the sharing. I just need to dial in on with whom I am sharing. Does that makes sense?

Meanwhile, I fully intend to start a curated gallery to play with. I'm fascinated by the thought of tones and feel and aesthetic. By choosing things that fit and not throwing everything into the soup. With telling a story, not throwing mud at a wall. I believe there's a lot of skill involved and I want to learn. Most of all it's fun. I'm building secret Pinterest inspiration boards and giving some serious time each day to exploring Instagram beyond my usual circles.

So that's my Instagram story for today. Ha. It just hit me that I could stick with the one I have but develop it in a new direction, then start another day-today, personal one and just invite the people I feel safe having there. Yeah. I think that's it.

Do you use Instagram? I think most of you do. How do you feel about curated feeds? Do you have any favourites? I might do a post listing mine.



  1. I am definitely an IG addict. I love it for actual people, for fandom stuff, for dogs and animals generally, for interior design/prettiness, and jewellery, for colour. I love images more than I love words at the moment but, ultimately, I'm also really nosey and there are a lot of people that I genuinely care about that, in reality, I don't know at all whose feeds I would miss if they disappeared into the ether. I find IG more personal than Facebook, and calmer/quieter than Twitter which I loved for years but which I pretty much divorced in 2012. (Too insistent somehow.)

    I like the fact that it allows its users to dip into one another's lives, and I purposely don't follow too many people because then it becomes almost an effort to keep up. IG is, for the most part, is something I treat as a respite. It's something I genuinely enjoy so I try not to overthink it. I don't know that I'd be organised enough to run two accounts, never mind three, but I can see why it's appealing. :)

    1. It IS calmer, isn't it? You're right. That's definitely part of the appeal. There isn't too much noise. I'm trying to think why that is - maybe it is the personal nature of it - but whatever, I love it.

  2. I have a lot of thoughts on this...

    I have two accounts as you know, the second one I started after a photography marketer said that it helps your 'career' to have a curated stream.
    And I really try to do that with my public account, but I'm a big dork and eventually that comes through with the rando photo here and there, and ultimately I don't give AF. I am who I am, and my brain doesn't go that way. I love the photos that make a grid, I love the thoughtful images that speak of quiet and color, and sometimes I get one of those, but ultimately I have to be who I am online.
    My other account, the private one, is the completely random, hey this is what's happening in my day. I choose to post something good every day, because life has been hard IRT and I like having the reminder of something good each day when I'm in it. I keep that one private because of my teenager and all of her friends on insta who would look and comment and follow if it wasn't private.
    I follow curated feeds on my public account, but I limit them, especially the photography accounts, because I also get triggered and feel like a shit, so I'm trying to minimize that.

    1. I totally agree with the having to be who you are. And there's a bit of me that adores order and flow, 'the grid' writ large, that has no outlet. At all. So much of my life is random at best, chaos at worst, and as much as I love it, I'm yearning for that smooth water : )

  3. i like seeing snippets of ordinary people's daily lives. i probably only know about 1/3 or less of the IG accounts i follow in real life...the others are a combination of people i know only online, from following their blogs or liking their artwork, and total strangers whose IG posts bring color and wonder to my feed, including things like national geographic and a few "influencers". some of these online only contacts i think of as friends, and others as people who might be part of my "tribe" of like-minded folks, who are in somewhat short supply in real life. i genuinely look forward to pics of peoples' dogs or cats, children, current reading, dinner, or a random flower. they make me happy! my own posts are poorly photographed, utterly random, occasional rather than regular, and offered in a spirit of "here i am" instead of any thought-out process. i have no goal in my IG presence; it's just another social media form for me. i can see how others use it in a savvy way to promote art or business or ideas, but honestly the accounts i like best are just ordinary people going about their ordinary days...

    1. I hope Instagram will always have the ordinary people at its core. I really kicked against more professional accounts when they first started to surface because I'd seen how that approach had heralded (if not caused) the near demise of blogging. And Twitter (although I love how it's become a political and campaigning tool). I didn't want to see Instagram become a commercial window and I still don't. But the creativity involved in doing something more measured with it...I love that alongside us ordinary people : )

  4. well, you know my thoughts on this...and yes, i've also had that existential moment where i question the point of it all.

    as best as i can figure, it's about finding beauty and love in the world...those are the accounts i follow. sometimes it's somebody's toddler, other times it's an artfully arranged plant pot and rolling pin. i've surrendered all judgment and am just enjoying it.

    for my own picture snapping, i'm really, really loving putting some thought and effort into it...letting it become it's own creative process..visual storytelling etc. it thrills the creative geekery side of me immensely. :)

    that said, i'm thinking a private/personal account might be in order...i just got some lovely snail mail (books and postcards) that i wanted to insta-share and then butted up against my new world order of trying to keep a focus. ;)

    it would also coincide with my decision to keep my blog fairly non-personal and leave the 'inner sanctum' bits for my tinyletter....so i can exist happily in both worlds.

    marathon comment - but i know you don't mind. xoxoxoox

    1. I just spent a good couple of hours, if not more, removing followers from my account. And then finding most of them hadn't worked and doing it again. Sigh. but I took off 300+ followers and switched to private. That feels better. A curated account is something I'm definitely going to do. But not til I'm ready. Love marathon comments : ) x

  5. Also, 'influencers?' Ick. I'm too easily influenced so I try to avoid anything that smacks of marketing/selling *anything* these days.

    IG's where I try and get away from all that.

    1. Right? It's a new word for an old job: freelance marketer. I once wrote a blog post (two?) for Argos when they offered me £500 to spend on their products in return. It was because I had what was - at that time (2009 I think) - a fairly large Pinterest following. I'd just made the decision to close my blog (yes, it was that time of the year : ) ) but we were flat broke so I kept it going long enough to gain a rug, a kettle, a toaster and a new bin for the kitchen! So who am I to judge? We're still using all of them! But it left a bad taste in my mouth (apart from the toaster, obvs). Not sure I'd ever want to do it again. As an ex charity marketer I get the concept of talking to people through people but blatant product-plugging...not for me.

  6. Read this a few days ago and have been doing the thinky things about it all, as well as the IG - otherwise known as the Instagrin, (in these parts anyway). I mean, I love it.


    I've noticed that I can't social media under stress. Even despite the generally sedate pace of my IG experience. A private account has looong been a necessity for me. Still, every day too many follow requests (marketing - even the good stuff often feels like too much). It's ramped up a lot lately. And I have regular wibbles about the interwebs, (just read David Byrne's piece on the Guardian...gah).

    I'm a lazy IG-er though. I'd rather look at the pretty things than post my own stuff (I censor so much anyway, and then I just end up with pictures of herbs and sh*t).

    Also, I prefer to have interactions - I don't like just being followed without a connection. I prefer to follow those who follow me, on the whole. And "see" them on some level. I don't want more socialitybarbie without irony (#authentic).
    I'm also deeply uncomfortable with being anonymously observed by followers, (maybe because I prefer this role myself). So, trust issues.

    But your post has me thinking about the beauty aspects: the tone, and consciously cultivated a curated account. I really love that idea. Although my photography skills aren't up to much.

    There is a beautifully compelling notion there - just inviting others to see a world they wouldn't normally. A world mundane to the person who dwells there, but opening the deeply personal imaginary to others. Which to me is a form of empathy and connection.

    Ultimately, I see IG as a place to play, and reinvent, and create, and connect. There have been political moments of late where I've felt a sense of solidarity and connection. As for activism, the exposure of corruption, and transparency, I do feel personally that IG is a much more powerful platform than the twitter-verse: at this moment. Twitter had it's moment, but I'm not sure it's a decent place to be now...

    Thinking aloud, (and convolutedly). xxx