instagram tips: learning from my mistakes

I think my #1 piece of advice for beginners on Instagram, after ‘edit with VSCOcam‘, is to post every day. Partly because this is the best way to find your ‘tribe’ & make some friends, but mainly because regular practice & routine is the fastest way to get any good at anything.
I hate that awkward learning-curve phase where you have to make mistakes at something new, but it’s really true that we learn the most by reflecting on these rookie errors.
Plus, posting daily helps push you to be creative; some days there’s nothing at all to photograph, & you have to figure out how to shoot nothing but still say something.

I’ve dug down deep in my timeline to find the photos I was taking when I first started posting daily, 16 months ago, right in the middle of my learning curve. Though it FILLS me with cringe, I wanted to share with you some of my hits & misses, and what I think they taught me.

rosemary wreath instagram tips

Miss: Rosemary rings. This was a nice project, but I was too impatient and took this shot at night under artificial light, hence the yellowyness, and the noise. I then added a truly bad filter, making it even more yellowy, and thus sabotaging all chance of an even vaguely nice picture. Good one, Sara.
Lesson learned: Always wait til morning. I’ve yet to find an exception to this rule!

instafails me and orla

Miss: Painting on table. Ughhhhh this is so bad I don’t even want it on my blog. The saddest thing is, it could easily have been a really pretty little shot; I can forgive myself for not taking the lids off the paints to show the colours & hide the barcodes, but it needs to be LESS YELLOW for GOD’S SAKE SARA, and why oh why didn’t I get on my chair and take it from directly above?
Lesson learned: Don’t be lazy, get up & find the best angle – for tabletop shots, this of often directly above. Also, a natural white balance is simple, clean and timeless, and always superior to a nasty nicotine-tinge.

diary calligraphy instagram tips

Hit: You are not alone in this. The filter’s not the best, but the composition here is something I’d still do now – especially that little flicky end on the tape :). Lesson learned: neatness and symmetry work well. Also, nice table!

paris tilt shift instagram tips

Miss: French sausage dog. This one should be a winner! A little old man & a Parisian dog in a red coat! But besides the fact that I didn’t straighten the skewed horizon, crop out the bin bags or take just one more step to the left, I applied a weird horizontal tilt shift for no discernible reason. What did I have against the treetops?! Just WHY?
Lesson learned: If you can tell you’re using tiltshift, you’re using it wrong. No exceptions.

manchester instagram tips

Miss: Manchester buildings. Eep. Not only is this oh so dull – this was clearly a day where I had nothing to post – I’ve tried to make up for the dullness with a jazzy light-leak filter and some crazy yellow.
Lesson learned: The filter should not say more than the photo.

instafails instagram tips

Hit: sun-visor selfie. I still really like this shot, though it never got much love on my account! I like the shadows of the window-raindrops on my face, and how it’s hard to figure out exactly what you’re looking at. If I ever wake-up a superstar singer, this is going to be my album cover.
Lesson learned: Don’t judge a photo by likes & comments alone; value your own judgement, and take the photos you’d love to stumble across. Eventually, more like-minded ‘grammers will find you, & it’ll all be good.

What changes can you see from your early photographs? Have you made any of the same mistakes as me? How often do you post? I love comments like a kitten loves a hair bobble, so please do share…

Want more Instagram tips?
How I edit my instagram photos
How I take photos on my iphone
Curating your instagram gallery