Julia (@juliabesidethesea) & I have followed one another for a couple of years on Instagram, but we only met for real last December. With over 120k followers, she’s a bit of an Instagram celeb these days – but still, of course, as lovely, funny and friendly as ever.
I knew she’d be the perfect person to start this little series with – questions & answers with my favourite fellow Instagrammers – not least because I’m dying to steal some of her gorgeous flatlay skills, & hoping she’ll spill the secrets below…
1. Tell us a bit about your Instagram story
I have had the app on my phone for almost 3 1/2 years but only started posting to a public account just under two years ago. I started joining in with photo-a-day challenges and loved the community that comes with that, I made some good friends through those challenges and about a year ago some of us started @its_my_week as a weekly challenge. The community there is full of creative and supportive people. My account has grown and changed over the last two years to be a place that I love very much. I have developed a style that I love. I still post a photo a day although without the prompts, often things that catch my eye or by using a surface as a kind of canvas for a composition. I suppose you could call it my creative outlet.
2. What makes a classic @juliabesidethesea photo?
Although I am happy to use many elements I love organic shapes, organisation, bright and light colours… I love a flatlay photograph. Tea and flowers I think is a pretty good summary!
3. What technology do you use?
I have a Canon 1100d with its 18-55mm lens and a recently upgraded iPhone. To be honest though any camera is great whether on a phone or not! Good lighting always helps a photograph, I’m a fan of natural light. To edit I use apps, although I am considering something more technical! I love PicTapGo, it suits my style well but also use VSco.
4. What does using Instagram bring to your life?
As I mentioned above it is predominantly a creative outlet while we renovate our house and raise our children. Beyond that I have found a supportive and encouraging community of people who I wouldn’t necessarily have found elsewhere. I have met (and still meet) people who share with me this common interest yet come from all walks of life, it’s been a fantastic way of seeing the world through others eyes. It’s inspiring in so many ways.
5. How does a photo start out?
Often with a cup of tea! And a surface either by a window or outdoors. Sometimes with a plan but not always. I often just faff til it looks right. I like to balance the colours and shapes. I love a bit of organisation, I think that’s apparent from my photographs…
6. What’s your editing process like?
I often just tweak a little, more brightness, I like a blue-ish tone so I may cool the colour, maybe sharpen a little and up the contrast but that’s about it. I use minimal filters and when I do add them it’s just a touch, not full strength. A lot of this editing can actually be done just using Instagram tools.
7. How much work goes into a single shot? Some of those flatlays look so intricate and perfectly balanced!
My general rule is not more than ten to fifteen minutes. Often it’s much less. I think I must have sped up over time as it used to take a lot longer, the odd photo still does! It doesn’t always work, I have a cutting room floor littered with so many not-quite-right arrangements… But the same applies, if it’s not going right in 10 minutes I either leave it or start again.
8. What inspires you?
I’ve been asked this so many times, and I could give so many answers! I am inspired by everything, everywhere! I could narrow it down to natural elements, everything from the garden to the beach, the weather, the seasons… I am inspired by my children and their explorative tendencies, look at the world through a child’s eyes, it’s full of wonder! Looking more closely at the little details. In terms of media, inspiration is everywhere. I do think it’s an interesting debate once you get into the realms of social media, we are all inspired by each other. I have come across so many others whose style is similar to mine and ideas that move along the same paths yet each of us has our own style. Our own twist.
(I won’t go into the debate here but I do think it’s really important to credit a direct inspiration, let someone know if you love their work and are inspired by it but most importantly, be yourself. Don’t copy, do things your way…)
10. Anything new projects or ventures coming up?
I am in the process of starting up a blog, Humphrey and Grace, and reopening my webshop – I will be stocking some prints and possibly cards. It has been in hibernation for almost a year while I cram in time with my youngest… There are plans afoot!
Feeling inspired? Be sure to check out Julia’s behind-the-scenes guide to her style over on her new blog this week, and of course, follow her account on instagram.
Have you ever experimented with intricate flatlay photography yourself? (I tried following this post and couldn’t get beyond 5 minutes without wanting to throw it all on the floor with frustration! ) Do any of Julia’s answers suprise you? Share your thoughts, and any other questions for Julia, in the comments below!