Hey everyone, Jess here from jessbetweenlines. When Emily asked me if I wanted to write a guest blog for her I got really excited because, truth be told, I really miss writing. I used to have a blog myself back in the day, so maybe this will actually serve as an inspiration to think about starting again…
Anyway, back to the scheduled program. Not too long ago, I decided to go through my profile on Instagram (like take it way back!) and look at all the different themes and stages my page went through. It was so surreal seeing how much my editing style has actually changed within a relatively short span of time (not even two years), and it got me thinking. When did I figure out what my editing style was? Is there ever only one that defines you and is unquestionably yours? In a sea full of carefully-arranged, bronze-hued flatlays – can one even really stand out?
I have no definite answer for any of these questions. But if me looking back at all the different styles I went through taught me anything, is that it’s not really about finding that one ultimate filter that you will keep forever, but about discovering who you are as a creator and just having a bit of fun with it all. That being said, here are some of the ways I think everyone could try to go about that self-discovery journey.
1) Look for inspiration
When starting out on Bookstagram it can be so overwhelming to know how to go about anything. Starting with taking pictures, to editing them, organizing them into an aesthetic feed and eventually posting them… believe me, I’ve been there! And obviously you could just grab your camera and go for it, but sometimes that’s scary because it feels like you might fail before you even really started. So how does one solve that initial blockage and fear of failure?
I think there’s nothing wrong in looking for inspiration. What I mean by that is that chances are that you are already following some creators on IG that you find inspiring in one way or another. Be it their gorgeous photography, thought-provoking captions, or amazing personality. Therefore, before taking those first few shots, I definitely have looked at hundreds of pictures that inspired me. A great resource for that is unquestionably Pinterest. You could create a pinboard to collect all of your faves, and maybe even create a moodboard to serve as an inspiration for your feed.
As great as inspiration can be, however, copying is definitely not the highest form of flattery. Imagine coming up with a beautiful arrangement and seeing someone just blatantly copy that without even crediting you at times. It really sucks! Therefore, take inspiration as it comes, but if you are recreating a specific shot, give credit where credit is due. Believe me, you will want to have that integrity in the future and it’s far more fun to make friends than leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.
2) Play around
So, chances are you have looked at many pictures now and might have rough idea of where you want to take your feed. Gt you! That’s like half of the success already! But now comes the fun part – actually shooting those dreamy shots you’re probably envisioning. “Okay cool…but how do I start again?“
I’ll be the first to admit that shooting can be overwhelming because there’s like a hundred ideas swarming around in your head and translating them into a picture can be tricky. But start with the basics, find a place you want to shoot at. Beds work great, so do desks, windowsills, or even plain backgrounds like a white board you could buy in a hardware store. Then think about the light. Is it sufficient enough for the shot you want to take? Or maybe should you wait a few hours, or for a brighter day? Are the settings on your camera or phone adequate for the lighting conditions or should you play around with them (I recommend watching a few tutorials on camera/phone settings if you’re new to photography).
When all of these factors are taken care of and out of the way, you can really start to play around. Find the objects that are going to be the main focus in your picture and arrange them within the frame. If it looks weird – no problem! Rearrange them until it works. You can also roam your room/ apartment/house/garden for props to you use in your shot. Old candlesticks, mugs, coffee beans, fresh or dried flowers – believe me, the possibilities are endless. Of course you could also buy props e.g. to fit a specific color scheme, but definitely go on a hunt first, because chances are there are cute objects to be found, sometimes in the most unexpected places.
Other ways to “play around“ with your photos could be changing the shooting location either indoors, or maybe by going outside, trying out new ways of shooting (e.g. different perspectives), or asking someone to shoot you posing with a cute book! The key is to just have fun. There will be horrendous results at times (believe me, I have been there!) but chances are some of those new ways might work out and if not, they will definitely teach you to think outside the box more.
3) Find the right editing tool
Finding the right editing app/program/software really is important, especially when you are new to photography and editing and some of those programs being less intuitive than others.
Some examples of popular editing programs include:
VSCO: Very easy to use and they have some very aesthetic presets to choose from.
acolorstory: My editing app of choice for the moment. They have preset packs you can buy and the editing possibilities are very advanced for an app. For example, you can stack filters to create new presets yourself and you can even go into curves which is honestly incredible! It will really get you very far and it’s so much more intuitive than other options on the market.
Lightroom: Chances are your favorite creators use Lightroom. I don’t have much experience in Lightroom, but I’m actually planning to start using it soon, because you can save presets on your computer in this one and use them outside of the app/software. While I think this might be the trickiest option out of the three, there are some amazing tutorials online to learn how to use it, the only downfall of it being that you have to pay for it monthly.
4) Try to make it cohesive
Once you figure out what filter(s)/editing style you want to use, it’s also handy to really see how your pics will look when posted on your feed. The app acolorstory has a great feature that allows you to upload your edited pictures into a grid and move them around freely, to see which pictures work next to one another and to see the overall aesthetic of what your feed will look like. This comes especially in handy when you’re like me and always have at least 20+ pictures saved and ready to go and it has also really helped me on many occasions to see whether a new theme/filter I came up with really worked in the grand scheme of things.
5) Don’t be afraid of change
That feeling of finally figuring out an editing style that works for you is incredible! But sometimes what worked a month ago, doesn’t have to work in the present. Be it the change of seasons, or a random spark of inspiration – sometimes it’s the right thing to do to change things up. But it’s not always easy because you feel comfortable with a certain theme, or think your audience only follows you because of that specific theme and that they might not enjoy the next one you come up with. I definitely used to think like that, but as harsh as it sounds – this is your page and you’re allowed to do with it whatever the hell you want! There might be people who will unfollow – yes. But the people who matter will stay, and to my surprise, I always found that whenever I was unsure to launch a new theme, my followers showered me with so many positive words and
support that I really was left pondering over where that fear even came from in the first place. The amazing thing about the Bookstagram community really is that it’s overwhelmingly positive and that people are all about uplifting one another instead of tearing each other down. So, chances are that your followers will not only support you in any changes that you make, but actually encourage your growth and cheer you on along the way!
Much love, Jess xx
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the credit to this article and its photos goes to jess, aka the jessbetweenlines