How to Cultivate an Instagram Theme
By now everyone knows how much I love Instagram. I'm posting on it all the time and when I'm not posting, I'm on stories sharing my day to day life. Instagram is great for both personal and business use and the app has recently stepped up their game when it comes to business accounts. Being able to track your exact following, popular times to post, age groups of your audience... literally anything you could think of to track statistically, Instagram has it.
One of the big things that people talk about when we post photos is how to establish an Instagram theme. Don't think that your personal account can't have a great Instagram theme either. You can show off all of your life moments with your friends, families, and dogs. Although it seems really difficult, if you are meticulous about your editing and posting, you can easily establish a theme that will make your feed look amazing while showing off your personal style.
Above are the four screen shots of my Instagram from 2017: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each picture is cohesive with the next, but they all show off their own prominent colors and hues. The Spring theme features pastels and the freshly bloomed flora. There is a lot of green and the editing is a little lighter. Summertime shows off the beach, bright colors, and has a higher saturation of color. In Fall, we start seeing richer tones and deeper tones. We also start to see browns and deep navy in the pictures. Finally, during the Wintertime, we see reds and greens mainly, to show off the Christmas spirit. I includes some snow and Christmas decorations too.
Although all seasons featured different colors, the editing varied slightly when it came to exposure, saturation, brightness, and ambiance. I also sharpen the image a little to give them a hint more clarity. I split mine up by season but you can change it literally whenever you feel like it. I know for me right now, my theme is "New Year, New Me" hence the reason for my editing changes. Soon, Spring will come and I will keep the same baseline of editing while enhancing colors and brightness, rather than decreasing them. Below are a few tips for ensuring that your feed flows well and how to establish a theme properly.
Establish Your "Base Edit" -- I talked about this briefly moments ago. You want to establish a base edit for all of your pictures if you want to begin creating a theme for your photos. Essentially what you're doing is creating an editing formula which will equate to similarly edited photos. For example, say you take three photos. One of a bouquet of flowers, one of you with your friends at a football game, and another of your dog. Although all three of these pictures are very different, you will edit them exactly the same. You turn the contrast, ambiance, grain, fade, saturation up or down the exact same amount on each picture. This will help initially make all of your picture similar. I normally use VSCO these days for editing and that app, you can save your editing formula so with just one click, you can edit your photos automatically rather than manually.
Special Editing -- Once you have your base edit applied to your photo, if it was taken in poor lighting, if it was overexposed, or has a big shadow over it I would go in and edit only certain aspects of the picture. Maybe you need to turn up the brightness a little bit more than usual or maybe the contrast is too strong so you have to turn it down. Just don't over edit because then the photo will stick out in comparison to the rest of your theme.
Matching Photos -- If you are worried that a photo you want to post won't match your theme, there is a great hack to make sure that you can keep your theme flowing. You have to make sure that when you post a photo, that it matches the picture to it's right and underneath it. Eventually these three pictures will all be on a line together and should match. If you do this, it's a fool proof way to make sure you continually post matching photos.
Color Scheme -- In order for your photos to truly match, establishing a color scheme is key. For me, I always change each month. In October I wanted to feature oranges, camel brown, denim, hunter green, creams, and navy -- all colors of fall and all cohesive. However, as November arrived, I took out the creams and camel brown yet kept featuring denim, navy and orange while introducing deeper browns, and golden tones as well as red. Finally, when December came I took out orange and brown and continued to post with reds and navy while reintroducing cream to my theme. This way, you can recognize a continuous change, but you can't establish where the theme explicitly changed. By introducing, removing, and reintroducing colors and styles to your theme, you increase your chances of a great theme.
Angle Variation -- As a life and style blogger, I feel it's important to share not only outfits but daily life. By posting photos of yourself at different crops you add texture to your theme. I also like to include photos that don't have me in them. I picture of my desk, a coffee shop, or the wing of an airplane are great photos that can tell a story but will also add variation to a continuous theme. I think that different angles, crops on photos, and style of photo whether is has a person or not, makes the viewers eye dance all over your feed. It makes it all that much more exciting to view. The more exciting and intriguing, the more likely you are for them to follow you.
Crop Everything the Same Way -- I know I just said to "try different crops" but when I say that I mean to post full body pictures, picture of you from the waist up, pictures of just your face. Just change up how each photo looks. In the end though, each individual photo should be cropped the exact same way. If you like to give your photos white edges with an alternate app, then make sure you do that to every single photo. Also, then taking photos make sure to consider cropping it to fit Instagram if you're a blogger. If you want to show off an entire outfit on Instagram, tell the photographer to back up so you can crop the outfit to a square and not have to cut off your feet or top of your head in the process.
Think of the Overall Look -- A lot of people use the Explore page on Instagram. It's a great way to find accounts that you might like and themes you might want to recreate. It's also a great place for people to discover you if you photos gain enough engagement and the algorithm thinks that others will enjoy your feed. Because of this, you need to think of your feed from an overall perspective. Those who find you randomly on Instagram will see your account as a grid, not picture by picture. They are able to see 9-12 photos in one snapshot. The more captivating they are, the more likely they will follow along. If you peak their interest, then they'll go further into your photos and look at them picture by picture.
There are a few apps that I love to use when it comes to editing photos. I know everyone uses Lightroom and I would love to get into that but I don't have, nor do I want to pay for the software right now. I've tried the phone app and didn't love it, so I just stuck with what I already knew and what seemed to be working for me.
VSCO -- I've already raved about it in last week's Weekly Skinny but I'm about to rave again. This app is great for editing pictures. It's overwhelming I think, so one day I just had to sit down with old photos and mess around with the app. Since learning how to use it and understanding just how great it is, I have fallen in love with it. I love their preset filters, and I never love anyone's preset filters so that's really saying something. It's free too, which is always an incentive to use it too.
Facetune -- I use Facetune all the time for many different reasons. I will use it to blur out the background, to defocus my Instagram story previews, to whiten my teeth, de-red my eyes, even change the color on a photo if something needs specific attention. It's a great app for removing zits if your self-conscious about them. I even use it to whiten the backgrounds of screenshots for my collage pictures when sharing new products and clothing. Again, this one is free as well!
Hype Type -- Hype Type is great for creating pictures with moving text. This text is great to make captivating Instagram stories with. It's free and easy to operate. I know so many people wanted to know how to get moving text over images and that's how!
UnUm -- This is my final app to share with y'all but it's one worth downloading. UnUm is an app where you can pre-set all of your Instagram posts. You can tinker around with the photos you want to post and see which photos look best alongside one another. When I talked about thinking of the overall look and matching photos to the ones on the right and underneath, I do so using UnUm. I am able to see exactly what my Instagram feed is going to look like before I even post. It's a great app to have for those who go out and take multiple outfit pictures at a time. I can take 1000 photos on a Saturday and have my next three weeks worth of Instagram's set with just a few additions here or there.