Instagram influencers... are we real?
I want to touch on a topic today that grinds my gears a bit. I say touch on, this is going to be one long, rambly post - so grab a coffee and buckle up. As someone who has spent pretty much their entire life being a creative, I can't stand it when people criticise or dismiss my form of creativity. Obviously I haven't been personally attacked, but when a lot of people online are negatively discussing something that I'm apart of, it hits a nerve. There are no rules (okay there are some rules, but not many) to creativity and it's infuriating when a group of people come along and essentially put down what you do. Whether it's your hobby, your career, whatever, it's not cool. Today I'm talking about my thoughts on this whole "fake influencer" business and how it's becoming more and more common to see tweets, messages, etc, floating around social media on how we all need to start being more 'real' and posting more 'real life' - well, I'll let you all in on a little secret... I photograph pretty things for a living and that's real life.
I'm just going to address the fact that you may not agree with me at all, or even some of the points I make in this post, and that's okay. We are all entitled to our own opinion, but this is mine on the whole saga.
How to feel comfortable with your instagram feed
I think most of this argument has stemmed from this whole, people not relating to influencers or feeling like they can keep up with these high res, 'glossy' photos as they're described. If you're seeing content that makes you feel down about yourself or your life, there's a simple answer to this one - follow the content you want to see and unfollow the content you don't. It may sound a little harsh but why are you following people that make you feel down? Surely it's an obvious one? I've seen a lot floating around about how the 'perfect instagram life' can have an impact on ones mental health and as someone who suffers with anxiety, I can totally empathise but it's down to you to make your social media a comfortable place to be. Just unfollow those that make you feel low and follow the people that make you feel happy.
I'm so sick and tired of hearing people complain about "the perfect lives" people live on Instagram, just because they post pretty pictures and have a gorgeously curated grid. Why are you following them if it bothers you? Wrongly or rightly it has actually lead me to second guess my content. I don't think I've uploaded a "quick snap" in over two years, because I like to take my time planning my grid, I like to style my photos and I love the editing process. I'm a photographer. I'm a blogger. This is my passion, my hobby and my job. Why am I being made to feel guilty because people are feeling intimidated by a picture? Nobody is forcing anyone to follow me, or anyone else who enjoys photography and that perfectly styled shot for that matter.
Don't get me wrong, I totally get this attitude of being more relaxed with what you post, and if you want to do that, it's completely fine. Even I'm trying to care a little less about what photos go where but I'll never get over that completely, it's just the perfectionist in me, and a lot of creatives are the same. What I don't get is why are we each not allowed to post what WE want to post? I feel uncomfortable if my content doesn't look the way I want it to look, that's the creative in me wanting to have it all perfectly placed and coordinated. If somebody else's comfort is important, then why isn't mine? There are people out there who enjoy photography and talented creators, and there are people who just want to see daily snaps of a dribble covered toddler and a messy house. That's fine. There are plenty of both (millions actually!) and funnily enough, you actually get to choose which ones you follow. Who knew? Find the grids you like and make your own feed full of that type of content, it honestly is that simple.
Am I relatable?
Relatable to who? There's never going to be a 'one fits all' as we are all so different in many different ways. You're never going to relate to every single influencer, ever. I get it, in a way. I love finding other mums with kids the same age as Ru, or finding a blogger who has the same taste in style and makeup as me. That's relatable. But you're never going to relate to everyone on instagram at the same time and actually, why can't you post nice photos and still be relatable? Having a gorgeous cohesive instagram grid full of those perfect shots doesn't make you unrelatable, they don't dictate your personality or who you are, they are just photos. You relate to the person behind the photos, and I guess you get to know them through their captions or their instagram stories. But again, there's always going to be people out there with more money than you, more designer items, a bigger family, a cleaner house... it's down to you to find the people you can relate to and not down to us as influencers to be relatable to you and your life.
I personally like to keep my instagram stories for day to day life, where you can relate to me as a person and see my personality. I post chatty stories, cute videos of my toddler, behind the scenes of my photos, etc. I prefer my grid to be a place where I showcase my passion for photography and my blog, and do you know what? It works for me, and I'm happy. I'm growing - slowly but steadily - but I am growing, which means I produce content that people are interested in. My content isn't for everyone and it never will be, just like everyone in the world is never going to get along, but I'm entitled to create what I want to create. Just like everyone else.
A place of expression
Instagram is a creative space to express yourself, so why are we trying to dictate how people use that space? It's an expressive space where you get to choose what you want to do with it. I posted on my instagram stories asking for a bit of feedback on this whole issue and so many people came back with how instagram is a form of escapism for them. They also stated how they watch stories for more 'raw' content, which I think is what stories were created for really. An instagram picture is just one shot of a moment in time. You don't know what's going on in or around that photo. If you're choosing to read more into it then that's your own decision really, you can't hold the creator at fault for your own mind unfortunately.
Some say that they want to see more day to day snaps from influencers, but have you ever thought that maybe they are memories that we want to keep for ourselves? That they're private and not for the world to see? One minute influencers are being criticised for oversharing online, and the next we are being criticised for not sharing enough. Some even go as far to call us fakes. The fact is, you're never going to please everyone.
This is another topic that gets a lot of drama. Staged photos for brands, or otherwise, is not being fake. It's called creativity, a word that's used quite a lot throughout this post! Photography, and advertising, both of which influencers do, are jobs within the creative industry. Have you ever been to a studio to have a family photoshoot done? All smiling like you've just won the lottery and kneeling down in height order? Or have you visited a city such as Paris and put a big cheesy grin on your face in front of the eiffel tower? These are just examples, but are they not staged? You've posed for those photos so why is it different when influencers pose for a photo? I mean, is it just me who doesn't understand?!
I will brush on the fact that dishonesty in the influencer community is a completely different ball game. There is a line, and photoshopping yourself into a street view of New York, acting like you've been travelling all week is crossing that line. That isn't creativity in any shape or form, that's simply just lying to people. Please don't put this in the same category as posing for photos because it is farrrrrr far from it. Yes there really are some fakes out there, just like in any industry, but you can't tar us all with the same brush.
Being more instant
There's a lot going round about people bringing more of the 'instant' back to instagram, to take the pressure off. I love that. But why does that mean you can't have a pretty & perfectly edited grid? I can chuck a flat lay together within 2 minutes, shoot it with my fancy lens and edit it in Photoshop in another 3. Can you even get more instant than that? There's so many times where I've had to take a last minute shot just to have something to upload to instagram that day. A photo doesn't have to be taken on a phone to be classed as instant. A photo doesn't have to be bad quality to be instant. A photo doesn't have to have no filter applied to it to be instant. I rarely shoot on my phone just because I prefer the quality I get from my camera but I mostly always have my camera to hand for that reason. I don't know who makes these 'rules' but I think the point is, there aren't any. Besides, I can't speak for other bloggers/influencers, but if I uploaded some of the 'instant' snaps that are in my camera roll... they would get next to no engagement. So I think that says it all.
Just do you
Image if all influencers did the same thing, and every grid looked the same, how bloody boring would that be? We all do our own thing and we shouldn't be made to feel guilty for doing that. We need to stop this entire guilt process, all it's doing is changing who it lies with. All I'm hearing is that this whole 'perfect life' intimidates people and makes them feel like they can't compete or keep up with it - but now the guilt is just being moved onto those of us that enjoy curating an Instagram full of those 'perfect' shots. Instagram has become an amazing platform for a lot of people to share their passion and talent for photography. It's become a platform that you can actually earn a living from, which is incredible! My blog and my social media have given me the outlet to earn an income from home as a single mum having to stay home with my baby. Instead of complaining about who does what, how about just focusing on your own content and let everyone just do whatever it is that makes them happy. Be that a grid full of flat lays, photo manipulations, outfit photos, whatever. You do you.