Oh, Instagram. I really, really love Instagram. I was skeptical at first, thinking it was just another Facebook, but I've been totally won over by its filtering genius and network of creative, inspiring people. And it's organizational structure makes my type-A heart sing! All those tiny squares lined up in neat little rows. Heaven!
Like most moms, I am drowning in digital pictures. I cannot even hover my mouse near my iPhoto folders for years 2012 and 2013 without feeling physically ill. I have gazillions of pictures that need to be sorted and placed into albums. Cry me a river, I get it. But I am not digitally inclined and every time I try to sort those babies into albums they just end up a total mess of poorly cropped and crowded images. On top of that, I don't think the quality of Mac photo books are very good, so all that work ends up being a bust. And don't even get me started on what happens when I try and export my photos to another online book printing source because I don't even understand the problem well enough to describe it. (I can literally feel my husband rolling his eyes from his office miles and miles away, but I don't see him spending his free time making family photo albums!)
Enter Instagram. The beauty of Instagram is that I can shoot pics of my family, edit them on the spot, add a caption to help me remember the moment, and up they go. Then I delete all the shots from the event that don't make my Instagram feed. I feel like I'm creating this beautiful log of our time together, without the hundreds of mediocre pics. And it's all organized! I can scroll through my feed at the end of the night and just marvel at the cuteness.
Now, the next part is even better. I regularly upload my pics to Prinstagram, which doesn't even technically involve uploading because you just log on with your Instagram username and password and they somehow access the photos for you. (Again, cue the eye rolls. Whatever). Through Prinstagram, I print both hard copies of my photos as well as books. It literally takes 10 minutes - so user friendly! I think the quality is great, although I have learned that some filters like Sierra look great on screen but a little too faded in print. Prinstagram books even have the option of including dates and captions. I display the hard copy prints all over my house. I keep them in little boxes or put them in casual groupings like in my kitchen below (all the square images are Instagram). I love the casual, old school polaroid feel.
That's how I handle my personal account. Professionally, I think Instagram could be a great marketing tool. I say could because I'm not quite there yet. I haven't figured out how to visually create a presence for my books and, while I think I'm pretty darn good at taking pictures of my girls, shooting physical objects is a real skill best left to the professionals. (Trust me, my house is going to be featured in an upcoming magazine spread and I got to see some of the best in business in action and it was incredible. The care and time they took with every little detail gave me a whole new appreciation for the craft. It was amazing to watch.) But I do find it very helpful to follow bloggers, editors, and other creative entrepreneurs who I admire. I like to study how they've built their brands and how they balance presenting their businesses with a personal side. I also really like following other writers, as well as agents and other publishing industry types who I may want to approach someday (fingers crossed!).
The following are some people who I think really do Instagram well:
Courtney and Emilie from Babycinno Kids. I've loved their blog FOREVER, it is one of the first mom blogs I started reading and I still log on every single day. Their pics are beautiful glimpses of family life.
Caitlin McGauley. Uber talented water color artist and mom who I blogged about here. She does a wonderful job of showcasing her work without appearing to "market" it. And sprinkles in some cute babe pictures as well.
Mimi Thorisson. Because the combo of food, puppies, and beautiful French children just can't be beat. Plus, any writer who gets her book reviewed in Vogue is clearly doing something right.
Jodie Morel from Dannijo. Inspiring images from the fashionista scene that never feel intimidating or posed.
Sarah Winchester. An incredibly talented photographer who also happens to be incredibly kind and introduced me to the wonderful world of professional Instagram. She was my first Star Sisters follower and I've been following her lead ever since.
One final note on Instagram - I think it's tricky to have a "public" family photo album and I think we're all still learning about how to navigate these things. I'm very aware that my personal Instagram account (which is technically private, but I have a lot of followers) is not a "real" account of my life. It's a beautiful photographic diary of the family that I love, just like the photo albums resting on the shelf in my parent's living room. I capture the moments I want to treasure and remember forever. I share them because I want my family who's far away to be able to see them and my friends whose own photos I love seeing to share in them with me, but mostly because I love them. I want them for me. As for the tougher moments of parenting, I'll just have to rely on my memory for those. Some will be with me forever, while others will fade. But at the same time, I always seem to lose sight that others are doing the same thing. They're deliberately presenting themselves, preserving select memories. I don't really have a point here, I just know that I'm curious to see how this all plays out. I'm curious to see how our kids handle growing up with this public/private dichotomy. I can't imagine how I would have handled it as a teenager. But maybe they'll be wiser. Maybe they'll catch on early that there's an image we preserve and share, and one we protect. I hope so.