the new in­sta­gram rules for cre­atives

While for some In­sta­gram is be­com­ing staid, oth­ers are em­brac­ing im­per­fec­tion and spon­tane­ity to build new, tighter com­mu­ni­ties

Mollie Makes - - Front Page - Words: LOTTIE STOREY Illustration: NINA COS­FORD

Once a place to share snaps with friends in­stantly, In­sta­gram has quickly be­come one of the big­gest so­cial me­dia plat­forms in the world. Craft is a vis­ual medium, which makes In­sta­gram an ob­vi­ous choice for shar­ing and pro­mot­ing small busi­nesses – lead­ing to ‘key in­flu­encers’ (a term orig­i­nated on In­sta­gram) earn­ing hefty in­comes. As num­bers have risen, so has the ex­pec­ta­tion that In­sta­gram feeds should be care­fully cu­rated, seam­lessly beau­ti­ful places to go for hits of pho­to­graphic Prozac. But as the plat­form con­tin­ues to grow, some ’Gram­mers have been fall­ing out of love with the pic-shar­ing plat­form.


Cre­ative en­tre­pre­neur Allison Sadler of The Peo­ple Shop (­lison­; www.thep­eo­ tapped into a grow­ing dis­con­tent­ment when she posted about pe­onies, the all-too fa­mil­iar photo sub­ject that fills thou­sands of feeds in early sum­mer­time.

“The big­gest thing I’ve been feel­ing lately is bore­dom. Ev­ery time I flicked through those lit­tle pho­to­graphic squares, I found my­self quickly back­ing away again. How many times can we look at an­other pic­ture of pe­onies be­fore we scream ‘Please, please no more!’.” Allison’s mes­sage hit a nerve. “I have never had so many re­sponses to a story, ever! Hun­dreds and hun­dreds of fol­low­ers sent me mes­sages ex­press­ing the same thing,” she says. “This was some­thing I’d been feel­ing for a long, long time, but I felt a bit ner­vous about shar­ing it for fear of o end­ing an army of diehard pe­ony lovers. But some­times you just need to be brave and say ex­actly what you’re feel­ing.”

With over 10,000 posts us­ing Allison’s sub­se­quent #free­up­myin­sta hash­tag, it looks as though she’s brought back much-needed spon­tane­ity to In­sta­gram.

But has In­sta­gram re­ally be­come so pre­scrip­tive? Some be­lieve there’s still va­ri­ety if you look for it. Blog­ger Sara Tasker of Me & Orla (­an­dorla. says, “What started out as a plat­form for peo­ple who sim­ply loved shar­ing great pho­to­graphs has evolved into some­thing a bit more cyn­i­cal and con­sid­ered, as more and more peo­ple look to it for pro­mo­tional pur­poses in­stead of just plea­sure. That said, all that pic­ture plea­sure is still there for the tak­ing for any­one who wants it – it just means be­ing a lit­tle more in­ten­tional about how you use it.”

So, what’s her view on Allison’s #free­up­myin­sta project? “It takes the pres­sure away from the idea of the per­fect sub­ject – the end­less spiral of peo­ple post­ing the same repet­i­tive types of pho­to­graphs be­cause they get the most likes. How­ever, browse the feed and you’ll see ev­ery­one is still tak­ing the best pho­to­graphs they can of all that won­der­ful va­ri­ety.”

But is there space in all this va­ri­ety and pro­mo­tion for the per­sonal? Rachel Basinger of Oh No Ra­chio! ( www.ohno­ra­ pho­to­graphs her enamel pins, sta­tionery and gifts along­side pic­tures of her cats and plants. “I don’t like the idea of a cu­rated feed, per se,” she says. “I think it quickly be­comes clichéd. My feed seems to nat­u­rally go through phases of colour pal­ettes, de­pend­ing on what I’m into at the time.”


Rachel also films a weekly vlog on YouTube and em­braces the In­sta­gram Sto­ries func­tion. “Peo­ple shouldn’t be afraid to show their vul­ner­a­bil­ity on­line. More of­ten than not, those things that aren’t so rosy are the ones that peo­ple con­nect with and em­pathise with the most. Keep­ing it real shows au­then­tic­ity, which helps build bet­ter con­nec­tions and a sense of com­mu­nity.” And that’s what In­sta­gram is all about.

Sara agrees: “Sto­ries are a great an­ti­dote to that overly-cu­rated In­sta­gram world. It’s tem­po­rary con­tent last­ing just 24 hours, so it makes no sense for any­one to pour hours of work into per­fect­ing it. In­stead it’s full of messy, real mo­ments, and you can know peo­ple so much bet­ter from that. Per­fect mo­ments with flow­ers and teacups are lovely, but we con­nect over the messier stu . That’s where the real re­la­tion­ships are forged.”

With the growth of Sto­ries, In­sta­gram has be­come freer again, and has the scope to be what­ever you make it – whether it’s for work or play, tidy or messy. The mix is up to you: make up your own rules, but just re­mem­ber to have fun while you do it.

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