How I Dumped My Instagram Husband

When I first started blogging I enlisted the help of my mom and friends to take quick snapshots of my outfits. If I was lucky, I would end up with one in-focus image of myself centered in the frame that I could post on Instagram. When I moved away from home, my boyfriend became my go-to photographer. He had some experience behind a camera so we were able to take more photos and experiment with angles and locations.

However, as I got deeper into blogging and gained experience, I wanted to create more complex concepts for photos and be more intentional about my content. Shoots started to become longer and more complicated and I was more picky about my vision. Soon we found that taking photos detracted from the precious time we got to spend together. I knew I needed to take the photographer/model dynamic out of the relationship in order to focus on being present during our time together. So, I didn’t dump him as my boyfriend, but I did dump him as my Instagram husband.

I found myself in a difficult position: I needed a photographer with the time, skills, and equipment to execute my vision but I didn’t have money to hire a professional.

What I did have was time and a degree in Studio Art.

I had taken photography classes in high school and college so I knew how to wield a camera, but I had never explored self-portraits. I bought cheap a tripod and remote shutter release on Amazon and started following bloggers whose self-portraits I admired (@sorelleamore, @phobymo, and @anouskapb were big inspirations to me).

A lot of my first attempts were blurry or stiff. I spent so much time trying to get the camera to focus properly. To top it all off, I was worried about what people would think of me walking around with my tripod taking pictures of myself in public!

I persevered and slowly honed my skills. I learned that placing an object in the frame while I focus the camera and then standing where that object was will ensure the photo is focused on me. I learned how to pose in ways that mimic motion to create movement in my photos that doesn’t cause blurriness. I photographed in public so much that now I people’s comments and stares just roll off my back.

Now I’m proud of my ability to take photos of myself anywhere and capture dynamic images that showcase my outfit and my personality. It’s so freeing to be able to make my vision a reality and I’m sure my loved ones are grateful that I stopped asking them to take my picture!

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The scam of being an influencer (and how to avoid it)

DSC_6605 2I used to think that in order to be relevant in the fashion blogger world, I always had to have the next best trendy thing. I think back to the items that it seemed like EVERYONE had for a season—Jeffery Campbell Lita boots in 2011, or, more recently, Cult Gaia’s Ark bag in the summer of 2017. I remember feeling left out because, in my mind, I couldn’t get the perfect summer photo without that bag. In reality, my lifestyle had no need for a see-through bamboo handbag. Still, I was worried that people on Instagram would assume that I didn’t know what was going on in the world of fashion if I didn’t have the ‘it’ bag.

I also had this little voice nagging inside my head that asked, “but do YOU really even like it?”

In the end, I decided to listen to that little voice and not buy the bag. If I saw someone carrying it now, it would feel strange—like a relic of the past. Why had I wanted that bag, that fit neither my personal style or my lifestyle, so badly?

This is the type of groupthink that can be hard to avoid in the age of Instagram influencing. Not only does social media make you believe that you always need the ‘it’ item, it also makes you think that you need new stuff in order to be churning out new and original content daily. I thought that I had to have all of these trendy things in order to be an influencer and for people to take me seriously.

So, who was really being influenced here?

We may think that we have to give into these trends in order to stay relevant, but I’m here to tell you that this is completely untrue. I also want to let know that it’s okay if you’ve felt this way.

Now I’ll ask an important question: What makes good content?

Is it how new and on-trend it is? Is it how aesthetically pleasing it is? How much attention it gets? Or is it the story it communicates? These are questions I’ve asked myself a lot, and let me tell you, it’s not about what purse you do or don’t have–it’s about what you do with it.

The desire for something new is natural, but there are many more ways to fulfill this desire that won’t fill our closets with trendy pieces that will be obsolete next season.

In my own content, I’ve tried to combat this by focusing on creativity in everything I post. What makes each photo I take different from the last is not what clothes I’m wearing, but the way I’ve styled them, the story I’m telling, and the techniques I’ve used. I collect inspiration like crazy, and try to come up with new ways to challenge myself.

The second thing that has helped me is thrift shopping and shopping my own closet. Yes, thrift shopping is still consuming, but it’s a more ethical way to fulfill that desire for something new. It also allows you the see the many possibilities in each garment and be creative with how you style and photograph it.

The third (and maybe the most difficult and important) thing that will allow you to avoid the trap of trends, is having a strong sense of self and your unique value. I used to want to be so unique. I got upset when I thought someone else was trying to dress like me, and honestly that’s one of the reasons I got into thrifting in middle school—I wanted to find unique pieces that no one else had. At some point that drive to be different diminished, and in navigating a new space like Instagram, I more than anything wanted to fit in and be liked. I was afraid I would be called an imposter for posting about fashion when I didn’t even have the trendy item of the moment.

I can’t tell you how important it is to stop this little voice in your head that tells you that you have to be like everyone else in order for them to see your value. Your value lies in your differences. No trend was ever started by someone who follows. Even if most people don’t get it, I promise you that there are people who do, and they will gravitate towards you.

The value of your content lies in what you have to say and your perspective, no one else’s.