I have been wanting to put together a behind the scenes post of what all goes into that “perfect Instagram photo” you see. My hope is to share some Instagram Influencer inside secrets to help you not compare your life to an Instagram life.
As a new blogger developing my brand on Instagram, I know how it works. There are so many tricks and tips bloggers use to make these amazing feeds look like they just so happened to snap a pic in the right moment. But that is far from the truth…usually. Hopefully, you will be encouraged not to compare your life with this staged appearance, by knowing what goes into creating a high-quality Instagram feed.
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What to do if an Instagram influencer bothers you: Hint, unfollow.
A gal I know had someone blow up at her because her Instagram account (which is gorgeous and she works hard to monetize it), didn’t reflect the reality of motherhood. It didn’t show the poop. Or the under eye bags from lack of sleep. The messy house that never shows up on Instagram. The frustration of naughty kids. Real mom life.
Instead, we see smiles, captions about what cute kids are doing, and pretty mamas looking like they woke up with their hair and makeup done. We see the stage.
My 2 cents? If it bothers you, just unfollow! No need to rip someone apart. It’s how she makes her money.
So what goes into this? Why is it actually SO absurd to compare?
Two truths about most Instagram influencer accounts
1. Most photos are VERY edited
Ok, when I first started Instagram, I had NO idea about editing. I would use a different filter on every photo and wonder why my feed looked so funny!
Almost everyone growing on Instagram edits their photos, and some are more drastic than others. I’ve met many influencers who use up to 3 apps and programs just for one photo! Yikes.
But here’s why. It gives their whole feed a uniform look. And that is all part of monetizing Instagram and creating a brand.
2. It’s easy to hide your insecurities and faults
One blogger I follow on Instagram is an absolutely stunning mama. Skinny muscular bod, pregnant with her 3rd kid, tan skin with thick blonde hair. Once, and just once, she posted a close up photo of her face without makeup on, talking about what’s behind the photo. It was awesome!
I’d never known in years of her posting that she actually wore her makeup CAKED ON because of a skin condition she was embarrassed about. Makeup and editing had completely hidden it. And people loved her honesty because it made her relatable.
So guys, keep that in mind.
What you can’t see in an Instagram photo
The other 99% of their day is missing! For real. The frustration they feel about their body, the argument they had with their husband, the way they snapped at their kid who wasn’t listening while taking that photo.
Behind a “perfect Instagram photo” is stuff you don’t see. Stuff they don’t want you to see, because it’s not improving on their brand’s image. Or, they are afraid of putting their real self out there for the world to see. There is a lot that you don’t know. Anyone can pose for a photo, and hide relationship pain, financial stress, marital problems, naughty kids, postpartum depression, you get the idea.
How Instagram Influencers Create Instagram Moments
Influencers create moments to capture. And the best influencers make it look like it was an accident. Here’s how:
- Any photo you see on an influencer’s Insta probably had 5-20 pics just like it that didn’t get posted. I do this all the time, figuring if I take 20 one turn out ok. This is especially important for candids. I know influencers who just take video and get the best pic from that.
- Often times people will do photoshoots and get tons of pictures at once to spread out over time. It takes a lot of effort to get presentable, especially if you have to get kids looking cute. I know several influencers who take photos in multiple outfits so that they have photos to post that ‘appear’ to be on different days. It’s actually a smart use of time from an influencer’s standpoint!
- A lot of people hire photographers. Or have really sweet husbands/or friends do it LOL. But the advantage here is obvious.
- Cleaning just one area of the house to be photographed.
Instagram photos are often super staged
I can tell you that what you see on my Instagram feed is NOT what you would see if you popped into my house at random. And that is true of most everyone on Instagram I network with. We are normal people with laundry sprawled everywhere, tables piled with dishes, and muddy little kids too.
Have you ever thought to yourself “does someone follow her around with a camera all day”? Or, “how does she get those candids with kids all dressed”? After talking with lots of Instagram moms here is how they do it.
How Instagram influencers get lifestyle photos
- Many take all the photos themselves with a tripod, self-timer or distance clicker, and TONS of tries. Aka: Staged to look not staged.
- There is a contraption people on Instagram make out of a cereal box that holds an iPhone camera to a wall or ceiling. It takes top-down photos or pics of the whole room via an app. So ya. Secrets out.
- Flat lays are HARD, and take practice. Just imagine someone standing on a chair over their flat lay with a camera rearranging items over and over to make it look like it accidentally fell there perfectly. Haha, it’s a weird art and to me it’s so hard to nail!
- You see what they want you to see. While most days are no hair and makeup with little kids, you can almost bet they are looking good for that photo.
- Some accounts actually hire photographers, because apparently, they are pulling in enough money to do that to make more money. Other influencers I know get their husbands to drive around to cool places on the weekends to go take photos.
Why Instagram captions can be completely unreal too
Occasionally someone posts a pretty picture with a real caption, that real people relate to. But that’s less often than “mom life is the best life” type captions I see everywhere.
I guess for me I can enjoy a beautiful feed while at the same time knowing I’m just seeing highlights. So no matter how many cute pics I see of moms and their babies (my niche, hang in there) saying “Just so grateful for how sweet my kids and husband are” I know that’s not all true.
And I also know it’s them building a brand. They are marketing something, whether they know it or not.
Instagram is how a lot of people make money
I’m explaining from behind the scenes on behalf of people who aim to monetize Instagram. There is a lot of money being made there! It’s a huge incentive to create that “perfect Instagram photo”. Many normal people are making a part-time to full-time income from it, or at the least getting free product to post.
See my post about how to get your first 1,000 followers if you want to grow enough to start working with brands. I’ve also created a guide to pitching brands for free product that includes 7 of my pitches that landed me collaborations as a very small motherhood influencer and newish blogger.
Businesses want to work with people who will take beautiful photographs of their product, and show it to a new audience. The more beautiful the photos, the bigger the audience. The larger the audience, the bigger the pay. So there is an incentive to stage photos you see!
People usually post highlights, not their lows.
Peter loves to show me football highlight videos, and it’s fun even though I don’t love football. I see someone catching an amazing pass and running it 100 yards and even I find that entertaining! And 10 seconds later there’s another cool play ending in a touchdown. And another. That holds my attention but an ordinary football game cannot.
I think Instagram is in the business of showing highlights. At least it is for those lifestyle bloggers who are growing their followers and monetizing Instagram. There is no perfect life, even if there is a perfect Instagram photo.
What you see is what they let you see. And that’s what nobody tells you when they post that perfect Instagram photo.
So next time you see a good Instagram pic, enjoy it but don’t be tricked into thinking that anyone’s life is that clean and edited…because it’s not. If you follow me on Instagram, don’t be fooled because I’m just a normal mom with a messy life posting pretty pictures. 😉