Blogging, Photography, Social Media

What nobody tells you when they post that “perfect” Instagram photo

I have been wanting to put together a post about what nobody tells you when they post that perfect Instagram photo.  As a new blogger and new “Instagrammer”, I want to give you a behind the scenes look at how these so called picture perfect Instagram accounts operate and why they exist.  I’m speaking completely from my experience as well as from talking with moms I network with who are monetizing their Instagram. Hopefully you be encouraged not to compare your life with this staged appearance, and see it from the other side.

This contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase through them I earn a small commission at no cost to you. 

What nobody tells you when they post that perfect Instagram photo

More is hidden than is shown

Like hello, shocker here. 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 their best. We see the stage. So what goes into this? Why is it SO absurd to compare?

What’s not in the photo

The other 99% of their day is missing.

Behind any perfect looking life is stuff you don’t see. Stuff they don’t want you 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.

Occasionally someone posts a pretty picture with a real caption, that real people relate to.  But that’s more rare.

Insane editing

Ok, when I first started Instagram, I had NO idea about editing.  Almost everyone growing on Instagram edits their photos, and some are more drastically edited than others.   Some people use up to 3 apps and programs just for one photo! Yikes.  But I get it.  It gives their whole feed a uniform unique look.  And that is all part of monetizing Insta.

A before and after example

I really liked the look of Instagram feeds using the a filter in an app called VSCO.  But my friend, I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s a filter.  And it smoothes out a LOT!  Ok, like skin tones are brighter and smoother. Colors change.  Take a look at this before and after photo to see for yourself.



filtered a6 vsco example
I use this filter on every photo. But it is good to see the difference in color, skin tone, and hidden imperfections compared to the original. You can almost be sure you are seeing filtered photos to some degree on Instagram profiles that are growing on purpose.


It’s a business for some

I’m explaining from behind the scenes on behalf of people who aim to monetize Instagram. There is a lot of money being made on Instagram! Many normal people are making a part time to full time income from it. See my post about how to get your first 1,000 followers if you want to start monetizing Instagram too.

Businesses want to work with people who will take beautiful photographs of their product, and show it to a new audience.  The larger the audience, the bigger the pay.

I used to wonder how it all worked, and how you could make money with Instagram. That is another post by itself, but the point is many people out there are pulling in extra dough to help their family.  At the very least a lot of them are getting free product.

What may have been a hobby morphed into a business through photos, followers, and collaborations.


What actually goes into making these photos?

People create moments to capture them.

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.  I’ve even heard of people taking photos in three outfits so that they have photos to post that appear to be on different days.  It’s actually a smart use of time from a creator’s standpoint.

When I snap pics, I snap a LOT.  Because maybe one or two will be great and 20 will go to the digital trash. So although I can trick you with a candid to think I just “caught the moment”, I really was just that annoying person who was snapping away waiting for “a moment”. Don’t forget that about photographers!

It’s often super staged.

I can tell you that what you see on my Instagram feed is NOT what you would see if you popped in to 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 about someone on Instagram, 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.

Secrets to getting all those lifestyle photos

  1. Many take all the photos themselves with a tripod, self timer or distance clicker, and TONS of tries. Aka: Staged to look not staged.
  2. 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.
  3. Flat lays are HARD, and take practice.  Just imagine someone standing over their flatlay with a camera rearranging items over and over to get the right pic.  Haha, it’s a weird art and to me it’s so hard to nail!
  4. 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.
  5. Some wait till they can snag their significant other to take a few photos.
  6. Some accounts actually hire photographers, because apparently they are pulling in enough money to do that to make more money.


  1. No filtering.


    maternity photoshoot 9 months
    Not only is this filtered to match my feed, but photos like this are pretty staged. My husband didn’t accidentally get this shot. He took a ton, after I got my hair curled and makeup on, because he is nice. Not an average day in the life of this preggo lady.


editing photos for instagram with vsco a6 filter
Here is a staged photo unedited.


vsco a6 filter edit before and after
Edited with VSCO, cropped, staged. This was a gift from my sweet sister Rachael, but many “Instagrammers” seek items such as these just for photos.

People post their 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.

What you see is what they let you see.  And that’s what nobody tells you when they post that perfect Instagram photo.    So when I see a good Instagram pic, I can enjoy it but am not tricked into thinking that anyone’s life is that clean and edited…because it’s not.













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