I posted a photo on Instagram last week and shared a caption with it about how I felt that trying to create the perfect consistent grid was stifling my creativity and taking away the fun around photography for me.
I found my self creating the same kind of content all the time as I was constantly told by so many influencers that having a consistent feed was really important on Instagram. So many of you reached out and said how you have been feeling the same and there has been an incredible movement of people that want to break free from the perfect grid and get back to being unique and creative. there was even talk of a hashtag #breakfreethegrid
This seed of change started in my mind when I met Valeria at the workshop in Provence, for some further reading you can see her post here.
here is part of the caption I shared on Instagram.
“A few weeks ago before I met Valeria (here she is modelling this big bunch of mimosa) I would not of dreamed posting a photo like this on my feed because I would of been worried it wasn’t consistent with the rest of my photos and I would of been worried about it not getting many likes because it’s so different to what I usually post and the algorithm wouldn’t like it but also I would of felt like it didn’t match and would just look wrong. I felt like I was only creating content that would look nice on the grid, it makes you loose your creativity and your authenticity when you think like that and I felt like I was loosing mine.
Let’s all stop worrying and start finding what inspires us for our own needs and not for the sake of likes and engagement. I have been trying to break out of the pattern I had made for my self because shooting in the same style every day just so I had a consistent feed was so limiting to my creativity, don’t get me wrong I love dark photos but if I want to share a light one or a warm toned one or one that’s completely different I’m going to now.
food photos are what I normally post, but I also like to take photos of other things like these flowers, people, travel so I’m going to start sharing the things that make me happy. Let’s not worry about consistency on our grids, I understand that it looks nice and I see so many people telling us that your feed has to be consistent and edited in the same way with the same colour schemes ect so it flows nicely when people scroll but Why fit in and conform to the rules when you can stand out!”
The post that valeria shared got a lot of people talking as they where feeling like they where a slave to creating the perfect grid and it was becoming too limiting for them.
one of her posts she wrote
“One of the things that upsets me most about the endemic visual sameness of the create-for-engagement philosophy is what I call The Big Fat Flattening of Taste. By serving an algorithm rather than our own creative whims, we have reduced the creative process to a measurable commodity, the metre of which is the double-tapping. Not just that. By deeming something as worthy of being created (and then shared) in accordance to some arbitrary numeric law, we are actively shifting the current taste, pushing towards a standardisation of the aesthetic canon. We internalise the new aesthetic rules and contribute to others’ internalisation. All of a sudden, we are sharing and liking the same things and it’s all a big fat patting on each other’s back. In the long run, this behaviour frustrates any attempt at being a unique voice. It becomes harder and harder to create anything that doesn’t fit in — anything that doesn’t seem influenced by what we’ve seen over and over again. “ (valeria necchio)
It made me think what was I actually trying to achieve by sharing my photos on Instagram? was I trying to get followers, and if so why did I want them? was it a money earning tool?, did I want to turn my self into a brand? so after some soul searching (I didn’t take long) I decided I wanted it to be a place where I connect with people who love food and looking at photos and a place for me to share photos that I had created in a unique way. I loved to have a unique style that was different to everyone else, but my style needs to evolve, I need to create what ever my heart tells me I should for me and not to conform with any rules.
Photography is a form of art and an expression that is individual to a person and trying to force each photo to be taken in the same style is so limiting. We have to remember what made us want to take photos in the beginning. I’m sure for most of us it was a tool for us to express our self’s and be creative or to share moments that bring us joy.
For me it was a hobby that came about because I started a blog and needed to take photos of the food I created to go with it and it evolved into a bigger passion. But with algorithms and businesses looking at likes and engagement Instagram as changed from a place to share things that make us happy to a place where everything has to be perfection. Its become a business tool, and that’s not a bad thing for everyone, and I have used it many times to get influencer work. I think that’s where my problems started as I started to look at taking photos as a way to make money and forgot to be creative. I wanted brands to see my photos and want to work with me.
I wanted to look at it from a revenue earning potential too
So let’s dive in a little deeper.
I understand that it is important to have a consistent grid if you are a business or a brand or even an influencer but if you just want to share your creativity does it matter as much? from my point of view as someone that wanted to connect with people originally then changed and wanted to use Instagram as a way to attract new clients here is my story.
I had a perfectly consistent grid, though it was still unique to me. My follower numbers grew, great, but what did that mean for me as someone that wanted to find work as a photographer?.
Not a lot actually. Infact it may have had the opposite effect. Don’t get me wrong I love using Instagram and it has definitely been an important part of my journey in the food photography industry. I still believe it’s a great tool for people to find work and to grow their business. But having a grid that is all consistent in colour, style, feel, will surely be limiting for you if you want to use it to find work?
Brands that want to work with someone look at peoples feeds like they are portfolios nowadays. that means it’s not going to show a true representation of what you can create if you can’t experiment and show all different types of photos on your grid, because your worried it won’t look neat or coherent.
I have found, by having a consistent dark and moody theme on Instagram that it has actually hindered the work I get as a photographer/influencer rather than improve it.
It can actually cause you to be pigeonholed like I have been as only being able to do one style to photograph that wont suit everyone’s tastes. Don’t photographers need to be able to shoot in many styles?.
If you want to be an influencer rather than a photographer and get paid to post on Instagram rather than taking photos for other people then I think that is a different story altogether.
Having a neat and consistent feed will probably be quite important for you if that is your goal. It can help as this will let them see your style and if you fit with their brands message. This is important as they will want you to post the images you shoot for them on your own feed. I think it will be hard to do both and show your creative work and show pretty photos to entice influencer work, but I’m sure its not impossible. Maybe it’s best to decide from the outset what your goal is. If your just there to create beautiful photos for your self and don’t have an agenda and just want to use it as a platform to connect with others with the same interest then I don’t think it matters what you post. Don’t worry about rules or the stats and just be creative.
If you are frustrated with Instagram and the algorithm then its worth considering What are you wanting from Instagram? to gain followers, to sell something, is it for your business? to be an influencer? If it is for none of those things and your just there to share your art then why should any of the rules matter?.
Be your self be authentic and post what you want. If you want to be an Instagram influencer and earn money from posting photos on Instagram, then maybe listen to what the other influencers are saying and have a consistent grid and gain the followers. But looking at it from another point of view, wont sharing photos in different styles and being creative make you more appealing to a wider market of possible collaborations?. Surely it will appeal to more brands if you show work which might attract different people?. I guess it depends how much money you want to make. That’s just a thought. Personally I would only want to attract brands that like what I create and actually align with me and my values.
I’m going to be breaking free of my feed consistency and sharing some different photos because I want my feed to reflect me, my mood and tell my story, some days I might want to post a dark and moody shot (which is probably my favourite) and other days I might want to share a really bright high key shot. I will just try to be more free with it.
I take photos for fun mostly, its a way for me to share my recipes and my passion with other people, for me to experiment with creativity and share it with people who have the same interests and if some one sees my photos and wants to work with me that’s a bonus. I think that if making money from sponsored content was only agender it would take all the joy out of something which I started as a hobby, and that Is what has been happening lately and by realising this I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
A few weeks ago I would sit there and worry about what photo to post next and what would match the previous one, would the colours go ect, I would sometimes even shoot something new just so it matched and force something that wasn’t natural just for the grid. I would feel nervous about posting and it was quite tiring.
what are your thoughts on Instagram and the perfect grid? do you use Instagram for fun or as a way to get income?. Do you have a consistent grid or do you like to experiment?.
Also thank you if you actually read this all, I would love to be a better writer, my grammar and punctuation is terrible and I write it as I say it in my head which I know is not correct.