Analyzing Instagram feeds of those trying to reach a similar audience as you are is important to growing on social media and as a photographer. I’ve always found Marina Williams to be a huge inspiration in my own photography, so I tend to look at her posts the most.
Don’t be afraid to research those you find successful and to analyze the design of an Instagram post. Here’s one I did recently from Marina Williams
Note: I did not take any of these pictures. They are screenshots of an original post NOT done by me and do not represent the quality of her work. These screenshots are merely being used for an academic purpose.
Introduction to an Instagram Post
Marina Williams is a Salt Lake City-based photographer who teaches her followers photography. People can also pay for her online classes called “Made to make.” In this post, she has this picture, and when you swipe to the right she has a preview video of the online class she teaches. Her audience and mine are very similar. We both are searching for young females wanting to get into photography.
Her goals are a little different than mine though, in that she actually has a photography business and wants to make money off teaching people photography. For now, I just want to create positive vibes for my audience. I also have a little broader of an audience in that I want to reach all females with entrepreneurial goals, not just with photography. She connects to the audience well though, through educating and giving a sneak peek so they want more. She uses the seascape principles through her captions especially. She grabs the audiences’ attention with a little info and invites her audience to learn more.
Analyzing an Instagram Post’s Design
She’s kind of using the rule of thirds to bring attention to her model. Still, the first thing you see is her face and eyes, and you’re not quite distracted by the text even though you know it’s there because of how she placed the model on the lines. I think by keeping the model at the center of the frame also naturally draws the audience’s attention to the model and then the words.
With more handwritten typography, Marina keeps things more organic and relatable. It is like her audience is peering into her personal photography notes about lighting. Through this specific kind of typography — and honestly I would believe it if this was actually her handwriting — she creates a personal connection with her audience. Almost like we are all friends.
Marina creates different colors with her shadows and highlights on this image. Not only does that create contrast, but it keeps the image interesting. There are many different colors that contrast, but they’re still kept pretty neutral, appealing to her audience more as a whole. People consider neutral colors safe. So Marina is creating a safe learning environment for her audience by using these colors.
Conclusion to analyzing an Instagram Post
All of these elements for Marina because she uses them consistently. Her audience isn’t surprised when she implements certain things with composition, color and typography, they’re impressed because they follow her brand. They work together to define an organic and personal experience for her audience as well as something that is structured. Something that has a point as shown with the composition, color and typography. Altogether they uphold the standards of Marina William’s brand.
I wanted to have a good mixture of creative natural and photoshopped self-portraits for my Lucky Me Magazine. That’s where the self-portrait photoshoot with the yellow background came from. Almost two years ago, I followed around a beekeeper for a couple of hours and got great shots of honey comb. That’s were the overlay for one of my images comes from.
Self-Portraits with Yellow Background Inspiration
The image on the top right was taken by Natalie Seth, and where I got the inspiration for my image with the bees.
Self-Portraits with Yellow Background Inspiration
This image is where I did a lot of photoshop, clearly. I also have to admit, I used a preset for all of my images, and I’m glad I did. I fought with the idea of doing this for a really long time and honestly felt like I was cheating or taking the easy way out or promoting work that wasn’t my own. But considering the time I spent taking the images, photoshopping them, and making them all coordinate, I felt ok making my job a little easier and using a preset. It made it so much better and coordinated in the end.
I used two bee photos to create the bees flying around my head, both from pexels. I photoshopped them in, adjusted the sides, and added some highlights and shadows to their body.
This image took several different tried to get the honey just right. Even then I know it’s not perfect, but it was a creative way to do a self-portrait.
I created the prop for these next images with popsicle sticks. A last-minute prop I ended up loving and plan on using as decore in my next apartment. I hoped it would make an interesting frame for my self-portraits with a yellow background. Overall I’m pleased with how this photoshoot turned out for Lucky Me Magazine, and I’m happy to add this to my MJ Creative Works portfolio.
This shoot was a great challenge for me. I’m not great at posing in front of a camera and that was literally all this photoshoot with a pink background was for Lucky Me Magazine. You can tell from a lot of the inspiration that I basically just copied the poses, but you have to start somewhere, right?
Self-Portraits with a Pink Background Inspiration
Self-Portraits with a Pink Background Photoshoot
I don’t have any fancy backdrops, so I purchased a couple of plastic table covers from Target that honestly worked just as well. With every image, I had a camera set up on a tripod with a timer and when that didn’t work, I pressed the button with my foot. Not the fanciest thing in the world, but hey, it worked.
This image took a little more coordination. I had to hold two bubble guns down for a few moments while my timer was going, then at the last minute, I posed my hands differently. This obviously took a couple of different tries, and then I ended up photoshopping a few different images onto one to get more bubbles in the background. This wasn’t my favorite image, but it’s a technique I want to try again sometime in the future.
Out of my whole Lucky Me Magazine project, this was probably my favorite photoshoot. This was supposed to be split into several different photoshoots, but I ended up spending way too much on flowers for the first go so I ended up doing all of these images with just one bouquet — that really ended up being a mixture of several bouquets because I’m picky about my flowers. I got to fulfill all my wildest flower photography dreams here and of course, I had to start with some flower inspiration.
Self-Portraits with Flowers Inspiration
I also took a lot of inspiration from a children’s book I read once. I have never been able to find it since the first time I read it. I found it while volunteering at a public library in Alaska. It was about a mom teaching her child how to be happy and confident with herself, and at one point in the book, the mom tells her child, “We are all flowers, and all together we make a big bouquet.” That has always stuck with me. We are unique and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. Together we can work together to create something beautiful.
Let me take you through the process of making this self-portrait flower inspiration come to life in Lucky Me Magazine.
Self-Portraits with Flowers for Lucky Me Magazine
These first several self-portraits were a product of me taking apart my entire bouquet and tearing off petals of one of the most colorful flowers. Of course, these ended up being some of the last pictures I took since I wanted some shots with the full flower bouquet.
For this shot, I tried using makeup to get the flowers to stick but ended up just using straight Elmer’s glue. It worked well but I had to move quickly because they fell off fast!
This shot involved a lot more tedious effort. Not only did I have to take the bouquet apart, but I had to cut stems and hot glue some flowers in place. The tissue paper on my face is actually the same tissue that came with the flowers, and I just tapped it together around my head.
I also had to use hot glue with this one, and for the tape I used white, dry erase duck tape because that’s what I could find at my store! I know in my inspiration image she probably just used medical tape, but I couldn’t find any. I also had to use hot glue on this one and accidentally burned my face a little, so if you’re going to try this at home, be VERY careful.
My head/face is also pretty small, so it was hard to get the tape to stay. Since this was the case and I had to touch the tape a lot, I actually just did the text as an overlay from a scan — I wrote down several potential phrases, scanned it, then used the “darken” overlay option in Photoshop to make it look like I actually wrote it on the tape.
This may look a little complex, but it was actually very simple. I used the first image of flowers I had and basically just Photoshopped it in around my head. This is one of my favorite flower self-portraits for Lucky Me Magazine.
A lot of work goes into a photography portfolio. First, you have to learn something about what you’re doing — for me this requires a lot of work — and then you have to understand how to develop and hone your photography skills.
I had a lot of weaknesses when I really began building my photography portfolio in September. I didn’t feel like I took great portraits, I didn’t understand lighting and I definitely didn’t have my editing style down.
I still have weaknesses now, but I’ve also seen how I’ve grown this fall during my comm 316 class. Hopefully, you can see that too.
Comm 316 Portrait Photography
Before comm 316, I would heavily rely on my models for good portraits. I crossed my fingers that they’d know their bodies well enough to pose productively. After comm 316 I’ve gained my own skills with portrait photography. I grew the most by forcing myself to take self-portraits. This helped me get to know my own body and posing well enough, that I feel more comfortable posing others now for portrait photography.
Comm 316 Photography Lighting
My understanding of auxiliary photography lighting and speed lights was practically nonexistent. Now I better understand what angles and products I need in order to produce a certain pattern with photography lighting. I’m truly grateful for the new skills I learned here.
Comm 316 Editing Style and Portfolio
This has been a challenging struggle. I know I like moody photography, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it exactly what I was looking for. I eventually ended up getting a preset, which, I know I’ll be shamed by a lot of photographers for it, but using the preset has really helped me gain confidence in my editing style and made my portfolio something I’m proud to show. As I continue with photography I plan to fine-tune my editing style and make it completely my own.
Post-production photography in Photoshop is so fun to play with. The possibilities are endless when you have a high-quality image and good editing software. Gratefully I’m a student at BYU-Idaho where they let me have complete access to the Adobe Cloud.
Post-Production Duotone Editing
First off, I HATE taking self-portraits, but I knew what I wanted and I was the only available female model. This image was taken with the same techniques taken from my Studio Quality Black Background post. In post-production photography, I created a couple of layers, double-clicked on the top one and unchecked the R. At that point I adjusted the top layer to a 72% opacity and shifted the layer which gave it that duotone effect.
I actually originally got the inspiration for this idea from a TikTok I watched. They honestly have fantastic and random ideas on that app, I highly recommend for photography inspiration!
It’s always fun to play around with the post-production side of photography.
Let me tell you about the most recent self-portrait photography project. I wanted it to be something challenging to me, but that would express exactly who I wanted to be as a photographer. So I came up with the Lucky Me Magazine. My greatest weakness is portrait photography and I’m not super confident in taking pictures of myself either.
I drew a lot of my inspiration for Lucky Me Magazine from two photographers I follow on Instagram. Marina Willams and Natalia Seth. I know I’ve linked Marina before because I love her self-portraits and posing and moody tones, so I incorporated a lot of that in the final Lucky Me Magazine. I also love Natalia Seth’s unique and creative use of Photoshop. I hope the self-portraits in Lucky Me Magazine reflect some of their work and how it inspires me as a photographer myself.
Not only did I want to show off my photography skills, but I also wanted to share a message. Everyone deserves to feel confident in themselves and understand their worth. That’s something I learned throughout this photography project. Here are some of my favorite images from my shoots.
Lucky Me Magazine
In the magazine itself, I share my own personal story of gaining confidence in myself and my body. The whole idea with the title is that we’re all lucky to be our unique selves and it’s healthy to find ways to share gratitude for yourself. Here’s the cover, a brochure design to market myself to future employers and a flat lay featuring both.
Lucky Me Magazine and Brochure Mockup
Here is what my brochure for employers and Lucky Me Magazine will look like. Inside the brochure, I share the process of creating Lucky Me Magazine as an MJ Creative Works business. In my magazine, I share quotes and my story with gaining confidence in my own skin.
If you like what I’ve shared so far about this project, reach out for a copy of my magazine or brochure. Contact me for more information and scheduling a photoshoot.
To see Lucky Me Magazine more in-depth check out these three blog posts:
Let me tell you about wildlife photography in Yellowstone and some tips I have to make it worth your time:
- Get a zoom lens. I’m talking about something that goes to at least 200mm, anything else is too short because you can’t get close to any of the animals in Yellowstone.
- Stop where there are many cars and be prepared to stop often. Sure it can be annoying to be surrounded by so many people, but chances are cars have stopped for a reason and the reason is usually a wild animal. Some of the best opportunities you’ll have to take wildlife photography images in Yellowstone are at the side of the road. In fact, that’s where most of my images are from.
- Use a high shutter speed and adjust your camera settings in advance. This can be a little challenging to remember, especially if you are going between wildlife photography and landscape photography, but it’s essential if you want a good shot. I made the mistake of not adjusting my camera appropriately and most all of the shots I took of swans that were quite literally posing for us in Yellowstone were blurry and sad. I’m still mad at myself for that one.
- Take LOTS of pictures, and be prepared for whatever wildlife you’re photographing to look up. They all do it eventually, sometimes it just takes a while. Patience is key here, and good wildlife photography images come to those who wait.
Those are my main tips, along with staying a safe distance from the wildlife in Yellowstone. Most by the side of the road are somewhat used to people, but it doesn’t give anyone an excuse to get closer. This is where tip number one is especially important.
Yellowstone Wildlife Photography Results
When my section of the class made it to the Teton National Park is was rainy and very difficult to take a picture of anything without a cloud in the way. Though challenging, we were there to take beautiful landscapes, so we made it work.
I took a full-frame camera and took full advantage of it’s bracketing capabilities. I usually shoot with a Nikon D3200 and though it’s been a great starter camera for me, it doesn’t bracket, so I have to do it all manually which is a pain.
With a tripod and a nicer camera though, bracketing landscape photography is a breeze, even when it’s cloudy. Obviously, you want to wait until it’s not pouring, but a lens hood is extremely helpful to protect your lens from getting water droplets on it.
Cloudy Landscape Photography at the Teton National Park
For this last image, I was going for more of a smooth water look. I still should have had a slower shutter speed, but you can still tell that the water blurs instead of freezes. I had my camera on a small tripod and at one point my shutter speed was about 30 seconds I believe. So again, it definitely needed longer. As far as editing goes, there were so many golden reds for fall that I decided to really focus on those since I focused a lot of the green in a previous blog post.
The other week I went with my class to Island Park and Yellowstone. I had gone before but in a different capacity. This time I was all about landscape photography. Island Park and Yellowstone both had so much to offer, especially when I bracketed everything.
I’ve learned that if you want to get really good at landscape photography, that you have to have a tripod, and you have to know how to bracket. You’ll see throughout this post that all my images have a lot of depth and color. That’s what bracketing does. More specifically, it is taking three images of the same exact scene, but with different exposures. This way you have a perfectly lit sky, foreground and background all in one bracketed image. Bracketing truly makes landscape photography magical
Bracketed Yellowstone Landscapes
Bracketed Island Park Landscapes
I have to admit, some of my favorite landscape photography images of all time came from Island Park. All of these happen to be from the same spot, and it’s not even all of them. Again, through bracketing, I was able to create such vibrant and detailed landscapes. My husband even said they were desktop background quality.