Tips For Curating a Beautiful Instagram Feed

To be perfectly honest, maintaining a super cohesive Instagram feed is HARD WORK and one of the most difficult aspects of being an "influencer" (yikes, I hate that word) for me, personally. Let me start off by saying that having a visually perfect IG feed is by no means necessary in growing a following. I follow tons of bloggers who have grown a massive following from their good style alone and barely edit their photos or care about the composition of their feed. After all, there are so many different components to be an influencer/blogger. I think it's all about what is important to YOU as a content creator (I also hate that term a lot for some reason). 

Visual creativity and branding through visuals have always been a really important aspects of blogging to me. I feel most satisfied with my work when all of my photos/content look cohesive. If you are the same way, this post is for you! I definitely am not 100% satisfied with the way my IG feed looks and there is definitely room for improvement. You'll find out through this post, though, that it takes so much time and effort to create visual perfection. As a full-time college student with an internship and limited funds, I don't quite have the ability to live up to these full time bloggers that travel the world. However, that's ok and I've done a good job of collecting some knowledge and skills to do the best job I possibly can! 

Adobe Lightroom – I think a lot of people would disagree, but I feel that Lightroom is pretty much necessary in order to have full control over the color consistency in your photos. I'm not sure of all the different package options, but I get Lightroom and Photoshop within an Adobe Photography subscription for $9.99 per month. While basic photo editing apps allow you to adjust brightness, saturation, basic color tint (yellow to blue scale and green to purple scale) and some other basic components, Lightroom allows you to adjust the hue, saturation and luminescence of each basic color group (i.e. green, pink, yellow), which I find KEY for maintaining a cohesive color scheme. Lets say you like all the greenery in your photos to be really desaturated and more on the yellow side than the blue side. Lightroom makes it possible for you to make all of your greenery look exactly how you want and exactly the same in all your photos. This leads me to my next point...

Cohesive color hues and saturations in all photos – Cohesive color hues and saturation levels are key to making your feed come together. If you are unfamiliar with what the hue of a color is, the term in Lightroom, specifically, refers to the shade of each basic color group (red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, purple and pink). It's kind of hard to explain but I think you will understand from looking at the screenshot of color hue scales from Lightroom below. I think you all know what saturation is haha... anyway, you should adjust the saturation levels of a certain color in each photo as another way to make the color match in all photos. 

I mentioned earlier that you can edit the yellow to blue scale on a basic photo editing app. It is very important that you keep this aspect of your photo editing consistent! Below is one of my photos edited to have more of a blue tint (left) and the same photo with more of a yellow tint (right). I personally prefer the yellow tones as I think it makes photos look much warmer! 

Lightoom Presets – I've found that using a single Lightroom preset on all my photos has really helped to make my photos look cohesive! I wrote a super long, detailed post about my experience with Lightroom Presets that you can find here. As I mention in the post, though, manual edits that you make after applying the presets are very important finishing touches. 

Using a combination of object photos and portraits – Throwing what some call a "filler photo" into your feed every few photos can do a great job of creating a visual balance in your IG feed. A filler photo is essentially a photo that does not include yourself. It can be a landscape photo, a flat lay of products/clothing, food, animals, etc.. Filler photos can also help set the mood for your feed. For instance, as you can from the screenshot of my current IG feed in this post, I'm trying to create a warm, colorful, spring feeling through my photos. I think the close up shot of the cherry blossom flowers and restaurant with the floral/palm print wallpaper contribute a lot to creating this vibe!

Change up your poses – For the photos that are of yourself – change things up! Don't just stand facing the camera, smiling in all of your photos. I find that including a mixture of sitting and standing photos helps to diversify the composition of my photos. It's also helpful to include a balanced combination of close-up and full body shots of yourself! 

Strategically choose backgrounds – In my opinion, the background adds SO much to the quality of the photo. While you can strategically choose backgrounds that will make the individual photo more aesthetically pleasing, you can also strategically choose backgrounds based on how it will contribute to your overall theme. I choose light and bright backgrounds because I know they will support the theme I try to maintain for my IG feed. My friend @carolinestfrancis is a great example of someone who chooses backgrounds that fit her feed perfectly. During the winter months, she chose lots of neutral backgrounds and brick buildings to shoot in front of because it perfectly complimented her style and color scheme. One time we were shooting together and decided to take photos in front of a charming restaurant that was painted a forest green shade. It looked perfect on her IG feed but completely threw mine off and looked awful! 

Finding the perfect (or even just a decent) background for every photo you take is truly one of the hardest parts of IG photography, especially if you live in a smaller town where there is no interesting architecture or cute spaces to take photos. Even in NYC it can be hard if you are on a time crunch! I definitely don't have all day everyday to walk around looking for the perfect photo spot. I am constantly looking to other NYC bloggers to scout photo locations. I am an avid user of the "save" feature on Instagram and use it to create a collection of good photo spots to reference. 

My small town bloggers – how do you find interesting photo locations? I'm genuinely so curious about this. Leave comments letting me know!

A Hot Second

Spring in NYC came for, quite literally, a hot second. The temps shot up from 45 to 75 degrees overnight and then went back down to 30 the next day. I used the time sparingly to take some photos in this breezy outfit and enjoy the warmth with friends.

I've been on the hunt for work appropriate, summer clothes and these pants are absolutely perfect! It's hard to find conservative summer clothes that you can actually survive the hot weather in, but these are amazing because they are so lightweight. I paired it with this cropped wrap top that would also be perfect with work (of course, only with high waisted pants). 

Top: Madewell | Pants: Leith | Shoes: Hinge (similar) | Necklace: That's So Fletch | Watch: Kate Spade

Faking Vacation

Spring break was bittersweet. I was looking forward to coming home to escape the depressing cold and cloudy weather of NYC, but was met with the same weather once I reached my destination. Fortunately, it warmed up half way through the week and the weather provided the perfect opportunity to meet up with Alex and snap some photos! I was delighted to find this vintage Palm Springs-esque building in Atlanta to take photos in front of. Watching everyone else take fun, beach vacations with their friends was giving me some serious FOMO so I was happy that the tropical print on my top mixed with the out-of-place background made my photos at least portray a fun, tropical location. 

Top: Lost + Wander | Jeans: Topshop | Shoes: Hinge (similar) | Bag: Madewell (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Necklace: Shopbop (similar)

Southern Spring

While I was getting serious FOMO from watching everyone jet off to tropical locations with friends for spring break, I was still happy to have the chance to go home to Atlanta and relax for the week. I spent last spring traveling to incredible European locations for four months straight so I figured it was ok to lay low this spring break and save some $$$. Honestly, anywhere away from the freezing cold north is good enough for me. Unfortunately, the first half of my break in Atlanta was pretty cold and dreary. Halfway through, though, the clouds started to break and the temperatures shot way up! I spent one of the nicer days traveling down to Macon, GA to visit one of my good friends, Ashley. Although Macon is pretty desolate (smack dab in the middle of Georgia with no cities or water nearby), their crowning glory is the abundance of cherry blossom trees that grow beautifully in the spring. They create a tent over the downtown park areas, which made the perfect spot for photos. 

I was happy the weather warmed up to above 70 degrees on this day because it allowed me to wear this adorable wrap dress with the most beautiful, detailed embroidery. I paired it with my spring staples, a straw bag and straw hat. I topped off the look with this wonderful pair of platform espadrilles I picked up from the Brooks Brothers sample sale the other week! They were 80% off, from $250 to $50 – what a score! 

Dress: J.O.A | Shoes: Brooks Brothers (similar) | Hat: Lack of Colour | Tote: Old Navy (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Hair Curling Tutorial With Pantene

My hair has always been a stress point for me. I’ve gone through countless products and many methods of styling over the years to try and find a routine that works best. I’m happiest with my hair when it’s curled, but even then, I feel like my curls fall out so quickly because my hair is so long and heavy!

For the past few months, I’ve been incorporating Pantene’s new Foam Conditioner into the shower portion of my hair care routine and it has made a huge difference in making my curls hold up! This conditioner is very different in the sense that you are meant to apply it root to tip. Because the formulation is so light and airy, you can apply it to your roots without it making them greasy + it doesn’t weigh my hair down like the heavy formulation of the average conditioner.

I start out in the shower by using the accompanying Pantene shampoo (my favorite set is the “Daily Moisture Renewal” set). I put a palm size dollop of Pantene’s Foam Conditioner in my palm then apply it root to tip before rinsing out. 

To curl my hair, I wrap medium size pieces around a curling wand and hold for about 8 seconds before releasing the curl. It is important to note that I curl all pieces away from my face on each side as shown in the photo! Another tip is to not start the curl too close to your head. Starting the curl at least 6 inches down from your roots will create a more natural look. When I’m finished curling, I actually go back in with a straightener and straighten the bottom 2 or 3 inches as I think that also contributes to creating a more natural look.

Although the Pantene Foam Conditioner really helps my curls to not fall out, I usually finish off with a bit of Pantene’s alcohol-free Airspray for good measure.

Overall, these Pantene products have helped my curls hold up longer and make my hair feel more lightweight all around. This, in turn, helps me feel more confident and like the sky is the limit!

This post was sponsored by Pantene, however, all opinions stated are my own.