We’ve all noticed the accounts. The ones that have one color running throughout – think the monochromatic gray and white look of Happily Grey or the warm oranges and burnt reds of The New Darlings – or the accounts that post images consistently set up in the same way – the grand scale travel shots featuring Rosie Londoner, for example. These accounts have worked hard to curate their specific aesthetic and it’s working for them.
DO I NEED TO HAVE AN INSTAGRAM THEME?
But, do you need to have an Instagram theme? If you’re not working on a personal brand, absolutely not! Seriously, don’t worry about it. However, if you are trying to create a brand, whether it’s for a blog, professional purposes, or otherwise, yes, you should give a little thought to what you’re putting out on your Instagram feed.
No, you don’t need to spend hours taking hundreds of pictures and editing with Lightroom to get them just so, but it is worth giving a little thought to the visual brand that you’re cultivating. Not everyone is going to live their life through a rose-colored Instagram or only post images of flat-lays, but I’m all about picking and choosing which aspects of an Instagram theme work for you and staying consistent to that direction. It may be the way you frame your images, or perhaps the angles at which you choose to shoot. Maybe you prefer to de-saturate before posting. Figure out what YOU like and create your theme around that.
And, remember, even if people insist they don’t care about whether someone’s Instagram has a theme, they are more likely to hit follow on a feed that’s visually appealing – and that’s likely one with a theme!
HOW DO I CURATE AN INSTAGRAM THEME?
So, how do you curate an Instagram theme? As I mentioned, there are more than a few ways you can create an identifiable look and visual brand for your photos. You don’t need to consider every single one of these, but picking two or three will help you hone your aesthetic and will give you focus in posting. I’m sure you’ve heard before that decisions are easier when given fewer options – that’s true for curating your Instagram theme, too! Giving yourself direction will make creating your brand far easier.
- Subject matter: This is the obvious consideration and one that we should all have at the top of our list. While most of us aren’t going to narrow it down to one subject – food, beauty, architecture – some will, and, for the rest of us, we should think about limiting it to 3-5 categories. Some examples? Think style, travel, cooking, shoes, transportation. The list is seriously endless – check out dccitygirl’s house shots or Charlotte of Sweet Sundays gorgeous baked goods for singular subject inspiration. And, if you cover more than one subject, definitely make sure you’re rotating each through your feed equally.
- Image subject: Just slightly different from subject matter, this covers the actual star of your photograph. Will your photographs feature people? Are you into flat-lays of items? Scenery shots? These aren’t limited by subject matter, but visually it looks best to keep it consistent. For example, I don’t do flat-lays because they appear, well, flat when compared with the more dynamic shots in my feed, but they are certainly right for some people like Bonnie Joy Marie.
- Color palette: Ah, a noticeable but divisive topic. Personally, I’m never going to live my life in one shade. However, I totally understand how awesome it can look when all your photos fit within a specific palette. And, there are actually a few ways to think about color.
- Edit all your photos to have a similar tint, be it pink, blue, orange, whatever. A great example, Louella Reese edits her photos with the most gorgeous, warm pink tone.
- Stick to all light, bright colors or dark, moodier ones. Katie Urban is a wonderful example of an account that doesn’t stick to one shade, but ties everything together by using the same bright colors. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Erin Krespan has a beautifully moody account full of deep, dark colors.
- Only post photos that work within your chosen color scheme. Some people post all pink photos, regardless of how they’re edited. Others do all blue. Pick your color and stick to it.
- Light: Similar to color, edit all your photos with a similar exposure. Whether it’s over or under, make sure it’s consistent across your feed. This is the element that I think makes perhaps the biggest impact. I’ve even posted a photo with a dark background in my light feed, but because the photos are all edited with the same exposure, it still worked.
- Framing your photos: There are some fabulous accounts, Jennifer Lake, for example, that always show the curator posed against a bright, mural that creates a gorgeous backdrop and allows her to truly pop. Others, like Helene in Between, choose scenery with lots going on to draw you into the image. You may not even notice she’s in there at first, but that’s part of what’s so enveloping in the image. Think about how you want to frame your subject, and then be consistent.
- Positive v. negative space: While you’re thinking about framing, also consider how you’ll utilize positive and negative space. Will your subject be the only thing that catches your eye? Like a blogger or a coffee cup against a brick wall? Or will they become part of the scene? A coffee table vignette or a woman sitting in a cafe, for example. Use a similar level of this positive v. negative space in all of your posts for the most visually balanced feed.
- Angles: Particularly if you photograph a lot of architecture or travel scenes, think about your angles. Competing angles within a feed can seem stressful to the eye, so while it’s nice to vary it a bit, stay consistent enough to let the view wander through the feed rather than be caught off guard by jarring angles intersecting unintentionally.
HOW I’M MANAGING MY INSTAGRAM THEME
All of these elements are a lot to consider, and I like to keep my theme a bit more open than some content creators do. The way I look at it, my Instagram is a visual representation of my blog and the brand that I am creating, which is directly tied to how I actually live my life every single day. Because of that, I have a bit more flexibility in what I post. So, what do I keep in mind when I’m curating my feed?
I’ll run down the list of considerations that I just gave you and address how I approach each one in my own feed.
My subject matter is correlated directly to my blog. I post photos of travel, lifestyle, home, style, and entertaining.
I try to switch it up every other image, alternating between images featuring yours truly and images of travel, decor, etc.
Like I said before, I don’t live my life in one color, and my feed reflects that. But I do aim for the same level of saturation and vibrance in each picture. And, because my Instagram directly corresponds with my life, the colors featured most prominently can change between seasons and trips. I do, however, make sure that any new image is jiving with the other recent photos.
My photos are always bright, even if the colors are dark! A great example is this photo from a dark restaurant in Charlottesville. The background is almost black, but the photo itself still reads bright because of the foreground.
I prefer to have some context around my subject, so I lean towards more positive space and more background in framing, even if the actual subject is close to the camera.
While I’ll do the occasional DC rowhouse image at an angle, I usually strive for straight on images that play nicely with the other photos in the grid.
WHAT ARE YOUR CONSIDERATIONS?
So, for both the other bloggers and the non-bloggers out there who are just trying to solidify their personal brand, what are your top considerations when curating your Instagram feed? I’d love to hear what you focus on and what you notice when you’re scrolling!
These are such great tips, Heather! Like you, I aim to keep my photos bright and of equal saturation! Having a “brand” also makes it easier to figure out whether or not I should post a photo.
xx katie // a touch of teal