Instagram Then and Now

A Brief History

I’ve been using Instagram since April of 2011 when the site was about 6 months old. It seemed like a creative challenge and I didn’t know if I was up to the task. Back then I was most likely shooting photos with an iPhone 4 or 4s (can’t remember which) capturing images at less than 400 pixels per inch. By comparison, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL I now use are capturing 12.3 megapixel images—so massively greater image clarity is possible.

Looking back at my early photos, they look kind of awful. Despite some images with halfway decent composition, the clarity is “not good.”  Below is a sample, and you can follow the link to blog post with more examples and “tips.”

6013 - 6028 (c) 2013 terrinakamura.png

Minimal Activity = Stagnant Follower Count

I’m not good at “gaming” followers, and unlike many of the huge accounts out there, I have never bought any. So while I was doing “okay,” my account was never great. Then it got worse. In 2016 I accepted a full-time job. It was demanding and negatively impacted my ability to create and engage on most of my social channels, including Instagram. I was basically on “maintenance mode.” I tried to post an image most days, but weeks or months would go by, and I would “like” a bunch of photos, but I wouldn’t exchange comments with anyone! Needless to say, my account stagnated, I lost followers, and I’d be lucky to get 30 or 50 “likes on an image. I was stuck at about 2800 followers and nothing I did seemed to make a difference.

Some of you who know me pretty well are aware I left my job about a month and a half ago. The reason is long and boring, but suffice it to say I’m on the road to recovery and feeling better each day, and one thing that has been soul replenishing is reconnecting with people on social media. Engagement has been essential. I’m now up to about 4100 followers and have made lots of fabulous connections with fun and interesting new people.

Ramping Up

Assessing my Instagram situation, I realized there are now a lot of great photographers  there, some of whom have massive audiences, and I seriously needed to up my game. The first order of business was to be more thoughtful about what I was shooting; then looking at how I was prepping the work, and how I framed the image’s narrative. I’ve been a brand partner of Verizon for about 5 years and I wanted to do a better job representing their products and service, so it meant changing up the way I had been doing things. Instead of “maintenance mode,” it was more like, “Banzai!”

Before and After

I’m going to share a series of “before and after” photos, so you can see what a difference it makes to properly prepare your images. This means cropping, sharpening, adjusting contrast, boosting the color saturation, and applying filters.

Here goes:

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Kind of a “blah” shot of Alki Beach, right?

After being cropped, adjusted and filtered, it looks so much more interesting, AND detail in the bird that I didn’t even know was there, shows up.

©Terri-Nakamura_Alki-Beach-IG-20180627_232201_127

One thing I’d like to say about Instagram — there is no shortage of brainy people there. Seems that each time I post something and don’t know what it is, a number of viewers will chime in and school me! An example is this shot below. I didn’t know what the flower was, and boy, did I get some great feedback!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

The bee isn’t very apparent. Maybe because there are many distracting things in the shot, plus the color is subdued.

©Terri-Nakamura_Allium-bee-IG-20180721_205509_931

That’s better! And as Verizon says, “Better Matters!” And for the record, the flower is an Allium.

Reg Saddle @zaibatsu and I frequently discuss things like what the algorithms are rewarding or penalizing, and how it affects what we do. One of the things we go back to is what our audiences want. Think about what you post and which things get the most traction.

Here’s something “off the beaten path” for my feed — a glassblower in the Glassy Baby hot shop, not far from where I live. One of the most necessary steps was to crop this photo. You’ll see what I mean.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Interesting but a lot going on, right? Below: where the action is.

©Terri-Nakamura_GlassyBaby-IG-20180723_215223_959

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

My “boyfriend,” Hunter. Dark. But cropped and adjusted:

©Terri-Nakamura_Hunter-IG-20180728_221254_803

I don’t know about you, but our cats are shedding like crazy!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

So my brother-in-law is the head of the California Leafy Greens Board. His wife (is she my sister-in-law?) said this is NOT a thistle. But man. I’ve never seen an artichoke this tall. The main thing is, too much is going on and did you see the bee? Take a look:

©Terri-Nakamura_Thistle-bee-IG-20180727_223213_153

I almost hate to show you this one. Check out this tree photo, taken on a dreary Seattle day in late spring. I have a thing about shooting UP a tree. This is a classic case.

©Terri-Nakamura_Tree-20180417_190945.jpg

I didn’t like the way the trunk was drawing the eye away in the bottom right corner. Cropping was calling. But how about those colors? Drab!

©Terri-Nakamura_Tree-IG-20180714_234817_201

Through the miracle of filters, the tree came to life!

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

So this is a weird one. I noticed this magnolia blossom was so heavy, the bough brought the blossom to my eye level. When I peered inside, I was like, “WHAT?!?” Very cool, but I knew there was potential in making this better. As shown below, I cleaned up the shot, and there is now more detail and clarity.

©Terri-Nakamura_Magnolia-bees-IG-20180731_223407_789

Yes, folks. The bees were having a cabana party! Interestingly the following day, ZIP.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-19,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

This shot is just plain beautiful any way you look at it. But even something this perfect can look better through cropping and a number of adjustments.

©Terri-Nakamura_Wild-roses-IG-20180713_221643_086

Things to Try

So, you can see that even a somewhat hopeless-looking photo has potential. It’s about post-production. Some things to think about:

  • Composition
  • Cropping
  • Color Adjustment (including saturation)
  • Ambience
  • Sharpening
  • Clean up
  • Filters

I’ve witnessed incredible transformations of the images posted by beginners who then found their mojo. Their photos went from “not good” to amazing!

If you’re on Instagram and follow me, simply post a comment on one of my images to let me know that you’re following, I’ll reciprocate! Here’s a link to my feed: https://www.instagram.com/terrinakamura/

If you’re NOT on Instagram, what are you waiting for? 🙂

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. Just let me know!

More about Terri:

Her store on Alki Beach: Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

Advertisements

Me and My Pixels

Some of you know I’m an Instagram fan, and try to post a photo daily. I love Instagram for the variety of images I see every day and that it allows me a place for self-expression.

I’ve been shooting with a Google Pixel2 and a Verizon Google Pixel 2XL for quite a while now. I have to say after being a devoted iPhone user since the beginning, I now think Android is a piece of cake, but more importantly, I am in love with both Pixels.

It’s not just the ease of using an Android. Once you get the gist of how they work, it’s pretty easy to figure out any of them!

So ease of use is important. Service quality is important, too. I’ve mentioned numerous times we have a house near Mount Rainier that is listed on AirBNB, and Verizon is still the most reliable service out there.

But the cameras on these two devices! Wow. They’re amazing. They capture such minute detail that often I’ll shoot something then blow it way up and crop a tiny part of it to post, still maintaining incredible details.

This week I stopped by my mechanic, CarTender, on Capitol Hill. Paolo, one of the guys who works there, told me he bought a Pixel 2 BECAUSE of my INSTAGRAM PHOTOS! Wow!

So I’m sharing a few of the photos I’ve shot this month. From the top down, are:

  • Peonies from my sister’s garden
  • A view of the Jimi Hendrix Park in Seattle
  • Wild roses from my garden
  • Basketball scrimmage after school
  • The “Eraser” sculpture at the Seattle Center
  • Weird graphic asphalt lines leading to the Museum of Pop Culture
  • A view of the Madrona Bathhouse on Lake Washington
  • The view from the end of the bar at 13 Coins in Pioneer Square
  • Plants reaching for the sky
  • A shed in Madrona with a pretty patina
  • Glimmering city of Bellevue seen from Madrona at Lake Washington
  • Happy sunflowers!
  • The first Amazon Bookstore, located in the University Village of Seattle
  • Century Link Tower seen through a gap in a grate
  • A tree before it budded
  • Expressive clouds seen from the Montlake Bridge

I’ve posted more than 16,000 photos on my Instagram account. As an early adopter, I went crazy at first, sometimes sharing a dozen or more pictures a day. Now, usually just one a day, although sometimes I skip.

I’d love to have you check out my photos. If you follow me there, post a comment to let me know, and I’ll follow back! And if you see the photos I’ve previewed below, you’ll usually find a more complete description on Instagram

Thank you for looking! And remember: #BetterMatters

29 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -28 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -24 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -23 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -21 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -19 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -14 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -13 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -12 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -10 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -9 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -8 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -4 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -3 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -2 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -1 May 2018© Terri Nakamura 2018 -

More about Terri:

Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura

Streams of Consciousness

This image was found, unattributed, on an Instagram feed. The original photographer is  Magdalena Wasiczek. http://www.popphoto.com/photos/2013/09/behind-photos-magda-wasiczeks-surreal-floralscapes

This image was found, unattributed, on an Instagram feed. It had 223 likes at the moment I took this screen shot. The original photographer is Magdalena Wasiczek. http://www.popphoto.com/photos/2013/09/behind-photos-magda-wasiczeks-surreal-floralscapes

Or, How Instagram morphed into a Tumblr blog

When I first started using Instagram four years ago, it was a cool photo-sharing site where anyone with an iPhone could apply filters to make an average photo look awesome.

As with most social media channels and applications, people discover inventive uses and loopholes to exploit sites and apps in ways that might not have been originally anticipated.

Such is the case on Instagram.

Instead of viewing original photography, I’m seeing a large volume of plagiarized photos or reposted images designed to increase the popularity (likes) of a given user’s stream. Inspirational quotes, as well as cartoons and memes also take up a lot of space. In my view, non-original photographic content has proliferated like milfoil, much like random sharing on Tumblr.

I wondered if my observations were unique, so as a reality check, I asked several of my favorite friends on Instagram what they thought.

The vast majority of those I asked felt it was wrong to share photos without at least acknowledging the original photographer. People with streams full of this type of content are open plagiarists, and continue the practice because Instagram doesn’t care.

An exception would be feeds that are dedicated to “featuring” a photograph and attributing the user who created that content.  Some of these feeds are well moderated and only share and attribute original content from users who tag their work with the feed’s dedicated tag (granting permission to repost the work).

On the other hand, is there any point in being overly concerned by the sharing of non-image or appropriated content? After all, Instagram as a place for people to share things they feel will be of interest to others, and as long as the content is allowed by Instagram, is it really a problem?

It’s a problem when you have a friend on Twitter and follow their IG feed, only to find things you don’t want to see. As far as I know, there is not a lot of choice except to unfollow.

Currently, there is no way to “mute” users or content you don’t wish to view. So the only thing one can do is to unfollow accounts where the content doesn’t interest you. It can be awkward because some people become upset when they are unfollowed. Some even feel they must unfollow you as “payback.”

To that I say, “Oh, well!”

To my knowledge, searching via hashtag is one way to see a topic, but there isn’t a way to list people whose images you really want to see. If there is an app out there to do that, please tell me!

How do you use Instagram?

Would you like to see a a list feature to help filter what you see?

I’d love to to have you share your thoughts.


The friends who provided information to help me write this post include: Jack Higgins (JackandPele), Reg Saddler (zaibatsu), Cheryl Senter (CherylSenter) and Darren Sproat (DarrenGSproat). My thanks to them for their friendship and support.

Jack Higgins marches to the beat of a different drummer. Former advertising creative director and writer, Jack has found a new way to use Instagram. For a while, I didn’t understand his cryptic images, until I looked at his page and saw the puzzles, solved. They form mosaics! I should note, everything Jack does is thru the thought control of an evil dog named @tipytomita!

Jack Higgins composite

Reg Saddler is an amateur photographer and social media guru, listed on the Forbes list of top people on social media and too many other lists to name. He understands the hows and whys.

Reg Saddler composite

Cheryl Senter is a professional photographer working in New England. I had the pleasure of meeting her here when she visited Seattle two years ago. Her Instagram feed focuses on her amazing dog.

Cheryl Senter composite

Darren Sproat is a Canadian photographer known for his landscapes. He has been featured on the Nokia blog and cultivated a fan base (including me!)—all in awe of his images.

Darren Sproat composite

Thanks to Verizon for the Galaxy Note 4 used for many of the images posted on my own instagram feed: https://instagram.com/terrinakamura/