Are you ever baffled by how aesthetically stunning some peoples' Instagram accounts are?
You can spend 20 minutes obsessing over the right filter on your gram, and still it will never come close to the artsy gorgeous feeds of the pros.
Well, even though you went to all that effort on your phone, you're competing with people who are editing their photos in professional editing software programmes and planning their every move - This is how to win on Instagram.
Freddy AKA Raw Dublin, is a seriously popular Dublin Instagram photographer. I followed him around for the day as part of our new series Lovin Dubliners to see him in action. (Watch on our Instagram story highlights now). He can take a gloomy, boring street in the city and turn it into a masterpiece. He currently has over 17,000 followers and that number is growing rapidly by the day. I am his biggest fan and I literally want to print out every single picture he has posted and hang them all over my room.
Freddy is a really humble, friendly guy and I could tell as soon as I met him how passionate he was about his Instagram account.
He has a full-time job in a completely separate profession and started photography as a hobby when his girlfriend bought him a tripod. He's been shooting on the regular ever since.
So, what does Freddy shoot with?
A key factor in taking a great shot is having a great camera. Phones these days have amazing cameras but you really can tell when someone is using professional equipment.
Freddy uses the Canon 5D mark IV, which is a pretty pricey model and maybe not ideal for someone starting out. A Canon 1200D or 4000D is probably a good DSLR to start out with and it's reasonably priced.
He uses a 24-70mm lens.
How does he choose his shot?
Freddy shoots about 2-3 days a week and takes about 300 photos each time. He has a few locations that he likes to go back to that he is well practiced with. He will look through his shots on each location and make a mental note of which stood out for him.
Part of choosing the perfect shot also comes down to post-production. Once the photos have been taken he will upload them to his computer and select the best few.
How does he edit his photos?
Freddy edits most of his photos using the Adobe application, Lightroom.
He will usually upload a batch of photos, edit the first in the batch and then paste the preset from the first onto the rest, so that they will look the same. He stressed to me that editing is just as important as taking pictures. Adding light and colour can completely change the mood and feel of a photograph and add life to it.
So how do you get really good at photography?
No, you don't need to do a degree in photography - According to Freddy "practice makes perfect".
Freddy learnt how to take pictures and improve his skills by watching YouTube videos and then taking to the streets to practice what he had learnt online. One out of a hundred shots could be amazing and that is the one that everyone will see on your Instagram.
As time goes on you'll find more and more of your pictures are worth sharing and you'll be able to see the progress in your work.
How do you get a slick feed?
If you go on to any Instagram photographer's/blogger's feed you will notice they use the same colour scheme in most of their photos. That is how to get your page looking A1.
Freddy explained that this is not something he does on purpose but it's more of a natural response. Over time he has found his own style, palette and angles. Now when he goes out shooting he will see a shot straight away and know whether or not it would blend in with his feed.
When you find the colours you like, you'll see them every time you go to take a shot - or at least where you can enhance them. It might look a little strange the first few times you do it and you see the photo on its own but when you add it to your feed and it blends in with the rest - nothing is more satisfying.
How do you grow your following on Instagram?
There's no direct answer to this one but there are definitely a few things you can do to help.
Upload regularly to keep your audience engaged and interested - if they love you they'll spread the word and if they like your posts often, you will appear in their friends' following feeds. The more active you are the more likely your account is to appear in the discovery section - but don't overdo it either, obvs.
Upload Instagram stories. Posts just aren't enough any more. Stories show the behind the scenes, your personality and let your followers feel like they are hearing from you and not just your photos. Popular stories will also appear in the Discovery section and that's a great way to nab some newbies.
Connect with people who have a similar interest. Freddy has made a bunch of friends through his account and they all go out shooting together. This is a deadly way to share skills, passions, socialise and create a bit of healthy competition. If one of the accounts tags you, their followers will be inclined to give you a follow too.
Use tags and hashtags. Every single morning, afternoon and evening, I go on to the Lovin Dublin Instagram account and I hunt for a stunning photo to re-share on our feed. If someone has tagged the page or used #LovinDublin it's likely that they are the ones I will choose. Having your photo shared on another page = new followers.
Keep your feed looking fab. Try develop your own unique style that will make your account stand out from the rest. If someone visits your page you want to make sure your feed catches their eye. If so they'll have to click that follow button.
Be yourself. Find what you like, what shows off your personality, passions and interests and put that on your account. People will know if you're being fake.
These are just a few suggestions to help you along the way.
What has Instagram done for Freddy?
Can putting all this energy into a social media application actually benefit you?
Well, as a result of his Instagram account, Freddy has been brought on press trips abroad, invited to the hottest events in Dublin city, landed some pretty sweet brand collaborations and made some friends for life. He's taken steps completely out of his comfort zone and grown so much from doing so.
It seems that as a result of his success, Freddy, if he wanted to, could give up his full-time job to pursue a career in photography - how cool is that?
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As we approach the winter season I always get so excited. I love the cold weather. Must be because I was born so close to Christmas. I have never had the opportunity to take photos of the city under a blanket of snow. I can only hope that the seasons pull through and we get covered. ?????????? Have a great day ?? . . . . . #canonuk #lovindublin #rawdublin #discoverdublin #communityfirst #wonderfulplaces #wonderfulworld #travel #ireland_gram #ireland????#dublin #lenculturestreets #living_europe #wanderireland #instaireland #theprettycities #cityview #lonelyplanet #topirelandphoto #mycanon #irishblogger #bokehkillers #athomeintheworld #instaireland #travellingthroughtheworld #tourismireland #winter #barruadublin
Time to start working on that feed of yours, aye?