Amy Anderson is a lifestyle blogger at Parker Etc and content creator who resides in Brooklyn. Her specialities include hosting epic dinner parties, scouring antique stores and changing a diaper with one hand. We’ve been keeping up with Amy’s adventures through Instagram for quite a while and are huge fans of her style, so we couldn’t wait to share her tips and tricks!
How did you get into Instagram?
What? There were days before Instagram existed? Honestly, I probably started just as anyone did: because all the cool kids were doing it! I remember thinking it was the weird cousin to Twitpic. Could I use more than 160 characters? I used to be addicted to this color processing app that made my photos look ‘vintage’—and now I look back at those and realize how awful they actually appeared. I mean, I love them for all their horrible coloring and obvious circa-2011 look, but thank goodness that fad has passed.
What do you think people look for in a photo? Do you think it has to tell a story?
First and foremost, authenticity. People like to see what makes you … well, you. How boring would it be if every photo in your feed looked the same? Don’t underestimate yourself—everyone has a unique and interesting perspective to share through his or her photos. Personally, I appreciate shots that don’t feel overly styled or fabricated. Even if they are, make me think they were just taken on a whim. Now that makes a good photo! Also, I think the combination of the visual with the written is what really brings the story together. The caption used to be king when Twitter was ruling the world, and it is still so vital. Don’t write off the power of your accompanying words—you can really share your personality and engage your community that way.
You work for Warby Parker. How does a brand’s Instagram strategy differ from that of a personal account? Is there anything they could learn from each other?
For certain companies, a solid Instagram account is almost as important to their overall brand as their marketing campaigns. It’s an essential tool that brands can use to share visual experiences that further define their overall aesthetic and help humanize them to followers. Brands have to decide if every photo posted is adding to that story or distracting from it. Personal accounts are really just used for people to leverage themselves or share their daily happenings with their circle. I believe personal accounts can learn to think about their overall feed in the same way a brand does to create a signature look. And from personal accounts, brands can learn how to be more relaxed and how to connect with followers as if they were friends.
You have an adorable baby girl (#ParkerMae). How do you capture her so beautifully? How do you choose how often to share photos of her (we know it can be addicting!)?
Aw, thank you! Well, she’s full of personality, so there is no shortage of that to capture for photos. But, if we can speak honestly here, taking pictures of a wiggly baby—who has no idea how to control her facial expressions or limbs from one second to the next—can create quite the photo stream. Thank goodness for the rapid-fire snapping one can do with the iPhone camera. You don’t have much time, so you just capture what you can! As a mom, sharing photos of your child is both hard to resist and easy to get overprotective about. She is a part of my story, and as long as I still feel that she is safe, I will keep posting photos. If it’s a quality shot of her, I’ll share it. I don’t tend to overthink how often to share, but I do avoid doing them back to back to back. I’m a proponent of quality over quantity.
Your hubby is a photographer. Does this influence your style? Do photography skills make for a better Instagrammer?
My husband has always been a vital part of helping me define my visual aesthetic. I’d say my photos are now a mix of our two styles. He’s taught me the mechanics and rules for taking great photos, but we still both have a completely different eye when it comes to capturing a moment. Having a basic understanding of photography will definitely help you be a better Instagrammer—you know how and what attracts people’s eyes. It has been interesting to see how Instagram has influenced mobile photography over the past few years and raised our expectations of what makes a good photo.
Does living in NYC influence your Instagram style?
The city is so naturally photogenic. She is the best backdrop to any photo and has endless possibilities, from classic Soho façades to Prospect Park to Brooklyn street style and the iconic skyline. I’m never at a loss for something to share; the challenge is just about how to actually make it translate in a photo. Because of the city, I feel that my photos can be a bit more gritty and monochromatic. I have to seek out color, especially as winter sets in!
Do you have any hashtags that you use often or enjoy following?
Well, there’s the obvious #ParkerMae, and I just recently started using #FamilyNarrative to bundle together the moments we are sharing and creating as a family. I’ll often scroll through #DarlingWeekend to find like-minded people to follow, #LiveAuthentic and #VSCOCam for some photo inspiration and #Whole30 for recipe ideas (and drooling).
What makes a good Instagram shot? Do you take a lot of photos to get the “perfect” shot?
In my opinion, composition and lighting are the two most important parts. I’ve seen photos where the actual subject matter is not all that interesting, but the photo was taken during the golden hour of the day with a great layout, and it created a gorgeous picture. I want to applaud people who can do that, ’cause it is not one of my specialties! I appreciate when there is some thought put into a photo—but also, don’t overthink it. I usually take a small handful of photos to choose from, and my rule is to never spend more than five minutes between shooting, editing and posting. It’s also good to keep everything in perspective. Instagram is used to idealize moments with well-edited snapshots that only highlight the best part of our lives and events. The details of our day are not always magazine-worthy, but Instagram allows us to showcase them that way. I find it extremely inspiring, and I love seeing people’s creativity shine through in their photos! But remember that those ‘perfect’ shots are curated and romanticized—and so are the photos you share. Don’t get too caught up in it all; there will always be a next ‘Instagram,’ and then our attention will transfer to that!
What are your favorite apps to use for Instagram? Are there any filters you use often?
Snapseed for spot-on editing—literally. You have the ability to pinpoint a specific area to highlight or add contrast. It’s also a lifesaver when you find yourself in an unfortunate fluorescent lighting situation. VSCO for its never-ending army of filters and solid exposure functionality. Afterlight for a couple of helpful cooling filters and Whitegram for cropping and framing, when necessary. I’m a sucker for the N2 filter in VSCO and usually start there when editing photos.
Who are your top five favorite people to follow on Instagram?
Only five? Oh gosh, this is hard! Let’s see … @amandajanejones as a fellow mama and for her simple elegance. @citysage because I love nothing more than some quality wit and sass. Then there’s @blairbadge for outfit inspiration and @theamericanedit to stay up to date on the best brands. I can’t forget @olsenanonymous because yes, I’m a fangirl. And my shameless plugs for @warbyparker and @ericryananderson. I’m a rebel—that’s more than five!
What are five best practices for creating a great Instagram profile?
1) Create an authentic narrative
2) Pay attention to what your followers engage with
3) Lines, lighting and composition are three peas in a pod
4) Keep things aesthetically cohesive
5) Don’t post for popularity, post because you like it!