When it comes to classic photography with an alluring edge, look no further than Tim Melideo. Tim is a professional photographer who works alongside his hugely talented wife, Merrill. His Instagram feed is an online overflow of architectural and real-life portraits that seem to freeze-frame every ounce of this world’s beauty and whimsicality. Tim’s specialities include monumental cityscape photos, beachy snapshots worth framing and clever hashtags. (Not to mention, he’s the very definition of “dapper.”) Read on for Tim’s thoughts on Instagram as an art form, as well as his tips for nailing the best shot.
Written by Carrie Waller
How did you get into Instagram?
I have been on Instagram since the third day it was released. Some of my other photographer friends joined, and so I had to check it out. I used to post to it as if it were Twitter—random photos, funny things I saw, etc. As it became more popular, I started using it more seriously, putting more time and consideration into the photos. I never thought it would be the giant it is today.
What do you think people look for in a photo? Do you think it has to tell a story?
What people look for in a photo on Instagram is different than what they look for on another medium. From my feed alone, I can tell you that people love photos of sunsets, palm trees, sweet foods and my shoes on a cool floor. Regardless of the content, though, the photos have to be of high quality—which is universal. And for some reason, people don’t “like” photos as much when they aren’t square photos. So weird!
You’re a professional photographer. Do you think that’s why you have a beautifully curated Instagram? If so, what tips would you give to non-photographers?
My Instagram has become a lot less curated lately. I mean, I still post the same kinds of things, but the range of things I post has increased as my audience and interests have changed. Some people follow me for my outfits, some for my food, some for my actual fine art stuff, some for my portraits and some for my travel stuff. I try to cater to all those groups in a day. I think one important thing for people to do when taking photos for Instagram is to shoot in the phone’s camera app (not Instagram). Shoot a few shots and choose the best one of the group. Then edit it! Actually, the latest versions of Instagram have great editing tools; it’s more than just a bunch of filters. But people should play around and learn all the tools if they want to be taken seriously. People always email me asking how to get more followers or likes. You just need to post quality content, and people will find you—especially with the new Explore algorithm. I follow a lot of people who have gone from just a few hundred followers to thousands in a short amount of time.
You and your wife Merrill are such traveling go-getters. What are some favorite places you’ve visited so far, and how do you like to capture your travels on Instagram?
We try to travel as often as we can. As photographers, we have a lot of free time, and our schedule is random. We also work a lot of weekends, so we are able to travel during the week or off-season when there aren’t as many people around. Our favorite place is Italy, hands down. But we also love the desert and the Southwest. We love road trips. (Just check out #merandtimneverstop to see all the fun!) I literally can not not take photos. It’s what I do. Taking pictures is like talking for me. I need to do it. I definitely enjoy the moment as I am experiencing it, but I also need to make a photo of it. I don’t just constantly shoot, but I do make sure to get good quick photos along the way. I love sharing photos on Instagram because I love to share what I am seeing and how I’m seeing it. I also love the instant feedback on work—if I’m shooting something for a series, for instance.
How many photos do you take on a daily basis, and how many of those make it onto your Instagram?
Like I said, I can’t stop taking photos. When we’re on a trip, I shoot dozens a day, and I probably post upwards of ten. My feed can get out of hand when we travel, but since the half-life on an Instagram photo is something like two hours (and decreasing every day), I feel like posting throughout the day is best. It’s always funny (and annoying) when I’m in a city for two days and then right when I post the “Adiós, [name of city]” photo, someone comments, “Oh, be sure to check out [some place in the city].” It’s because the other photos I posted from there got lost in his or her feed.
Does living in NYC influence your Instagram style?
Definitely! I remember when I made the announcement on Instagram that we were moving back, someone commented, “But your feed is all about palm trees and sunshine!!” There isn’t a lot of that here, but there are different things to post—snow, grit, cityscapes, great food and all that surrounds the city as well. We love venturing to other cities and states in the area. Getting away from what you’re used to makes you a better photographer and human.
You use a lot of creative hashtags. Our favorite is #merzyinfrontofthings. What are some of your own favorites? And what hashtags do you follow?
#merzyinfrontofthings started as a joke and has become one of the more popular ones! Naturally, I love taking photos of my beautiful wife, so that’s one of my favorites as well. And my new favorite is probably #timspizzas. It is a subset of the #timsfood hashtag since I eat so much pizza. That’s a fun one to scroll in a grid view! I don’t really follow any other hashtags, though. I just like browsing the Explore feature and also looking at the photos that the people I follow have liked. I find a lot of new people to follow that way. Sometimes I do use random hashtags, and it’s hilarious when you see that other people have used the same ones.
What is one thing you wish you could do on Instagram that you currently can’t?
They finally added the ability to edit the caption—it took them long enough! Hyperlinks would be awesome and would really help people trying to monetize Instagram (and also normal people who are just trying to share external links). I also really wish I didn’t have to use another app when I want to post a photo that isn’t square. The early version of Instagram didn’t require another app, though it did create a black background.
What are your favorite apps to use for Instagram? Are there any filters you use more often than others?
I use VSCO for 99 percent of my finishing. I recently switched from Snapseed to Adobe Photoshop Express to do the exposure editing (shadows, highlights, clarity)—it makes a cleaner image with a higher resolution. The new version of iOS, however, also has great image-editing tools to adjust brightness and such. Sometimes I also use TouchRetouch to remove things. It’s crazy how well it works. And then when I shoot architecture, I use SKRWT to straighten the lines (which I do a lot!).
What are 5 best practices for creating a great Instagram profile?
1. Take good photos
2. Edit the photos and make them look better
3. Don’t post things that aren’t photos (like “inspirational” words or graphic stuff) or are other people’s photos—that’s what Tumblr is for!
4. Post often
5. Tag appropriately (tag people in captions and in photos, and add geotags)