In May I attended the lovely Emily Quinton’s Makelight Workshop in London. A day of learning about our cameras, how to style those perfect images you see on Instagram and just getting stuck into being creative and inspired. I’ve always been an admirer of Emily’s gorgeous flowery feed on Instagram so you could say, she has been my inspiration into taking a better photo.
I was pretty late to the party when it came to Instagram. I’ve dabbled, posted random photos of my work and family and used some downright wrong ‘vintage’ (aka yellow) filters. I couldn’t see the point for a while to be honest! However it has now become my favourite social network (sorry Twitter).
Somewhat haphazardly, I realised latterly, that I wanted to follow my creative passions and make a living from them. (Basically I’m miserable if I’m not drawing, creating, writing or thinking creatively. Just ask my husband.) But I knew that if I wanted to succeed in making a living from my art, I need to learn to take a good photo. And stop being afraid to show my work!
OK, so before I go on, here’s the thing:
- I AM NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. I don’t think I’m particularly good at photography. It certainly doesn’t come naturally to me.
- However I AM AN IMAGE MAKER. Light, composition, technique, styling are all principles that apply in design and illustration as well as photography.
After my day with Emily and the other lovely students at the Makelight workshop, I came home and just… thought. Thought about my own creative voice. What is it exactly I’m trying to say? I’m an artist yes, but what motivates me, what inspires me? I share some of this on my blog but sometimes I just want to capture a snippet of living my creative life…(step up Instagram)…and being a bit of a perfectionist, I wanted to show this well.
Instagram Artist Sketchbook
And so to Instagram. Using my new found photography techniques and principles, I started experimenting on the social network. Some were good, some downright awful. Paper, flowers, sketches, tape – everything became a prop to experiment with (as seen in the image above).
Instagram has very quickly become my creative playground. My digital sketchbook of things that inspire me, colours I love, pretty things I find (OK so yes, that’s usually flowers) and my work in progress. Just what a sketchbook book should be.
Taking those 10 to 30 minutes everyday has become my ‘creative time’. Something I hadn’t done before. Even if I do nothing else, I take time out for ‘Instagramming’.
Using a social network means you have to have some kind of consistency. Instagram is full of such amazing artists, photographers and generally inspiring people, I feel it raises the bar, when it comes to the quality of your creative output. (There is of course a lot of rubbish too). Taking everything I’ve learnt from experimenting, reading and of course the Makelight workshop, my images (I hope!) are becoming better/braver!
The #hashtags challenges on Instagram are like little creative briefs everyday. I love them! I recently took part in the #7vignettes challenge, run by the Interiors Addict. Something clicked for me with this challenge. Answering the prompts and committing to them daily, really enthused me and I learnt a huge amount about composing and styling within a set theme.
Other Instagram #hashtags I’m loving right now are:
- its-my-week – various weekly themes, for example this week it is #myweekofdepth
- #lovely squares
- #theplateseries – I adore the quirkiness of this – who knew plates could be so inspiring!
- #jj forum – I’m still getting my head around this one as there are so many. If you simply want to discover awesome photographers, follow this feed.
- #floralfridaycompetition – run by Emily Quinton, even if you don’t take part, just use it for a weekly fix of prettiness!
My Instagram feed may not be the most consistent, pretty, professional or interesting feed. However it is my record of my thought process and I love looking back at it. Compositions and colours that worked, others that didn’t. Like I said before, just like a digital sketchbook.
Importantly after making my little compositions, they get pulled apart and destroyed. I’m not precious about them. That’s important to me. Free expression and letting go. Especially when many of my drawings are so time consuming.
Finally let’s not forget those likes, comments and follows. They are little moments of gold dust. It’s a brief moment of time, when someone is giving you a nod of recognition for your efforts. Now, who wouldn’t like that?!
I’d love to hear your suggestions for awesome Instagram accounts to follow. You can follow me on Instagram too to see some of my random moments of creativity as well as some of the behind the scenes works in progress.
PS Emily Quinton is now offering an online Makelight workshop – do check it out, you’ll be fabulously inspired!