How to Build a Branded Instagram Feed


I’ve long wondered how professional photographers build an Instagram following and create a branded look, so I decided to experiment on my own Instagram feed.

While I’m not a pro photographer, I’ve attended photo shoots for major brands as part of my advertising agency work. I’ve also taken several classeson food photography. 
Here’s what I’ve learned.

Step 1: Define a visual aesthetic/brand.

That’s how professionals ensure that their images (and Instagram feeds) arememorable and easily identifiable. It also ensures that everything works together.
You’ll notice some commonalities within their Instagram feeds that go beyond just using a certain photo filter:

  • Strength and direction of lighting
  • Color palettes
  • Color temperature (warm/cool)
  • Saturation
  • Camera angle
  • Depth of field
  • Composition

To create my own Instagram brand, I created a Pinterest board, where Ipinned images that spoke to me. Then I looked for common themes withinthe images I’d pinned.

Here are the brand guidelines I came up with:

  • Rustic chic
  • Warm tones
  • Muted saturation
  • Directional lighting
  • Low depth of field
  • Common motifs: books, coffee, nature

Step 2: Find your tribe.

Once I created with this list of attributes—particularly the common motifs—I searched for relevant users and hashtags. Then I began following,commenting, and participating.
Hashtags are a great way to getexposure for your Instagram photos, particularly if you can tap into asmall but active community. Tagging a photo “#selfie” or “#food” mightget you a short burst of likes, but you’ll quickly become buried undercompeting images.
I’ve had much better success with daily and weekly challenges, photo-a-day prompts, and other group activities.

Step 3: Keep refining your look.

My list of brand attributes helped me start shooting. But it tookadditional time to determine what Instagram filters helped me achievethe right look, what camera settings lent themselves best to theInstagram format, and what subjects proved the most popular.

Going back to my Instagram page and viewing all the photos in one feed helped me gauge my progress.
I’m still refining my Instagram style, studying the latest trends, andfinding new sources of inspiration. But it’s been a fun journey, and myfollowers have been slo-o-o-wly climbing. (Help me climb by following me—promise it’ll be worth it!)

Do you have photography or Instagram tips to share? Let me know in the comments section below!

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