How I Create the Visual Style for my Instagram / @dashing_insta
As I have written before, you can't just do anything on Instagram. It has to be consistent within the context of existing, successful Instagram feeds to have a chance of catching your future audience's attention when they scroll past your posts.
That's why you first need to look at what other people have done on the platform. Only then you'll be able to put your own twist on everything. Here are some of the styles that have caught my eye in the fashion & lifestyle category on Instagram.
The Orange and Blue Feed
There are many reasons why this is a very pleasing look. But in short, imagine human skin during sunset contrasted with a blue sky or the blue sea. I would have loved to take this style for my Instagram feed but there are legitimate practical concerns. For me, it just wouldn't be sustainable.
Firstly, even if I didn't have a job and could be anywhere for every sunrise and sunset, I would still be dependent on the weather. In reality it's even worse, I'm unable to be at every desired location every sunset. What's more, if I depended on the golden hour, I wouldn't be able to take multiple photos across a whole day while on vacation. Instead every photo while on a trip somewhere would need to be shot at a certain time of day. For all these reasons, even the feeds that try to shoot predominantly in the light of the golden hour don't manage to do so all the time.
The Candy Cotton Feed
Imagine a lot of vibrant pastel colors with frequent use of pink and baby-blue. Basically, all the colors you can imagine candy cotton in.
I find this to be a very effective way of immediately establishing a visual identity upon first view. It must be fun and entertaining to create such a feed. However, since @dashing_insta is supposed to feature myself a lot, I decided against it because I think it doesn't suit my personality.
The Black and White / Grey / White Feed
These are not monochromatic feeds (as in black-and-white photography). Rather they have color but it's usually desaturated or not the main focus of the image. Light and dark, grey, or white are what strikes you when you look at such an Instagram feed.
Since I personally think that bright images are very pleasing for fashion & lifestyle accounts on Instagram I decided to go with a white feed in the end.
My own Twist on the White Feed
Instead of going with white walls as backgrounds that I lighten up artificially (which seems to be a common approach), I decided to take another route. I wanted pure white surfaces in my photos that hold my feed together visually. However, I wanted these whites to come from differences in actual brightness. For example, imagine a sky that is so bright that it clips to pure white in a photo. Like this:
I achieve this by having me or the foreground in shade and shooting the photo towards a background that is significantly brighter. Technically you could think of it as shooting directly into a light source. That's why it is possible to achieve such a look with your back turned to the sun. Like this:
***A small word of advice. Most cameras and cell phones do not expose a photo this way by default and it might seem like you have to fight your equipment. If you don't know already, please look up how to override your camera's/phone's automatic exposure system. Moreover, since we are technically shooting directly into bright light sources the resulting image quality may be degraded depending on the scenario and your camera+lens/phone. But don't feel discouraged. Experiment to find out what works for your specific case and what doesn't.
Post-processing and Planning
The photos that I take for @dashing_insta require almost no post-processing since their very bright look with a lot of white can be achieved in camera.
The "filter" that I use is VSCO Film Emulation "Kodak Portra 160+1" which I add in Lightroom. I love what it does to the hues of foliage and it renders very pleasing skin tones. (If you have no idea what unpleasing skin tones are, don't worry it's a very nerdy issue and probably of no concern to you.)
If you don't have VSCO Film Emulation, you can try out other filters that are at your disposal. Remember, the photos in this shooting style are almost finished when they come out of the camera. For that reason the filter I add does not create the look of the photos, it is merely a last touch.
After applying the filter I slightly adjust a couple parameters (such as overall brightness or clarity). My goal with these last edits is to make the photos look consistent for my Instagram profile.
Lastly, I plan my feed and I need to make sure that all the photos go well together. For that I use the app Preview. It allows me to load all my photos into a grid that looks like an Instagram feed. That way I can see what my feed might look like in the future. I can rearrange the photos inside Preview as I please, I can decide on an order, and I can catch any last editing mistakes (wrong brightness, clarity, etc.) that might have ruined the consistent look of my feed.
That's all there is to it! Cheers!
*UPDATE: This article and my account have been shared by Preview's own Instagram profile. Here:
If you liked this piece of content, please like, share, and consider following me on social media. YouTube — where I give insight into various topics and deal with the creative aspects of photography and video. Facebook — is the hub where I post all the latest updates. I have two Instagram accounts — one with a general theme and one for fashion & lifestyle. Twitter — if you’re feeling adventurous and want to tread into uncharted no man’s land.