When I first started, I used my personal Instagram feed as a tool to document my day-to-day life. Then it morphed into an informal portfolio. Then it became a tool for experimentation and pushing myself in photography. These changes resulted in a LOT of different photos that I was proud of, but nothing that tied everything together.
I abandoned filters and incorporated apps like VSCO and Snapseed. That was OK for a bit, but I didn’t like the process. It was way too time-consuming, and the image control wasn’t where I wanted it to be.
Eventually, I realized that a big part of creating a cohesive Instagram feed has to do with some preliminary planning and a willingness to be consistent no matter what.
Top Tips for Creating a Cohesive Instagram Feed
1. Start with a standard grid of images, which on Instagram, is a 3×3 block. That means you should have nine images handy for use to start.
These pictures should share one of the following: color, item, setting, photo type (i.e. landscape, macro, “from above”). As long as there’s a cohesive “theme” to them, you’re ready to go. You can create a folder and maximize the thumbnails or use an Instagram grid planning app.
Rearrange the photos until it looks somewhat cohesive. Then, start adding next rows as you go along with planning. Add images to your plan row by row.
2. If you’re using a filter on your photos and want to continue using a filter, apply the filter first and THEN make additional edits to the picture. You can then increase/decrease exposure and push/pull the shadows and highlights to fit the rest of your theme.
3. Focus on 2-4 colors per grid. It makes things easier to control. You might want to desaturate a particular color if you have colors competing in your theme. Better yet, pick a central color you want to stick to in your theme. I tend to focus on blue in my feed ( a very muted, desaturated blue). If you have pops of a particular color, space it out in your feed. For example, if you have a repeating yellow mug in a centrally white feed, don’t place the picture of the yellow cup one after the other. Intersperse it with photos that will bring in more white and try not to have the “yellow mug” photos touch. The Lerna Instagram feed rotates through a color spectrum, focusing on one central few and week at a time.
4. Balance your feed with a variety of pictures. Don’t keep putting up the same shot of a pair of shoes over and over in a row. People get bored very quickly, so vary things up and maybe do one close up, one “from above” shot sitting and having a coffee, another of the photo’s setting. You get my drift.
5. Create a story. It’s perfectly OK to post up vacation photos from a month ago if you have a lot of pictures, just make sure to stick to those vacation photos in blocks and don’t mix up the photos with another set. For example, if you’re going through a block of photos in Bali, don’t post up your Jackson Hole ski trip next to images of you on the beach. Get my drift? Carry a narrative through. You can still do throwbacks, but try to stick to the confines of a story and don’t stray too far.
6. Don’t be afraid of deleting photos!! If you start carrying a theme through and notice something is sticking out too much, just remove it.
7. Decide on what you want your feed’s central theme. Are you a fashion blogger? If you are, you ought to decide whether you’ll only be posting outfit shots and variations or if you’ll be incorporating lifestyle. Those two dictate the types of photos you’ll be taking and focusing on. This decision will also dictate the filters you’ll be using. Is your theme going to be bright and colorful, calm and white, or a bit dark and moody?
8. The following is a little bit more advanced, but you can create your own filter. I don’t use any apps for filters. Once in a while, I might apply an extremely low transparency Juno/Ludwig filter in Instagram to just color balance a tiny bit. My primary “filter” is in Lightroom. In fact, I have seven presets that I tweaked for different types of photographs that I use depending on the photo. I’ve had people ask me which filters I use, and I let them know that I have a variety of settings that correct the exposure, brightness, and clarity.
They correct for lens and color distortions, white balance, debate and add selective color undertones. I know, it’s a lot. That’s essentially how filters operate. I then run the photos through an action in Photoshop that adds a little bit more clarity and another color undertone before I save the photo for Instagram. So, there’s that. It ensures that your photos will stay consistent because you’ll have control over every single aspect of it.
9. Vary photos with a lot of detail with ones that are a little bit tamer. You don’t want to overload the feed with too much detail.
10. Don’t underestimate the fade and desaturate tools. Those are a very simple way to tie photos in together without having to do a whole slew of things. Super straightforward and effective.