Behind the Scenes: How I take my Instagram photos

behind the scenes title photo
This post was inspired by a sweet blogging friend, Liz from Downtown Demure.

Instagram has been a struggle for me. Actually, that's putting it nicely. Figuring out how to use Instagram to grow my brand has been a few steps short of a disaster for me. Originally, I started my Instagram as a personal account, before the blog was even created. When I started blogging, I created a separate Instagram account to try to market my blog. That turned out to be a major mistake. It's difficult trying to balance more than one Instagram. So I deleted the blog one and decided to merge the two… Then the new issue: Branding. I'm still in the process of working on this, but I've slowly gotten better at this. While I'm not an expert, I'm definitely better than I was when I first started using Instagram (seriously, check out posts from 125 weeks ago).

Flat lay photos: a lifestyle blogger's bread and butter. It's necessary for branding, everyday use, etc. Don't know what a flat lay photo is? Here's an example from my Instagram:

Typically used by life and style bloggers when they want to show off a product of some sort. This one looks pretty simple, right? Well, through trial and error, I've figured out that it isn't. Here's one of my very first “flat lay” photos:

Love buying office and school supplies! Especially when they're as cute as this! @katespadeny A photo posted by Courtney Kincaid (@courtney.kincaid) on

HA. I thought using my pink sheets at home would be a great surface for a background. WRONG. Instead the photo looks haphazard, cluttered and not clean. (Not literally, I swear my sheets are clean.) But having a “fabric based” background that isn't backed up with a flat surface will never give you those clean photos you're envying. I also learned that I could have stacked this photo and gotten better feedback on the photo.

Now, here's another attempt at the flat lay:

Happy Valentine's Day! Don't forget to Treat Yo Self a little bit! #valentinesday #treatyoself

A photo posted by Courtney Kincaid (@courtney.kincaid) on

Better, but still not what I wanted to see in my photos, in my brand. I got the Baublebar logo in there, along with the necklace… I even got some pattern texture with the tissue paper it was wrapped in! But, in case you didn't realize, the table top of my desk is black… Not dark brown. It's actually the same color as the bag. How did this happen? I had my desk lamp on. It even has one of those “natural light” lightbulbs. Definitely mislabeled. It was here that I determined that I needed to have natural light in all of my photos (which seems like a no brainer), and that I needed to become familiar with the natural light areas in my apartment. Here's one of my more recent (and favorite!) flat lay photos:

Why is this one of my favorites? It's simple, clean and has natural light. Plus, I just love that top. Want to know how I got photos like this one and the first photo in this post? Here's a photo of behind the scenes:

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I know! I know. It totally looks silly like this. This here is one of the light spaces in my apartment. I only have two windows in the entire unit (although they're fairly large), so it limits the amount of places I can take photos. This is my bedroom, and I have a piece of poster board laying flat on the foot of my bed. YES. A piece of foam poster board. That's my secret for the crisp white background. From there, the flat lay is all about how you like your photos to look.

To summarize, here are my tips for Instagram styling:

instagram tips for styling your brand

  1. Find the lightest areas in your home/apartment/etc. You need natural light in order to have the pretty photos.
  2. Turn off all internal lights, i.e. the overhead light that has a yellowish cast on things. That's why your photos aren't turning out well.
  3. Buy a piece of foam poster board, because having a light flat surface will help whatever you're photographing pop! You can even paint it a pastel color, but you need to have a light background to get the light to bounce.
  4. Remember, minimalist composition. This means you don't want to have 20 different items trying to fit into the infamous square shape. My rule: 5 items max (unless earrings are involved!) for each Instagram photo. This rule makes sure that each item has it's space and is not cluttered.
  5. When in doubt: stack it! Stacking items, like in the title photo, makes it possible to create a hierarchy for the photo, meaning what's on top is the focal point.
  6. Don't be afraid to edit your photos. I always edit mine because it's next to impossible to take a perfect photo… even with 50 frames. Professional photographers edit photos, so why can't you? My favorite iPhone app for editing photos is Snapseed! Added bonus… ITS FREE.

I hope these tips are helpful to anyone who needs it! As I mentioned earlier, I'm still learning on how to be better at Instagram. Don't forget to follow along on Instagram! Any other bloggers have some tips?

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#dallasblogger #streetstylelux #slowfashionblogger #dallasfashionblogger #communityovercompetition #discoverunder5k #discoverunder10k #pursuepretty #darlingmovement #photosinbetween #bedeeplyrooted #thecaptivatingwoman #shedelights #beautyfromashes #thrivelovesbloggers #neutralstyle #redhair #naturalredhead
  • If I were to pick a favorite outfit of the week, it would probably be Tuesday’s. The office I work in gets really cold, so even though it’s in the 70’s in Texas, I have to dress warmer for work. Anyone else work in an icebox? ❄️
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You can instantly shop my looks by following me on the @liketoknow.it app! #liketkit http://liketk.it/2ANkX
  • Is it bad that I kind of want it to get super cold again so I can wear this coat? 🙈 I got it at a vintage shop in Deep Ellum called @fleastyle. It’s been in the 70’s all week in DFW, which means it’s officially time for me to switch my closet over to spring. Would y’all like to see a post on the blog about switching over your closet? Let me know in the comments! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
You can instantly shop all of my looks by following me on the @liketoknow.it app! #liketkit http://liketk.it/2ALkL
  • Sooooooo I didn’t get the chop... yet! Why? Because this was my first time having a new stylist cut my hair in about 10 years. I would have gotten it cut before I moved, but I didn’t realize how bad of shape it was in! How long have you gone to your hair stylist? 
I highly recommend Liz at @metsalonco in Plano! She completely understood and put my fears at ease. I’ll be seeing her again in a couple months to do something a little more drastic! 😉
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You can instantly shop my looks by following me on the @liketoknow.it app! #liketkit http://liketk.it/2AJMT
  • Should I cut my hair short? Leave a 💇‍♀️ or 🙅‍♀️ in the comments! .
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I have a hair appointment tomorrow and I’m trying to decide if I should keep it long or get a lob. .
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You can instantly shop my looks by following me on the @liketoknow.it app! #liketkit http://liketk.it/2AIrY
  • Yesterday, I DELETED over 500 😱 followers from my Instagram, and I’m SO HAPPY I did. I took the suggestion from another blogger, @austentosone, to go through my followers and check for spam accounts. I thought I’d have a few, but y’all, it was out of control. •
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I really care about community. I create content not only because I love creating things, but because I love sharing them with people who are also interested in sustainable fashion. I want this to be a space where we can talk about ethical and sustainable fashion. A two way conversation. I want my blog to be a resource for people who are seeking a new lifestyle. What are some questions you’ve had about ethical and sustainable fashion? Let me know in the comments below! •
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If you’re a fellow influencer who is struggling with comparison and just keeping up with the rest, you’re not alone. Know that your value is NOT found in a number. You are loved. You were created with a purpose. Don’t lose sight of that purpose by focusing on a number. •
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Today on the blog, I’m sharing why I deleted all those followers and more about my intention for MINIMALISTA.
  • Who else is happy it’s spring? 🌸
Confession: I still haven’t switched my closet over. My parents are coming to town this weekend, so I’m going to wait until after their visit to switch over. 🌷
Because I still haven’t unpacked my spring clothing, this is a #tbt to my trip to NYC over Labor Day. This top is the Texture & Thread brand at @madewell, and it will definitely be featured again this spring! While this exact print isn’t available anymore, there are some solid ones in beautiful colors. Both of the tops I did find at Madewell are under $40! #LTKunder50 🌼
You can instantly shop all of my looks by following me on the @liketoknow.it app! #liketkit http://liketk.it/2ACEG
  • What is one item you have in your closet that you consistently use? Today, I’m wearing this top I got 7 years ago for spring. It’s amazing how long clothing will last when you take care of it! 
But aside from this top, I don’t have a lot of spring/summer clothing. So yesterday I shared 8 items on my wishlist for spring! You can check that out by going to the link in my profile. 
Download the @liketoknow.it app to shop this pic via screenshot! #liketkit http://liketk.it/2AzGT
  • What do you wear on days where the weather can’t decide what it wants to do? In Dallas today, it’s 60 degrees but gloomy and rainy 🌧 so we can’t go out and enjoy. 
I’ve had this tote from @nisoloshoes for three years now and it’s still the best bag I’ve ever purchased. The exact style isn’t available anymore (the Joann tote), but I’ve linked the Lori tote which is similar! Plus, with @afterpayusa, you can purchase ethically while being a bit easier on the budget! 
You can instantly shop my looks by following me on the @liketoknow.it app! #liketkit http://liketk.it/2ArlX

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