From finding the perfect brightness for selfies to creating your very own “theme,” the process of making a cohesive can leave us scratching our heads. And yet when we scroll through our feeds, it sometimes seems like everyone around us has it all figured out. Since we knew there had to be some secrets we weren’t aware of, we reached to the people with the best Instagrams we’ve seen to ask them what inspires their photos, how they plan their grid, and more. And we learned a lot. For those of you out there who are looking to up your grid game, ahead are some Instagram tips from the students behind seven different accounts (with various aesthetics) that will guide you in the right direction.
The Moody Blogger Aesthetic: @lovelyykelly
“I look at bloggers and influencers whose aesthetics are appealing to me and fit a similar look I’m going for. I take the elements I like and make them my own to create my aesthetic. It’s not something that was easy for me at first. It took a lot of trial and error until I finally found what I liked and worked best for my look. I take so many photos to make sure I get the perfect one. You’ll always have the one that looks so much better than the others (even when someone else would think they look exactly the same). When I take photos, I ask myself what colors define my brand and the mood or tone I’m trying to portray. When posting, I try to switch it up and not have too many of the same types of photos back to back. I edit my photos on VSCO and use Photoshop for more extensive editing. On VSCO, I use J6 (at about 4.0 intensity because you don’t want it overdone). To get the dark, moody look, I always bring the brightness and saturation down, which differs from photo to photo. Adding grain is something I recently started doing, showing me that such a small addition makes a huge difference in making my feed look cohesive. I also play with temperature, contrast, tint, etc., depending on the photo. Planning is also important. I use an app called UNUM to plan my feed before I post anything and never post anything directly to Instagram right after I take it. Taking time to go through and edit each image to make sure they fit with your current feed is key. I almost always have my next six or so images planned out at a given time.” — Kelly Rogowski, Florida State University class of 2017
The Fashion Editor Aesthetic: @thatgirlyusra
“I found my aesthetic by just doing whatever creatively stimulates me. I never stick to one thing with my aesthetic and am always playing around with pictures, posts, and moods with inspiration from watching films, reading magazines, and looking at art. I choose which photos match my mood and are images that make me happy and proud. I was always worried before about what other people [thought about my grid], but now I choose pictures and moments that inspire me, and I think can inspire someone else creatively as well. I edit my photos with Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, and the filters I use are A6, A4, and C8. My best tip? Stay true to your personal brand and aesthetic, and always push yourself creatively. It’s always easy to focus on what other people think and are doing but the best thing is to focus on you and your creativity, and everything will come together.” — Yusra Siddiqui, LIM College class of 2020
The Sporty, But Make it Fashion Aesthetic: @sydneyhelphenstine
“I found my Instagram aesthetic by really doing some research and seeing what catches people’s eyes and what other users are doing. It’s important [to me] to see what others are doing and adjust it to be something different and new. I usually only post photos with lots of black and white and contrast in them. I like to make sure they have enough contrast to balance with everything else I have. I usually use VSCO, and I love the filters SE3, HB1, HB2, and C3 to edit my photos, along with some other apps for whitening and brightening. These help to keep my theme cohesive. To stay on brand, I recommend that you don’t go changing your theme too often. If you have something you like and it suits your style, stick with it. I think it’s important to know what your followers like to see in order to keep them entertained.” — Sydney Helphenstine, Marymount University class of 2019
The It-Girl Aesthetic: @itsdemib
“It’s funny—[my grid] kind of evolves with my personal style. My feed changes so much constantly, whether it is colors as the seasons change, or just what my eye is attracted to. It’s really a visual journal of my personal style and different things I find beautiful. Plan your feed, but don’t not post something just because it doesn’t ‘fit the feed.’ For me, it’s not that serious and it’s a really hard habit to break (speaking from experience here). If you love it, post it. The app that I use to edit my pictures 100% of the time is VSCO. I don’t really have any go-to filters, but they have the most amazing filters for any and every photography style. I’m a VSCO member, so I have them all! Because every image is composed of different objects and hues, I try to pick a filter that makes those stand out best.” — Demi Balogun, Purdue University class of 2018
The Minimal Aesthetic With Lots of Sunshine: @cassidiaah
“I’m still currently in the process of ‘finding my aesthetic.’ I feel like aesthetics are hard to pin down because we are constantly changing and seeing the world differently. I like my Instagram to represent my mood through tones and colors, so lately I’ve been finding neutrals as my source of inspiration when curating my feed! I actually have this handy app called UNUM that lets you arrange your pics on Instagram before you post. This app has made it so easy for me to pick what pictures I post because I get to see how each picture looks in comparison to my feed. My tips for maintaining an on-brand grid would be to not confine yourself to the idea that you have to be like every other blogger out there. Yes, everyone aspires to have a perfect and minimal clean white feed, but if that style isn’t right for you, do what you like and run with it. People will like genuine content regardless of how ‘aesthetically-pleasing’ you’re trying to be.” — Cassidy Clark, Savannah College of Art and Design class of 2020
The Aesthetic That Always Makes Us Want to Travel: @sarahgargano29
“I think my Instagram aesthetic is probably just a compilation of all the things I’m obsessed with—I’ve always loved typewriters and other antiques and just sort of whimsical activities. I have a huge folder of photos I still want to post and I choose from that based on whatever looks good with my feed. I’ve recently been using VSCO [to edit]—my go-to filter is M5. I have a separate account to make sure all my posts look pretty next to each other, and I definitely recommend that.” — Sarah Gargano, Oberlin College class of 2020
The Springtime Aesthetic: @theaugustchild
“[I post] whatever flows. I use UNUM to see if the picture I want will flow nicely with the successive post. But if I really love a photo that might not match my feed, I’ll break the rules and post it anyway. The key is to not think too much about what you’re posting and have fun with it. [To edit], I’ll use the edit option built into my iPhone, and I’ll just tune the photo’s brightness and contrast. Other times I use VSCO with the filters A6 and M5 at a low opacity. [I find inspiration] mainly from Tumblr. My aesthetic is constantly changing, but currently, I’m going for a more au naturale feed, one with more bright and natural light and pastel hues. [To stay on brand], honestly, just stay true to what you want to share. I’m constantly changing my aesthetic, so my feed changes based on seasonal colors, moods, etc. I stay on-brand by posting what I like and sharing what I think is fun.” — Ana Acosta, Palomar College class of 2020
What are your Instagram tips? Share with us in the comments below!
Featured image by @cassidiaah.