Instagram is the most complicated relationship in my life. I know, I know. But I don’t understand it, and it doesn’t understand me. I need it, but it doesn’t need me. It brings out the worst in me: vain, competitive, jealous, but it’s full of things I love: friends, tiny gentle Asian babies, photography, dogs. It’s terrible for my self-esteem, apart from the few times I’ve got over 100 likes and some dopamine has been released in my brain that makes me feel like I’m in Ibiza. It pumps me up and thumps me down.
The thing is, I should be good at Instagram. I used to edit one of the most prestigious fashion and photography magazines in the world. I currently edit an award-winning digital platform that attracts millions of women to it every day. And yet it’s taken me seven years to reach 1,000 followers on my own Instagram and when I look at my personal feed, I think: “What is this?” From my dad asleep in the conservatory, to my beagles eating melon, zero-pixel pictures from nights out where I look nice precisely because the lighting is terrible, and bizarre odes to Norwegian TV shows and overpriced trainers, it’s an existential crisis.
I need to get better at Instagram. In my line of work, it’s important, it means something; it’s a portfolio of your creativity and your taste. So... hashtags? How many? What's with the brackets and the dots business? Should I be posting famous photographers’ work? More or less selfies? Go black and white? Order by colour? Buy a phone with a really good camera? I recently tried out a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phone (popular with teens who are popular on Instagram) and the three photos I posted using that were my most liked ever. Can it really be that simple?
Bewildered, I turned to five of the most “visual” women I know – from art directors, to photographers, to photo editors, to photojournalists – whose Instagram feeds are beautiful, clean, composed places, like art galleries, like coffee-table books. Here’s where they stand on style, selfies, reposting, hashtags – and being chilled about it.