Beginners Guide To Instagram

A few months ago I joined Instagram and I didn't have a CLUE what I was doing, so in a post I asked if someone could explain Instagram to me like I was 5 years old (in particular hashtags!) Some kind person did, but there were a few comments and emails from people saying THEY didn't understand Instagram either and would like it explained to them! The result is my beginners guide to Instagram…..

Instagram is probably one of the most popular ways to share images online. It’s a free app for your smartphone (such as Android phone or an iPhone.) and to start you first need to download the app onto your phone.  Please note you do need to have a smartphone that can use apps – you can’t actually upload images directly to your Instagram account from your computer (took me a couple of hours to figure that one out) so you DO need a smart phone to use it. Once downloaded, you can set up your account with your screen name and a little bio about yourself if you wish.

You can set your account to either be public or private. If you set it to public, anyone can view your images. If you set it to private, then you need to approve followers before they can see your photos. 

If you are worried about sharing images online, set it to private.  If you are in business and are using it for that, obviously you need to set it to Public - but you can have two accounts, one for your business and one for personal if you prefer. 

On your account home page (Click on the button that looks like a house to take you there) you can see your “posts’ (Images) and the number of followers you have, and the number of people you follow.   

The little button that looks like a magnifying glass is where you can search for people or hash tags (more on hash tags in a bit) so, if you wanted to find me, search under People for Audrey Ann Photography. If you wanted to find people that shared your love of taking pictures of coffee, then search under hash tags for “coffee” and all the pictures people have taken of their coffee and hash tagged it with that word will come up.  

If you see an image you like, underneath there are two buttons - you can simply "like" it, or leave a comment (either are always appreciated I'm sure) and if you want to see more from that person, you can start to follow them and when they post an image, it will show up in your daily feed. 

The heart in a quote button is where you can see who has liked your photos, and who has started following you, and any comments people have left on your photo.  It also provides information on the activity of people you follow (who liked what, and who starting following who - it's like an Instagram gossip column)  

The button that looks like a person is where you can change your account details and privacy settings.  

So, now you are ready to take an image and post it! The icon that looks like a square in the middle with a circle inside it opens your camera, and you can take your image for posting! Instagram uses a square format, so be aware of that when composing an image. 

After you have taken your picture you can edit it by using the Instagram filters. These are a lot of fun!  You can also do things like add in a Tilt Shift affect or a vignette – it’s best just to take a photo and play around with it for a bit. When you are ready, you can share it with your followers! 

That's simple too. Once you have your image the way you like it, you then have the opportunity to post a comment alongside your photo, maybe saying where it was taken or a story behind it, or you can leave it blank. 

You can also add hash tags to your images. Hash tags are simply a way of tagging things so that other Instgram users can find them, or so that you can find them all easily at a later date.  For example, for this image below, I used the hash tags “cookies” and “Christmasgifts” (I probably could have used more – the more relevant hash tags you use, the more people that are likely to find your photos, but I'm pretty lazy in that respect!)  Someone searching for photos of christmasgifts would then find this image.

You can also use hash tags as a way of grouping images together. For example, I hash tag all my 365 images with the hash tag aap365 – that way if I only want to see my 365 images I can search for that hashtag (and provided nobody else has used it!) I will see all my project images come up.

Lastly, you might use hashtags if you want to group your images with others – say for example you are in a Project 52 group and you all use the hashtag aaplifestyle (for example) if you hashtag your image with that everyone in the group can easily find images by everyone else (if that made sense!)

If you want to share an image that you took on your DSLR, then it’s a bit more complicated. You need to upload the image you want to share from your computer to a online file-sharing site (such as Dropbox or MediaFire) and then download that photo onto your camera roll on your smartphone.  Again, click on the take picture button in Instagram, but instead of taking the picture there and then, click on the small thumbnail that looks like two stacked squares which will open up your images folder on your phone.. You can then select the image you have downloaded, and share it as above. 

If you just want to view Instagram without uploading an image, you can do that on a normal computer, but you can't upload anything. You also do need a smartphone to create the account, but once you've done that, you can view images from the comfort of your PC. 

Hmmm. I think that's it. It really it a fun app, and if you are interested in photography, then I pretty much guarantee you will enjoy it since it is so visually appealing!  There are lots of great photographers you can follow, and it's always nice to see some photographic eye candy! 

So, that’s it – Instagram for the uninitiated! If you have any questions, I doubt I'll be able to help you, but ask anyway :) 

P.S If you do join, and want to follow, you can find me here. Would love to see you!