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The Real Effort That Goes Into A Good Instragram Photo

posted by Courtney Jones May 13, 2017 25 Comments
Instagram Distorts Reality
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The Real Effort Behind A Good Instragram Photo.

I love Instagram. It’s my favourite social media platform.

I really don’t understand Twitter. I still don’t have a clue how/why to use it. Facebook is full of click-bait and trashy quizzes like How Your Choice in Condiment Can Predict Your Future (okay, fine, I’ll admit that I take those quizzes #pleasedontjudgeme).

I do really like Pinterest though. Where else can you design your future home, dream wardrobe AND plan your dinner? It’s also a great resource to find blog articles about destinations I want to visit, making it my second favourite social media channel.

Instagram is still my fave though. I love the high-quality images, location tagging and disappearing stories – it’s dreamy. However, as much as I adore Instagram, I legitimately believe it distorts reality. Part of the reason I love it so much is part of the problem: the high-quality, carefully curated images. Instagram is a platform to post your best photos. While there are definitely loads of private accounts posting low-quality selfies, the majority of public accounts holders, myself included, are very strategic in their photo selection.

I’m super choosy about which photos will make the cut. A photo of a crowded pool on a cloudy day? No way. A photo of a popular tourist destination packed with people? Never in a million years. Sure, I’m super truthful about real experiences on my blog, because I aim for transparency (and the stories are generally hilarious), but my Insta account is where I showcase my best photos #wannabephotographer.

SO, in the interest of transparency, and to have a bit of fun, below are the real stories behind some of my Instagram shots!

Shibuya Crossing, Japan

I literally starting planning this photo from the second I booked my trip to Japan. At the time, I was just starting to get into long exposure photography, and was obsessed with the idea of taking a long exposure shot at a busy intersection at night.

In order to take this photo, I had to find a spot at the side of the busy intersection to set up my tripod, then place my camera on a 10-second timer (because I didn’t have a remote) and wait for the traffic lights to change. As soon as the ‘walk sign’ lit up, I dashed into the intersection (had to get into position before the 10-second timer was up), and then proceeded to stand perfectly still for 20 seconds, the length I had set the long exposure. I spent the whole time hoping no one was going to steal my camera, as I was facing away from it (which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t my brightest decision ever).

Figure 8 Pools, Sydney

My own private pool 😉#figure8pools #royalnationalpark

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I discovered the Figure 8 Pools on Instagram, and was instantly drawn to them. When I found out there were located in a national park just outside Sydney, I knew I had to go. Instagram made them popular, so I knew I would have to go super early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

John and I woke up around 5am, drove down to the park and did the 30-40 minute hike down to the pools. We were the only people there, but not for long – we could see other people coming in the distance! In the name of a good Insta pic, I quickly jumped into one of the perfectly shaped figure 8 pools (it was so cold), and John took a bunch of photos of me floating around like a weirdo. Oh yeah, I also had to hold my breath and sink underwater anytime a wave crashed over the pool, to avoid getting scraped to sh*t on the jagged rock walls.

Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto


At least I was honest in the description, right?? The place was totally packed. I mean, like grossly packed with people. Tourists with selfie-sticks galore! We tried a few times to get a good photo, but there were always crowds in the background. I had read online that the crowds thin out as you trek further up the hill, so we just kept on going. We were dressed in winter gear, but the hike was making us super sweaty, so we ended up walking around in a t-shirt in February!

We finally found ourselves in a less populated area, and patiently waited for a clearing of people to pose for a few photos.

Gold Coast, Queensland

When you have the entire beach to yourself

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Of course I had the beach to myself; it was 6.30am on a cold, drizzly, random Tuesday morning! Also, note my lack of beach attire – I was in Gold Coast for a work conference #notaholiday

Golden Pavillion, Kyoto

This temple is literally covered in gold!

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Covered in gold and surrounded by people! I know it looks like no one is around, but that’s just because the entire grounds are fenced off, so I’m basically standing as close as possible, and angling my camera to cut out everyone else.

El Nido, Philippines


‘Feeling like a mermaid being scraped to pieces by really sharp coral’ is a more accurate description. First of all, I had to swim a decent distance from our dive boat to get to this little lagoon area. Although it looks super tranquil, another boat zoomed by, creating waves, which then pushed me onto a patch of super sharp coral. I hate damaging sea life, so not only was I in pain, I felt really guilty!

Hanging out in the vines, Mudgee

Celebrating my 29th birthday in the Mudgee wine region ❤️

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I was on a wine tour, and everyone else thought I was barking mad. I saw the perfect photo opportunity in the vines, so posed like a crazy person while my Insta-husband played photographer. This is one of about 20 photos from that moment.

Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney


This was yet another instance where people thought I was a total nutcase. I had my GoPro on a gorilla pod on the ground, and was controlling in with through the app on my phone. A random guy was literally taking photos of me taking photos of myself, so I’m 99% sure I’ll end up featured in some article about how selfie-obsessed the world has become. #whatevs

Oh so romantic, Fiji

Sometimes you don’t know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory

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For starters, how cheesy is that description?! Awkward, right?

Let’s get more awkward. I made my poor husband stand in the sunset holding my hand while we waited for our camera timer to go off. Next time you’re admiring a romantic photo, think about how it was taken. Chances are, some random photographer didn’t happen to capture a special moment. Nope, it was probably carefully staged and awkward executed, just like this one (at least I’m hoping, because, if not, my life is definitely defined by awkward moments).

Matching matcha, Osaka

This one is bad – I bought this ice-cream cone specifically to take this photo. It was the dead of the winter, and matcha flavoured ice-cream is gross. But how cute does it look against the green in the castle? So I bought it anyway.

Wrap up on Instagram

Okay you guys, hopefully this will serve as a good reminder that, while some photos are absolutely real, most Instagram photos are not always presenting reality! So before you start to feel FOMO because your experience in a certain place doesn’t look as good as everyone else’s on Instagram, remember that it probably took them a lot of planning and execution to capture that specific moment!

In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Instagram so you can continue to see the end result of all my awkward efforts 😀

What are some of the crazy things you’ve done to get a good photo??

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The Real Effort Behind a Good Instagram Photo

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