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Building Your Instagram Gallery

Colour

I share images in lots of places online but the images I share on Instagram get my most attention. Realising that my Instagram account was a gallery of images was a big game changer for me. On Twitter and Facebook I can share individual images without needing to think about what I have previously shared on those platforms. The images stand alone and can tell their own stories but on Instagram my images need to be consistent and fit together like images on a gallery wall.

When someone sees one of your images on Instagram and likes it they will pop over to your profile (your gallery) to see more of your images. They will make a very quick decision about whether to follow you or not based on your most recent 9-12 images. They might scroll down to see more but it is highly likely that they have already made their decision already, so it is very important to think about how you build your gallery.

In the lesson on Composition I talked about Colour and Colour Palettes. You will have seen your Makelight Insights Report now and been able to see which colours you have been using in your Instagram gallery so far.

When people think of you or your brand what are the colours you want them to associate with you? These colours need to shine out on your Gallery. When you are planning your images and thinking about the stories you want to tell, remember the importance of these colours. When you are out and about, what are the colours your are looking for on buildings, in parks, shops etc?

Using a colour palette for your Instagram will really help you to build a gallery that looks beautiful and consistent. It will be easier for you to put images together, so that they look good together. This doesn't mean that every single image that you share on Instagram has to have these colours in it but the overall feel will show your colour palette. This helps your audience associate particular colours with you and it gives potential new followers a clear message about the colours and tones they can expect if they follow you.

Using Lots of Colours

Some people find it difficult when I talk about the importance of colour and colour palettes because they work in so many colours. That is totally fine and important to recognise. A small colour palette doesn't work for everyone, particularly people who are producing work for individual clients.

If this sounds like you then please don't worry. You can still produce a beautiful gallery. Think about how you would group together colours in your home. How would you put a gallery wall together that included lots of colours? Be careful about images you place next to each other or above/below each other in the grid. If you are mindful of your colours you definitely can create something wonderful.

I have worked with some people who have decided to work in rows of three as a way to creating something that looks cohesive. Paying attention to detail is what will make your gallery stand out as one to watch. People might not realise what you have done at first but they will respond well to a gallery that is thoughtful and visual attractive.

Subjects

Thinking about the subjects and stories that you want to share on Instagram will help you to take the images you need to create a gallery that looks cohesive and thoughtful.

It is a great idea to also keep a list of the types of images that you can share. Close-ups, flat lays, vignettes, selfies, portraits, images with your hands in, a desk scene, a street image etc.

Try creating a list of 7-10 types of images that you could share to tell your stories. Pay attention to the stories and the types of images. Each week try to take one of each and share them on rotation. You won't always have to shoot and share like this but I think if you do this for a few weeks it will really help you to get into a flow and it will help your Instagram gallery to look both consistent but not all the same.

Some examples to help you:

  • A close up of something you sell.
  • A flat lay of things in a colour that inspires you.
  • A place that you love.
  • A daily activity that you find relaxes you.
  • Taking a moment out of the busy day.
  • Something you take for granted but might be interesting to others.
  • A special offer / event / project.
  • Something that you're excited about.
  • Something inspired by someone else.
  • Your entry for a hashtag challenge.

Breathing room

Remember to give your gallery room to breathe. When people look at your gallery you want them to feel calm and inspired. You don't want their eyes to be looking for a way out. Creating some images that have white space or negative space will help you to build your gallery. These images enable you to create a space that isn't too busy or chaotic. These images can also help to create little breaks between different types of stories or colour palettes too.

Image Format

I nearly always shoot square for Instagram. That is the format it was designed for and as someone who really loves square images, it is a complete joy to have a place to share them.

Sharing the same image format also helps your gallery to look consistent.

In the past if you wanted to share a Portrait or Landscape image you had to use a third party app and create a square image, with your Portrait or Landscape image floating within a white boarder. You can still do this but you can also add a portrait or landscape image directly into Instagram. Instagram will crop it square for your gallery but when someone clicks on it or views it in their stream they will see the whole image. I really like this feature of Instagram as it means that if I am sharing images I have taken with my dSLR camera then I can share the whole image without needing to crop it but be very careful to make sure that your image is centre-weighted and makes sense when it is cropped square.

Being strict about what you share where

You don't have to share all your images on Instagram. I am really strict with myself about what I share on Instagram. I want to share my best work that fits with the themes and stories I am telling in this space. There are so many other places that you can share your images. Don't think that Instagram is the only place. Taking time to think about building your very own, beautiful and inspiring gallery on Instagram is definitely worth it and I beleive it will really help you to build your audience.

Tools to help you

I can imagine that after watching my video and reading all this you might be feeling rather overwhelmed about how long all this is going to take you each week! Do not worry. I have some tools to help you.

Planoly, Unum and Mosaico are three different apps that help you to plan your Instagram gallery. Planoly is a pay monthly service, Unum is free (but doesn't work offline) and Mosacio is a one off payment. As far as I can see these three apps are IOS only at the moment.

A fourth app that looks great and that is available for both IOS and Android is Plan Your Gram.

PS Leave room for spontenaity

All this planning can sometimes feel like everything is so set up that nothing is real and authentic anymore. Where has the 'insta' of Instagram gone?

I love to share images of things that I find and see as I go about my life. I am now so in tune with my Instagram Gallery that I will see things that I know will fit with my colours and my stories. So, I can be spontaneous and free but know that it will work for my gallery.

Sometimes I see things that I really want to share but know that they won't work for my Instagram gallery, so I still take the photograph but share it somewhere else, like Twitter for example.

I promise that you can plan and still be real and authentic!

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