I get a lot of compliments about my Instagram feed. And people often ask what kind of camera I use. I actually use my iPhone 6S Plus. The camera isn't even the best camera phone on the market (although the Portrait feature on the iPhone 7 is a game changer!) I've just learned some tricks for taking Instagrammable (yeah, that's a word!) photos:
1. LIGHTING, LIGHTING, LIGHTING- Did I mention lighting? Lighting is everything when it comes to taking good photos. Whether you're taking a selfie or a book photo (my fave) you need to make sure your lighting is good. I usually leave my flash off and take photos near my back door because there is a large window nearby that brings in natural light.
Very Basic Shot to Show My Super Simple Set up!
2. Focus- As a lover of photos my biggest pet peeve is a blurry or grainy picture. Especially if you didn't do it for an artistic reason. Most (if not all) camera phones have a focus feature. You can tap the screen and make sure the focus is on your subject. If you don't have this feature there are several apps that can take over your camera and add this function. My favorite is the Camera+ app. Pictures that are in focus provide more visual interest AND we can actually see what you snapped!
3. Background- If you are doing a prop or product shot or even a selfie be mindful of the background. You don't want something so busy it takes away from your primary subject. I prefer a solid background when I'm taking book photos. I purchased a white foam poster board from the dollar store and I take the majority of my still shots using this background. I also splurged ($7) for a distressed wood plank from Walmart to take photos on as well, mostly food shots.
More basic shots just to show my background example
4. Content- Choose something of interest to take a photo of and provide a clever caption. It might seem cheesy or fake to stage a photo but that is what Instagram is all about (to some degree) taking CREATIVE photos. If you want to take a photo of your cup of coffee, add a muffin or book/magazine that you're reading. Light a candle or put a flower in a vase. . .so many options! Check the #proptoit tag on Instagram for inspiration. Or if you just want to capture sunsets or birds or flowers do it in an interesting way- zoom in, zoom out, take the photo off center, blur the background just make it interesting and visually pleasing! (Bonus tip: to get some different ideas for content try a photo challenge like the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day Challenge #fmspad. It's a month long challenge (every month) with different fun daily prompts!)
5. Edit- I'm not really a big fan of filters. Not unless you plan on using a special filter for ALL of your photos and creating some sort of uniformity for your feed. I've seen this done before and it's pretty cool. However I just like to edit my photos using the Camera+ app. I'll back light them, add or remove shadows, add some clarity and turn up the saturation. Whatever makes the photo pop without looking overdone.
What are some of your Insta tips? | Follow me on Instagram @traciemomie
In the Company of Women
I purchased the book, In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney, it is a “coffee table” style book that includes inspiration and advice from over 100 female makers, artists and entrepreneurs. The book is amazing and offers priceless advice from some badass girl bosses.
I love how each woman was asked a series of questions to give the reader insight about them, their craft and their path to success. The questions also make you think about your own journey and what legacy you want to leave. I decided to pretend I was one of the women in the book (maybe one day!) and provide answers to some of the questions that were asked:
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I loved school and I wanted to be in charge, so I thought it would be the perfect fit. But the reality of teaching “Internet Kids” who were smarter and sassier than I was at eight years old made me rethink things!
What does success mean to you? Success to me is peace of mind, good health, financial freedom and the love of family and friends.
How do you find motivation? My mortality gives me motivation. We are only here on Earth for a limited time, so I try to do the things I want to do while I still can.
What is your favorite quote? Currently it’s “Every day is a new opportunity to change your life and be who you want to be.” - Demi Lovato
Biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey? That nothing lasts forever. Whether good or bad; things (and sometimes people) are only temporary so we shouldn’t allow stuff to affect us in such a profound or negative way. Live, learn and move on!
Name a woman you look up to? Michelle Obama is a goddess. Period. The way she handled herself during her time as First Lady was stellar and she set an example on how to just be authentically yourself regardless to what other people say or think.
How do you overcome personal adversity? I’m human so my first inclination when I’m faced with personal adversity is to shut down or feel sorry for myself. But I can’t allow myself the luxury of wallowing too long. I have two young children and a husband who rely on me and not to mention I know wallowing in misery has never solved any of my problems. So I beat myself up a little, then apologize and promise to be better and try harder and work smarter next time. Every day is a new opportunity!
5 Social Media Alternatives
Social media can be such a distraction to productive behavior. Not to mention there is often so much noise floating through these social channels that it can mess with your peace of mind. There is much more to life than status updates, likes, page counts and followers.
Here are a few alternatives to social media for those of us who feel the constant need to be plugged in to what's going on online:
1. Read a book- Pick up a New York Times bestseller and lose yourself in a great adventure. Or pick a topic that you've wanted to learn like Spanish or crocheting and learn something new. Or if you're an entrepreneur get a business book like Rework to help you find new and inventive ways to grow your business.
2. Listen to music- Put on some relaxing music and meditate or play your favorite upbeat tunes and dance around the house. Music and exercise is an instant mood lifter!
3. Go for a walk- Speaking of exercise, turn off the phone and computer and go for a walk. Getting exercise every day does wonders for your physical and mental health.
4. Write- Even if you aren't a writer, take out a sheet of paper and write down your goals or a to-do list or grocery list. To paraphrase Erykah Badu, "When you write stuff down with a real pen on real paper, it gets real." In a nutshell it helps you feel more connected to your goals.
5. Meet or call a friend for a face to face meeting- Go old school and pick up the telephone and CALL your friends/family or better yet make plans to meet face to face for an actual conversation.
4 Tips for Staying on Track
If you wake up some mornings wanting to give up on your dreams. You're not alone. There are probably some days that it seems too hard or that you're not making any real progress. Maybe you feel too old, too young, too overweight, too shy or that you have other obstacles that will keep you from being as successful as other people. You have to be vigilant in your efforts and take the good with the bad.
Here are four tips for staying on track:
1. Stop complaining- Don't give in to the urge to bemoan every setback or hiccup. Embrace the challenges and mistakes. Learn from them so that your next attempt is better. Complaints are problems that you want someone else to solve because you feel like a victim. Stop creating problems and start devising solutions that will help put you closer to your goal so that you can be victorious!
2. Stop criticizing- Complaints and criticism usually go hand and hand. We are our own worst critics. Focus on all the amazing things about yourself and when you look in the mirror empower yourself by saying, "I am capable of greatness!" People who feel empowered usually go on to empower and inspire others instead of inviting negativity.
3. Stop comparing- There is only ONE you. Period. There is only ONE Beyoncé. One Oprah. One Random Sally Doe who has 110,000 followers on Instagram. And on and on. It's one thing to allow these people to inspire you to be YOUR best but emulating them or comparing your journey to theirs is a surefire way to destroy your own self worth. What makes YOU special? Focus all your energy on being the best version of yourself. When you're happy with yourself and love yourself unconditionally, you become unstoppable!
4. Stay consistent- It's not what you do once and a while that makes the difference it's what you do ALL THE TIME. Establish solid routines and block out the noise and distractions. You can't expect instant results when you've only been working at something for a few days. It will take longer than a few days, possibly more than a few weeks or months. You have to ask yourself the following questions: Am I willing to WORK for it? Am I willing to WAIT for it? And if your answer is yes to both questions, then keep plugging along and before you know it- those consistent small steps with get you to your destination.
Self Care Month Recap
February is often known as the "month of love", so at the beginning of the month I embarked on a month long journey of self love! My goal was to take time for myself, celebrate myself and do things that made me feel good.
As a wife, mother and solopreneur my needs are often met last because I'm so busy trying to make sure my family and clients are taken care of. But at the end of 2015 I was feeling burned out and knew I had to make some changes. I chose February instead of January because I wanted a chance to decompress from the holidays.
Here is how it went down:
My first order of business was to get a full body Swedish massage to get rid of the stress, sore muscles and toxins that had built up over time. I went to The Woman's Earth and was divinely pampered. After an hour session, I felt like jello! Lol! But I also felt renewed and focused.
Another seemingly small thing I did on my self care journey was commit to regular pedicures even though it's Winter and most time my toes are covered. . .there is nothing like the feeling of smooth heels when playing footsie at night with my husband. I also made sure to get my bi-weekly eyebrow wax.
I also committed to reading for pleasure. I'm an avid reader but I wasn't reading nearly as much as I had been in the past. I committed to reading one book per week. I read in the car pick up line when I was waiting for my kids to get out of school and in the evenings before bed. I was able to read Tuesdays with Morrie, The Gifts of Imperfection, One Plus One and I'm almost done with Coffee Will Make You Black. I plan to do book reviews on two of the books, so stay tuned!
It felt so good to exercise my mind and read something that touched my soul and made me realize there is more to life than deadlines and social media engagement. Books have always been my "go to" source for a good escape!
I'm a Instagram addict. And I'm not ashamed. Perhaps I should be. . but I'm not. I've discovered so many new venues and restaurants in my city scrolling through Instagram. I usually screenshot a spot or a dish and I put it on my "one day" list. You know that list we all have, that one day we're going to go there or get that. . .well during my self care month I did it! I compiled a list and visited all the places on the list. I went by myself to a couple of places for lunch and my husband and I were able to visit a few as well.
I've been wanting to update my branding and get new head shots and kept putting it off but I finally just made the appointment, paid the deposit and did it! Just like that. And WOWZERS! So glad I did! They turned out amazing!
For Christmas I got an upgrade to my Fit Bit and was determined to put it to good use! For at least 20 days in February I put in over the daily 10,000 steps! Woohoo! I also became more cognizant of what I was eating PLUS increasing my water intake. And it felt so natural, I didn't force it or make a big deal about. I just wanted to start being good to my body since it's been so good to me all these years.
And the biggest bonus is when I went in for my annual physical I had lost 5 pounds. . .now I'm not saying I lost all the weight in February but I am saying I wasn't walking or watching my calories in December and January.
Finally, my biggest goal was to spend more time with my family and to be more present. I really feel like I did this. Avoided being on social media as much, put down the phone when my husband was talking, focused on my kids more. We had a family picnic in the park for my husband's birthday (Valentine's Day) and it was beautiful.
I feel February was just a starting point. I'm ready to do a complete lifestyle change and I'm committed to making myself a priority all year long!
Writer. Reader. Designer. Creative Spirit.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”