I love Instagram for so many reasons, but one of my favourites is being able to connect with so many people from around the world. I always love hearing from you guys, whether in a comment, DM or e-mail and I always try and answer any questions you have. But it just isn’t always possible (if someone has figured out how to freeze time, please let me know) so I wanted to write down the answers to the questions I get asked most right here on my blog. This way I can also get into more detail than I would be able to in a comment. I did a top 10 FAQs post last November (you can read that here) so let’s call this my 2017 version. Some of the questions are the same (with updated answers), some are completely new. So here we go!
[ 1 ] What camera do you use?
I take almost all of the photos that I post to my Instagram (and blog) with either my Nikon D610 (usually with a 35mm f/1.4 lens) or my Sony A6300 (with a few different prime lenses). I use my Nikon for most of my indoor shots (it has the better sensor so I can photograph better in lower light), whilst I use the Sony mainly for outdoors and travel (it’s small and lightweight, and has great focus tracking for moving kiddos).
[ 2 ] Who takes your photos?
I take about 90% of my photos. The other 10% are either my hubby (usually) or whoever happens to be around when I need a quick shot (e.g. my dad). Most of the time it’s me though and, since I’m in the photos a lot these days, that means a lot of tripod and self-timered shots. I’m working on a dedicated post about how to take photos when your other half is either working a lot (like my hubby) or is reluctant to take your photo (also my hubby since I’m way too much of a perfectionist lol).
[ 3 ] How do you edit your photos?
This is and has always been my most commonly asked question on Instagram so I wrote a dedicated post with my detailed, step-by-step process way back when (aka last fall). You can find that post here. I’m currently working on an updated video tutorial since I’ve made a few tweaks to my process – be on the lookout for that post soon!
[ 4 ] How is your house so clean?
It’s not. On most days, I’ll have maybe 10-20% of my house tidy and those are the 1-2 corners that I will choose to photograph in. I hate mess (with a passion) so I choose not to photograph it but it is there. There’s unfortunately no way around that for me with being a full-time work-at-home mom. There are only so many hours in the day and kids / work take up most of those already. That said, my house is probably cleaner than most who have two young kids at home and that’s probably just because (a) I really do hate mess (it actually gives me anxiety) and (b) I’ve built an online business where I show my house on a daily basis and with that comes pressure to keep things tidy that most people don’t have. My husband and I try and commit to tidying up for half an hour once the kids are in bed (slash we tidy up throughout the day as well and always have our kids join in with tidying up their own things). We do of course have days where 0% of the house is tidy and I still need to photograph and that is when I just throw sh*t from one of the room to the other to get it out of frame. Whatever gets the job done, right?
[ 5 ] How do you get your kids to sit still for your #familyonchairs series?
Short answer: Netflix. We setup the camera on a tripod and, right next to the camera, we have an iPad playing a kids show. My husband and I will do all of the setup before we even get the kids – we put the chairs in a row, get all of our clothes ready, setup the tripod / camera / remote, do a test shot, and get ourselves dressed. Once we’re good to go, we get the kids, quickly get them into their clothes, plop them onto the chairs, turn on the show (to keep them in said chairs) and then sit down and take a few photos (it only takes us a minute or two once the kids are involved). Isabelle is really good about taking direction briefly and by now she knows she’ll be asked to cross her legs – she actually will just sit down in the chair now and cross her legs without us even asking lol. So it’s easy for us the get ourselves and Isabelle doing the same thing and then it’s just a matter of Nicky. The best we can usually do is get him to cross his ankles which is why Nicky is never actually doing what we’re doing. I love that about this series though – Nicky is the rebel in the family and these pictures always show that so well. Oh and if we’re using a prop, we try and get creative to make sure the kids interact with it the way we want them to. For the mug photo above, we put chocolate milk in there (easiest one we’ve done so far! haha). For the newspaper photo below, we put stickers on the backs of their newspaper and asked them to count the stickers and that’s why they’re actually looking at the paper.
[ 6 ] Do you speak German?
I do! I was born in Germany and moved to Canada with my family when I was six. My husband is also German but he’s a more recent export – he came for University and then stuck around. We moved back to Munich for a few years when I was pregnant with Isabelle (she was born there) and then moved back when I was pregnant with Nicolas. At first I was the parent who spoke exclusively English to the kids (as I’m much more comfortable speaking English) whilst my husband spoke exclusively German. But once it was clear that Isabelle was only speaking English back, we made the switch to both speak German this past spring. I still feel weird about it in my Insta stories which is why there is such a mix of German and English, but off-camera I try and speak exclusively German to the kids and it’s been working great for us! Nicolas starting to really talk a couple of months ago and almost everything that comes out is German. And whilst Isabelle still speaks more English than German, it is coming back into her vocabulary more and she sometimes will even talk to herself (when she’s playing) in German which is amazing.
[ 7 ] How do you take your top down shots?
I wrote a whole post about how I get those top-down sofa and bed shots – you can read it here. (Hint: it also doesn’t require an #instagramhusband.)
[ 8 ] Where are your kids’ kitchen stools from?
One of my most common question that I get on Instagram is where I got the stools that the kids use in the kitchen (their “learning towers”). It’s actually an IKEA hack of a cheap BEKVÄM stool and I wrote a detailed tutorial on how to make your own here.
[ 9 ] How have you managed to grow your account so quickly?
I’m not going to lie, it’s been a lot of work. A lot. I’ve spent countless hours analyzing my own feed, similar feeds, and lots of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve never used a third party service to grow my account, anything that I’ve done has been done by me, sitting in front of my phone or laptop (usually at night with Netflix playing in the background), personally doing whatever strategy I was working on at the time. I wrote up a lengthy post back in April with my top 25 tips for growing your Instagram account quickly and organically. You can read that here. I’m also working on an updated post as there are some new strategies that have been working well for me over the past couple of months, especially after I hit a very frustrating plateau back in June/July. Be on the lookout for that post coming in the next few weeks!
[ 10 ] Where do you get all your family matching outfits?
I try to create outfits based on clothing we already have in our closets, like blue jeans, black leggings, black / white / striped tees, that sort of thing. I’ve discovered a lot of brands through Instagram (either from seeing others wearing their matching stuff or from brands contacting me directly), so I’ve got a good supply of matching items already. Some of my favourite brands that offer matching for the whole family are: Kortni Jeane (swimsuits), Hanna Andersson (pyjamas), Converse (sneakers), Hunter (rainboots), Winter Water Factory (the makers of the bear sweater in the first photo), Fjällräven (backpacks), and Salt Water Sandals (although they don’t have mens sandals). For anything we don’t have, I’ll often pick up something cheap from Old Navy or GAP when they’re having a 40% off sale, often from the mens and boys departments (since their stuff is more gender-neutral than women’s/girls). H&M has a few matching items as well and is also pretty budget-friendly.
If you have a favourite shop that does family twinning that I can feature in a future #familyonchairs photo, please leave a comment below! I love discovering new brands.
Let me know if you have any other questions you’d love answered in the comments below!