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Top 10 Instagram FAQs

November 4, 2016

Happy Grey Lucky - top 10 Instagram questions answered

It’s pretty safe to say I’m addicted to Instagram. I love the sense of community and the ability to interact with so many people around the world. I also love discovering new, inspiring accounts (currently obsessed with @marylauren and @oh.eight.oh.nine) and am so very humbled that there are people out there who enjoy following my little family. Whenever I get questions in my comments, I always try to answer them as best as I can. That said, it’s just not always possible (full-time mama, blogger, failed house keeper, professional ikea shopper, and all that) so I figured I’d dedicate a post to answer the most frequently asked questions.

[ 1 ] How do you edit your photos?

This is by far my most commonly asked question on Instagram so I wrote a dedicated post with my detailed, step-by-step process a little while back. You can find that post here.

[ 2 ] What filters do you use?

I talk about the filters I use in my detailed photo editing post, but if you’re just here for the filters, I won’t make you read my long-winded post. I use VSCO filters exclusively these days. My favourites are A6 and S2 (with F2 being an old favourite until about June/July). I often layer two filters with the strength set to 2-3 for each, or I’ll use a single filter at strength 3-6 (higher number for landscape / home photos, lower number for portraits).

[ 3 ] What camera do you use?

Most of my shots on my Instagram are either taken with my full-frame DSLR (Nikon D610 with a 35mm f/1.8 lens) or my iPhone (recently upgraded from an iPhone 6 to a 6S). I also recently added a mirrorless camera (Sony A6300 with a 20mm f/2.8 lens) so that I have something smaller and lighter to take with me because the SLR is just too bulky and heavy for my day-to-day. The Sony also has a completely silent mode (since it doesn’t use a mechanical mirror system like SLRs) so it’s what I use when I sneak in to take nap photos of Nicolas. For most of my shots in the house I use either my SLR or the Sony simply because the natural light in my house is terrible (contrary to what my feed would imply) and an iPhone just doesn’t produce decent quality in low light.

Side note: I also have several portrait lenses (50mm / 85mm) for both of my cameras but since I photograph so much indoors, I usually have a wider lens on my camera and I’m generally too lazy to switch them out when I head outdoors (slash I usually have just my iPhone for outdoor photos because, again, I’m lazy).

Happy Grey Lucky - top 10 Instagram questions answered

[ 4 ] Who takes your photos?

I take all the photos where I’m not in them or whenever it’s a top-down shot (nursing, outfit, etc.). For photos with me in them, either my hubby takes them or I use a tripod (which is rare these days mainly because I lost my tripod mount piece somewhere in the mess that is my house). If my hubby takes the photos, we’ll take them on weekends, since he works Monday-Friday. Summer months allowed for morning / evening shots as well, but it’s just too dark for that now. If I have someone else take my photos, I’ll usually set up the camera, do a test shot with me behind the camera and the person taking the photo standing in as me and then we swap, so they have a guide as to how I envision the photo.

[ 5 ] Where did you get those stools?

Another common question I get is where I got my learning stools/towers from (that my kids use in the kitchen). It’s actually an IKEA hack of a Bekväm stool and I wrote a detailed tutorial on how to make your own here.

[ 6 ] Where did you get X from?

Let’s face it: the learning towers are most definitely the most interesting thing in my house lol. But on occasion I get asked about another decor or furniture piece or an article of clothing one of us is wearing. I try and reply to all comments but it’s not always possible (or I don’t see them because they’re on older posts). Ergo I started a shop section to my blog so that all the items that are featured here or on my Instagram can be easily found. I divided it into home and closet (both kids and myself).

Happy Grey Lucky - top 10 Instagram questions answered

[ 7 ] How do you get such good shots of your kids?

Short answer: I don’t. Or I don’t very often. It’s just a matter of how many photos I take. My photo success rate with my two crazies is somewhere in the range of 2-10%. (Indoor at least, because of inevitable baby/toddler blur since I can’t have my shutter speed all that high.) It used to be easier before Nicolas became mobile but now he won’t sit/stand still for pretty much anything. Hence I’m often holding him or he’s in a sink, bathtub, or highchair. Necessary baby containment haha. To get a shot of both kiddos, I’ll plop Nicky down (or have my hubby do it) and then I’ve got about 0.5 seconds before he’s moving out of the frame. Repeat 20 times and I’ve usually got a good shot. Sometimes I’m lucky with candid moments if I have my camera nearby but, if I go and grab my camera from elsewhere, I’ve definitely missed the moment 99.9% of the time. Which is another reason I get in the frame more – when I’m interacting with my kids it becomes less of a “staged” photo op for them as they’re not as aware of the camera.

Isabelle alone is pretty easy, on the other hand. I’m usually able to convince her simply by saying I want to take a photo of her new shoes, cute hairdo, etc. that we can show her dad/grandma/whomever. She’s usually excited enough to want to share her adorableness with someone she loves. (I let her look at the photo after to make her all nice and proud.) If that doesn’t work, it’s flat out bribery at our house. Sugar usually does the trick. 😉

[ 8 ] How on earth did you get high enough to take that crib shot?

I’ve posted a few Nicky sleeping shots and I usually get at least a couple of questions on how the heck I got that shot. It’s all about a wide angle camera lens (20mm lens on my Sony). I have a stool just out of frame that I’m standing on, and then I just hold up the camera over the bed with both hands. My Sony let’s me angle the screen so I can see the picture I’m taking even though the camera is higher than me. Being 5’11” also helps. (The iPhone camera is wide-angled enough too, I just don’t usually have enough natural light for me to use the iPhone.)

[ 9 ] How do you get your shots so clean?

I’m currently working on a dedicated post all about how to take photos for a clean Instagram feed but, in the meantime, my main advice would be to look at your angles. Look for a clean view amongst the chaos. For example, photograph from straight above when you’ve got a minimalist surface to work with (neutral sheets, white or marble table, concrete floor). If you’re out and don’t want a busy shot, try angling your phone / camera either up or down, filling most of your photo with ground or sky to keep things uncluttered (e.g. some examples at home depot, the skateboard park, and at the playground, all spaces that are pretty hectic and busy). Mirror selfies where the mirror is on a plain wall and including a good chunk of that wall in your photo is another way to get a busy space (e.g. like here and here at ikea) to look cleaner. (Plus Instagram loves a good mirror selfie!)

Happy Grey Lucky - top 10 Instagram questions answered

[ 10 ] You’re in Canada. Where did you find all your Scandinavian home decor items?

Canadian selection when it comes to Scandinavian design is abysmal. We have a few shops that stock my favourite brands (Ferm Living, House Doctor, Normann Copenhagen, Bloomingville) but they are generally ridiculously marked up. So I usually order directly from Europe. Shipping costs  are surprisingly low most of the time and I’ve only had to pay duties twice in about 20 orders, which is pretty good. If I had to pay import duties on every single item I order from Europe then some items would make more sense to buy from Canada, absolutely, but ( a ) the European selection is much better and ( b ) my import taxes gamble has clearly paid off. (Do at your own risk though, of course. I’ve found that heavy items are more likely to get taxed so I usually stick to ordering fabric storage bins, cushion covers, that sort of thing.)

My favourite shops to buy from are: RoyalDesign.com (UK – $15 shipping or free over $500), FineNordic.com (Denmark – shipping cost based on your order but the prices are really good), ScandinavianDesignCentre.com (Sweden – $19 shipping or free over $199), and Jelanié (Hungary – shipping cost based on your order but they had the best prices for Fine Little Day items with a good sale selection).

If you’re in the U.S., you’re in luck. There are so many more options for Scandinavian design there. Some of my favourite shops are Amara, Yoox, and Unbeatable Sale (a little hard to sift through but if you know what you’re looking for, the prices are amazing!).

If you have any other questions, or a suggestion for a topic you’d love a blog post on (photography trips, travelling with littles, etc.), leave me a comment below!

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8 comments

Stephanie December 14, 2016 at 12:48 am

Thanks for taking the time to answer all of these questions. Love that you’re so ready to help – one of my favourite things about you 🙂

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Sina December 19, 2016 at 10:57 am

That’s so sweet of you to say, Stephanie! 🙂

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Natasha December 27, 2016 at 7:39 am

Thank you for your tutorial! I have to say this is so far the best step to step tutorial I’ve come across! I’ve struggled with achieving brightness/whiteness in my photos and this is post is a life saviour <3 Thank you so much!

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Sina December 29, 2016 at 11:58 pm

You’re very welcome! I’m glad it helped you! I also struggled with my whites / brightness for a long time and couldn’t find anything suitable online so I figured there were a lot of other people who would appreciate a how-to 🙂

Reply
Carey Helmick April 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm

This was really helpful! You’ve inspired me! The two most helpful tips were 1) taking a test shot OF whoever will be taking your picture. I’m so picky but bad at giving directions, so this will be really handy! 2) tips on creating a more minimalist feed. Thank you!

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Sina May 15, 2017 at 1:53 am

Hi Carey, so glad these tips helped! The test shot was such a game changer for me. I’m terrible at directions as well and, you know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words 😀

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Joanne August 4, 2017 at 12:32 am

It’s incredibly rare to find a blogger nowadays that is willing to be so transparent and generous with their tip giving. Your honesty and compassion for newer bloggers is so evident and doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank you so much!

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Sina August 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Your comment just made my night, thank you so much Joanne! So happy that there are people like you who love and appreciate this kind of transparency. It’s what I always look for in other bloggers, so I wanted to be able to do the same with my blog 🙂 🙂 🙂

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