I absorb all of Sara Tasker’s content – her blog, her Instagram and her podcasts – maybe in the hope that some of her talent, style and confidence will rub off on me. So I thought I would have already heard most of what she has to say on the subject of photography and Instagram, but bought the book, Hashtag Authentic anyway to support my favourite blogger….
It turns out there’s a lot more to the book than I expected, and twice I’ve sat down to write a review of the whole thing, but have ended up being distracted by a couple of the details within it! First of all I experienced an Instagram confidence crisis as I realised where I’ve been going wrong, but wasn’t really sure how to fix it. Sara kindly responded to that post and suggested I shouldn’t worry about it; perhaps take a mixture of photos that tell about a moment, and also the flowers and landscapes that I enjoy taking. On my second attempt at writing this review, I ended up thinking about what was written on page twenty-two; all about generating ideas that involve magic moments of your day.
A quick update on that: I haven’t managed to tick many things off my list yet. Number thirteen – gathering sticks for the Rayburn – was the first one I tried and it took me ages to take – lots of walking backwards and forwards in front of the tripod with the camera on self-timer mode! And it was one of my least-liked photos ever! I’m not giving up though and my sneaky suspicions were correct – I was given a new tripod with an extension arm for my birthday a couple of days ago, so I’m now able to include my hands in shot for more photos in the future. (I can’t wait to give that a go!) Unlike my other prediction in that post though, it turns out I did manage to get a shot of the family of deer! It took a couple of weeks, but it was worth it and is one of my favourite photos I’ve taken.
Ok, let’s get on with the actual book review before I get distracted again! If you are new to Instagram or have been there since the beginning; whether you have thousands of followers or a handful, if you are at all interested in taking and sharing your photos, I really recommend you buy this book – it is so helpful and brimming with inspiration.
First of all, Sara Tasker has the ability to make you feel welcome, no matter what. There’s no right or wrong way to use Instagram; she’s just here to guide us if we want it; offer photography advice; give us cues to fill up with our own ideas; develop our unique style and give practical tips on how to use the app.
Even if the art of photography doesn’t interest you all that much, but you do like taking the odd snap on your phone, Hashtag Authentic will still be a book that’s useful for you. The Christmas before last, whilst visiting my parents, I made a conscious effort to take photos of as many moments as I could; not just the classic “Cheese” smiling group photo around the dinner table. None of these are good enough for my Instagram feed (for what I want my Instagram feed to be), but as a collection, they are some of my favourite family photos I’ve taken – and I’ve taken A LOT!
And this is what Sara Taster champions – “moments, not things.” And I’ve found that if you start to think of your photos in this way, not only will they probably be more interesting, it’s likely these are the ones you’ll be most glad you’ve taken when you look back in the future; it’s also more likely, if you choose to share them publicly, that these will engage more people too.
Hashtag Authentic is peppered with examples from Sara’s photography, and it’s easy to see why her account is so popular and she is well known as ‘The Instagram Queen’. Not only are her photographs beautiful, she has made it her business to become an expert on Instagram and is happy to pass on that knowledge for the price of the book (and also for free in her podcast, also called Hashtag Authentic). And it doesn’t skimp on information either – this isn’t a book full of her Instagram back-catalogue with the odd paragraph thrown in; there is plenty here to fill many enjoyable and inspirational hours of your time. In this review I’ve barely touched the surface of what the book has to offer; there are sections on how to take interesting photos of your life; constructive photo tips such as composition and what grabs the eye, along with practical matters such as using captions and stories and being safe on the app. If you’re still not convinced that an Instagrammer can write well, just take a visit to her blog, Me and Orla. Be warned though, if you haven’t been there before, be prepared to suddenly find you should have gone to bed a couple of hours ago.
I’ve loved photography ever since I can remember; I used to buy Practical Photography magazine every month even though we couldn’t afford it, and went to all the NVQ photography classes my local college offered in the evenings once my kids had gone to bed. Yes, they had their value, but if you want to improve your photography, really all you need is practice, and this book:
Have you read Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker? Let me know what you thought!
Linking with #sharealllinkup at Not Dressed as Lamb.