Instagram: Then and Now

Monday, May 16, 2016

Paper Bindings - Instagram: Then and Now - How my photos and numbers have changed since I joined Instagram and my goals for the future.

Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None

In case you haven't realized it, envy is my sin. I've always wanted to be that kid that excelled at EVERYTHING, had EVERYTHING, and preened under the spotlight of my adoring fans.

I get antsy when someone is better than me at some random thing I've never tried before in my life. So naturally I must then become an expert at it. Except, I'm bouncing from craft to hobby to sport -well, no, never sports- so frequently, I never excel at any of them.

2016 Is Bringing A Lot Of Changes To My Life

One thing that is becoming more and more of a daily/weekly habit is #bookstagram. (My Instagram Page)

I even had three guest posts featuring 3 of my favorite bookstagramers on the blog at the start of this year. (Bookstagram with Stacee / Bookstagram with Brittany / Bookstagram with Crini) Those posts have done nothing but fuel my drive to take better quality photographs and develop my own brand on Instagram.


When I joined Instagram in September 2014, I hadn't taken a planned photography in many years. And when you looked at my work, it showed. (We're also calling this the year of ever changing comforters, aka photo backdrops. Also, I won a whole lot more books back then.)

(Photographs are from the start until Florida trip/Christmas cookies photo near Minions candy bar.)

I was:
  • Quick to play with filters.
  • Forgetting about the rule of thirds.
  • Completely ignoring composition and never really planning any a shot.
  • Primarily using house/lamp lighting instead of natural lighting. 
  • Using the same handful of borders on nearly all of my photographs.
  • Hoping magically I'd improve and gain enough followers to take over the net.
I had:
  • 3 favorites on my first photograph and one comment. (The comment and one of the favorites was someone I knew prior to joining, so does it count?)
  • Posted a whole lot of photos online that today I'd print out just to burn instead of sharing.
  • Posted 5 photos and received 8 favorites within my first week.
  • Started my own personal photo-a-day challenge because I couldn't find a current one I liked. Also, failed to grasp the whole social interaction with challenges. Photos were mainly shots of spines, how boring to see over an over.
  • Posted one photograph that tied into my blog.
  • 4 followers as of the start of October 2014. Sadly I did not write down what my stats were by the end of the year.

Photographs I Still Like:

A photo posted by Carrie (@onceuponadreambooks) on
This was the first photograph I shared that I actually liked.

A photo posted by Carrie (@onceuponadreambooks) on
Back in the early days, I think my greatest photographs were outdoors and had nothing to do with books.

Just how bad is it that I haven't read some *cough cough* most *chokes* of these books I featured in photos in 2014?

How do your early photographs look? Cringe-worthy? Or are you proud of them?


Photographs of 2015 started out as as continuation of 2014: same style, same type of subjects, no real direction.

(Photographs pick up from Chistmas cookies near Minions candy bar and continue until the Christmas goodies wrap up picture.)

I was:
  • Still using filters/borders like crazy at the start.
  • Still photographing like a vampire without the sun at the start.
  • Still not planning my shots at the start.
  • Letting lower quality photographs sneak though because I was sadly focused on quantity, not quality. Like that would help me improve.
  • Rather depressed over my photograph quality and Instagram numbers.

I had: 
  • 11 likes and one comment on my first photograph of the year. Cookies will lure people in I guess.
  • Tried out this app that was supposed to help you make good collages AND I think those are my worst/tackiest photographs to date. Needless to say, I don't use that app anymore.
  • Started the year off with a few images that tied in to my blog and my blogging life. 
  • Finally stopped over using filters, started trying to plan my shots, and opened my windows to let in natural lighting by about April.
  • Started sharing videos.
  • Started watermarking my photographs towards the end of the year. If I don't want to mark it with my username, then I don't really want to post it.
  • Started using a foam board, and later poster board, to get white (more white, at least) backgrounds. But decided a straight white background was hard for me with the lighting I had/space I had to take photographs. Plus plain white backgrounds lacked something, and I had to figure out what I wanted out of it.
  • 169 followers when 2015 drew to an end.

Photographs I Still Like:

I think this is my favorite photograph I've taken during 2014 & 2015.

I started trying to take pictures outside.

I started getting back into tags and challenges and I think that's helped me improve from what I started out with.

How long has it taken you to improve yours skills in something once you decided it was worth the effort? If you haven't started yet, how long do you think it will take you to get better?


I started off 2016 with some bad photograph habits still, but I had seen improvement from when I first joined. Plus, and more importantly, I had the drive to improve more.

(Photographs are from the Christmas wrap up photo to present.)

I was:
  • Determined to improve.
  • Getting better at not posting just to post something. 
  • Trying to focus more on the design elements that make up the photographs.
  • Still chasing trends. (My one and only #SockSunday photograph got 39 likes.)
  • Seeing favorites more consistently in the double digits for (nearly, I believe) all my photographs. 

I had: 
  • 29 likes and two comments on my first photo of the year.
  • Really started going after challenges, looking for themes for photographs.
  • Started focusing on using # more often and being more mindful of the ones I chose.
  • Started adding a few different design elements into my photos. (B&W, B&W with select color.)
  • My highest liked photo to date. (80 likes and two comments for my shelfie collage.)
  • Reached 221 followers and posted nearly 600 photographs as of the end of April.

Favorite Photographs So Far:

A photo posted by Carrie (@onceuponadreambooks) on
I really love the angle and how bright this photo is.

This was an idea that came to me as I was randomly (and failing) to capture my steampunk idea for these books. Once I saw the image in my mind, I stopped at nothing (several hundred photos later) to get the shot as I envisioned it. (Which was harder than it looks because I kept losing feeling in my hand the way I was propped up to take the shot.)

This is my favorite inside cover from any book I've ever read to date.

How many photos on your Instagram page are you truly proud of? Have you found your style yet, or are you like me and still experimenting?

Upcoming Plans

  • I got a panel board that makes a great background. I've already taken several shots (some I think are my best works yet) that I love.
  • Focus more on the subjects and setting up a great shot.
  • Get some cooler (and free-cheap) props I can use over and over again.
  • Take a wider array of photos/angles to get the best shot overall for the setup.
  • Plan more prior to photo shoots ahead of time to spend less time figuring out what to do and wasting sunlight during the shoot. 

Glimpse at style in the works:


  1. hahaha, I deleted A LOT of my early pictures because they were AWFUL! XD
    I started with instagram on my iPod touch because I didn't have a smartphone at first and the bad quality really didn't help.
    And I think everyone who just starts goes crazy on the filters and frames and yeah, not using those anymore haha.

    LOVE that last picture of The Shadow Queen!!

    1. I'm fixing to delete a bunch of old pictures myself. I've been thinking a long time about it and it seems to be the right move for me, but I don't want to delete all of them so I can see my progress. Isn't it amazing the difference a smartphone can make on your photos? I;m hoping to eventually get a fancy camera for myself. It's been so long since I had one.

      Thank you. I'm loving my new direction. Now I just need to think of new ways to stage my photos. I think I need a stool too to make myself taller. lol

      Thank you for stopping by.

  2. Ahh this is AMAZING. And omg I would like to burn my instagram archives. XD Especially at the beginning?! I WAS AWFUL. But I keep them because it proves how far I've come *nods* This year especially, I kind of went from 100 likes to regularly getting 500 and IT'S ALL VERY EXCITING. Looking at everyone else's amazing photos also makes me want to work harder. <3 Crini's photos are #goals 😍 And I love how far you've come too!! That Shadow Queen photo is GORGEOUS.

    1. My Instagram archives of tears and laughs, so I certainly get that feeling. I think I might have a party and bake a cake if I get a photo with 100 likes. I like seeing everyone improving and success rates increase. It makes me feel like I can do it too. Thank you!

      Thank you for stopping by.


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