Make the Most of Instagram: Build Your Brand | Gareth Pon | Skillshare

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Gareth Pon, Filmmaker : Photographer : Creative Consultant

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8 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:47
    • 2. Assignment: Curate 9 Photos

      2:29
    • 3. Profile Picture and Bio

      6:04
    • 4. Curating Photos

      3:58
    • 5. Editing for Brand Consistency

      3:13
    • 6. Posting: Captions, Hashtags, Cross-Posting

      5:13
    • 7. Troubleshooting

      1:44
    • 8. Final Thoughts

      1:29
54 students are watching this class

About This Class

Did you know there are more than 300 million Instagram accounts? Learn how to stand out with this 30-min class from Instagram star Gareth Pon. With tactical lessons on perfecting your profile picture and bio, achieving consistent feel in your photos, and effectively cross-posting to outside platforms, this class is ideal for photographers, social media managers, and everyone who wants to grow their brand on Instagram. Plus, the online class gallery is an amazing opportunity to share photos and exchange feedback on your artistic and branding choices.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hey, guys, my name is Gareth Pon. I'm a photographer and filmmaker from South Africa. I shoot people, I shoot places, I shoot locations, and I use a plethora of devices just to fill my feed up with as many photos as I can. I find myself shooting on a whole lot of devices whether it's a photo or DSLR. I'm always trying to capture some sort of story, some sort of life. I do a bit of consulting mainly on tourism, college branding with just various companies who are looking to grow a really strong brand on Instagram. This class is really about how do you best present yourself by differentiating yourself from others with a unique perspective and style, from sharing different photos, how do you construct your profile picture, your buyer, a little details here and there that really give you the upper hand of how to stand out from those millions of other users out there. You should take this class. I think that the people here really just want a quick reset on their profile. Maybe there's a who are trying to find a star and also those who really just want take Instagram to the next level and get it to the place where they can use it as a place for really good exposure. What this class will also really help you with is just being able to build a consistent use of presentation on and grow your follower on Instagram and grow your influence on the platform. 2. Assignment: Curate 9 Photos: The project for this class is just being able to share and curate nine photos. The reason why it's nine photos is that those are the first photos you see when someone lands on your profile. Being able to create and pair those with other things like your bio or your profile picture and the links and share-ability from your platform is just something that's really important, it's the first impression and those nine photos really just build up your online gallery within the space. So, what you'll learn in this class is just how to figure out your brand, what brand actually means, and just setting up nice platform and a foundation for you to grow that brand more effectively. It also allows you to be more intentional about how you share photos in what you shoot, and also to gives you a bit of direction in terms of where you might want to go. It's very loose around the materials you can use. So, you can either use existing photos which you've curated from the past, or you can go out and shoot new photos on your phone or your DSLR, it doesn't really matter what you use. If you decide to curate some older photos, that could be a nice quick and easy process, or you could alternatively go out and spend the next two weeks curating photos in a more intentional way. So, the trickiest part you might find in this project is just trying to identify what your brand is. So, by brand I mean differentiating your style from others and really just giving a unique perspective from who you are as a person. It may seem like something that's quite intimidating but the basis I can give is just to keep going at it because the more you the more you realize what you don't like and what you do like, and the more you keep doing it that passion will ultimately come out and your brand will actually just dictate itself. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with, I'm always here for feedback and the biggest thing is just to be honest with each other and yourself. I've learned a lot from really good friends, really other good photographers around me that I've been able to converse with in terms of style and personal brand and really that's what it's about, the feedback is what's most important because that's what you go from. What I really look for when I'm browsing Instagram and people that really catch my eye are unique perspective and someone that's really just found a bit of a niche on the platform because there're so many copies out there and there're so many duplicated profiles of styles and just subject matter. So, something that really stands out for me is just something that's unique and that's what ultimately I'll be looking for. 3. Profile Picture and Bio: So, by brand, I mean, the unique combination of photos that represent you best as a photographer, by a way of unique perspective and stuff. That really comes from setting up constraints and just themes for yourself that just aid you forward in producing your brand. These are just a few profiles that I really love. Firstly, it's Lauren Lemon. She's a California based photographer, and she just has a real good consistency in her profile. Her style is really consistent, her subject matter works really well, and just the way that she presents her photos, it's quite personal, it gives a nice behind-the-scenes perspective into her life. Her profile picture, again, Lauren Lemon, lemon links back to yellow. So that profile picture is something that's quite consistent across all her social platforms, and that works really well. So, someone else is Ryan. He's a Portland based photographer actually. His bio is a bit more clean, into the point, but the thing that really stands out it's just the way that he posts photos. It's a unique style, he's got some great portraits. If you go into his photos, you'll see that the captions he uses also just really well thought out and give detail into his space. Then lastly, the school has been one of my favorites for a while. Her bio is just really honest. Quitepoem is quite a good name, and it's cool how she presents herself. She puts her name there, a little imperfect creature, tells us where she is, and then contact details. Her profile is just full of real, nice, consistent, stylistic features. Maybe think from the cropping, to the space that you put into her profile, to the way that she lays out her gallery is just something that really works well. When choosing your profile picture, there's three things you need to consider. Firstly, is the color of the background that you're against. The background can often draw or push attention away from who you are as a person. Secondly, is your post. A post can be either very inviting or it can dictate who you are in terms of character. Lastly, your expression on your profile picture can be something that's either very inviting or very uninviting. I currently have a profile picture just of myself in a chair getting a shave, but that's merely for November. I have got that up there just to drive that campaign that I'm part of. But I'll go through two other profile pictures that I was considering. So firstly, I had this one. Which is a nice sauce and focus, good pose, but it sort of, it doesn't say, "Hi I'm Gareth Pon, come say hello to me. I'd love for you to talk." So, what I actually decided on was this profile picture. And the reason I chose that one was because it just gives like a full expression on my face, and it's got a nice gradients in the background and it's more inviting than the other photo. Also, when considering a profile picture, I mentioned that you need to decide what color is in the background. It's nice having a really good solid colors like Lauren, she's got a yellow background. It's nice, it catches the eye, if she leaves a comment somewhere or pops up on someone's feed, that image stands up straightaway. I prefer to just keep my profile as freely as possible, as inviting as possible, and I try to inspire through little things like expressions and poses in my profile picture. So, a few quick examples of what you shouldn't use. I've got these photos on my phone. They're all like little selfies that I took. These are photos that aren't really compelling, they may look nice, full-screen, but keep in mind that your profile picture is something that's really small. The reason why I didn't use any of these is firstly, I look really weird on this photo. Secondly, this photo, it's cool but it hides my face. The backgrounds is really great in this one, but again, it's more about who you are other than what's behind you. This is a cool photo to get at Instagram headquarters but it's too small in this profile picture, and I'd rather it be above my torso. And this one is just way too random. Just keep that in mind, you want to have a photo that's nicely presented and gives it a good impact and a good initial first impression. So next up, we're going to be talking about your bio. Your bio is really just a small snippet into who you are as a person. A lot of people just use one word, things, or emoticons, or something in their bios and that's fine, if that's what your brand dictates, but if you want to have something that gives people more insights into who you are, your bio needs to be something that just adds a little extra bits to your profile. On my bio, at the moment, I've got a quote. I always change up that quote depending on how I feel, and the reason I put up the quote, I always like to ask questions and questions that people can ask themselves. So it currently says, "If our footsteps spoke, where would they take us? " I'm traveling a lot at the moment, so that quote sort of links up to me being able to travel and sort of align my footsteps to take me with that field. I always suggest to people that they should put in what they do outside of Instagram. So, it's cool to have something in there that's a bit quirky, contact email [email protected] and then I also put my current location. It's just a nice easy entry point into who I am as a person and that's really what a bio needs to be. It needs to be a little snippets and insight into more of who you are. So creating your bio is really fun, changing your profile picture or adding it up, maybe get somebody else to run the bio for you. Now that you've got all the tools and tips, go ahead and do it yourself. 4. Curating Photos: In terms of just being able to curate your gallery on your personal profile, things you can consider is just being able to see how colors work together between each individual photo. So, I'll go out and I'll try and find those fine moments that really say a lot more without using words. If you can find something that's a huge drawcard for when you're out shooting, then that's what you need to focus on. If you're naturally drawn to just shooting colors, then go for it. If you're naturally drawn to finding shapes and natural patterns within nature or whenever you're out, then that's what you needed to be shooting. So, don't try and duplicate what others are doing, try and find something that you really love, and that will ultimately make your photography unique. So, next up, you need to think about constraints. Constraints are really like little rules that you set up for yourself that challenge you creatively, and what that means, when you go out, you have these rules in the back of your head, and they almost limit you to what you can choose, and within that limitation, that's where I find that I'm most creative is. It's just being able to capture a photo with these little rules in place. Constraints really help because it brings about consistency within your feed. You look for very specific things when you're out shooting. Also, it gives you a bit of space to be able to be creative within those limitations. I always try and find composition first within my photos. I love to just tell the stories of people. Lastly, in terms of architecture, I just love showing the underbelly of architecture. So, the structure, the way that it comes together. Those details always really stand out for me. A friend of mine loves going out and just taking portraits of people with aged faces. That's something that's really cool. Just being able to look for something very specific, and then, as soon as you see it, you know exactly what you want to shoot. You've got to really just think about your profile as a public exhibition space. If you're the curator of the gallery, you're not going to just put any and every photo in there. So, don't post everything that you have. Think about what you post and how that's going to relate to the other photos that you have in your existing gallery. Your gallery is ultimately your own exhibition space. So, this is a bright yellow. I always shoot yellow whenever I can because it's my favorite color. As you can see, I try and put somebody in each and every shot if I can, and that's really something you've got to consider is, when you post your photos, do they work together with each other or do they not? If they don't, then you just either shoot your photos in a certain way that they match with each other, but also just keep that in the back of your mind, that you are shooting photos to fit within an existing gallery. As soon as somebody lands on your profile, they have to get the impression that all these photos were taken by the same photographer. So, either you can mix it up and vary the way you post your photos or you can pair photos up intentionally. Like I've done with this photo here of the waterfall. Then, it links up to a water photo of the same waterfall. Then, it links up to another portrait, but in the same area. So, my main constraint is location. I'm currently in San Francisco, it's my first time here, and I'm just experiencing the city through different people and places that I've been visiting. So, as you go out and select or shoot these nine photos, keep in mind the constraints you set up for yourself, and also the different elements that give you a bit of guideline while you're shooting these photos. Don't forget to upload to the project galleries, so you can get some instant feedback, but also remember that the photos you take will ultimately reflect what your brand is. 5. Editing for Brand Consistency: So, one of the things I mentioned is consistency in the way that you edit your photos. Currently my gallery looks like this. The last photo that I posted was this one. It's got a lot of red, a bit of blue in it. So, I decided to select this photo as my next one's post, mainly because there's good color variation. There's a little bit of blue and a little bit of yellow. I got lucky enough that the light was naturally like this. This photo isn't edited yet. This would contrast really well to this chart next to the Golden Gate Bridge. Almost always use this app Synapsid. It's free. It's available on iOS and on Android. It's great. It gives you good control of the color and also tweaks here and there that you can do on your photo. First thing I'll do is I'll tap whatever just to see what it does to the photo. Sort of a good way to measure it up to what you have and what the app thinks it should look like. If you hold down this top right block you can see a before and after photo. I'll just cancel that, so visually that's in my mind at the moment. Next thing I'll do is I'll go to tune image and I'll drop the ambiance just to make it a bit dramatic. I'll probably drop the brightness a bit and the shadows a bit. Then what I'll do is I'll add a little bit of warmth, because I like my photos to be slightly warmer than natural, but not enough for you to see just enough for you to feel. Lastly what I'll do is I'll use this little magical button called center focus. So, the way this works is that you can literally change and mix up the light within your photo. So, I'll always accentuate the natural light source which is obviously coming from these trees here and the way this app works, this option works, is that you can set up, firstly the range of what's affected, so the size of the circle. I'll always turned down blur because I don't like blurring my shots. But when you turn down auto-focus, that'll, as you can see that's sort of a dramatic example. But out-of-focus will affect the outside of the circle and inner focus or inner brightness will affect the inner brightness of a photo. I love adding a bit of a vignette and accentuating the natural light. So I'll put the out-of-focus at about 40, bring it up to where the light is coming from. Then I'll drop that light a bit more. See the before and after. You can see it's a bit of a difference. That's nice and effective. So, I see now that this photo needs something a bit more. So, I'll go back to tune image, up the contrast a bit, but then I feel like it needs a bit of saturation. I'll bring that out, just so that a little bit of blue, a little bit of yellow comes out. Commit that, save it out. 6. Posting: Captions, Hashtags, Cross-Posting: That's a way to add consistency is actually using the Instagram filters. To a lot of people, that's a no go zone because people think they're really ugly, but if you use them in the right way, they can come through really nice. I'll add a bit of warmth, almost always. Again, just to bring through that consistency. Then I'll drop the contrast here until about 25. But then, the reason I do that is I go to Lo-Fi. So, if you tap Lo-Fi twice, you can adjust the intensity of that filter that you're adding. So, let's bring it up to about 30, see the before and after, and you can see it's a bit more dramatic and a bit more darker. So, I use Lo-Fi as a consistent filter. Then, lastly, just particularly for this photo, I want maybe just to up the saturation by two, see what that does. Always, always name the location. So, I shot this photo at Mount Davidson. Push that to Foursquare. If you got a Tumblr, link that through too. Then writing up the caption and think about what mood it goes through, and where you took the photo. So, I really love the natural colors that are in this photo. So, I'll probably talk about that and how it accentuates the mood. I like to just bring up the emotion of the photo, and say what it's saying to me in the caption to give my followers an insight of how I was feeling at that moment. Looking at this photo, I think what I'll say is, "The natural hues at the the top of Mount Davidson." It's a little hashtag. Sometimes, I like to add a quickie hashtags just so people can see that I do have a sense of humor. Then what I will do next is I'll just mention the people who were with me in that photo. Exploring a bit more of San Francisco with thatcliffguy. Then, lastly, what I'll do is I'll tag Cliff in the photo, obviously where he is. Things I also like to do is use some of my favorite hashtags: #huffpostgram, links straight back to Huffington Post. I like to use one cool #whileinbetween, which is a traveling hashtag, and I'll click share. But then, I'll also add hashtags that go through to various communities that I like to be part of. For example, like Huffington Post, that just gives that extension to communities that you want to be part of. So, what people usually do is they'll share their photo directly to Facebook and Twitter without thinking twice about it. With Twitter, it removes the image, you just posts a link when you share it. So, if I want to traditionally do that, I can just say Share. In Twitter, that link will look like this. There's no preview of that image at all. So, I'm going to delete that, and what I'm going to actually do is copy then share URL, go back to Twitter, post the brand new tweet, select the photo that I just posted, and write a unique caption for Twitter because the Twitter audience likes to read their 116 characters. So, I'll say, "Exploring Mount Davidson and capturing the hues of nature." Actually, paste the Instagram URL in that photo. Then, again, I'll tag thatcliffguy. Done, and I will tweet the photo. Then if I tap that photo, the link on the photo, it actually goes to my Instagram profile. Sharing your photo to Facebook is quite easy. If you do at standard, it will share it straight away. But what I like to do is I add my link to my Instagram profile on the actual caption just before I share it. So, what that does is it lets people know on Facebook that I actually posted it from Instagram and it's not just a photo that I randomly uploaded to Facebook. So, I'll share that. I'll just refresh it, and there it is. So, the nice thing about that is that the caption comes through, everything comes through, but my Instagram link is directly there, and if people want to go through and follow me, then they can. Don't just use random hashtags that just make your photo and your feed look really, really messy. Be more specific and more intentional. Go find some communities that you can associate yourself with and use their hashtags in order to get, maybe, a feature here and there on their accounts. 7. Troubleshooting: So, just a quick troubleshooting guide. If you go back to your profile, keep in mind that there are few things that you need to be aware of. First off is, try and keep the consistency of quality of photos when you post. Don't post an image just for the sake of posting it. Make sure that your ongoingly curating your feed to best represent your brand. You don't always need to post a photo at the specific time of the day or whatever it may be. Just make sure that when you post a photo, there's intention behind it, make sure it's been edited well, and make sure it fits in the space within your gallery. It's not only about Instagram. So [inaudible] your main platform to share photos and curate your gallery, but the best thing about that is that, you can share those photos to other platforms, and you can do it in a way that it gets the best exposure. The biggest mistake you can make when curating your own brand and your own profile is that, you can instantly result to just duplicating what someone else is doing. Firstly, it's boring and it's not unique, so just be careful that you don't get caught up in that trap because it's so easy to just do that, and the way to fix that is to keep challenging yourself, and keep learning, and keep trying to find out the best practices that you understand within your own style. That comes from getting feedback from others. It comes from making mistakes. Don't be scared of making mistakes, because the more mistakes you make, the more you'll realize what actually you really love. Then lastly, the best thing to do is figure out what you really hate, because sometimes knowing what you hate helps you understand what you love. 8. Final Thoughts: Make sure that you curate who you follow. Curating what you see visually is also very important because if you don't do that, then you don't have a source of inspiration firstly, and then secondly, if you consume visual images that aren't inspiring, you're going to just reproduce images that aren't inspiring. You've always got a bit of a story to tell. So currently, my story has been the travels that I've been on. People will be expecting to see what the next page of your story is, and by you sharing that image, it gives them insights into where you are at that moment. Instagram can be a platform that gives birth to a lot of other creative things. The more creative mediums you're exploring, the more exciting it is for not only yourself, but also for your audience on Instagram. So, keep pulling up other side projects, keep pulling up things that link back to your Instagram feed and give it more content, but make sure those side projects also live alongside what you're doing on Instagram. I really love that photography has given a lot of people all around the world a perspective to share with the world. Now that you know all these tools, go out and make the most of your Instagram feed. I look forward to seeing those nine photos uploaded to the gallery and look forward to giving feedback to all of you guys out there who are part of this project.