Instagram Illusion: Behind the Scenes

Instagram Illusion: Behind the Scenes Reading Time: 6 minutes


I have a huge huge love for the Instagram platform- I’ve met wonderful people, have pushed myself to try new experiences or visit new places, I have developed my own style, all largely as a result of this photographic social medium. But, and I have said this before, Instagram has such a potential to be destructive if viewed and consumed in the wrong way. I briefly spoke of perfecting selfies through editing in a previous post, I have also spoken about following near-naked, impossibly beautiful women as role models on Instagram, and the self-conscious damage this can do.

Instagram: ailsarenk

So a photo may well be edited into perfection, and I hope that a lot of us have come to terms with that now- not every flawless face we see on Instagram was as flawless prior to the AirBrush app. But the difficulty comes with those Instagram accounts the depict the most glorious life in the world. We scroll through such images and can hardly help but set goals of reaching the same. But the fact is, these goals are totally unachievable. And this isn’t cynical old me declaring that high goals shouldn’t be set, of course they should. But there is a reality behind these images of perfection we see everyday- these people may well be able to have breakfast out every morning, or cook pizza in their back garden or wake up perfectly groomed in an incredible round bed overlooking the sandy beaches and rolling turquoise waves of the Mexican coast. (Ooops, got a little carried away with my own dream there.) But they also, inevitably, have family fall outs, worry about skin breakouts, have guilt somewhere on their consciousness or maybe they actually have no real friends. And these latter elements are the domains of their life that they will not share with the world, these are shattering to the illusion of reaching the dream. Yet, these are fundamental to human life- really, how can we appreciate the good without little bits of bad? So what I’m saying is, by all means, set goals inspired by the life of someone you follow (but please please please be original in this, their ideal will not always be the same as yours), whilst keeping in mind that the aspects you are following and aiming for are not the sole reality. Their feeds are made up of cherry-picked moments of the ideal… and if they seem to be posting about such ideals often enough to make it seem constant- then they just have more time on their hands to create such an illusion.

Love that ‘sun in the eyes’ photo…

Yeah look down- that’s better.

Wow… that sounded soooo negative. Instagram can be immensely inspiring, and actually since I cleared my following list of Alexis Ren- types, I find the platform a far more rewarding space. I follow people with similar interests to me (specifically brunch, fashion, travel and beautiful architecture), people who have a feed that resembles art in its intricate colour scheme and shaping, people who support one another with messages and comments. And these are the people who inspire my goals. Yet, I persistently remind myself, that what I am seeing is not their life in total, that there are negative parts, hidden from the illusion given to us. And actually I can hardly exempt myself from creating these illusions.

Oooo gorgeous red face…

Yep, further away is definitely better.

My Instagram is far, far from the level of beauty, creation or popularity of many of the incredible accounts that I follow. Yet I am all too aware of the illusion I create about my own life, albeit on a smaller scale. For example, any photos I take of food that I’ve made take wayyyyy too long. And, yes of course the food is semi-cold by the time I come to eat it (hence why most of the food I photograph is cold anyway- salad, breakfast bowl, etc). I frequently post photos of food that I have eaten out- which I am aware gives the impression of a very leisured lifestyle. In actual fact, I spend the majority of my days sat in a library with my nose in a book. These cafe photos, more often than not, are recycled from brunches or coffees I enjoyed months ago… guiltyyy.

A cold breakfast bowl can’t go cold… but meticulously cut apple stars can definitely go brown (which they did).

Oh look, a delicious Milkshed brunch from TWO YEARS ago.

As for the fashion and outfit photos I post, these take some serious time and money. Photographing an outfit requires a photographer- so I do the rounds of begging my various ‘Instagram husbands’ to embark on a hugely vain escapade. Fortunately, we have a great background wall outside our uni student house, so not too far to travel. Saying that, I have been on adventures into Birmingham city centre, or into London at which point finding places to change, staying warm and avoiding the prying eyes of smirking onlookers all become slightly difficult. Trust me when I say getting changed in the hub of a borrowed van in the middle of a public carpark is far from glamorous! (But thats a whole other story).

Yeah, my laugh is really pretty…

Serious is better.

Having achieved this, it’s time to take the photos. And as with (and I hope most will agree) selfie-taking, its a matter of taking thousands only to sift through and find, maybe, three half-decent ones. Trust me when I say that candid is more often than not can-did-not (okay that was a terrible pun.) – I mean, mid-speech is a truly awful look for me. But of course, I don’t really share the countless images that go into the trash! For a taste of the narcissistic photoshoot posing that goes behind my photos, watch Petite Elise’s vlog of our London looks a few months back (but bear in mind, this video is also carefully cherry-picked and edited!)

Ailsa stop talking, its not aesthetic…

Good- just let the sun do the work.

On the topic of outfit posts- my new turn towards a more fashion-orientated Instagram has well and truly  b r o k e n  my bank account. I’m serious, I got this shopaholic thing and suddenly I was well into my overdraft (helped possibly by the expense of a uni ski trip). So suddenly the ability to create the illusion of the perfect wardrobe has to fall through as I rely on older photos to keep up with my posting schedule. It’s a hard and expensive hobby, let me tell you. So there’s my reality- I have less than £0 to my name- but obviously I will do what I can to not show this on my illusion of an Instagram feed. And this is, believe it or not, truly the case with a lot of the luxurious feeds you see!

Is mid-blink sexy? No.

Hair covering face is definitely preferable.

So I didn’t want this to be a post poo-poo-ing Instagram in anyway, I reiterate, it can be a brilliantly inspiring platform. But this inspiration WILL be undermined if we fail to take everything we see with a pinch of salt. I find it so refreshing when ‘Insta-famous’ successes share moments of reality on their stories; when you hear the voice of some luxury-blogger and they just actually sound like you or me; or some insanely gorgeous fitness model reveals their non-posed/non-contorted bodies. Because we NEED to be realistic; we need to resemble humanity rather than unattainable perfection. And when we’re on the receiving end, we MUST remember that everybody has this reality, keeping this in mind makes ‘success’ a far more reachable and exciting goal.

So lets achieve some real stuff x

This is just a small shot of the thousands of attempts one outfit takes… I mean, this is ridiculous- but it’s the reality.