29 January 2016

How to Instagram (Or at least one instagram-er's thoughts on the subject)


During my unintentional hiatus from blogging last summer I often found myself wondering why I couldn't seem to pull together a post. For one thing, summer has its own special rhythm, and there are things like visitors & traveling to make space for. But as the hot weeks continued to flutter pastlike book pages sent turning uncontrollably by a mischievous windweeks became months, and I realized that I was rethinking several things, including why I blog.

Ultimately, it's because I want to share with others—mainly all that I find so beautiful about this world/creative life. But it seems to take me an inordinate amount of energy to collect images & thoughts and synthesize them into a post that feels worthwhile enough for you to take the time to read; there are already so many people out there who have the routine of blogging down beautifully; they know how to say so much with few words, or a single photograph. I've been feeling overwhelmed by all the competition, for lack of a better word...and, with posts that aren't regular enough to attract or reach a very big audience, I have found myself asking what I actually bring to the tableand who is still sitting there. And I've been wondering if my resources should not be going instead toward more designing/creating/art-making, for which there is never enough time...

Enter Instagram. One reason I finally decided to get a smartphone was so I could participate in this new—and "instant"way of sharing. Well...! I don't think how I approach it could be called insta-anything, but I am having fun. And I'm happy to be sharing more than I have managed on my blog in recent months.

The irony is that the process is still fairly time-consuming for me. Despite having a pretty decent camera on the phone, I find I am now posting mostly images from my Nikon; they tend to be so much better. (Though there are exceptions.) Since I was inclined to upload my phone photos onto the computer before posting anyway (the screen, while huge compared to that of my old phone, is still too small to for me to register all the details), at least it's no longer two extra steps. I know that the typical instagram-er is usually seeing phone-sized images, but I like to have a full sense of what I'm posting. Plus I enjoy seeing how the photos look together...which leads me to my next idiosyncrasy. I've been posting sets of three all at once, and with some kind of commonality (perhaps noticeable only to me!usually by color/shape/composition); that way the arrangement makes some sense as a whole when viewed in a web browser. Never mind that most people see the images on their phones, one at a time, and mixed up in between the latest from all of the people they follow!

Which brings me to another thing that I can't quite get a handle on—how is it possible to give the attention due to all of the photos that are posted every day? Even with the relatively small number of accounts I have started to follow, I struggle to keep up; when I miss a day or two, the quantity of content that's appeared is astounding. When it comes down to it, I think that the very essence of social media simply befuddles me. For someone whose nature is to contemplate & to savor, it is actually a very non-native experience. (Clearly there are deeper issues going on here!) Yet, despite these "challenges," I do love all that I discover through other people's photos.

So, while I acknowledge the mis-alignment with my slowly-evolving/gradual/process-driven way of creating & sharingand my resistance to being "smart" about instagram-ing (i.e. posting one image at a time, multiple times a day, as seems to be the norm)I am finding my own way. There are numerous reasons why we each choose to take & share pictures; personally, I consider it a way to learn—an essential element of my creative journey—so I will let that continue to guide me. I would love to hear how the rest of you are navigating the world of Instagram/social media if you are inclined to elaborate!

I realize that I've ended up going on a bit of a rant here, when really I just wanted to collect some of my Instagram photos into a sort of "catch-up" blog post. And so here are the ones I've chosen, with descriptions/notes...

The group of six at the top of the page are the most recent, and include some card designs for Studio Milledisegni (my new design studio, which will launch this fall, and also the name of my Instagram account); a couple of Arno reflections; and the Blackwing 602 pencils that I love (just a opened a fresh new box of 12).

Among the next nine are this year's crop of paperwhite bulbs, as well as some updated photos for my website, which has been undergoing a much-needed "renovation": One of my cityscape paintings; a view of Four Rooms of One's Own, an artist's book I created in 2010; and some shots of Mise en place, my BookArtObject title (you may remember this from various blog posts in 2014...it will finally be getting a proper page on my new website).


Next are a couple more Arno reflections, as well as new incarnations of my Elements of Peace project; some of you may recall the copper leaves that I made in honor of International Peace Day in September 2014 (and will recognize some of the images below). On behalf of others, I have continued to add new leaves to the olive tree at the local rose garden, and the concept has been extended to some personal projects recently. My daughter & I chose six words each to type on to leaves for our Christmas tree (bottom-right image)—we took turns randomly drawing one on each of the "Twelve Days of Christmas"and I also made a special set for my nephews in Sydney.


The next group of nine = some winter-in-Florence photos, including preparations for our winter solstice celebration (lots of white candles & streamers + pears for a caramel-y pear tart tartin). The bottom-left image is our "Christmas" tree before we decorated it. After years of struggling with how to address the Christmas tree issue (I love having a real one, but feel terrible sacrificing a whole tree for the sake of enjoying that glorious pine scent for a month)—we invented alternatives with paper/books in the last few yearsI finally decided to get a simple twig-y tree that is bare except for LED "berries." In the spring we hope to move our copper leaves to the olive tree at the rose garden & cover our twig-y tree with tissue paper cherry blossoms...maybe it will wear something new each season, though I also love the simplicity of just the lights. As the winter solstice approached, it seemed a perfect symbol for the way I like to go into a new year: bare & uncluttered, after shedding the weight that builds up over the course of the year.



For this next set of photos we are reaching back to November... First are items I've been working on for Studio Milledisegni (business cards, labels, designs). The top-right image marks the completion of just over 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). We are still eating tons (kilos!) of the gorgeous bright clementines—can't seem to get enough—and roasting whatever vegetables are on hand. The bottom row was from Thanksgiving; my daughter came home with a handful of gorgeous leaves, which gave her the idea to bake leaf-shaped & other autumn-y cookies.


This set of six below was inspired by the Foo Fighters—I loved the cover of the EP they released (a free download) soon after our visit to Bologna to see them live. Top-right is my favorite stage lights moment of the performance by Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, the awesome opening act for the FFs. (And I thought the sky at sunset in Piazza Pitti, top-center, rivaled the concert lights!) For my daughter's birthday, I made a typography poster featuring a quote of Dave Grohl's (frontman for the FFs), and the bottom-center illustration was a gift for me from my daughter (a much-younger Dave Grohl, surrounded by FF lyrics). I had fun making a double-F pendant from copper wire, which I wore to the concert (instead of the typical music-themed t-shirt!); you might be able to make it out in the bottom-right photo.


Six more: "Halloween" candy; writing-themed books & my Olivetti Lettera 22 marking the kick-off of NaNoWriMo + small pleasures from the plant & produce markets...


Reaching all the way back to mid-October: Chilies of all levels of hot (and not) + the Arno + persimmons = autumn light at its best...


And, last for now: A handful of pictures from an outing to the weekly plant & flower market, including a gorgeous bouquet of dahlias + preparations for zucchini muffins + test prints for Studio Milledisegni notebook covers + a grapevine catching the sun (I was loosely following a green theme for these)...


So, hopefully that's given you a chance to see what I've been looking at through my lens these last few months. Thanks for catching up with me here! I do miss writing about the photos I take (one doesn't have the feeling of there being much space on Instagram and, with the swift turnover & sheer volume, I don't think people are much in the mindset for reading). Blogger definitely allows more flexibility, and "breathing space"... And, as always when I come back, I realize how much I miss seeing what everyone else is up to over here. I am looking forward to doing some catching up in the next few days...



  1. I struggle with Instagram, too. I can't see the pictures very well on the small screen, so I'm often ... not that happy with pics I have Instagrammed, when I see them on the computer. Flowers with bad spots. Not-sharp focus. Whatever.

    My blogging practice is to edit every pic. It is the very (VERY) rare pic that I post to my blog without any intervention.

    Putting those Instagram shots out "into the wild" without even being able to SEE them properly first.... Not really in my comfort zone.

    I have an iphone. Apple is really paternalistic about what *I* am allowed to do with *my* phone. I haven't found a way to put pics back on the phone, so I can then put them up on Instagram.

    Perhaps the next phone needs to have a different operating system....

    Anyway. I can see that what I want to do is probably not the "Insta" of "Instagram" -- but what I can't see (doing things in what I perceive to be "the Instagram way") is my darn pics, to know if they are ready for prime time!

    1. Thanks for your input...I do find it interesting to hear other perspectives/experiences with things I am also figuring out.
      When I first started using Instagram it didn't take me long to notice the same thing you did - that images showed up differently on the phone screen than in a web browser on the computer (color & detail-wise).
      I did a search online & found an application called "Android File Transfer," which has simplified the transferring of files between computer & phone. I had a quick look just now for something similar for iphone, and wondered if maybe this could be of some help to you?
      Here's hoping this alternative "media" becomes easier to navigate once we discover the "right" way - whatever that may be for each of us!
      - Lisa

    2. You're smarter than I am -- I should have thought to look online............ :-)

      I will have a look at imazing. Thank you!

      I'm sure I would put more photos up on Instagram if I could use my "big girl tools" on them first......... :-)

    3. I always figure that if I have a "problem" I am not the first...and thankfully lots of people (and businesses) like to present their "solutions" on the internet! I hope imazing helps - or that it leads you in the right direction.
      Looking forward to more photos on "ineedorange"...
      - Lisa

  2. I don't have any sort of 'phone, other than the landline. When I travel abroad I usually buy a pay-as-you-go mobile phone, which, these days, do have cameras. So Instagram is not for me, nor would I want it.
    My blog has been languishing in limbo for ages;I keep intending to re-vamp it, but other things seemed to have greater priority!
    You must choose whatever suits you,Lisa, but your blog remains in my reader so I can always luxuriate. Yes, I do believe that's the word I want.

    1. I must say that a (big) part of me envies a life without extra "gadgets" - ! That said, I don't think my "smart"phone will ever become an appendage - but I am definitely drawn to a couple of its offerings.
      I was wary of expressing my thoughts on/experiences with Instagram because I didn't want to come across as negative about something that I am, all in all, quite enthusiastic about. The sharing part, that is - it's the "popularity/game" aspect that I am can't relate to.
      As for the whole blogging thing...I think it's natural to go through cycles. Sometimes, as you say, there are bigger priorities, but you'll no doubt find your way back when the "right" time comes.
      Thanks for continuing to visit my blog when I manage to make it back here, Diane!
      - Lisa

  3. your thoughts on "social media" are so similar to mine...
    your photos and posts so very superior!
    I love your amazing creativity in all fields and enjoy tremendously discovering the latest of what you do, in all media!

    1. Hello, Anna ~ It's good to know that I am not alone in my thoughts on social media! And thank you so much for your generous words about my work...it's always lovely to have encouragement... And may I say: the same to you & your endless, gorgeous creativity!
      - Lisa

  4. Hi Lisa I think there is room for us all to consider the platforms we use; how we use them and why we use them. I regularly stop and consider why am I on twitter and what do I want to do with it - answer I want to receive information not provide it. Why am I on Tumblr - I like to wander thru gorgeous imagery for 15 minutes before I go to bed...etc. Each platform offers something different and I work hard to understand the point of each of them for me (and me alone). Otherwise I would be swamped and overwhelmed and never do anything! Thanks for your thoughts on Instagram - I am still working out how I want to use it. Go well, F.

    1. All good points, Fiona...thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts/how you use certain platforms (you've made me want to have a look at Tumblr! it's incredible just how many options there are out there right now).
      It's interesting how we are drawn to try different things, and I think it can just take time to figure out how to make them work best for each of us. And it's not necessarily the way that the majority of the people are doing it!
      - Lisa


Thank you for joining in on the dialogue; I appreciate your comments!
{Sorry about enabling word recognition, but I'm hoping it will alleviate the spam.}

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