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Victoria woman uses Instagram to overcome insecurities

By chirst
July 30, 2012 at 2:30 a.m.
Updated July 31, 2012 at 2:31 a.m.


Tips for taking good Instagram photos

• Don't just point your camera phone at things you want to photograph. Try to line things up in frame. A cluttered frame can often be distracting to the eye. You want the viewer to know where to look and what the center of interest is.

• Think in square frames. It's harder to shoot a rectangular photograph and make it into a square if you aren't thinking about what the end result will look like. Same goes for verticals.

• Compose and zoom with your feet. Get close to things, it'll make the viewer feel like a part of the image.

• Think about perspective. Chances are the height you naturally hold your phone at isn't always the best perspective for a photograph.

• Don't overdo it. There is such a thing as too much color/filter/contrast/etc.

• Look at other good work. What makes photos you like different than ones you don't. What qualities do you see in your own photos?

• Experiment. Play with new editing apps. Try new toning techniques or styles.

• Some popular editing apps include Camera+, Snapseed and Hipstamatic. Squareready is great for making sure the image you want to photograph will fit in Instagram's square frame.

Tips for using Instagram

• The Home icon is where you will see a stream of photos from people you follow. You can like photos by double tapping them. If someone leaves a comment on your photo, be sure to include their handle/username in the comment so they know you have responded. For example, @radstam thanks, I took this camel photo at the zoo.

• The star icon next to home is called the Explore tab. You can look up users or search hashtags. For example, if you really like camels, you can search #camels and you will see all the photos Instagram users have tagged with #camels. This is also helpful for finding users with similar interest in photography that you can follow.

• The middle button that looks like a camera is for uploading photos. You can use this to take a photo or click on the lower left icon to select a photo from your photo album. Refer to tips on how to take good photos. Once you have a good photo, experiment with the filters. The icon that looks like a sun in the lower left hand corner, after you have selected a photo, is for making photos more vibrant. It's called the Lux effect.

• You can remove the border from your photo by tapping on the top left hand corner picture frame icon.

• When you're done editing, tap on the green check mark. Refer to your Instagram etiquette tips when writing a caption. You can choose a location to tag the photo to. The next time someone takes a photo in that same location, they can look at all the other photos tagged there.

• You can also share your photo on other social media sites to encourage friends to check out your photos.

Tips on Instagram Etiquette

• Don't copy other people's photos. It's lazy, uncreative and probably illegal.

• Don't just take a bunch of photos of your cat/dog/feet/food/baby. Everyone will have a couple of these, but try to think out of the box.

• Don't wait until the weekend to upload 20 photos at once. Instagram is a social media tool just like Twitter and Facebook. Don't spam everyone with a play-by-play of your weekend picnic.

• Hashtags are a great way for users you don't follow to find your content when it's relevant. Don't take a photo of a fruit bowl and try to tag it #apple #orange #banana #fruit #bowl #fruitbowl #orangeyougladididntsaybanana. That's overkill.

• Don't post screenshots of notes or a drawing. Instagram is about sharing photos not post-its.

I'm not 16 anymore.

That's what Kim Pickens, 43, thought when she moved back to Victoria after 22 years in Houston.

After a confident life in Houston - becoming a wife, a mother of five and a professional - Pickens said she battled with insecurities when she moved back, faced with old peers and their old perceptions of who she was.

Little things, like wearing a flower in her hair or not putting on makeup for a trip to the grocery store, made her feel judged.

She got to where she didn't even want her picture taken.

"It captures something I wasn't prepared to look at - I'm not 16, I'm 43. I don't look the way I used to. I have matured," Pickens said.

Pickens decided in May that instead of deleting all the pictures people took with her in them, she would just take the pictures herself daily and then post them on Instagram.

The pictures go up whether she is wearing makeup (or not), having a good day (or not) or fixed her hair (or not).

She believes this cyber photo diary is boosting her confidence.

"It forces me to look at myself everyday and not to pretend to be someone I'm not, but to acknowledge that when I look at those pictures, I'm OK with who I am at that moment," Pickens said. "That is what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to be the best I can be, every day."

Sharon Whitley, a licensed clinical social worker at Dr. Uri Gonik, Ph.D. & Associates in Victoria, believes Pickens' Instagram therapy correlates to counseling she would do in her office, called flooding.

Flooding, Whitley explained, is used on stable patients who want to face a fear. For example, someone afraid of riding an elevator would ride an elevator multiple times a day to overcome that fear.

"I think it really does help them to grow as a person to say, 'This is me with all my flaws and I'm starting to accept that, and I would like you to accept it with me,'" Whitley said of Pickens' therapy. "That is a very strong, confident statement ... If you can feel that strongly about yourself, you are standing on very firm ground."

She would not, however, recommend the Instagram therapy to her patients because Internet bullies can be vicious.

Pickens agrees it is not for everyone.

"My husband would never do this," she said laughing. "I think he thinks it is a bit odd."

Despite the potential for bullies, however, Pickens is not the only one using Instagram as a form of therapy.

Diana Jenner, a woman Pickens follows on Twitter from Corvallis, Ore., started the self-portraits in May.

"I want a reason, many reasons perhaps, to love my aging self. I'm not 20 anymore and I don't look 20 anymore. I love my 40s," Jenner said. "I've quieted many voices, the 'not good enough' ones, by gazing upon my own self with the same eyes I see my loved ones."

Jenner has been doing the Instagram portraits since May also.

"I accidentally took a belly picture, I breathed deep and posted it," Jenner said. "That's as honest as I've ever been and it feels good."

Two other women Pickens follows on Twitter also practice the Instagram therapy.

Pickens believes it is really helping.

"I think I am getting to the point where I am not as self-conscious," Pickens said. "I can be myself more here, I can be a little more open."

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