Life is picture-perfect for millennials and Generation Z, at least the ones with visually appealing Instagram feeds.

It’s 2018, and having aesthetically pleasing content (or a substantial following) can make up for a myriad of shortcomings, including a lack of personality or social anxiety.

In short, you are your Instagram feed.

Maintaining a consistent theme or flow throughout your feed can be difficult, especially in the midst of school, work or whatever else keeping you from spending every waking moment posing against a white backdrop with an array of cacti.  

Below is a guide on how you can improve your feed from students who have mastered the art of Instagram aesthetic. 

Consistency is key.

Choosing the right filter can seem overwhelming. With so many options, using a different filter for each picture seems like a good compromise for variety, but this can create a visual mess.  

“If you use filters, use the same one,” Izabella Varella, a 20-year-old at Iowa State University recommends. “Stop switching it around.”
Izabella, who is also the photography director for SIR magazine, Iowa State University’s student magazine, says she focuses on symmetry and consistency in color schemes.  

“If you have too much going on, it can get overwhelming,” Izabella said.  “Post what you want, but don’t be messy.”  

Avoid over-editing.

Over-editing is a mistake many Instagram newbies have made, and it’s always embarrassingly obvious. You’re trying to convince outsiders these pictures are your everyday life. If you can’t stack on multiple layers of sunglasses without looking tacky, you should reconsider stacking filters.

Toobah Wali, a 21-year-old pharmacy student in Philadelphia, recommends straying from Instagram’s preinstalled filters and opting for more comprehensive photo editing applications such as VSCO. Rather than loading on the filters, she prefers to “edit to enhance.”   

“On VSCO, you can adjust how filtered you want a photo,” she said. “I aim to lessen the filter and keep it around +6.”  

Her favorite filter on VSCO right now is HB1 or any of the E series filters.  

@toobahx that New York glow ✨

Some photos may not need a filter. Adjusting other photo features can help enhance your photo without doing too much.  

“I play around with the exposure, contrast and sharpen features, but most of the time I slightly adjust the sharpness,” Toobah said.

Focus on variety.

Incorporating different types of content can help enhance the overall flow of your feed. Toobah tries to incorporate food, outfits, skylines and flowers.

Snapping a quick photo of your brunch, or flowers on your way to class can do wonders, as long as you get the angles and lighting right.

“Flowers are best to add some color to your feed,”  she said.

Screenshot and delete.

The screenshot tool’s typical use is for spilling the “tea,” but Farida Eltigi, a 21-year-old Egyptian art student in London, uses the tool to assure photos complement her vibrant feed.

@faridaeltigi The Institute of
@faridaeltigi The Institute of

“I post it, and then screenshot it,” Eltigi said.  “Then I delete it, so I see if it matches my feed.”

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Be you.

If your feed is void of all authenticity, it loses an essence only you can provide, and your feed will inevitably get lost in a black hole of genericness that gets dismissed without even a simple “like.”

Izabella takes pictures impulsively and tries not to plan, allowing her to avoid letting her feed conform to other people’s normative standards.

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“I don’t want my insta to be for other people; I want it to be for me,” she said.  “Stop posting pictures for your followers and post pictures because you want to.”

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