How to Use Instagram: A Tutorial for the Absolute Beginner

Class photo with Meriah in there somewhere again

Kicking off our first Thursday for iphoneography tutorials and themes for the jj_withalittlemoxie group (– which is pro-disability, pro-“special needs”, pro-diversity and all about living life with courage: create, connect and encourage!), I was going to pull together a Snapseed tutorial since I figure Snapseed is just a basic editing app that everyone should have and be using.

But no! I was asked to go a little farther even with a tutorial on HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM!

So here you go.

How to Use Instagram.

(next week: Snapseed or another basic editing app UNLESS there is something you’d rather learn? If so, holla in comments)

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History: Instagram (“IG” or “ig”) is a photo community. It used to be iphone-only, but then it expanded to droid. It was bought out by Facebook last year, and that’s when the integration between IG and other social media became much more seamless. It’s also when IG became view-able via the internet through instagram.com.

Hashtags: IG added hashtags (you know, “#” those things) to help users discover both photographs and each other. The more specific and relevant you are with a tag, the easier you can find your tribe. If you have a photo, for example, of your Deaf self hanging out on the Burning Man playa and if you tag it #deaf #burningman #playa #burner #Deafculture, for example, your photo will go to those hashtag groups and if you check it by clicking on those tags, you will find everyone else who tagged their photos the same! Your tribe! 

[this all makes sense, right? if not, bear with me, it’ll get easier – and feel free to ask LOTS of questions!]

Filters: the square photos and the filters that you can add over your photos (much like Lightroom Pre-sets) were what IG added that was new and unique. The filters make your standard blah photo look much less blah-full, in fact, it’s pretty blah-less with those filters! AND GUESS WHAT? Once you are tired of those filters, there are tons of apps (like Snapseed! Or lots of others that we will have tutorials for!) that will take your photo and do pretty anything you want with them. Even crunch them up visually like a ball, splice them up, or make them tell stories. I’m not joking.

Privacy: my friend Melissa was wondering about the privacy, like what happens when you share a photo from IG to Facebook and that photo is shared by your friends on Facebook? Does your photo move from your ‘private’ status to ‘public’? The answer is probably. As I understand it with Facebook, if you share a photo with friends and even if your account is private, if your friends share your photo, it’s not private any more.

I wouldn’t freak out too much over this because you have a good head on your shoulders and you know you shouldn’t be sharing stuff online that you absolutely don’t want to be made public. What with screenshots and photo-grab software, it’s really impossible to keep anything that you post truly private anymore. My best advice is to watermark.It’s not going to totally protect your photos, but it’s going to do a much better job than nothing does.

[Hmm. Maybe that tutorial next week should be on how to watermark your mobile photos? That might be more useful that Snapseed?]

Moving on! Let’s get going with the tutorial, shall we? The kids are going to wake up in about an hour…

THIS IS THE FIRST STEP!

Go to the app store on your phone. Look up “instagram”

you usually don't even have to type in more than "inst" - it'll just pop up, click it - IT"S FREE!
you usually don’t even have to type in more than “inst” – it’ll just pop up, click it – IT”S FREE!

Then go ahead and download it – “install”

 

Install. It's FREE!
Install. It’s FREE!

Yep, ‘install”. Like I said, it’s FREE!

(and this is kind of embarrassing; you get to see how many updates I have…it’s like you are looking in my underwear drawer or something)

All installed!
All installed!

Okay, so when it’s installed, it looks like this on your phone screen. Double click it to open it. Then set up your account.

My advice:

1. Use the email address you use for Facebook. That way you can share on FB if you want – it’s completely optional but there might be some point in which you’d like to, so why not make it easy from the get-go?

2. Choose a username you won’t bitterly regret later. If you are in doubt, just use your own name

3. When you get started, it’ll give you these options for looking up your Facebook friends and/or your email. Go for it! IG is fun with friends! You can always ‘unfollow’ friend that are feed-hogs (more on that later).

Once you have set up your basic shop, you are looking at your “feed”, which is the stream of photos from people you have followed

 

jamie!
jamie!

[Yes, I follow Jamie Oliver. He was a surprise ‘find’ but I really enjoy him – he posts fun stuff on his recipes and life and he just seems like such a joyful person. “Big love”, Jamie!]

So you are looking at those things on the bottom, the house, the star, the camera, the talk bubble and contact list thing. Right? Let’s go over them.

"EXPLORE"
“EXPLORE”

This is the STAR shaped icon. EXPLORE. I almost never go through this. It’s just like the random black hole that all photos are dumped into when you tag it #instagram. It’s crazy. Stay away or it will make your head spin. Instead, see where it says “search users and hashtags”? THAT”S GOOD. That’s USEFUL. Go there!

photo 1

 

This is where and how you find your tribe. Type in anything or anyone you want to connect with. Are you deaf? Great! type in #deaf and then go and visit the hashtag. Same goes for #downsyndrome or #specialneeds or #bolivia or #panam or #overlander or #fruitcake

[* Remember, this is search by USER or HASHTAG, so don’t get all pissed off – like I have – either when you go looking for me at #withalittlemoxie; I’m a USER – withalittlemoxie – NOT a hashtag!]

Searching...
Searching…

This is the thing: when you’ve searched, it keeps the searches in memory. This is really  handy for adding hashtags because after you’ve clicked a tag once, or visited a group once, it will automatically pop up when you add the first couple of letters. If this is still blah, blah, blah, blah for you, just hang in there. It’ll be clear after you mess around with it for a while

ah! jj_withalittlemoxie!
ah! jj_withalittlemoxie!

How cool, right?!

user/activity
user/activity

This is user/activity. I don’t go here much either because it feels sneaky. It’s where you can see who liked what – so if you want to get all bent out of shape because your ex-boyfriend liked your cousin Sally’s photo of her in a bikini… yeah, well, this is where to do it. Why am I even showing you this? Oh, right, just the lay of the IG land…

message central
message central

This is “news” – I like this area when I am depressed because no matter how old it is, it’s every kind of awesome to see all this “like” stuff. [“…doggone it, people LIKE ME!’]

This is also where you go to see comments that people have made about your photos.

Far right "contact box" profile button
Far right “contact box” profile button

This is my profile. I access it by clicking the far right contact-box icon. It’s got my name, number of photos I’ve uploaded, number of followers and people I follow. You add or edit anything in your profile REALLY easily. Just click on “edit profile”

here we go!
here we go!

It’s worthwhile to go through each component and read through, get the  hang of it.

Preferences
Preferences

It’s LONG; you have to keep scrolling. But do it!

You’ll get to “preferences” and this is important because of the “share” settings and “push notifications”

"share"
“share”

Here you set up your linked accounts. Which is, when you CHOOSE to share a given photo, where that photo will go. You can also choose to AUTOMATICALLY share all of your photos; I do not recommend this. 

It’s a major hassle to go back to Facebook/twitter and take down the photos that you didn’t want posted. It’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay easier to just hit “share” on a photo-by-photo basis.

Push notifications are annoying – that’s where they tell you whenever anything happens. Ack! Enough already!

MOVING ON!

You have all your setting down the way you like them and now you want to upload a photo, right?!

So you click the icon in the very middle, the camera one.

I couldn’t take a screenshot of it – but what happens is you have 3 choices:

  1. small square on the left: photos from your camera library
  2. camera in the circle icon in the center: take a photo using IG
  3. new! video!

For this tutorial, I’m choosing the FIRST OPTION, photo from my camera library

 

photo 5

 

Clearly. I AM NOT AT A LOSS FOR PHOTOS, am I?! Go ahead, call me Meriah the Glutton Mutton. I won’t mind. I know truth when I see it.

whoah! photos!
whoah! photos!

 So, yeah. I have like, a billion photos. Which one shall I share on IG?

This is the hard part and it’s also the critical part. I DO NOT recommend posting a lot. More is not, emphatically, NOT better. What happens when you post a lot is that everyone’s feed gets hogged up by YOUR PHOTOS, so they scroll through your photos of your dog, your dog in another position, your dog with a kerchief, your dog with his tongue hanging out, your dog jumping, your dog,your dog, your dog, THEN FINALLY after around 10 photos of YOUR DOG, they get to see photos from someone else….

One photos of your dog? YES! Two… okaaaaaaaaaay. Three? I hate to say it, but you are turning into a hog. I’m talking, in a row, too. Three photos in a DAY is not hogging; three consecutive photos in a feed is.

Back to my millions of photos. Which one?

this one!
this one!

I’ll choose this. The screen goes to “crop”  to make my regular photo into an IG-square format. I choose what part to crop – note: you can zoom your photo by widening the image

filters!
filters!

Just play around with the filters until you find one that pleases you. I think my life almost always looks better in Valencia, personally. The icons above the filters: far left will rotate the image. the frame icon is a frame! The teardrop shaped icon is tilt/shift: it imitates how a dslr will make the background look fuzzy. Note: there are two types: a circle and a flatter line. Keep pressing and experimenting! You can make it bigger/smaller with your fingers, apply it to different parts of your photo. It’s fun. The icon on the far right is to add light- it usually looks pretty wanky so I stay away from it.

done!
done!

When you have it the way you want it and hit “done” in the preceeding screen, you come to this. Last call.

You check off if you want to share it via social media. If you want to add it to a photo map, do so (if you have kids or kid photos, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this: this is how people can find your kids. I have ALL location features and geo-tagging features disabled on every component in my phone, on the camera and computer).

Add what you want to say about your photo. You DO NOT need to add hashtags here; you can add them in the comments section after you’ve uploaded it.

photo 1

comment
comment

I just put a heart there for a comment. You don’t have to put anything there if you don’t want to; some people put long poems or stories about what the photos mean, or links to blog posts or whatever – it’s all good.

photo 3

See, this is how it looks when posted.

Then! I tag it!

photo 1

 

Within the comments on the photo, I added #jj_withalittlemoxie

Then, I “search hashtag’ to check and make sure it’s in the group:

search by hashtag
search by hashtag

See?! It’s there!

This, by the way, is where group curation is a good thing.

You know why I don’t often tag my photos of Moxie with “Down syndrome”? Because other people tag photos that, mocking Down syndrome. Those are uncurated groups, nobody is managing them. 

When you tag your photo of your child with a disability (or anything that else that has the potential to be mocked) #jj_withalittlemoxie, I promise I will curate the group. That is, if someone else posts something unsavory there, I’ll remove the image, block the user and report the photo. 

I promise you that.

the josh johnson group
the josh johnson group

The JJ (- Josh Johnson) community is a big part of what made me really love IG; I am proud to be a part of it both personally as well as through this community we are all creating, jj_withalittlemoxie. Live life with courage.

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Questions? Comments? Go for it!

I hope this was useful and I hope it’ll get you going on IG. It’s a great place for photos and community, really it is.

NOTE:

IG has made some changes but this post, as of 5/24/15, is still relevant for basic IG uploads and tagging. What this post is missing is video and some of the video apps.

ALSO: the jj_withalittlemoxie group is not on anymore and I’ve changed the feed name to just my own name – meriahnichols . It’s about owning what I do. Check it out!

 

 

 

Meriah
is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
Meriah on EmailMeriah on FacebookMeriah on GoogleMeriah on InstagramMeriah on LinkedinMeriah on PinterestMeriah on TwitterMeriah on Youtube

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