We all know those absolutely perfect Instagram feeds showing pretty, skinny girls in a new outfit and a new stunning location every day. It seems like this is what it takes to become successful on Instagram – the most stylish dresses and matching accessories, no pound too much on your hips, fancy locations, and cute poses.
After reaching 15k followers on Instagram, I wanted to up my game, take it more professionally. My feed didn’t have a cohesive color scheme, and I didn’t look nearly as pretty as those girls. So the last few weeks I was buying outfits that would look good on Insta and checked which places to go to that look instagrammable. I planned days and shoots only for Instagram pictures because those big accounts all looked so pretty and put so much effort into every photo. I even studied poses, tricks to look better in photos and all this stuff. Everyone who knows me in person knows that that’s not me. Not at all. I thought it’s just part of the job – if I want to be a successful travel blogger/influencer, I need to do what they do.
When I was in Barcelona in May, my photographer friend Mary (check out her amazing Insta) and I went on a hunt for the perfect Instagram shots. We looked up all the famous photos in Barcelona and walked for hours carrying our equipment and different outfits. We were lying on the dirty floor getting the perfect shot, trying a zillion different angles for hours, waiting in line dozens of times only to recreate those amazing photos we saw on Insta.
I’ve been in Barcelona for the last week (here in the Sagrada Familia). I’m so overwhelmed by this experience, it was kinda stressful but also the most rewarding time I’ve had in a long while. Let me explain why, maybe you can relate. After almost 4 months of staying in a small town in Egypt (Dahab), this was the first time that I was only surrounded by people who do similar things I do – who work online, create content or companies in different forms and are each inspiring in their own way. Though Dahab is amazing, I NEEDED this! I really want to thank @flexpat.co so much for giving me the opportunity to be here. Flexpat is organizing co-working & co-living for digital nomads, each month in a different city. While I’m usually traveling alone or with just one other person I already know, I’m so glad I went a bit out of my comfort zone. I feel very awkward being in bigger groups, it’s stressful for me. I think about what to say, who to talk to, what kind of impression I make, every step I’m doing. But this was such a rewarding experience. I would not have enjoyed Barcelona nearly as much as if I went without the Flexpat crew. You can’t always connect with everyone, but I met some people whom I’ve really learned from in very different ways, enjoyed spending time with & hope to stay in touch with for a long time. I will tell you more about them soon. I was inspired to learn new skills, re-evaluate where I want to go in life and with my career/blog, think about my “Why” and so many other things. I can be a total social hermit but I was reminded here that you can only grow and learn if you get feedback, other opinions, if people ask you questions. If you’re only thinking for yourself, how can you progress? Insta doesn’t allow more text here, so I will paste the rest of the text in the comments. #flexpatbarcelona #flexpat #flexpatlife #peopleofflexpat #bcn #remote #remotework #digitalnomad #worklife #worklifebalance #digitalnomadstruggle #digitalnomads #digitalcommunity #travelbloggers #travelbloggerstruggle #femaletravelbloggers #explorebarcelona #workandtravel #visitbarcelona #güell #sagradafamilia #explorespain #visitspain #amazingchurches
But I started noticing I don’t really enjoy the traveling itself anymore, it’s just about the photo. I felt so much stress and pressure – I haven’t felt like that in a long time. For one photo? There wasn’t even much creativity involved anymore, there’s all these shots you just have to take, it’s only about recreating other photos. Looking for the right angles, matching clothes, different hairstyles all the time. Wearing a black dress in a colorful Gaudi building would be a crime, after all.
I also didn’t really do what I usually enjoy doing when I’m traveling, I would only pick the things to do according to the photos I “have to” take. I was constantly stressed I would miss one of the shots. Although I enjoyed creating these photos and LOVE the outcome, this stressed me too much. Mary felt the exact same thing.
All the people around me, all the stress of getting the perfect shot, thinking about outfits and poses and how I look like, and how the photo would look so much better if I weighed just a few pounds less…
I got nervous about my next trip where I would not have a photographer friend with me. How would I get the shots? I can’t force my friends to spend their vacation taking Instagram photos of me. Or fiddle around with a tripod for hours.
And that’s not what I want to do while traveling. I want to see, hear, talk, smell, and experience the country. How many perfect Instagrammers actually have travel stories to tell? They stay only in fancy hotels, go to the top tourist spots all Instagrammers go to, and that was it. That’s not my definition of traveling.
I want to be uncomfortable, figure out things along the way, communicate with hands and feet, eat street food, not have every hour planned, heck I even want to ride overnight buses and sleep in dorms sometimes. Although, after doing that for years, I really started noticing my appreciation for my own, quiet room. Not gonna lie, haha. But in the end, the memories we keep are those ones. Not how we took the perfect photo and what clothes we wore. It’s the people, the food, the adventures we have while traveling.
I still enjoy photography because it allows me to see scenes with different eyes and observe in a different way, it sparks my creativity and makes me explore. But taking that one photo everyone takes shouldn’t be the priority of my trip. It should be to explore a different place, culture, language, nature, food.
TAPAS! ⠀ ⠀ This must have been the best salad I had in a looong time, and so deserved on an exhausting photography day with the talented @mary.osk. It’s not easy to find good food here in Barcelona in the afternoon, most restaurants only serve the full variety of tapas in the evening. As a vegetarian, I must say I don’t love the food here. Tapas for me are mostly bread, fried potatoes and fried mini peppers. Pretty fast-foody, so I was very happy about this amazing salad. Along with fried potatoes and bread, of course! 😉 ⠀ ⠀ We did a Paella cooking class (and Sangria drinking!) with the @flexpat.co crew, which was fun, but even Paella isn’t really for me. I can be very picky when it comes to food, haha!⠀ ⠀ What’s your favorite cuisine? I think for me it must be Indian food, and Greek is really amazing too!⠀ ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #femaletravelbloggers #explorebarcelona #workandtravel #visitbarcelona #explorespain #visitspain #flexpatbarcelona #flexpat #flexpatlife #peopleofflexpat #bcn #spanish food #tapas #tapasforthewin #vegetariantapas #veggiefood #barcelonafoodie #bestfoodinbarcelona #barcafood #saladjunkie #bestrestaurants #bestfoodintown #mediterraneanfood #mediterraneancuisine #winetime #timeforwine
And while I’m still currently posting those typical Instagram photos from Barcelona (heck, I spend so much time taking them, I’d be damned to not post them, haha), you’re not gonna see as many photos of myself anymore. It will probably make my account grow much slower, but I will at least be somewhat authentic. I do enjoy pretty things and an occasional nice photo of myself, but I don’t want these photos to be the focus of my life and work and travels. I think there’s more value to give, so I’m trying to focus more on the captions.
I’m writing about what I go through, what I struggle with, or what I appreciate, because I know I’m not the only one going through it. And in times of the internet, where everyone is just trying to make their life look as good as possible, I want to be more like I am in real life. Cause I’m sooo far away from having a perfect life, from being balanced and having everything figured out. 99% of us are.
And I want to show you that that’s normal, that’s real life, not staying in an expensive hotel and new city every two days, looking perfect. And you don’t have to feel any less because you’re not living that life.
One of my tasks for this week is to write down my mid- and long-term goals 🎯, and I’m really struggling with it. I don’t know what I want my life to look like in 5 or 10 years. I don’t know where I want to live, what I want to do for work or even if I want to be in a relationship ❓❓❓ ⠀ Maybe it’s because of my lifestyle that I’m just afraid to make any plans, but I feel like I would restrict myself to a certain life. I feel like part of the beauty of life is not knowing and planning where you’ll end up. Sure, I can say I want to make at least X amount of money and weigh X kg’s, but that’s pretty much it. I do want to be happy, obviously, but that’s not exactly a tangible or measurable goal, is it?⠀ ⠀ What are your thoughts on this? Do you have your goals clearly defined and do you have any tips for me? Are you struggling as well, or do you just not care?⠀ ⠀ Like most of my Barcelona photos, this one as well has been taken by the amazingly talented @mary.osk! Thank you <3 ⠀
When I look at your feeds, I envy your photos with your dog and your friends, because that’s where I feel a lack. My point is, we all have great things and not so great things going on. We’re all normal human beings, and I want my Instagram feed to be more of a reflection of that.
I’m still gonna post pretty pictures, cause who wants to see me in my old sweatpants eating a ton of ice cream with mascara all over my face? But I will try to convey a message at the same time. My feed will still (hopefully) look much better than before, but that’s because I learned a lot about cohesive design the last weeks and wouldn’t want to post less quality work than I’m able to. I may not be in all of them anymore and I won’t necessarily do all the typical shots (I just spent 2 weeks in Morocco and don’t have a single photo of me in a riad!). Oh, and I’ll probably wear the same clothes a lot, cause I can’t afford to buy new outfits every second day 😉
What do you think? Good or bad idea? Have you felt this pressure before, having to take amazing photos and not being able to enjoy the moment? I’d be happy to hear your thoughts over at my Insta: @a.little.nomad
Please note: I really don’t want to diminish the work those Instagrammers do. They create amazing photos and spend so much time creating this content, it is unbelievable how much work they put into it. I admire and have the utmost respect for their dedication, it’s just not the kind of traveling I want to do, it doesn’t fulfill me. #anythingforthegram- not with me 😉
PIN “Why I Stopped Aspiring To Be A “Professional” Travel Instagrammer” for later:
Why I stopped aspiring to be a professional “Instagrammer” I wanted to up my Insta game, so the last few weeks I was buying outfits that would look good & planned which places to go to that look instagrammable. I planned days only for Instagram shoots, because those big Instagram accounts all looked so pretty and put so much effort into every photo. I even studied poses, tricks to look better in photos and all this stuff. Everyone who knows me in person, knows that that’s so not me. I thought it’s just part of the job, if I want to be a successful travel blogger I need to do what they do. For this shot, @mary.osk and I were lying on the dirty floor getting the perfect shot, trying a zillion different angles for at least an hour. Carrying around tons of equipment and outfits, changing hairstyles all day. I started noticing I don’t really enjoy the traveling itself anymore, it’s just about the photos. I felt so much stress and pressure. For one photo? There wasn’t even much creativity involved anymore, there’s all these shots you have to take, it’s just recreating other photos. Looking for the right angles, matching clothes, different hairstyles all the time. I noticed how, although I enjoyed creating these photos and LOVE the outcome, this stressed me too much. I got stressed about my next trip where I’ll not have a photographer friend with me, how would I get the shots? I can’t force my friends to spend their entire vacation taking Instagram photos of me. And that’s not what I want to do while traveling. I want to see, hear, smell & experience the country. How many perfect Instagrammers actually have travel stories to tell? Most stay in fancy hotels, go to top tourist spots everyone goes to, and that’s it. SO, you’ll see a few more typical Insta shots over the next weeks as I took so many in Barcelona, and I won’t stop being in photos at all. But there will be more actual travel photos. Instead, I will try to give more value through sharing more of my thoughts and experiences with you. What do you think? Good or bad idea? Have you felt this pressure before, having to take amazing photos and not being able to enjoy the moment?