The how of it all
What sets Sara Tasker apart from other beautiful photo takers on Instagram, is her writing. Her ability to communicate her ideas and processes in a way that helps other people improve their work. She calls it explaining “the how of it all”. An influencer, iPhone photographer and Instagram specialist, Sara has built a six-figure business on sharing her expertise. Her how. And that is what this book Hashtag Authentic is all about. It’s a step by step guide to taking great images for Instagram. A guide to finding your visual voice for social media. Using theory, examples, and exercises, it walks us through ways to create images (on our phones, hallelujah) that authentically reflect our world and passions. The idea is that this is the right way to find your tribe online. Or as she calls them, your “right people”.
The book is broken down into four sections that walk you through better photo-taking, and better Instagraming. When it comes to photographs, the central message is that we should be aiming to take pictures of moments, not things. So she teaches us where to find these captivating moments in our everyday lives and then how to photograph them brilliantly.
But what if you don’t live in a beautiful period cottage in West Yorkshire and have a cute kid? What do you photograph then? I live in a new house in Reading in the south of England. I like bright colors and stripes and will be found daily in ill-fitting jeans rather that dreamy floaty dresses. However, the same principles apply whatever message you are hoping to share on social. Find and photograph the small stories of your day.
I’ve taken Sarah’s online courses before, so themes like this were familiar to me. However, I found it super, super helpful to revisit them in this book. It will stay on my shelf as something to reach for when I’m stuck for inspiration. It is full of great prompts for when you are low on ideas.
An iPhone masterclass
It’s undeniably for those of us who are really pretty dedicated to creating better photos. And I think more smartphone photography guides like this are much needed. I left my DSLR camera on the shelf many months ago and use just my iPhone for taking photos for social media. Instagram, in particular, is a hungry beast to feed, and phone cameras make it easy.
I wrote about ways I make my photo taking easier a little while ago, click here to read the post.
Hashtag Authentic has lots of guidance around what makes a good photo, particularly when it comes to composition. There’s also advice about editing and which apps to use. This is a photography lesson for Instagram. I see many a qualified photographer that could benefit from reading about what particularly works on the platform.
Will it make you Insta famous?
Sara’s voice is so compelling and listened to because of the huge organic growth she has enjoyed on Instagram. It has changed her life. But in Hashtag Authentic she is not offering a manual for how to become Instagram famous. It does cover Instagram best practice, but I would think of it more as a book about how to create a social media account that will genuinely be of use to you. Because if you find your right people, good things will come.
The next hashtag
What is missing (and I get it, it isn’t the point) is an insight into the Me & Orla business journey. I’d have loved to have read more about how Sara has turned unexpected success on Instagram, an app on her phone, into a (more exciting) real business. I know that she will have worked much harder than her slow-living aesthetic suggests to establish herself as an expert in her field. She’s an entrepreneur, with an excellent business brain who has been able to see a clear way to channel her social media success into a truly viable money-making brand. She deeply understands how to connect with people who are attracted to her brand of lifestyle photography. That’s the stuff I’d love to chat with her about over coffee. I hope it’s all being saved up for a future book. It’s one I’d buy into.
Hashtag Authentic is released on 21st February but is available for preorder on Amazon now. It was sent to me for review by the publisher White Lion.