Why I Deleted (Nearly) 300 Instagram Photos

As I work to grow my Instagram following and be more active on the social network I realized I needed to clean things up. That's why I spent an entire day working on my Instagram aesthetic and deleting over 300 photos.

I deleted 283 pictures from Instagram last week and I don’t feel bad about it at all.

It all started because I was sitting on my couch scrolling through my own Instagram pics when I saw an old picture of me from 2015 that was just terrible. Everything about it was terrible and once I saw it, I couldn’t delete it fast enough. Then I saw another picture, and another, and yet another. By the time I was finished deleting old pictures, old quotes, and old branding from my Instagram I was down about 200 pictures. The remaining 83 were pictures of my dogs (honestly, I know you don’t love them enough to need that many pictures of them). 

283 pictures. Gone. Just like that… *poof*

Well, what started as a way to pass the time because the dogs were sleeping and Brandon was watching a movie turned into, “I really need to get my Instagram game together!” because I know it’s the hot thing for bloggers right now and I’ve been a total failure at it. I have a pretty intense case of self-loathing most days and I hate taking pictures / videos of myself. Obviously, that’s why I have put off working on Instagram for so long. I mean, it’s that and it’s the fact that I just do not have an eye for photography.

I’ve tried to play the Instagram game before

For a few weeks, Instagram became an obsession. Any moment that I wasn’t spending at the office working at my actual career or sitting on my sofa with my laptop so I could work on my blog, I was studying Instagram. I read all the blog posts about growing your Instagram following, I signed up for free email courses, I attended free webinars, and I became crazy overwhelmed.

I did #allthethings, guys. I did.

  • I spent 20 minutes every night stalking hashtags relevant to my blog and interests then liking and commenting on the pictures that came up. 
  • I created (and registered) two hashtags to use with my pictures. We used #TheLaMarLife for any photos about us, our dogs, and our adventures. We used #FarBeyondLove for pictures related to blogging, business, or blog categories. Others were encouraged to use #FarBeyondLove for possible features on my account.
  • I encouraged my followers on other social media accounts to follow me on Instagram.

I did about a million other things too. Eventually the hashtags become convoluted and now both of them are used on every photo I share because I confused myself and that was just easier. I spent way too much of my time trying to figure out how I could curate an Instagram “theme” and found myself hating Instagram more and more each day because of it.

I tried so many themes

I read and listened to so much advice about Instagram themes. There are only a million ways to do this but a few of them are:

  • Always use the same filter on your photos
  • Only share the same type of picture (only you, only fashion, only coffee, only your dog, etc)
  • Always use the same colors (pink pictures, white pictures, etc)
  • Curate the same “vibe” (fun, romantic, adventurous, etc)
  • Only shooting photos from the same angle (bird’s eye view, etc)

and let me tell you, it became exhausting! There are so many options to choose from and while they do look gorgeous, I can’t commit to the upkeep.

I mean, I see accounts like Happily Grey and I’m like…omg! Beautiful! Stunning! but I know I can’t keep that up. I would need a whole team of people to be able to  curate a feed like hers. 

Her feed is so pretty but in the back of my head is this little birdie shrieking, “Overwhelm!!!” because I know so many people that take hundreds of photos looking for just one that is Instagram-worthy or who use different apps to plan their Instagram feed to see what each photo looks like next to the other and I just can’t deal. 

Then I read this post from Helene in Between about Instagram themes and she mentioned a “Story” theme where you don’t fret nearly as much about colors, white space, angles, or filters but rather you use your Instagram feed to bring others into your life and share your story. I loved that because now the only thing I have to ask myself before posting is, “How is this telling my story?”

Telling my story…

So, in the back of my mind now is this story of mine and how to share it through pictures. I wasn’t considering it when I was neck deep in my deleting frenzy but now I’m starting to see it through new eyes.

I’m starting to open up a little bit on Instagram and share more about our lives and our stories. Sometimes we’re dressed up in the city and other times we’re out walking to the falls (as pictured below). Sometimes it’s a lazy day at home and other times we’re riding miles on our bikes exploring new terrain. 

The pictures aren’t all white, they aren’t all bright, and they don’t all feature fun colors. They aren’t all taken from an overhead POV and they aren’t all going to share the same “vibe” but dang it if they don’t tell my story, our story, and our lives. 

Curating a Instagram theme

The pressure of conforming to themes and rules is too much for me and I find that all it does is add to my self-loathing. I can’t take my life and force it into a white-washed box and I don’t really care to even if I could.

So, nearly 300 photos are gone from my Instagram and I find I’m loving Instagram more than ever. The quote-filled graphics, the endless pictures of my dogs, the old branding, forced inauthentic pictures, and other clutter are gone. I purged my feed and gosh, it feels so good! I see my feed now and I see my life in pictures and personally, I think it’s beautiful.

(I’ve also discovered that I don’t hate pictures of myself if I’m wearing sunglasses so, you know, sometimes it’s the little things.)

Ashley LaMar
Ashley bounces between Atlanta, GA + Charleston, WV with her husband and two small dogs for life and work. If she’s not writing or blogging, she can usually be found cooking, reading, or watching baseball. Follow her on Twitter @ashleyfromfbl
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