How to take real Instagram photos… Authenticity versus glamour

It is the marmite of social media but love it or hate it, you’re probably still using it. On paper, Instagram is the ideal social media platform. You snap photos of yourself, slap on a filter and boom, you’re looking fabulous.

Influencers use their budgets to represent an unrealistic version of reality and followers feel under pressure to copy their look. However, recent research suggests that this is changing. Instagram users are now calling out for a more ‘authentic’ platform. 

The demand for real Instagram photos

Now don’t get me wrong, whilst I am generally happy with the way I look, I frequently fall into the Instagram trap of showing only my best self. The lure is irresistible! I can be the elegant, flawless version of myself, the one that certainly doesn’t exist in reality. This is dangerous though. With so many online personalities giving users an unrealistic portrayal of life and particularly travel, I think it’s important to keep it real. 


Usually, when you search for blog posts about Instagram, you’ll be spammed with hundreds of posts all telling you how to pose in photos or how to look your most beautiful. I’m over that. Let’s all try to be more real! Social media should be more than seeking the approval of your peers, it should be about making connections. You can’t form genuine relationships with other people if you’re not being you. 

This post will show you how to embrace your flaws and reveal the real you on Instagram. I hope it inspires you to share some less flattering photos of yourself but even if it doesn’t, at least these embarrassing pictures should make you smile. 

A point of note…

I do have more than two outfits in my wardrobe, however, the realities of long term travel mean that I wear the same crappy clothes a lot. I promise, I do wash and these photos were not all taken on the same day. 

The Mr Bean Impersonator

Man holds fish next to scared girl

I realise this is not an attractive photo of me and the resemblance to Britain’s most well-loved export really is uncanny. Let’s take a moment to recap though. Tim is looking elated because after hours of trying, he has finally caught a fish. Obviously, said fish is alive and violently flapping in my direction. I hate anything that moves too quickly and hold a particular disdain for the slimy. I was very much on my nerves edge. 

The Sophisticated Wine Connoisseur 

Girl drinking wine for Instagram photo

This photo was taken during a Pisco and wine tasting tour that Tim and I did. I think it is fairly obvious from how awkward I look that I am not generally a posh wine sort of girl. A pint of Fosters in a Wetherspoons is more my jam. So why did I feel the need to try and get the classic ‘elegant girl lightly sips wine’ photo? To be honest I have no idea. Probably because I thought I should for the ‘gram. Instead, of achieving the glamorous look, I snorted and then proceeded to have a coughing fit from the vinegar smell. 

P.S. The only make-up on my face is from three days prior to this photo being taken. I really need to devote more energy to my skincare (or lack of) routine. 

The Animal Lover

Girl looks awkward next to llama for Instagram photo

As much as I can understand why people would assume I am not an animal lover, this is simply not the case. Although it is true that I hold a lot of fear where animals are concerned, I still want to befriend them immediately upon meeting. Whilst I am not a fan of anything that moves too quickly or unpredictably, I do love the non-threatening of the species. Therefore, I thought I’d be right at home with this rather handsome llama. 

A photo of me with a llama was exactly what Instagram was missing and I sidled up to the tall fella to get the shot. However, once I got close, Blankie (I didn’t choose the name), got all tetchy and started making strange noises. Naturally, this spooked me and this was the result. 

The Little Miss Angry 

Girl looks angry

One positive step that I have noticed on Instagram is that the captions on photos are getting more real. Instead of just saying things like ‘Love my life so much! #blessed’, people are writing more meaningful things to accompany their pictures. However, these photos don’t usually match the caption. 

I will write about having a bad travel day on Instagram as sometimes they are inevitable. However, I rarely share photos of me looking pissed off even though it’s the perfect fit for that kind of post. We are all so worried about being judged that we forget to act like we’re human! By sharing this photo with you, I want to demonstrate that it is okay to have a spectacular resting bitch face, just look at me! 

The ‘I’m Having Fun’!

Girl at the equator line getting Instagram photo

You can probably guess from this photo (if you haven’t already), that I do not feel comfortable in front of a camera. Thankfully, I enjoy writing because there is no way in hell I could ever make it as a vlogger. Check out the Winging the World Facebook page for examples of why…

This horrific clown pose was the result of Tim saying, ‘Well, at least look like you’re having fun!’ I’m a reserved individual and I struggle to convey my emotions at the best of times. As someone who doesn’t generally look fun except for when she doesn’t mean to, this was my attempt.

The I’m Crapping my Pants

Girl in buggy scared

For some reason, Instagram seems to love pictures of the back of our heads. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cheeky ‘looking wistfully over [insert landscape here] shot’ but that is because it takes the pressure off of my on-screen face. However, I am not sure these are the real Instagram photos that users are calling out for. 

In this photo, I was preparing to launch into the sky in a tiny buggy. The engine sounded intimidating and I had only a helmet and skinny harness to keep me from harm. I won’t lie, I was shitting myself. Look closely, you can even see the doom in my eyes. Instead of acting like nothing phases us, why don’t we admit when we are scared? I felt like going through with this was a far bigger achievement because I was so terrified in the first place. 

How can we make the internet better?

A huge appeal of the internet has always been that you are able to be whoever you want to be. It started with Myspace (am I showing my age yet?) and it has peaked with Instagram. Instead of creating an unrealistic portrayal of ourselves and our lives thought our photos, why not start being more real? By showing our vulnerabilities online, we show others that it is possible to overcome challenges, fears and obstacles because life is never perfect or easy.

It is okay to be yourself. We may not all be celebrity influencers with toned bikini bodies and lipgloss sponsors but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We all have something important to contribute to the world and by showing people what that is, in the form of our authentic selves, we are only going to make the internet a better place to be for everyone. 

What do you think? Is it better to take ‘real’ Instagram photos?

                              How to take real Instagram photos... Authenticity versus glamour     

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