How I Increased My Instagram Engagement Using iPhone Photos

January 14, 2019

The term Instagram engagement is honestly one of my least favorite combinations of words. It plays into the idea that likes mean something big and that you need them to succeed. Wrong and wrong. Instagram can clearly shape your business (hello, I probably wouldn’t even have mine without it), but depending on what you do, Instagram engagement is only a slice of the pie.

Even as someone who relies on it to keep my business moving the whole concept has honestly put a distaste in my mouth for the industry.

Now more than ever before it is obvious just how many influencers and businesses are buying likes, followers and other forms of engagement on the platform to try to trick the algorithm into showing their posts over others. It’s a form of cheating that, while I understand why folks turn to it when they’re desperate to keep their businesses moving, I just can’t get on board with. It’s fraud when you look at in the eyes of brands who are potentially hiring these influencers to sport their products and it really just gives me a gross feeling about how the why behind purchasing likes trickles down to people who are consuming, especially kids and younger adults.

My personal reaction to all of it is to turn to accounts that feel the opposite. Accounts that feel, for lack of a better word, real. I find myself resonating more with people who didn’t capture the perfectly curated shot, but people who share their hearts and a little more of what’s happening in the moment.

More iPhone vs. more DSLR


Maybe it’s because it’s what I do for a living, but I know how long it takes to photograph, upload, edit, export and curate an Instagram feed when you’re using DSLR photos (because I’ve been doing it the last couple of years). For the longest time I wrote captions days in advance and while there’s nothing wrong with some of that, I think it starts to feel contrived over time. Personally, I feel like over the years of being in this industry I’ve gotten caught up in the idea of having to share the perfect image or caption. I felt a lot of pressure to keep up with a certain look, but once I let all of that go I got a lot more of my joy back in what I do for a living and was reminded why I started this blog to begin with.

A little over a month ago I stopped scheduling consistent shoots with Amy (this is no offense to her, of course – she is the absolute best, it was just a choice I need to make for myself to take the pressure off). It was a little nerve wracking to experiment with my business when the industry already feels so vulnerable, but I figured why not and you guys, it actually paid off. Here’s what’s currently working for me. And remember, every business is different and I am by no means an expert.

More in the moment iPhone photos. Now don’t mistake this with bad quality – I think it’s still important as a business to try to use natural light and edit in the way you normally would, but I believe there is something so much more relatable in an iPhone photo for folks than a DSLR. It also keeps you in the moment with your captions rather than some general, big picture concept. Especially when your audience is similar to mine – hi moms – I think we all just want to feel less alone. And what makes someone feel more alone than a glamorous photo when you’ve been in your pajamas all day and aren’t sure if you have baby poop on your t-shirt or mustard (we’ve all been there, hah).

Capture more videos and stories. I’ve always loved stories because they feel lower pressure, but the same goes for videos on Instagram too. A photo can only convey so much but a video gives your audience so much more of a true glimpse into your life and like I said, I believe that people want more real content. I’ve been taking little snippets here and there throughout our days and using the app SPLICE to throw them all together. You can even run your video through VSCO now to throw on a filter if you wish. It’s so easy and fun and plus, I’m pretty sure these little videos will break my heart in the best way when I’m an old lady.

Post the occasional DSLR photo. Don’t sell your camera just yet. If you’re working with brands I think it’s especially important to hang on to your camera, and if you have a website or blog you will need it for higher resolution images – iPhone photos rarely make it to my site. I also love and appreciate these high quality images with depth, but at this point in time they just aren’t the most realistic every day.


Would love to know what has been working for you on social media these days! Don’t be shy – share in the comments below.

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  • I was recently given an iPhone and previously had an android but I’ve always posted DSLR photos on my instagram. But it is a lot – taking the photo expo rating editing curating. I’ve contemplated a mix of photos but it’s scary when you’ve done one thing for so long. But honestly I’d rather have photos I recongonize from my life than perfect photos for Instagram. Do you use the same filter or presets to keep consistency? I struggle with that too.

    • Hey Hannah! I totally get that! So I edit one way with DSLR photos (Lightroom + a preset from Amy, our photographer) and with iPhone photos I use VSCO, make my adjustments and usually use the A6 filter (and honestly have for years!). They blend somewhat, but I’m also just trying to take the focus off of having a “perfect” feed, which I’ve never really had honestly. Some folks really stick to a color scheme and that’s just not my life haha! I love the realness of an iPhone photo, the ability to truly capture what’s happening in the moment. <3

  • Love this!! Definitely drawn to the appeal of ease with iPhone. It’s a bit harder for me with food but I’m experimenting with my layout/feed too. Mine hasn’t paid off unfortunately, so time to reasses but that’s the point! I did post an iPhone photo that got great engagement recently but I think as you mention, it was the nature of the image. I’m trying to let go of so much Instagram planning and procedure for sure!! I need the mental capacity it’s been taking up. Thanks for sharing your encouragement with us! Cx

    • Thanks so much Jenn! It definitely requires a lot of experimenting and I’m with you on food too! I’ve got one with food I’m posting today but it was taken with a camera – sometimes you need more control with editing when it comes to food and there’s no shame in that. I think it takes some time of doing it before it really pays off too! And yes, yes, yes to the mental capacity. I need it as well!

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