The Hard Facts: A Look Behind the Perfect Instagram Photo

The Hard Facts: A Look Behind the Perfect Instagram Photo

by Carmie Sanchez

iphone-410324_1920.jpg

I’ve been on Instagram for a long time. Coming up on five years to be exact. I’ve seen a lot of things on IG in those five years: algorithm changes, trendy catch phrases, trendy fashion/home/life styles, and more. One thing that I keep seeing time and time again are strong reactions to those photos/accounts that are deemed “too perfect.” You know the ones I’m talking about. The photo of the perfectly organized kitchen, the stunning living room, and the wardrobe to die for. The perfectly dressed children, not to mention their seemingly complete cooperation in having a hundred photos taken of them daily. And did I mention the ones of the moms who are impeccably dressed in the latest boutique style on an almost daily basis?

In my years on Instagram, I have seen people react to these photos in various ways. Some are inspired to make a change in their own life, home, or wardrobe. Others feel pressured and a need to measure up to the latest Instagram standard. This feeling of pressure breeds stress and feelings of inadequacy and failure. The comparison game is a very real thing and even those who strongly speak out against it sometimes have hints of it coming through in their own feed. Those who seek authenticity often use thinly veiled words of self-pity. Before you fall into the trap that is comprised of these feelings, I want you to consider some facts that I have learned during my time on Instagram.

  1. I have learned that no one has a perfect life.

    It’s silly that I have to even mention this, but there will always be someone who throws the “their life looks perfect” card.

  2. I have learned that those perfectly neat and tidy rooms are sometimes cleaned strictly for that particular IG photo.

    I once followed the blog of an organizer/home designer and she openly said she cleaned her kitchen over and over again before shooting the reveal photos for her kitchen remodel. Believe me, on the other side of those spotless rooms is a mess. And within hours of taking that perfect photo, the room looks “normal” again.

  3. I have learned that a lot of IG photos are not posted in real time.

    This is closely related to the previous fact. One of my favorite Instagrammers admitted that she is still posting photos of her and her husband that were taken two years ago. People are not taking photos of their perfectly styled food, posting it to Instagram, and then promptly sitting down to eat their dinner of perfectly styled food. Interior decorators are not taking photos of a stunning living room, posting it to Instagram, and then kicking their feet up on the couch. I would venture to guess that most curated photos are, at minimum, a day or two old before they are posted to IG, even the “Insta-mom” accounts.

  4. I have learned that people do not have a professional photographer following them around.

    Speaking of IG moms, the rest of you moms can start breathing a little easier. A lot of fashion/mom/lifestyle Instagrammers do not have an in-house professional photographer taking all of their photos. They are often self-taught. Many have their husbands take their photos, or they use a remote with the self-timer on their camera. Some have their older children take photos for them. And those who do use a professional photographer will recycle photos from past photoshoots. Take a look at someone’s curated feed as a grid and note photos where they are wearing the same outfit and that are taken in the same location. Yup, one photoshoot, used multiple times, and not posted in real time.

  5. I have learned that no one has it all together, but some have spent years figuring out systems that work for them.

    Consider the fact that just because a person’s life looks so put together, doesn’t mean that they haven’t spent years getting to that point. There are a lot of wonderful people on Instagram who post gorgeous photos of their homes and lives but they’ve willingly put work into it. They’ve built a lifestyle that suits them and their families even though it’s maybe taken years to hone and tweak. Trust me, they didn’t figure it all out overnight.

    Let Instagram be a source of inspiration for you, but don’t let it drag you down. Every photo has a story behind it and it’s probably not as glamorous as you might think. Seek to understand the human behind the accounts you follow and consider their own unique set of circumstances before you fall prey to comparison. While there are those who give a false depiction of their lives on Instagram, there are so many who are genuine and have a heartfelt passion for inspiring and bringing more beauty into the world.

    If you are inspired by someone else, rather than chalking it up to being impossible to achieve because you lack time, money, or have too much responsibility, figure out how you can make it work for you. You can spend all day being “inspired” on Instagram, but nothing will change if you don’t get up and make the change happen. There’s only so much inspiration you can ingest before you have to do something with it. Be willing to put in that hard work to make your dreams reality. It doesn’t have to be monumental or life changing right away. Remember, it takes a slow growth to get to where we want to be.


Carmie lives and dreams in central Virginia with her husband and three brown eyed kiddos. She spends her days homeschooling and keeping house, but makes time for creative endeavors involving her cut flower garden and sewing. You can follow her creativity on Instagram @thefloraco.