An expert guide on finding your own filter so your followers can find you.
I still remember the first time I met Nicole. I was late for my first day of college, because my Gran had interrupted the mid-morning taming of my Mufasa-like mane, in desperate need of a ‘How to like pictures on Facebook without actually commenting “like” tutorial’. Twenty-five minutes later, I tumbled through the ridiculously oversized lecture room doors in a tangled mess of earphones, mismatched laptop chargers and a blueberry muffin. The first empty seat was my shield from the universal shame of first impressions. Nicole turned to me, her new neighbour, and pointed to the far more practically sized, Narnia-esque door at the back of the class, “For a less dramatic effect.” I knew instantly we would be friends, but back then I had no idea who I would be sharing my notes...and muffins with… that was until I found out she was a hashtag on Instagram!
“I think people kind of make the mistake of searching for “instafame” at the end of a selfie stick, but I mean, if you’re already on Instagram, we know what you look like… It’s not your lips followers want to see, it’s your life, you know! And the more consistent the chapters of your life are, then the easier they become for everyone else to read! So just make sure yours tell one hell of a story! That’s what I think anyway.”
If you’re not au fait with Eddy’s Instagram then I have the same feeling right now that someone gets the first time they introduce you to something truly remarkable, like correcting Siri’s mispronunciation of things by saying, “That’s not how you pronounce that.” (Did you just give it a go? Try the word “rural”). Speaking of rustic countrysides, it was Nicole’s adventure account across African terrains, island shores and mountain crests that added her to Insta’s A-list, but it was her signature style that kept her there. With over 160,000 followers and 2.6 million views on YouTube, Nicole has mastered the art of sprinkling a handful of earth from each of her adventures across our screens, as if they have been captured from the underside of a bird’s wing – showcasing her uncanny ability to bring oceans of depth to each frame, while remaining completely grounded. If her bold use of blue, clever light contrasts or earth, wind and fire aesthetic doesn’t make her uploads instantly recognisable, then her snapshot-storytelling certainly does.
“Not everyone is able to adventure around the globe, but at least I can make them feel like they got to. At least for those five minutes they spend on my feed, they can feel like they saw what I saw and felt the same ocean breeze kiss their cheek that I did. Yes.”
So what’s on your “Gram grocery list” before a post goes live?
“All my posts need to tell a story and if that story doesn’t start with an adventure and end with a sunset, then it’s usually not one I tell. Resolution is religion! I take all my photos on my Canon 5D Mark III – it’s one of the old models, but very reliable, and my main lens is a 24-70mm – it’s very scratched, but it does the job. This gives me a good contrast for portraits as well as landscape photos and when I’m in the bush as well I guess, which is a big part of what I love. I don’t have a specific colour scheme that I stick to per say, but I guess Mother Nature already does that job for me. You wouldn’t need to scroll for very long to see that blue, green, brown, white and yellow colour most of my content. I may have missed a colour. Each of my images always have a clear focal point and sunlight is my signature filter!”
Talk us through a typical Eddy edit:
“It’s all about the light people! Capturing the light, playing with light and finally bringing the light to life. No matter where each of us are in the world, we still watch the same sun rise and set, and it’s that worldwide truth that I try to translate onto my feed - whether that be by upping the contrast of my shot or highlighting the shadows. Fittingly, the program that I use to edit is Light Room, Adobe Light Room, and I have a bunch of presets on there that I apply to each of my photos and then just adjust accordingly. I’ve made maybe 12 presets. I also use VSCO on my phone – that works like an absolute treat as well! What else? My crops are continuously square ready…I’m OCD like that…and I only ever reveal a part of the bigger picture, never the whole picture itself.”
If your account was an outfit what would it be?
“Easy. Sneakers with earth-stained grip, a leather jacket and jeans, probably with a bikini on underneath. You’ve seen me in it before!”
In a world of “instamodels” and Kardashian contour kits, how do you know when you’ve made it on Instagram?
When you’ve reached 1 million followers? When you’ve become someone else’s ‘hashtag goals’? Or when you’re not able to post a picture of a pickle without a vegan endorsement deal?
For Eddy, verifying yourself without the blue tick is about owning a frame of reference in your followers’ mind. Being the go-to point of contact for whatever you represent and creating content that instinctively speaks your name without your name being present.
“If you want your feed to be a follower-fishing-net, then you need the right bait! You need to create a platform that your followers run to when they are looking to escape from their own reality. For me and my feed, it’s that breath of fresh air away from the city. It’s being one with nature, two with travel and three with adventure. That’s me.”
Before we log out:
Feature you wish Instagram had?
“Hands down, chronological order would make everyone’s lives easier. That’s all”
Cake or Carrots?
“CAKE. Everyday. Don’t ever give me carrots. Cheesecake.”
If we got matching tattoos what would they be?
“Probably a slice of Pizza with ‘stay weird’ written super tiny below it.
Words by Devin Dewar.