Beth of Oak + Oats and I are excited to announce that we are bringing back our Holders Not Folders challenges! We had our first challenge the summer of 2014 and when it ended so many of you cried for round two! Well, here it is!

It is going to look a little different this time than our first one. For this quick, six week series, we want to focus on teaching you something new (or reminding you of something you already know) to integrate into your phone photography. Each week we will announce the new challenge, share a quick tutorial and/ or tips, and then encourage you to practice that skill in your instagrams! Make sure you hashtag #holdersnotfolders and interact with the others participating! 

Are you in? We want to encourage you that you can create fun and inspiring photos with your phone and have a beautiful instagram that reflects YOU! Join the challenge and get creative.

Written by Elizabeth of Oak & Oats

Today we are starting with Cropping & Framing. For anyone who has posted at least once on Instagram, you discovered that you needed to fit your rectangular photo into a square. Yes, there are ways around that if you use white boarders and such, but let's stick with the squares for now!

Taking a photo for Instagram is different than taking a photo on a camera. If you are a professional photographer or even a disposable camera user, you know that your goal is to fit your desired picture into the frame. Yes, sometimes dad's head gets chopped off or you end up needing to crop out photo bombers in the back, but for the most part, we do all our framing before we take the picture. Instagram is a different story (ish.)

Today I want to share with you the three things that I keep in mind when taking photos for my Instagram - dead space, rule of thirds, and symmetry.

You need to PLAN on cropping. You need to imagine a square space when you are using a phone camera that shoots in rectangles. This is not always the easiest thing to do - especially when other people are taking your photo for you (cute shoes gone to keep my husband's head & again, chaco shot lost because megs is just so tall ;) ) Step back so that you can see more than you need - this creates dead space. Don't worry about how messy you photo looks at first, once it is popped into instagram, the look is much more polished.

When you are taking photos for your instagram, think about your subject. Where do you want the eye to be drawn? Remember, the instagram photo is a square - so you need to square off your photo and then draw imaginary lines on your photo. Draw three horizontal and three vertical - like a tic-tac-toe board! I know this sounds like so much work, but you will be doing it without thinking in no time.

I am not a professional photographer, but I do know that the rule of thirds is when you tic-tac-toe your board, your subject should be along one line or at the intersection of two lines. It creates a more appealing photo. I picked some examples from my instagram: The hot coco and the sweet baby's face both hit the middle of two lines intersecting and Cinderella's Castle and my friend Laura both fall onto a vertical line.

While thinking of how to frame and crop your photo, you do not always need to put your subject on the side. Some things are so symmetrical that a center photo is best! This sounds almost opposite of the rule of thirds, but not really - just a different way of seeing things. We are drawn to things that are symmetrical, so if you look head on at your subject and all the sides seem to point toward the center, try to post it that way!

I have included some of my instagrams that fall into the symmetrical feel - all of these have horizontal and vertical lies pointing inward. That is why I chose to center the subject.

HOMEWORK: It is your turn now! As you go into this week taking photos for your instagram, think about dead space, the rule of thirds, and symmetry. See if you notice a difference in the quality of your instagrams when you think ahead! Look at some of your favorite instagrams or instagramers - do they do some of these things? Share with us any photo you are proud of by using #holdersnotfolder and share some love on the other grams you see in the feed! 

Make sure to follow @oakandoats & @megmcilvaine on Instagram. To see the rest of this challenge and our others, click here. 
Stacia said...

I think this challenge is going to be so much fun!

allisonramsing said...

So glad this is back!!

TheJessaOlsonBlog said...

So glad that it is back too.

Samantha@Elah Tree said...

You guys! Ya'll always do a great job with these challenges! whoop!

Amy said...

love these! such good tips for instagram! :) wooohooo for another challenge!

Jess Elyse said...

Awesome! I think I'm going to enjoy this challenge! All I "shoot" with (and I'm by no means a photographer) is my iPhone and Instagram is my favorite social media. I'm always looking for ways to improve or expand. Excited for this! And great tips above!

Meg McIlvaine said...

Yay!! Girl, I use my iPhone the majority of the time! It's just easier to carry around than my DSLR :)

Meg McIlvaine said...


Meg McIlvaine said...

Thanks Samwise!

Meg McIlvaine said...

Yay! :)

Meg McIlvaine said...

Me too! It's been too long, and we're glad to be back!

Meg McIlvaine said...

Yes! Can't wait to see all of your #holdersnotfolders photos!