At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: Instagram

Sharing a Photo a Day will Keep Your Frustrations Away

If you snap a great picture and nobody ever sees it, how does that make you feel? Now multiply that feeling across multiple buried photos. It’s really time to uncover and release them. Here’s how…

I’m unsettled and more than a tad frustrated. Over the years, I’ve snapped thousands of photos… and most of them just sit.

If I’m diligent, I’m just able to download and organize all of those photos into folders in Adobe Lightroom every week. Then, I’ve got to go through them to pick out the best ones and tweak them to make them ready for prime time.

But then they just sit again. There is no grand ‘unveiling.’

Maybe I take the time to share a few with family and friends. And of course, there’s the photo or two that follow the more regimented workflow of my blog and successfully get out the door on my weekly schedule.

But what’s the endgame for all of the rest?

The Challenge of Organizing Family Photos
My master plan used to be the creation of photo books that covered the prior year or perhaps a particular family event. And as much as I struggle and often fail to get to the finish line every year and consider that collection of photos ‘done,’ I’m no longer certain about just creating massive photo books that sit on a shelf.

So, I’ve also been posting best-of moments to a cloud folder and then pulling the photos down to display throughout my house via…

Sure, all of this effort supports properly documenting and displaying the life of a family. That’s certainly of value. But focusing all of your photographic efforts to essentially feed a family time capsule or restricting them to your four walls doesn’t nurture an important creative requirement for many of us.

The essential need to share.
Something more…

The Choice to Share on Social Media
Some folks like to visually share their lives in the moment… unfiltered. They snap and effortlessly share the photos of their day-to-day. They direct and star in their own version of “The Truman Show.”

Social media is, of course, made for that.

On the one hand, you’ve got people posting multiple photos daily. On the other, there are those who refuse to have any online presence.
(And I’ve made the argument that online seclusion will effectively erase them from existence.)

But if you’re like me, you fall somewhere in the middle. You share a few photos on social media, but you haven’t totally given access to the entire family photo collection to the public at large.

So that leaves the vast majority of the photos… still sitting on a couple hard drives.
(Yes, I back mine up, of course.)

The Photos that Look Beyond Your Own Life
And then there are those intrepid souls who share photos that fall outside of the simple structure of family photography. These pics offer a point of view… something more than what someone did today.

These photographers are sharing a specific narrative through a particular photo.

That’s satisfying, right?
And yes… a lot harder to do.

First, you’ve got to have something to say beyond “this is my life.” And then you need to capture the picture. For some, that is a career or perhaps a life’s pursuit.

You can quickly feel like an amateur playing in this sandbox populated by professionals, artists and journalists.

But hasn’t technology given us all the tools to enter this more advanced arena? Everyone has license to share a good photo with the world. There are really no rules.

(Light bulb moment)

Hey… Would any of my photos that have been sitting in the digital dark possibly fall into this more demanding arena of universal exposure?

Barrett’s Instagram Initiative
So, I began to go through all of my photos that fall outside of family moments. And I tried to identify a theme in creating a group to share… an organizing principal.

And of course, the answer was right in front of me….
It’s technology… all the tech around us that affects our lives.

Sure, I know I’m already sharing photos on Instagram that reflect the topics of my weekly posts. But I think I need to try for something more…

I’m going to share a photo a day on my Instagram account.

I don’t have enough inventory to feed that frequency for long. So, I’ll need to look for new imagery of technology that’s infused into our day to day.
(Look at me… I’m already making it hard for myself.)

And I’ll require some help with a daily output. The only viable strategy is to schedule the posts ahead of time….

For that, I’ve turned to Buffer to help me schedule my daily Instagram posts.
(I’m using the free plan.)

A Photo a Day
So, all of this is to say that I’ve launched a little photo-a-day project on my Instagram account where I’m sharing how I experience technology in the world around us.

Some pictures will be new… others from yesteryear.

But these orphaned photos that will never have a place in any family photo album will finally find a home.

A place where they will be seen.
(I hope.)

And that possibility… will make me happy.
Because I’ve shared.

And that feeds me.

Please take a peek.
I hope you like them…

Why You Don’t Exist If You Can’t Be Found Online

If someone Googles your name and you don’t show up, what does that say about you? Well, it says a lot more than nothing. Here’s why…

I was chatting with a friend recently about her online presence… specifically her lack of an online identity. And her choice was a conscious one:

  • No LinkedIn
  • No Facebook
  • No Twitter
  • No Instagram
  • Nothing!

With all of the concern lately about personal online security and enterprise password breaches, I know it’s become something of a trend recently to actually reduce your time online.

But what about having no online identity? As in… if someone Googles your name… and you’re not there… at all. Does that mean you don’t exist?

Well, I suppose the next question is whether you want to exist online.

I know some (including my friend) might put together a pretty compelling argument that there’s no ‘good’ reason to have an online identity and/or engage in social media.

But I think for most of us, there are still legitimate reasons that essentially demand that we play in our ever-growing virtual world.

Looking for a Job and LinkedIn
These days, if you’re looking for a new job and you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you’re putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage.

In fact, many companies’ job application portals require you to add your LinkedIn URL to scrape all of your key data.

Do people who might want to hire you also want to see a well-lit, professional-looking photo of you on LinkedIn?


I think the fundamental expectation today is anyone who’s looking for a job needs to properly package their professional brand and credentials online for others to browse through.

How you present yourself used to begin the moment you walked into the job interview or during your exploratory phone call.

Now that process begins days or weeks earlier when your name gets Googled.
That’s the point of first contact!

So, do make a point of posting a friendly photo of yourself on LinkedIn (unless looking angry is important to your personal brand).

And do write up a few authentic and relevant sentences at the top about your value proposition.

Think of it as your virtual self handing out business cards 24/7 to anyone in the world who might be interested in you…

It matters… a lot.
Otherwise, the default impression you give if you can’t be found is there’s something wrong…

Photo Sharing on Social Media
I know we can debate the wisdom of sharing personal photos with family and friends on our favorite social media sites, because we’re really giving up ownership of those pics to giant companies. And despite how many privacy guarantees are out there, we need to recognize that we’re handing over those photos to the universe… forever.

But at the end of the day, many of your connections are still going to share an ongoing photo stream of their lives. Why wouldn’t you want to see the pics?

This method of group communication has clearly become a standard way people stay in touch. So, you probably want access to view these important moments.
(Arguably some more important than others)

But to have that, you usually need to activate your own accounts on these social media platforms.

Keep Up!
If you’re hedging on the whole social media thing and believe you can still stay connected using old fashion methods, I say that’s much harder to do…

For example… If you’re waiting for photos from a family event that you missed to show up in the mail, I think you’re going to be left in the dark… forever. Those priceless pics got posted online hours after the event.

I know this is yesterday’s news, but if you still house any doubts, social media will absolutely help to keep you connected to what’s happening with family and friends.
(That’s the entire purpose!)

Do you need to see every pet pic or every dinner plate photo? Maybe not. But the totality of the visual experience will keep you informed on the lives of others who matter to you.

I know it’s odd that you end up knowing so much about friends without having to talk with them for months… or even years at a time. But how different is that from the old practice of keeping pen pals? Sharing photos and notes online is simply a more efficient method enabled by technology.

You Shouldn’t Be Surprised When You Google Your Name
Ultimately, feeding your online identity helps to more easily maintain your personal connections. Plus, it’s arguably your most important asset to projecting your professional brand to the rest of the world.
(And to be clear, zero professional identity online is not good for your career.)

If you don’t exist online today, in many ways… you don’t exist. From an existential perspective, I know that may sound troubling. But from a practical perspective, it’s not that hard to fix.

So, do you exist?

It’s Time for your 15 Seconds of Fame with Video on Instagram

Now there’s a new way to watch a blade of grass grow.  If you can record it in 15 seconds using Instagram, you just might be on to something!

Now there’s a new way to watch a blade of grass grow. If you can record it within 15 seconds using Instagram, you just might be on to something!

Let me begin with a confession:
I have not been an avid Instagram user.

Any photo I choose to share is the result of a rigorous screening process.
It represents the very best of the many (mediocre) pictures I capture.

The idea of snapping a low-quality shot (640 x 640 pixels), further ruining it with a cookie-cutter filter, and then immediately sharing it with your public is not what I’m usually comfortable with.

But 130 million Instagram users must be on to something…
And I’ve got to admit, I’ve often wondered how such spontaneity can create such cool-looking photos…

As a status update, an artful Instagram photo can be so much more interesting than text…

Video on Instagram Comes to Town
Now there’s Video on Instagram to help you ‘capture and share the world’s moments.’

Following in the footsteps of Twitter’s Vine, Facebook’s Instagram created its own video functionality on June 20.

Once you download the app update to your phone, (the newest version, 4.0.2 was released on July 5) you can share 15 seconds of Instagram video almost as fast as it takes to snap a ‘selfie.’

Suddenly I’ve taken note…

Eliminate the Burden of Video Editing
Today, my home video production workflow is a labored one, inspired by what I’ve learned through my professional multimedia life.

Time consuming post-production dominates every piece of home video I share.

The workflow is complex:

  • Shoot video clip(s) using one of my Canon digital cameras
  • Download the QuickTime file(s) to my iMac
  • Import them into Final Cut Pro X
  • Choose the best clips and trim them as needed
  • Put them in the correct order
  • Add in a few dissolves and a fade to black
  • Export the final movie
  • Upload it to Vimeo to share
  • Compress the master movie file to email it
  • Transcode another version for my iPhone

Sure, I can simply shoot a quick video to share right on my iPhone.
But you can’t string multiple clips together this way.

Now, Video on Instagram says you can forget about the chore of editing…

You simply self-edit as you record each clip for your 15-second movie.
If you don’t like the last clip you shot, you can delete it and re-record it.
(And if you don’t want to use up all 15 seconds, that’s just fine.)

As an added bonus, Instagram even offers you image stabilization to smooth out all those shaky shots!

Documenting the Cup of Joe
One morning last week, I found myself in the kitchen staring at the digital clock on the stove. The time glowed 4:50am.
The fact I was up earlier than many of the birds outside was the cascading result of my three year old stirring at 4:30am.

He went back to sleep, but not before rousing the cat, who then began to meow for his breakfast at the foot of the stairs.
Ignoring my feline was not an option, because he doesn’t give up easily.

So there I was in the kitchen, trying to enjoy my predicament.
What could I do with all these found extra minutes?

I decided to take Instagram out for a spin.
And it was time to make some coffee.

Click – Shot the clock.
Click – Captured the drip, drip, drip.
Click – Poured some coffee into my favorite mug


It’s no masterpiece, but my test Instagram video was done in a snap.
I’ve got to admit, the speed and simplicity make this a pretty compelling tool.
And if you want to add in one of 13 new video filters, go to town!

There’s Never a Silver Bullet
But the Web is already a flutter with people complaining about Instagram videos.

Some Instagram users simply don’t want the purity of their photo feeds polluted by instrusive videos.

Others are warning that Instagram videos suck up huge amounts of memory in your smart phone’s cache.

But the biggest concern out there is that Instagram users won’t make compelling videos the way they’ve been creating cool photos.

Critics are concerned they’re going to be bored more often than not, even with just 15 seconds of content to watch.

Gizmodo points out the “clumsy banality of amateur video.”

Jenna Wortham in her New York Times Digital Diary wrote that she didn’t like the Instagram video moments she recently captured at a Brooklyn rooftop picnic.

I think everyone out there is coming to terms with the hard reality of video:
It’s difficult to capture the perfect moment on the fly and equally challenging to stage one.

There’s usually no shortcut to creating good videos.
Click, Click, Click might be fast and convenient, but it can’t guarantee perfection.

It’s important to understand you normally need to capture lots of moments to find a few good ones.
That’s why editing software exists.

Video on Instagram has its uses.
It’s just not a panacea for all your video needs.

Vine – Less is More?
There are other apps out there that offer similar tools.
Since January, Vine has been the poster child for this young art.

But Vine’s 6-second shooting limit is way too restrictive for me.
It may be an interesting artistic exercise to see what you can create in such a short length, but I don’t feel it’s as useful a video tool as Instagram to help document your life.

On the up side, I think the time limitation of Vine inherently forces more preparation, which can lead to better results.

How Many People Does It Take to Create a Video?
I’ve got to admit… I’m feeling a fair amount of schadenfreude.
Here’s the thing…

I’m truly excited about the ease of using Video on Instagram.

Simultaneously, I’m psyched about all the doubt recently expressed about the general population having the ability to create engaging 15-second videos.

Not so long ago, common wisdom suggested anyone could create a video…
The democratization of digital media over the past decade gave most everyone the tools to become their own filmmaker.

But it’s come at a cost.

The rules surrounding solid filmmaking…

  • Good lighting
  • Clean audio
  • Well-framed composition
  • Steady shots
  • Tight timing

Unfortunately, it’s all been compromised.

People don’t care so much anymore what something looks or sounds like, as long as the content is engaging.

And if it’s ‘real,’ that’s sometimes enough to hold your attention.
But not always…

A gussied-up square photo with extreme saturation gradation might hold your attention for a couple seconds…

But you can’t make that lipstick-on-a-pig trick last for 15 seconds, or even 6.

Unless, you happen to shoot a little video of Godzilla out for a morning stroll, you’ve actually got to do some work to create a video that anyone outside your closest circle would want to watch.

That’s why a 15-second commercial on TV can cost millions of dollars to create.

The 6 O’Clock News – Brought to You by the Fourth Grade?
I know that self-generated content is all the rage these days, and everyone’s doing it. (especially the younger generations)
But your precocious ten-year-old nephew can’t really replace the entire media production landscape with his iPhone and iMovie.

In the end, videos hubs like YouTube, Vine and now Instagram are constant reminders of the inherent limitations of user-generated video content on the Web.

Anyone can create a video for the entire world to watch, but it usually takes a small army of professionals to create, distribute, and market content to successfully reach a fraction of that.

Sure, you may have just recorded the next viral video sensation on your smartphone.
But that kind of lightning doesn’t strike too often.

This reality is revealing the buried truth that a video’s success often requires a little love from the ‘experts’ with a few years of experience generating visual content.

That’s a happy realization supporting job security for professionals who create digital content for a living…

And that’s also good news for my three-year-old budding photographer who may want to one day pursue a career as a digital journalist.

Give Video on Instagram a Chance
So where does all of this video analysis leave us…?

Is Video on Instagram a good development?
I say, “Yes!”

Does creating a compelling video take time and effort?
Yes, again!

Will the simplicity of Video on Instagram revolutionize the way people share their lives with video?

We’re all supposed to get our 15 minutes of fame, right?
15 seconds shouldn’t be that hard to find.

Stay tuned…

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