Nov 20, 2017
We’re still not so sure about the term Instagram Boyfriend. The generalisations are almost endless. It assumes you’re in a relationship and that your other half helps you take all your pictures, often begrudgingly, and is basically used as a blanket term to refer to any individual—be it your friend, brother or mum—who happens to have the knack (or patience) to take great photos of you.
In fact, you can actually hire an ‘Instagram Butler’ at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, to take pictures of you for your feed and give advice for your future shoots.
That being said, there are some very talented amateur and professional photographers behind many Instagram accounts and the relationship they share with these influencers are very special. We talked to five Hong Kong influencers and their Instagram boyfriends, who prove that there’s so much more to it than just pointing and shooting until you find the right shot:
Lindsay (@lindsayjang, 58.6K followers) on starting her Instagram
"My friend Michael Carter was visiting me in Hong Kong in June 2011 and told me to download this new app called Instagram. So I did!"
"I like to be comfortable at all times so I'm usually wearing activewear with a fun jacket and bag. My favorite color is black and I live for bodysuits."
"I guess my overarching message is that you can really achieve anything."
Alex (@alexmaeland, 35K followers) on taking photos of Lindsay
"Lindsay and I are fortunate that work requires quite a bit of travel. We were (and still are) constantly on the go, being inspired by our travels and what was around us so I started shooting a lot of yoga photos of Lindsay when she would practice in different cities. This slowly parlayed into shooting more consistently over the years and with a bit more intentionality."
On the term 'Instagram Boyfriend"
"I understand why people use it, but I think the term is corny and kind of wack."
"Shoot for yourself not for the likes. That’s the only way you’ll gain creative confidence. I always encourage people to look to things like print, film, and people of the past for inspiration to drive their creative future. Instagram is a good tool, but it creates a vacuum. As great a tool as it can be and although great inspiration exists on the platform, there is a lot of repetition and regurgitation that can be really crippling to a young photographer. People too often get caught up in the feeling that their work needs to be validated by likes and followers instead of focusing on simply creating their own, unique point-of-view."
His shooting style
"I think I’m still developing my style everyday. I shoot predominantly fashion, fitness, architecture and interiors and a variety of photo journalism type narratives. I think in stories. If a moment tells a story, I want to capture it. As a young(ish) photographer myself of only about 9-10 years behind the lens, I still have a ton to learn and I have a constant curiosity to explore more."
Rose (@fatasslovesfood, 30.5K followers) on starting her Instagram
"I was probably one of the first wave of Instagram users in Hong Kong, and I would post a lot about what I ate. Sooner or later my friends got sick of seeing all the food on my feed, so I decided to open a separate account just for that. The rest is history.
"My style actually changes from time to time, but I would say that I care more about the overall aesthetics of my feed rather than how one single photo looks. I always mix it up with a photo of a person for every two food photos, and I make sure that they look consistent when put on the same row."
Ryan on taking pictures of Rose
"Within the first 5 times we went out I was already taking pictures ... There was definitely a learning curve because I almost never take any pictures of anything. It's cool though because I know she's passionate about it, so if I can play a small part it's all good."
On the term 'Instagram Boyfriend'
"I am fine with it since we have a real relationship as well, but I can see how it might suck if that is the only connection you have with a person. [I] Keep taking pictures until she's happy, and then ask her if she wants to try a few more from different angles. Thank me later."
Charles (@char1es, 94K followers) on starting his Instagram
"When I was a copywriter in an advertising agency, my teammate forced me to open an Instagram account and said it was something fun and up-and-coming. It was the very early stages of Instagram, the community was small and everyone would know once you posted a photo. Everyone could get onto the “popular page” (which is now the “explore” page today) easily and gain followers. Instagram was purely a mobile app to allow users to share pictures publicly. Talking about it now, I really miss the days when Instagram had more restrictions and was less commercial."
"I love pulling off modern gentleman style with an Instagrammable touch that create a better visual effect."
His Instagram feed
"I always prefer a sense of minimalism for my Instagram feed. Visually, I am a person who’s very particular with details, i.e a clean background and less saturated colour tones are always preferred. I always like to show things differently to show my point of view, so I always stay alert for different angles of beauty. Content-wise, I do it more spontaneously—from fashion and lifestyle to hotspot, food architecture and events. Any first-hand information [always makes it more] fun [for my audience]."
Gary on taking photos of Charles
"I started to be in the #C1Team in February 2017. It’s been about 8-9 months."
On 'Instagram Butlers'
[Being an] Influencer has become a business so ‘Instagram butlers’ have naturally come into the game. It can be fun and handy but having someone who understands you and your aesthetics is always the best.
Emi (@stayfitandtravel, 82.4K followers) on Instagram
"I started my fitness journey in 2014 and decided to document and share my lifestyle change on Instagram. You don't always need a gym membership or a restrictive diet to stay fit and healthy. By sharing my fitness journey and recovery from bulimia, my goal is to help and inspire others through their health and fitness journey."
On content creation
"I try to create content that adds value to my audience, including short workouts that they can do anywhere, motivation, a healthy mindset to live a balanced lifestyle, correct form and posture and the value of self-worth and self-love. Visually, the photos have to be clear, bright and able to convey the message and story that I want to share. I often have Chad, my boyfriend, help choose photos with me in order to get a second opinion. He also helps me proofread all of my copies to make sure the grammar and wordings are correct."
Chad on taking photos of Emi
"I’ve always taken photos for her and for ourselves since the start of our relationship, but the picture-taking really took off once she started her @stayfitandtravel account. I already had some basic experience with photography but I definitely had to learn to tailor the style to the types of fitness photos we started taking. It was a learning process that Emily and I both went through together through trial and error to see what worked and what didn’t."
On the term 'Instagram Boyfriend'
"I find the terms Instagram boyfriend and Instagram husband quite funny. Many people associate it with an unwillingness or dislike of taking photos for their partners, whereas for me it has actually developed my love of photography and an enjoyment of working on a project together with my girlfriend."
"For IG specifically, I would say number one is to know your lighting angles, for both natural light and artificial light. This will affect the shadow contrasts on your subject, and obviously to avoid things like backlight. Just be aware of where the light is coming from and adjust accordingly. Also pay attention to the composition of your photo; where you want to place your subject within the frame in relation to the background. Varying the levels and angles at which you’re standing and shooting from can help aid you in creating a more interesting composition of the final photo."
Veronica (@vnikali, 29.2K followers) on Instagram
"I started Instagram while I was starting up my blog for my career in the fashion industry. I started my blog out of pure passion and wanted to show the world what was in my mind in terms of my personal taste in lifestyle, fashion, beauty and travel. Instagram was an easier tool for me to instantly share my daily feeds instead of updating my blog everyday. After a while, I realised there were certain angles, compositions and moods in my Instagram that made it more interesting."
"Currently I am trying more sleek and modern cuts but still keeping an elegant touch in my looks. Most of the time I would usually be wearing midi skirts or off shoulder tops. This season, I am trying out more trousers, collars and neutral colours. Earrings are a must wear item for me now, it's something I have been buying a lot recently."
What goes on her feed
"I think it needs to be related to "the moment" instead of just taking a snap and that's it. For example, I would sit on the beach reading for an hour and then take a photo of the book and I with a beach view. I'm not pretending I was reading for an hour or doing it just so I could take a picture. I need to be honest. Sometimes it's really hard to maintain my feed the way I want it because I cannot have everything planned out, otherwise it would not be called "Insta"-gram. They key is to find a good balance for work, personal life, inspirations and creative content to make your Instagram memorable and interesting to follow."
Lucas on taking photos of Veronica
"Around 6 years ago when Veron started her own styling blog. She said she really need my support for her blog, at that time, I took my first step to help her taking photos. At first, I just did it without patience and heart because I had no interest in taking pictures at all. But I did it for her. Gradually, I saw and heard some positive feedback and reviews on Veron's blog, FB, Instagram and even from her friends, which changed my thoughts. By then, I started to watch some photography tips online and practice more. So, I just started from zero and taught myself how to take better pictures."
On the term 'Instagram Boyfriend'
"I would take this term as a positive meaning as Instagram husbands show support to their other half. As a couple and spouse, the most important thing is mutual support."
"I'm just a beginner but I do want to share with you how important it is for every couple to have a unique connection. Instagram husbands should know the beauty of your other half, so you can use the camera to capture and express that feeling—then others will feel it too. Sometimes, traditional photography rules and tips are not a must."