I tend to hang out in relatively niche corners of Instagram. As such, I came to Hashtag Authentic completely unaware of Sara Tasker and her Instagram feed. Never heard of her, and her images don’t show up in my Explore feed. But the description of Tasker as an “Instagram coach” twigged my curiosity enough to make me want to read this.
What this book is:
A gorgeous primer on the hows and whys of Instagram. Tasker teaches basic lessons in photography for social media. (If you’re familiar with how to use a camera–if you already know what an f stop is and the rule of thirds–you’ll breeze over about a quarter of this slim volume.) She offers recommendations on editing tools, and also discusses a little of the business of editing, both in terms of individual images (go easy on the filters, everyone) and
also one’s grid in general.
Tasker’s voice is generous and kind, never smug. It’s all very down-to-earth, and that will make it easier to hear her message. She’s your favorite cousin, here to urge you to be yourself and never mind your follower count. But her message is advice one might cull from any number of sources over time, or might learn on one’s own over time. (Raise your hand if you went through an unfortunate phase with blink tags in the early days of the internet, and had to unlearn that behavior.)
What this book is not:
In the middle of one of a how-to on image composition, Tasker mentions moving items out of frame for a better shot, and I was seized with a question about what that meant for the word “authentic” in the title. Why authentic?
I took a couple of pictures for Instagram earlier this week. I discarded the first few iterations because a dried spill on the table showed in the foreground. The later shots were angled upward a bit to keep it out of frame. Which is authentic? My dirty kitchen table?
There’s an unexplored truth underlying the book: we decry seemingly perfect lives as presented on social media but we don’t actually want to see imperfect lives on social media. We lambaste parents who share images of their children mid-tantrum. We grumble about the relative who shares their every ache and pain online. In a medium like Instagram, we zoom in on beautiful pictures and gloss over the rude and difficult. We don’t want authenticity.
Tasker urges people to share their failures and messes, but… you know… pay attention to how it lays out in your grid.
Despite all this, I did find this to be a lovely book. Tasker’s photography is attractive, and I would not hesitate to make a gift of this to a teen who wants advice on “how to Instagram”.
At the time of this review, the hardcover edition of this book is less than $1 more than the Kindle edition. The hardcover is well worth the additional expense. Much of the content of the book is visual, and e-ink would not do it justice.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me in order to facilitate this review. The book is currently available for pre-order and will be released on February 21, 2019.