How to Use Instagram + #ColorsoftheWeek:
Great Tools for Artists + Photographers

Monday, November 25th, 2013
#yellowmonday #colorsoftheweek

Today is "Yellow Monday" 

...and it's been so for me for 2 months now, and will forever be until a new way to assist me in my visual skills and art work comes along... but for now, I am an "IGer"(Instagram User) and I both love and participate in the daily group feature "Colors of the Week". (Instagram account @colorsoftheweek)
(Above) Screenshot of my first #yellowmonday photo
awarded a nod + repost by @colorsoftheweek

Instagram is quite puzzling to several of my Facebook friends who are parents or just super busy and don't always have time for the latest trends on social media, or they are just happy being on Facebook and that is enough.  Plenty of friends and family that don't even have a Facebook page, so I am writing this for those of you out there who may have never used Instagram before and you want to know more about why I use it, and why I think it's an excellent tool for artists.

What is Instagram?

In my own words, Instagram is, in it's most basic form, a way to keep a tiny gallery of your photos online, get feedback from other users all over the world, and enter fun photo contests to improve your visual skills and photography.  Using the Instagram App from your mobile phone or iPad, you can take a photo and post it instantly to your "gallery" or page. You can also create an account at from your desktop, but it's much more fun to use with a mobile device, hence the "Insta" part- posting your photos from anywhere instantly.  An Instagram page looks like tiny squares on your phone, and you can scroll through other people's photos and see what they are sharing. (See photo of my current Instagram Gallery @cproppe ABOVE)

Unlike Flickr or Snapfish or pretty much any other photo service, Instagram is fast, hence the "instant", and your Followers will see your photos in their timeline if they are looking at Instagram.  The public will see your photo if your account is marked "Public" and if they are looking for an image with the mark # or "hashtag". (You may also choose to have a private account and only share photos with your friends).

What is a Hashtag and Why would I care to use one?

Hashtags use the # symbol, followed by a description of what your image is or key words you want people to find.  For example, my image of a yellow sunflower was hashtagged, or "tagged" #yellow #sunflower #yellowmonday #colorsoftheweek #marin #colorcharted_yellow .  Most of these tags are obvious, but two of them are for putting your images into daily contests, my favorite being "Colors of the Week".


What is Colors of the Week?


Colors of the Week is a daily Instagram contest, account (@colorsoftheweek) and hashtag (#colorsoftheweek) that is moderated by four other Instagram photographers.

@colorsoftheweek asks people to tag:

• yellow photos on Monday
• purple photos on Tuesdays
• orange photos on Wednesday
• red photos on Thursday
• green photos on Fridays
• blue photos on Saturdays
• and black and/or white colored photos on Sundays

Why is this Limitation Great for Artists?

I find that forcing me to see the BEST yellow thing all day causes my mind to "be on alert" for this color all day, even if I am not really thinking about it.  For example, this morning, I knew it was "Yellow Monday" once again, but I was really busy working with my sons, getting them to the dentist, and to a computer workshop, running errands, paying bills, looking for jobs online and finally, taking my dog for a hike.  At about 1:30pm, I was driving through downtown San Anselmo with my sons when POW!!!  YELLOW sprang out before me in the form of a Ginko tree in full color before the dark awning of the Marin Coffee Roasters, and a bright primary yellow bike was parked below the tree, with leaves fallen all around it.  A yellow firehydrant in the foreground added more yellow to the image.  It was calling me to capture this moment for "ColorsoftheWeek".  My sons are getting used to the "Crazy Instamom Moment" when I suddenly get inspired and have to pull over and take a photo.

Winning is Inspiring and Community is Encouraging

Over the course of two months time, I have been honored with at least four #colorsoftheweek nods, and one @BarbedwireWednesday contest feature.  This is super fun, and when you win with a photo, it encourages other followers of the contests to follow your work on Instagram.  I have met other IGers from New York, Colorado, Amsterdam, Italy, Brazil and many from the Bay Area.  I even had dinner with a nice photographer from Mill Valley that I met on Instagram.

Some of my best photo marveling pals and inspirations on Instagram are:


and many more... All these people "Like" your photos and comment on them, and it is generally short and sweet, because it is a small space, you are normally not going to be posting a long writeup on Instagram.  It's really just for photos and quick comments.  However, there are a few contests that write a lot, and I never read what they write because it is too much for this kind of a format.  I am glad that most people only write a quote or title or where they were when they took the photo.  The best thing about Instagram is that you only have to look at the photos in your timeline of people you have followed.  That means if you follow quality photographers, artists, art organizations and the like... you will get a steady stream of inspiration when you visit the app.
Recent #PurpleTuesday photo of
Andy Goldsworthy in

The Downside of Instagram

Just like any form of social media, there is always going to be someone that is doing annoying things, or posting only "Selfies" #selfie (a self portrait with their phone that they want to share with friends because it's cute, pretty, funny or lewd-- Just recently, some guy was putting porn up and tagging it with #SFBatKid and I clicked the buttons to notify Instagram that this was not cool.  Sadly, it was still up there for a while.  I haven't checked again, but in general, I really like to see things that everyone can benefit from, and people doing private grown up things that should not be shared online need to just keep it in their own bedroom because there are 12 year olds on here, people.  It's sad that creeps don't get this, and I realize my 11 year old asking me for an Instagram account is going to get my lecture before he has one.  His cousin in New Hampshire is already on Instagram with all her girlfriends, so of course, the excitement is brewing for these puppies.

On my bad days, at least I have my dignity when it comes to this type of annoying behavior.  So many people online don't seem to care what they post, and I am at least glad I only have to follow people on Instagram that do care.  Not a day goes by that I am not inspired by someone else's photo and how they captured special colors, textures and light, a beautiful smile or a funny face.  I suppose it's instant gratification at its best, and highly addictive, but if you use it with the intent of gaining ideas for art, photo compositions and participate in contests... It really can be more than meets the eye.
"Natures Spray Art: Moss"  #greenfriday photo

On a personal note, I have been unemployed for the first time in years and going through the final steps of a custody settlement over the last several months.  Instagram has been highly uplifting and cheerful for me, whereas Facebook can sometimes be more depressing.  Art and photos are not always about yourself, and can be selfless and loving, whereas sharing on Facebook tends to be more about "me", and my family.  I like sharing art!  I just do, and I hope you will follow me @cproppe on both Instagram and Twitter, where I share photos of #art #colors #nature, #bikes the #SFBayArea and the best compositions I can fit in a square...

PS... What if you don't want to post a Square Photo?  

Use an app like "Whitagram" that allows you to fit your portrait or landscape image in a frame.

Thanks for reading!  If you live or work in the Bay Area and have job suggestions for me, I normally work full-time as a graphic designer for print and web, with marketing and social media skills.  I also serve as the Volunteer Communications Coordinator for Art on the Farm.  

All Bay Area job ideas are welcome!

Find me on Linkedin here:

-Colleen Proppé
@cproppe on Twitter and Instagram

PPS... You can SELL YOUR ART + PHOTOS on Instagram!

Oh, and last but not least... if you want to buy one of my photos from Instagram, they are available with "Twenty20" here... just click the link to buy prints, iPhone Cases, Pillows, T-shirts and more.  Have fun!  (I will get about 20% of the price you pay.)  Visit this link to learn how you can make your own Twenty20 account and sell your art and photos too.  Enjoy!

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