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I Got A Professional Photographer To Help Me Get All The Likes

In the quest for social media #perfection, everyone could use a little help.

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Being a social media star ain't easy.

All my life (aka for the past year), I've dreamed of making it big on social media. Watching "influencers" get handed the keys to the social kingdom, only for what seems to be a gratuitous amount of gym selfies or poorly lit dinner photos, has driven me insane.

So, instead of letting my jealousy push me to rage, I decided to take matters into my own hands. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...or, if you can't join 'em, hire a professional to help you fake it.

Enter: professional photographer.

I somehow coerced BuzzFeed photographer Sarah Stone to help me take over the social media world. She agreed to use her mad photo and styling skills to capture me doing things worth "liking."

I had some coffee.

First up was breakfast. The art of styling food isn't as complicated as you might think. Sarah says always to shoot under natural light and keep your photo as simple and uncluttered as possible. We complemented the natural vibrance of our ameezing tangerines with colorful dishes. Balanced meals = balanced photos.

Capture your meal in the process of being eaten to retain a human element in your photo. Your followers want to be reminded that, even though you're not the main focus, you're still present.

I got a lil' sweaty.

Instead of posting another mirror selfie, I wanted to show my followers something new. The real magic happens when you actually break a sweat and get those gainz. And if you happen to work out in an aesthetically pleasing gym (like I do...#sorrynotsorry), why not take advantage and milk it for all it's worth?

Natural light was a big asset here. We used the sunlight to silhouette my figure in order to highlight the form of this exercise. Posting photos that have the potential to teach viewers something new is a good way to attract new followers and potentially carve out a niche for your profile.

I got dressed.

Mise-en-scène is an expression primarily used in filmmaking to describe the arrangement of everything you see onscreen and how it helps to tell the film's overall story. Use your favorite things to tell your story on social media. I added personal touches to my "outfit of the day" pic, like my favorite fragrance and this particularly photogenic comb.

Think of every photo you post as an opportunity to tell your unique story. Even wardrobe pics demonstrate a sense of personality for viewers to latch onto...and, if that doesn't work, you can always add some giant leaves and see what happens.

I found a friend.

Tbh, social media is really just the modern version of our grandparents stuffing family photos in their wallets and dying to show anyone willing to look. The only thing that's changed now is it seems like everyone's willing to take a peek, but it's more important than ever to find ways to differentiate your photos.

Even if you're not a streetwear/hip-hop mogul like my friend Annie and me, it doesn't mean you and your BFF can't mean-mug for the camera. Use some of that mise-en-scène knowledge to style your looks. Try to find a new angle to reinvigorate what would normally be a trite or overdone photo.

And I had a little dinner.

This is perhaps where people have the most trouble capturing photos worth sharing. No matter how delicious your food looks IRL, dim restaurant lighting rarely makes for appetizing pics. Since natural light was out of the question, we brought a candle as close to the plate as possible for some warm amber tones.

In addition to making sure your meal looks as good in your feed as it does on the plate, it's important to consider how your pic will even get noticed in the first place. Enter: hashtags. Tagging your meal with something like #dinner won't do much in the way of likes; instead, monitor the communities your photos might appeal to, and use hashtags specific to each.

I'm not a terrible person, I swear.

Excelling on social media maybe isn't the most admirable thing one could obsess over, but it turns out it requires a lot more skill and cultural knowledge than I thought. Beyond what Sarah taught me about upping my photo game, the most valuable thing I took away was finding ways to reframe typical photo situations and use trending and niche hashtags to help the uploads get noticed.

The one piece of advice I'd give would be to choose a theme — whether it's food, fitness, or general lifestyle — and stick with it to gain a loyal following. Practice some of these ~tips~ to see what a little obsession could do for your page...or, if all else fails, hire a professional like I did and have them do it for you. ;)

All images by Sarah Stone / BuzzFeed.

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