How To Instagram Without A Boyfriend

Many of you have asked me: “Who takes your pictures?” Not because they’re particularly good, but because you probably know I’m a serial solo traveller and that I’m VERY single. So can you still Instagram without an Instagram boyfriend/girlfriend – ergo, if you’re single AF? I say you can. Here’s my semi-serious guide to Instagramming without a boyfriend.

Behind Instagram

Behind every Instagram profile there are a bunch of pained people who are asked to take a thousand pictures of you trying to hide your cellulite or making the most out of your natural smile before it turns into a troll face.

Let’s get things straight. I have no boyfriend. I have no girlfriend. I’m considering a sausage dog to whom I would give a ridiculously mighty name, like Napoleon or something, but I’m not quite sure I’ve got enough money or patience to look after it. Stereotypes say bi people should have more options and possibilities to be in relationships/have sex. Urban legends about pole dancers paint us as vixens who hop from one bed to another. This is not me. My only hop is from my couch, to my house pole, to my bed, to my local pizzeria. I have not experienced the thrill of having a partner take pictures of me for my Instagram profile first-hand. I am very single, and Idris Elba is taken, so I see no future for my partner-curated Insta. I’ve had to roll up my sleeves.

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Instagram boyfriends were something I’d only seen behind the gram, but I realised the extent and the reality to which they are exposed while on holiday in the Amalfi Coast. A beautifully dressed bohemian girl in Positano dragged an equally handsome guy with her, asking him to take hundreds of the same picture while she was arching her back on a staircase. His camera was bigger than my butt – and my butt is not small.

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimised by someone (usually, a girl) trying to get a good shot to post on Instagram.

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In our world of perfectly lit and slick Insta shots, we’re both the victim and the torturer. I’ve been annoyed at people for not taking a good shot and I’ve been the one to annoy them. So, who are these people? Because they are people. Not selfie sticks. Selfies are for when you’ve got good hair, good make up or you want to post a silly pic in front of a monument – like the one below. Not for a good Insta feed. So here are my fave picture-takers.

Mum & Dad

The majority of the pictures you see of me in London, Rome or Sardinia are taken by my parents. Yes, you’ve read correctly. I have no Instagram boyfriends or girlfriends, but I do have Instagram parents. My mum is particularly skilled in telling me to stop putting my legs in an awkward position. My dad mocks me for posing, or for the dumb pictures I take, so I laugh naturally and my resting bitch face disappears for a second.

 

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Born to be in GLOW #80slife

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I’m pretty sure my parents aren’t aware of the “Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimised” meme, but if they were they’d raise their hand. My dad calls Instagram “Istragrà” and sees no point to my butt being all over it. My mum’s ok with taking a couple of pictures of me, but quickly gets annoyed when I’m not happy with them and need more. They both can’t wait until I have a partner to replace them. I can’t wait either, but the odds aren’t in my favour.

Pole Dancers

Now, for the pole outsiders: a hidden law of the pole community is that you Instagram. A lot. You share your progress, or your choreographies, so we can all steal them. And to do so you need a pole buddy. So all hail pole buddies who run around you to get shots of your move from the most flattering side. I have many of those who do a great job. More info on pole behind the scenes here.

Strangers

And now we come to the most controversial part of this post. Yes, I ask strangers to take pictures of me when I travel. The reason I post those pictures is because 1) I’m happy with them and 2) I have asked about 15 strangers to take that picture from a variety of different angles. Which brings me to the following short guide to asking strangers to take pictures for your Instagram.

 

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Soho is always a good idea. 📸: @catalina.cma

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How To Ask Strangers To Take Your Instagram Picture

1. Don’t Be Shy

What’s better: an awkward selfie where your forehead is cut off picturing a bit of your face and a bit of the Lincoln Memorial, or an actual full-body picture of you looking fab in front of the memorial? You choose, but I’d go with the latter. So go and FUCKING STOP THAT STRANGER. Don’t be shy. All these people have an Instagram to keep up. It’s 20-fucking-18. No one will be mad at you or make fun of you for trying to get a picture.

2. Size Them Up

“Yeah, right, but how do you know they’re not gonna steal your phone/camera/life and run away with it?” Mmkay, this is a question I get a lot. I guess it depends on the area you’re taking pictures in. Is this a Greyhound Station, or a sketchy area where it’s literally you and that one stranger and tumbleweed? All right, maybe don’t ask them and go for no picture. Are you at an obviously touristy location where a bunch of people are holding phones and expensive cameras? Then maybe they won’t need to steal yours, and they’ll probs be better than your average old dude who really doesn’t get how the ‘Gram works. I personally like to pick people with expensive cameras or people with a girlfriend, because chances are they’ll be good at taking pictures.

3. Ask Them To Take 3

Some people take one picture and leave. When someone asks me to take a picture of them on the street, I take THE picture. I kneel down, I try various angles and lights. I want THE shot so they can post it. Ideally, you’d hope people would do the same for you, but just in case, ask them to take three pictures so you can switch pose and choose the best out of them.

4. Picture A Friend While They’re Snapping

I sometimes feel awks even when my friends are taking pictures of me, so with a stranger it’s even worse. So I have to think someone I care about is taking them, or I have to think about something funny that made me smile naturally to forget how awks what I’m doing is. Or sometimes I’m genuinely happy and carefree and don’t give a crap.

5. Ask The Next Stranger

Unless you are 100% happy with that first picture, go ahead and ask the next stranger. Do you see the picture below? This was attempt number six on that walk until I was happy with my face, my body and the light. So just ask however many people you need to get the right shot.

 

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This is me post conference speech, after having walked for 40 mins to the Lincoln Memorial in my heels to catch this gorgeous light. If when I first came to Washington DC in 2014, running from myself and my demons, you would have told me I would have been back so soon, and to speak at a conference presenting a paper in a field I’ve always dreamed to study, sponsored by and representing my university, I wouldn’t have believed you. I didn’t even know who I was or what I wanted. And yet today I presented to a packed room, receiving great feedback and a lot of interest for my paper, which will be published this year. I made connection for possible publishing deals and I presented together with experts in criminology – and a lot of women, I’m happy to say – in the cradle of global power (although the orange twat’s in office). Four years on, I couldn’t be more comfortable in my shoes (which are now giving me blisters, but they add to this @zara suit that was quite successful with the crowd today). It took a lot of work and a lot of trial and error, but I am so glad I have figured out what I want to do – and that what I want to do isn’t just one thing, but a complicated blend of loads of stuff that makes me happy. In the next few days I’ll post pictures from my most naked performance ever, too, so you remember not to take me too seriously – it’s called balance.

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6. Go To Events That Are Made To Take Pictures

I went to an Airbnb walk in DC that was created because the guide was sick of having people take crap pictures of her. So she started a walk where she would take pictures of solo traveller in front of street art. She gets it. Find events with people who get it.

Friends

I am hoping you will have friends. I am also hoping you will have that one friend who’s amazing at pictures. Every now and then, it’s ok to ask them. Otherwise, you’re Sherlock.

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How To Instagram Without A Boyfriend

Are there bigger problems in the world than taking the perfect Instagram shot? Yes. Do you still want a good Instagram feed? If the answer was yes, hope this post was useful. Otherwise, go on thinking I’m a dumb millennial snowflake and have a nice day.

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