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Midland Musings with Jenny Nguyen – Capturing Moments Through Instagram

Sunset at Fremont SRA

When it comes to Instagram, there are two camps: those who absolutely love it and those who hate it.

A lot of hardcore photographers will grumble and gripe, criticizing the application and its users because it’s not “real photography.” And they’re right. Instagram is NOT photography. It requires very little technical know-how that real photographers who use real cameras spend years to perfect. Unless if you actually know how to work a real camera, I would advise Instagram users to steer clear from labeling themselves “photographers.” It would just make people mad.

But, as a social media tool, Instagram is amazing. I fall into the first camp. I absolutely adore it.

Social media is fast, exciting and instantaneous, and Instagram photos are one of the most effective ways to use it. It allows people to capture moments and share things with followers right then and there. As part of the magazine staff, I find that it fits in perfectly with our goal for this blog… to allow readers a behind-the-scenes look at what we are doing in the field, at that exact moment in time. Because social media is so instant, it adds an exciting and exclusive element for followers. It’s an invitation. It says, “Hey. Follow me on my journey. Here’s what I see. Experience it with me.”

And the great thing is, anyone can use Instagram. No, the photos will never be good enough for print, but that’s not what social media is about. Social media is about getting a message across, telling a story and getting people excited, and you don’t have to be a professional photographer or the CEO of a company to accomplish that goal. Even grandma could use it. Heck, maybe grandma is using it. With a smartphone in hand, anyone can take cool photos.

I like it because I can easily snap a couple photos with my phone in between taking photos with my Canon. In a just a few clicks, I can instantly share noteworthy moments with followers without having to wait to go home to transfer all my RAWs, then edit and wait for my slow internet to upload them online. Sometimes, I can’t get to my photos until a few days later, and by that time, the wonderful moment has gone cold.

Easily connect your Instagram account to Twitter and Facebook. When you post a photo on the app, it will post to Facebook and/or Twitter for you so you don’t have to do it over and over again.

As an example, I posted this photo of Conservation Officer Alex Frohberg rescuing a sick eagle nearby Ponca State Park about a month ago. From a technical, photography standpoint, the photo isn’t worth a darn. But from a social media standpoint, it’s gold. Within minutes, the photo went viral on Facebook, receiving many likes and comments. No one cares how perfect your photo looks on social media. What matters is the overall value of the post– people deeply care about eagles here in Nebraska. So, photo with eagle receives lots of “likes.”

If you post it, they will come. It’s figuring out what people care about that’s the most challenging part. The better you know your audience, the better you can cater to them, and the more followers you will get.

Instagram is free. If you have a smartphone, there’s nothing to lose. It can also be loads of fun!

About Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

NEBRASKAland Associate Editor Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and moved to the United States with her parents in 1992. She graduated from Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove, California, in 2008 and completed her bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 2012. Wheatley was editor-in-chief for her high school newspaper and continued to write in college, freelancing for various publications, the Tiger Woods Foundation and writing for her blog FoodForHunters.com. After graduating college, she moved to Nebraska in early 2013 to join the Commission as Regional Editor at NEBRASKAland Magazine. She then became associate editor in 2015. Wheatley enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking.

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