The famed Instagram photo dump has long been making its rounds in the realm of Instagram, hitting the feeds of It-girls worldwide, from Addison Rae to Emma Chamberlain, and even Kiko Mizuhara and Le Sserafim’s Yunjin. Though this unassuming carousel of images may leave one underwhelmed by the results, we promise there’s a deeper science to nailing a photo dump—as unbelievable as it seems. Behind the nonchalant caption and unedited stills, is a curative eye that paints a picture of beauty in the seemingly mundane. We live in a branded world, surrounded by means of marketing, be it the coffee sleeve wrapping your cup of joe with a corporate logo or that one influencer’s most recent post plugging whatever’s in hand. Either way, the truth is that we’re all amenable to highly curated and concise messages meant to influence.
So where does the almighty photo dump come into play? It seems in a world chock full of not-so-well intended marketing tactics taking over our feeds, the photo dump comes as a call for authenticity. A series of loosely connected images paint a vague picture of one’s life, albeit shrouded in a bit of mystery—for the key here, is to keep it casual and imperfect. Forget the perfectly posed fit pic, or the carefully decorated table assortment, the photo dump calls for a series of images that speak to the realities of your day-to-day. The one rule of every photo dump? There are no rules, no expectations.
Authenticity may be the very essence of a photo dump, but that’s not to say it equates to an aesthetic one. A carousel of images may seem easy enough to post, but we say that there’s more to a well-executed photo dump than meets the eye.
Without further ado, here are some tips to nail that next photo dump, with visuals fresh off the feed from our favourite Instagram It-girls to aid the learning process.
Show The Process And Tell The Story
Think of a photo dump this way: you have 10 pictures to tell a loosely linked story of your life. If you’re going on a holiday, choose 10 pictures that shows the behind-the-scenes of your getaway—instead of the posed photograph in front of a tourist attraction, go for a candid taken on public transport, or a side view of you walking the streets. The trick is to capture the moments that we don’t necessarily get to see on social media. Emma Chamberlain does this best—a quick look at her recent Fashion Week photo dump proves that even at the world’s most glamorous gathering, the behind-the-scenes looks a lot like shoes all over the place and getting stuck in Parisian traffic.
If you’re just going through the motions of life (as many of us are), a series of images that shows sneak peeks of your day-to-day would work perfectly. Our favourite trick for getting good images for photo dumps is to snap pictures of food as it’s being eaten, and the clean plates. Compared to your usual pristine spread of food, there’s more nonchalance to an image of half-eaten dinner, and it perfectly encapsulates the no-judgement nature of a photo dump.
What we’re referring to value refers to anything that your audience may want to save your post for inspiration. Be it an outfit, jewellery stack, or even a cafe—give your followers something aspirational that they’ll want to recreate in their own life.
This is your chance to whip out the never-before-seen shots sitting idly by in your gallery. The quirkier, the better. Without giving any context of how and where it was taken, this image should be visually intriguing and perhaps a little humorous to show some of your own personality. We suggest finding inspiration in your own life to start—keep an eye out for happenings on the streets, or take a minute to stop and stare at the surroundings of the shop you’re at. Prime example of the no-context dump? Instagram It-girl and fashion week frequenter, Devon Lee Carlson, who shows that being a little unserious on the ‘gram can totally be glam.
When In Doubt, Follow The Formula
Sifting through endless rows of images in your photo gallery with no vision in mind may prove to work against you if you have no jumping off point for a photo dump. Rather than aimlessly shortlisting pictures that make the cut for a permanent spot on your feed, we suggest following this formula to curate the perfect collection of images.
- An outfit picture
- Food picture (best taken mid-meal or post-meal)
- A candid picture of friends or family
- A recent screenshot from your gallery
- Nature or your surrounding landscape
- A personality picture: something that expresses yourself in a static image