There you are, hungover in your bed Sunday morning, scrolling through your phone with one eye squinted, in a desperate search for some form of entertainment. And then you see a photo of a friend that’s so fire it’s almost offensive. She’s beyond the “laughing candid,” and entered the realm of paparazzi shot — or maybe even intense smoldering model stare. Who the hell is this girl? And honestly, who the fuck is taking these pictures of her?
Simply put, I am.
I have found that in an effort to put good karma out into the universe, I have actually become the Instagram boyfriend I was hoping to find. And frankly, I’m not getting the credit I deserve.
Here’s the thing. I have a pretty good Instagram. It could be better. For example, I could be naturally thinner and prettier, and therefore I’d look better in my photos. I could also do more activities and therefore have more opportunities to take interesting photos. But for someone who is twenty-*mumbles* years old, it’s pretty dece. I rarely succumb to the pressure to post a photo that doesn’t fit my overall aesthetic — sometimes I’ll cave if I’m desperate for something to post, but I work with what I’ve got. I try to keep a healthy balance of group photos to solo shots, and equally importantly of sexy/flirty to normal smiling photos that don’t look like I’m trying too hard. And my captions are generally clever. Never will you ever see an inspirational quote or a “this guy.” Not once. Not ever. The general vibe reads “has some flaws, but definitely not thrilled she’s fucking my ex.”
To maintain a good Instagram account, you have to give a fuck. Because I give a fuck about my own account, people think that means I will give a fuck about theirs. Heretofore, I have become the go-to Instagram boyfriend of literally every single person I know.
And I take my duties seriously.
When I’m tasked with taking someone’s photo, I treat them as I’d like to be treated. I start as any good photog would — with lighting and background. If people just want a photo “of the evening,” it’s my duty to let them know that where they’re standing could suffice, but there is a literal dumpster behind them, and this brick wall would really look cuter for the ‘gram. It’s my obligation to tell them that the sun is behind them, which will cause their faces to be in the shadows, and it would really look better if they are facing the light. And it’s my responsibility, if they make the grave mistake of asking for a photo in the dark of night with a mere flash, to tell them “listen. I’m going to do something. Don’t freak out. Just let it happen.” and whip out my LuMee to light up their faces and kind of their souls.
From there, I let them do their thing. I take a few photos of their basic hands-on-hips, smile-and-say-cheese poses. But then, I start directing them. “Look at each other,” I say. “Talk to me.” “Run your hand through your hair.” “Walk toward me.” “Look up a little more.” “Give me a straight face.” “Pop the booty.” I say whatever it takes, and I hit that burst feature as many times as it takes. I stand on my toes. I crouch down. I take the photo from every angle I can. And when I’m done, I hand that phone back with at least 40 new photos to choose from. Because I know it takes more than one. And often, it takes more than 10. And do you know what I tell them as I hand the phone back? After all that “effort”?
“Look at these, and let me know if you like any. If not, I don’t mind taking more.”
I don’t mean to liken myself to a saint or anything, but uhhh, not all heroes wear capes.
From there — and I don’t do this for everyone — but on special occasions for special people, I’ll let my subject select the photo of their Instagram dreams, and send it to me for editing. I hit it hard in Afterlight, Facetune/, and Snapseed to create an illusion of physical perfection to fit an aesthetic my poor sucker friend didn’t even know they wanted until I showed up and changed the game.
I end up feeling almost as proud of the photo as I would if it were taken for my own social platform. So you KNOW your girl is not about to sit back and allow that sucker to be posted at a suboptimal time. I took the most fire photo to ever grace this girl’s Instagram last weekend, and in her excitement, she had the AUDACITY to try to post it on Saturday night at 8pm. NOT ON MY WATCH. I was not about to sit back and allow someone to tarnish my creation. No. That bitch was to wait for the hangover crowd Sunday morning. 11am would be her moment. And so it was. And you know what happened? It ended up being her most liked photo of all time. OF. ALL. TIME.
I stalk the photos and I take in those likes as if they were my own. I’m proud of my hard work. And the “stunner” my friend gets as a comment is almost as validating as if someone had told me I, myself, were pretty. It’s like secondhand attention. This is how a makeup artist or a stylist must feel when their celebrity art project slays on the red carpet. Except instead of the world seeing it, it’s like 700 people that my friend went to high school and college with.
It’s not an entirely thankless job. My friends will openly admit that they want to keep me around when they need a fire pic, and that I’m trustworthy in the situation. But the problem is, it’s not reciprocal. The people willing to put the effort in for me are few and far between. They just don’t care like I do. And so, I’ll continue on my endless journey offering up my skills in hopes that someday I’ll find a man — nay, a person — who’s as good an Instagram photographer as I am..