The Rise & Fall of Valencia

Oct 23, 2014

Or Walden. Or Amaro. Or whichever filter is/was your favourite.

Do you still use it? If I'm going by my Instagram feed lately, you probably don't.

More & more, as I scroll through my feed, the presence of filters is hard to detect. Perhaps it's because you can 'tone down' the filter, so it's not at full strength? Or perhaps because people are using Instagram's other editing options?

Either way, there is a distinct lack of filters in my feed.
*and by 'my feed', I mean the homepage feed of people I follow

I noticed it a couple weeks ago, this filter-less feed, and it intrigued me. When I first joined Instagram in early 2012, my feed was full of filters. In particular, I remember noting that @younghouselove exclusively used Sierra, and that I could never quite figure out what filter @heygorgevents used (but always suspected it was Walden). Scroll through their feeds now? It's hard to detect any filter. The same is true for two of my favourites, @ellivenstudio & @stephsterjovski.

So what changed? Picking the filter to go with your photo used to be a big deal, but now I skip right past it without a second thought. Many other must too. Is it because we know that life through a filtered photo isn't painting an accurate picture? Do we want to seem more 'real'? Do filter-less photos add real-ness to our highlight reels?

I took a bit of a break from Instagram last year. And aside from a few outliers from this past spring/summer, I've only been posting again since September 14. And the game has really changed! The time & styling that goes into some feeds is extraordinary. Instagram is a money-making platform now, and perhaps that explains the missing filters. was a gamechanger. No longer are bloggers feeding traffic to their blog to make affiliate sales, they can do it straight through their Instagram. Maybe filter-less photos sell more?

Getting too deep into the strategy & psychology of Instagram can be a bit mind-blowing. Iconosquare anyone? Optimizing & targeting your feed is a unique science that takes some serious skill & effort. Take note of some of the big bloggers in your feed - when do they post? How often do they post? What do they post? - and I can almost guarantee you'll see some patterns. Like missing filters.

But while there may be a lack of filters, I don't believe that the photos in my feed are unedited. 

From Photoshop, to VSCO & Afterlight, and even to Instagram's in-house editing options, I'm almost certain that every photo in my feed has been altered. Increasing the brightness is something I do with almost every photo in my feed. But you can change almost anything - contrast, saturation, add vignettes, crop & straighten.

Did we all come to the same conclusion at once? To remove obvious filters from our feeds in place of subtle edits & tweaks? To present a 'truer' version? Or is this trend just designed to make our highlights more highlighted?

Do you use filters or edits on your photos? Have you noticed the lack of filters too? I would love to know your thoughts! You can leave a comment below, or discuss with me on Instagram, @brittdouglas_ 


Golden Field

Oct 16, 2014

A few weekends ago I went on a hike with a friend. We didn't time it on purpose, but we ended up there right at that magical golden hour. That light can make anything beautiful! I had a hard time narrowing down photos for this post, but you can see the rest here.

I love the photos of the little friend we met on the way :) I know a really short depth of field isn't for everyone, but I love it! It's fun to just take photos & practice & experiment with editing. I don't have a super fancy camera or lens, but you have to start with what you've got right? ;)


ps, I've been posting a lot more on Instagram lately! I decided at BlogPodium to make more of an effort with my feed and I'm having a lot of fun with it :) There's a little slideshow in the sidebar, or you can follow me here

Thoughts from BlogPodium 2014

Oct 2, 2014

How do you sum up BlogPodium in a post?? I've been struggling for the past few weeks to put my experience into words but it will never be a perfect summary, so I'm embracing my jumbled thoughts and sharing my favourite take-aways from the weekend :)

Good things take time
Someone asked me during my presentation for tips on how to create professional videos that compete with Michelle Phan. And my answer at the time was fine - make sure it's HD, don't use iMovie music, don't go 'transition' crazy, etc - but thinking back to the whole day I think my answer would be this:

Just start. If you wait until you have every skill in place to compete with Michelle Phan, you'll have missed out on so much. Just turn on your camera, use what you have (but please not the iMovie music! haha) and do your best. Michelle Phan did not become what she is overnight. It took years of regularly uploading videos, let alone the years before she ever joined Youtube. You will never, ever ever start something at the top and instantly be the most successful. Good things take time. You have to be willing to wait, and learn & grow & change in the process. But you can't do any of that until you start.

Quality over quantity.
When it comes to how many people you met, or your blog stats, or your engaged readers, we should all be more focused quality over quantity. It's what brands are looking for now - the influencers & tastemakers - and engaged followers are much more worthwhile than a mere number on analytics. And one or two genuine connections at a conference will far outweigh 100 business cards from people you barely remember meeting.

Face-to-face connections can't be beat.
I feel like I really bonded with a few people this time around. People I'd met at past conferences or worked with over email were so easy to just start chatting to & it was like the initial awkwardness of meeting new people was just not there. I'm not entirely sure why, but dang, some good conversations were had!

Do you.
There was a lot of talk on authenticity - from Donna's morning keynote, to the fantastic lunchtime panel - and I couldn't agree more. You will never succeed trying to be someone else. And someone else's path will never work the same for you. Embrace your own journey and you will succeed.

"Don’t look left. Don’t look right. Do what you yourself do – and that’s it." (via)

On the front of every program are the three words of BlogPodium's mission: Connection. Conversation. Collaboration. The first two are relatively easy, but true collaboration takes work! And I don't mean guest posts or sharing other's work (which are both great & I don't want to downplay), but truly collaborating on a project from start to finish is hard in the blog world when we're all so spread out. But I think (and I include myself in this!) that we need to really work together more. Combine strengths & work as a team. I mean, BlogPodium would absolutely not happen without the fantastic team Jen has put together. I play a very small role, and watching other people do what they do best is so neat to see.

Overall, I came away from the weekend feeling so grateful. For new friends, for the opportunities I've had, and for all the incredible things that are going to come out of it.

Thankyou Jen & Julie & Tia & Brittany and the rest of the amazing team for a weekend I won't forget anytime soon :)


Behind the Blog

Sep 30, 2014

Today I'm joining in on the Behind-the-Blog tour! I love anything behind-the-scenes and am all about keeping it real, so I was thrilled to take part :) There's a whole bunch of other bloggers doing this as well, so be sure to check out all the links to their posts at the bottom! Let's get into the questions:

Be honest: What time do you wake up and what's a typical breakfast?
I usually wake up 6-7am-ish, depending on when I went to bed the night before. I always have tea - this morning it was Tazo Zen, but I switch between a few. To eat, I love overnight oatmeal with almond milk & chia seeds, but if I forget to make it, then I love having a banana & almond butter.

What do you do? How do you find the balance between blogging and work? What are the pros and cons?
I work as a freelance graphic & web designer. Balance is such a give & take. If work is busy, blogging usually is the first thing to be ignored. But my blog existed first, so I feel pretty loyal and always try and post when I can. The pros of working for myself are being able to control my own schedule, work remotely, and enjoy the quiet. (hello introvert!) The cons are of course not knowing where work is going to come from next, the feeling of never being able to do everything on your list, and the strange remarks I get for working for myself.

Where did you grow up (what city/town, do you have siblings, can you share any stories about your upbringing)? 
I grew up in a small-ish city with my family, about an hour outside of Toronto. I have one younger brother who has the best sense of humour :) I wasn't very fond of my city growing up (especially in high school haha) but after living in Toronto for a few years for university, I can appreciate the slower pace (and non-existent rush hour) that living in a smaller city has. There are certain things I miss about living downtown (the shopping! the food! but seriously, if you like Thai, go to Salad King) but it's always there to visit :)

Outline your average, typical day. Be as transparent as possible.
6-8am || I wake up, do my little morning routine, have breakfast, check-in on what's happened while I was sleeping, etc.
8-10 || I usually try to get to my desk between 8:30-9. Check my email, create my to-do list for the day, and start working.
10-12 || I'm most productive in the mornings, so I try to power through as much as I can. Depending on the day & the projects I have, sometimes I'm really successful and other days are just slower.
12-2 || I try to eat lunch by noon, so it forces me to step away from the computer for a bit. Then it's back to work on anything I didn't complete that morning or prepping for tomorrow if there's time.
2-4 || More of the same. Work, prep, emails.
4-6 || I usually try and step away from my computer by 4. If there's something I just want to power through though, I'll stick around for a bit. This is usually the time for errands if I have any. Dinner's usually around 6.
6-8 || Dinner & family time. Very occasionally I'll pop back to my desk to finish something up.
8-10 || I very rarely work this late, so this time is just chill time. Turn off the brain & watch all the new TV shows :)
Here's a day-in-the-life post from last year too :)

What's your dream job/career? How are you working towards that?
I feel pretty lucky to be doing what I'm doing. I would love to design & create fonts more - I do have some, but I'd love to add some scripts! I think a physical product line would be really fun too. Don't want to spill too much on that just yet :)

What would be your dream dinner-party guest-list? Explain why you chose each person.
My Grandma Helen, who passed away 5 years before I was born. I've been told so many stories about her over the course of my life, I'd love to sit & have dinner with her :) Kate Middleton, just to see what it's really like behind palace doors. And Agatha Christie, to chat about Miss Marple & all things mysterious.

What's one thing you'd like to start, one thing you'd like to stop, and one thing you'd like to continue.
I would like to start running. I would like to stop comparing myself. I would like to continue to grow & learn with every opportunity & lesson that comes my way.

What's your current obsession?
This verse. All the new TV seasons (um, what actually happened to Castle?). The beautiful fall weather we've been having. Knitting looms!

Link to 5 websites/blog you can't go a week without?
Oh gosh, how to pick! I love the way Under the Sycamore captures her family's life, and her photography tips are always fantastic. Vampy Varnish to stay up-to-date on new beauty items. Ann Street Studio to drool over her amazing photos & stories. Nancy Ray Photography for her organizational posts. And Hey Gorg for her pep talks :) (there's so many more though! I have a few of my favourite down in the sidebar too)

Tag and mention 1 blogger who you'd like to partake in this feature.
I tag Julie of Elliven Studio! Because I'd love to see how she crafts those perfect instagrams :)

Here's a list of all the bloggers involved! Be sure to visit their posts for a little peek behind their blogs :)

Monday September 29th
Sabrina Smelko ||

Tuesday September 30th
Shawn Lovering ||

Wednesday October 1st
The Party Girl ||

Thursday October 2nd
Katie Rose ||
Hilary Ramsay ||

Friday October 3rd
Jordana ||
Vanessa/Decor Happy ||

Big thanks to Sabrina for organizing all of this!! Can't wait to read everyone else's posts!

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