My Year on Instagram

For as far back as I can remember, art in some way or another has been one of my favorite forms of self-expression. I picked up the violin in elementary school and played until it was swapped for a hot pink electric guitar early on in high school. My homework was doodled on and my room was full of half-painted canvases and tattered sketch books. Eventually I tried to channel what was an obvious creative inclination into the foundation for a career by attending fashion design school in San Francisco, but my grades petered in the art classes and soared in the English courses. Art isn’t something I wanted to be forced to do. I need it to be a way for my soul to sing in the background.

While photography courses were available to me in my education programs as early on as high school, it never interested me. It felt limiting when I was so used to the instant gratification of color on canvas and bellowing notes from the hollow wooden body of a guitar. I belonged to the Kurt Cobain movement, signed sealed and delivered. Waist-tied flannels and homemade blouses, I was righteously living the alternative.

What I would give for a few more photos from that time.

I didn’t pick up a camera until Jack was born. I started shooting with a handheld Pentax and my images were often overexposed, blurry and grainy, but I didn’t think much of it until I was introduced to the wonderful world of professional family photography. I wanted to capture these fleeting beautiful baby moments with my first born, so I started mentally budgeting in order to pay someone to capture them for me.

That same year the very first iPhone was released. I saved again and managed to find someone that would get me Apple’s “friend” discount and purchased one right after it’s release. Before I knew it, not only was I thrilled about taking photos but I was also incredibly interested in technology and gadgets-no one more surprised than I, the self-proclaimed OG, The Tactile Artist.

While photography itself has bore it’s own hole into my soul as one of my favorite hobbies, iPhoneography has done the very same on a different level. It’s been a constant creative outlet, while allowing me to capture cadid and often decent photos of my children. I’ve explored what feels like every tool in terms of photography apps and gadgets (like the OlloClip), landing on a few favorites: Picfx, Afterglow, Snapseed and of course my favorite social sharing platform, Instagram.

Initially, I felt the very same way about Instagram as I did about photography as a whole-it felt limiting. Why would I want to slap a standard filter on to one of my photos and make it look just like everyone else’s? I wasn’t about to sell myself out that way (the Kurt Cobain movement made a lifelong impression on me as it appears).

I ended up caving to the peer pressure and uploaded my first photo to Instagram just after Beau was born, sporting a brand new pair of Crocs boots that the company had sent us. I wanted to show them how cute he looked in them:


The lighting is terrible and the filter is even worse, but from that moment forward I have been hooked.

I’m not going to go into the technical details of capturing a great phone photo because Rebecca did that perfectly in this post. I learned a few things from her and shared sentiments about everything she mentioned. Do yourself a favor and read her stuff if you haven’t already. Promise promise, you’ll thank me.

My own skill has matured only through trial, error, and practice. So much practice-probably too much practice honestly. These little muses of mine make my life so beautiful that while I manage to capture a perfect moment once in a while, my constant effort towards freeze-framing a memory is a work in progress. A white rabbit, if you will.









Over time, my appreciation for finding the perfect light in a space has bordered on obsessive. You can see the way my photos change over the course of the year in that respect mainly. Sometimes though, you can’t have the perfect light if you see a beautiful moment happening, so you make the most of it with the help of some friendly apps.

Often, my photo cache looks like this:


I take as many as possible, find the best and delete the rest.

This one is highly over saturated and it drives me nuts, but it was such a fabulous day that I love it just the same

































I realize that the sheer amount of photos I just shared was a little over the top, but I couldn’t narrow down my favorites. I’ve taken almost 1,100 photos and shared them on Instagram in the last year, and I have loved each moment more than the last. Not just for sharing my own moments, but the beautiful community that I’ve found there as well. I love seeing the way that you all capture your own lives, even if it’s a photo of your dinner. It’s a little bit of your day, of your soul, and it comes without any strings attached.

My life feels extraordinarily busy. I love to share on this blog and wish that I could all the time, but my lifestyle simply doesn’t allow for it. My family comes first, always. Instagram, for me, has been a brilliant way for me to be creative, build and share within a community, and do that all during my day, sometimes even while I’m with my kids. I’ve really appreciated everything about it (sidenote: Thank goodness they changed their Terms of Service, I was about to delete my account, and will remain guarded about it).

What’s really amazing to me though, is being recognized for this fun hobby of mine: The Honest Company named me one of their top ten ‘grammers to follow in 2013. Like, whoa. I was mentioned on Babble, and a couple of shout-outs on Instagram itself from some of my favorites like Claire Bidwell Smith, Rebecca Woolf, and Ilana Wiles. It is the most magical feeling to be recognized by people you highly admire. Truly.



I would love to hear who your favorite Instagrammers are. If you feel like sharing-even if it’s your own feed-please do! And, if you’re interested in checking out my feed you can do so here: Momma’s Gone City on Instagram. I look forward to seeing you!

Join the Conversation


  • Great post… and fantastic photos! I love Instagram. I have a horrible (!) memory so photos are so important to me. I love that we can now take our phones places we’d never take a camera and capture the every day moments. Those are the ones I like to remember the most.

  • Fantastic post!!! My favorite instagrammers? You, Kelle Hampton, DigThisChick, soulemama, Brooke White, Heidi Darwish, Lauren Conrad, Zooey Deschanel, Norman Reedus.

  • Beautiful photos…love the way you capture your children and the City. I have enjoyed your NYC photos so much…it is like a trip home to me every time I see one posted… so thank you so much for that! I will miss them when you return to California…but I do love the both coasts and look forward to you continuing to photograph your beautiful children in sunny California.

  • Honestly, you’ve been one of my favorite people to follow on instagram pretty much since I’ve been on instagram. You take such beautiful photos.

  • What a glorious post, Jessica! I adore your instagram photos. You capture every moment so well.

    And your subjects aren’t so bad, either.

  • You, Girl’s Gone Child, Veronica Armstrong and Harper’s Happening take some of my favorite IG pictures. Your images always touch me in a different place, though, since they make me nostalgic for the days when my Lotte was scooting down the city streets and lounging on stoops. Beautiful images of raising the coolest kids in the coolest city.

  • #1 I adore your photos and can’t wait to see what the future brings us with your move!

    #2 Totally agree about the Instagram community. It’s such a quick way to share a snippit of your afternoon without having to login to a blog and create a story out of it.

    #3 It’s also a great way to store edited photos for people who DO want to log in to a blog and create a story out of it.

    You definitely deserve the kudos you’ve been getting! Keep’em coming!

  • Great photos…always so touching to see!! I love yours, kelle Hampton, whipcake, kriscarr, and mine just to share is bellalulubaby. Keep snapping!!

    • THank you so much!! I’m looking forward to checking all of you (and them) out! πŸ™‚

  • You, Mommyshorts, Taza, Sacredlotus, Kelle Hampton, Girls Gone Child, The Grumbles, Livinglifesmoments, Northwest Mommy and Bluebird. I’m addicted to IG and looking at pictures! I love taking pictures of my daughter but wish I was good at it. I am still learning snapseed, camera+ and all the other apps!

    I will say as a native NYer I love looking at your pictures!! Thank you for sharing your life.

  • Love all the feeds you mentioned, plus Ryan Marshall, Kelle Hampton and Nici Cline. Your photos (and family) are gorgeous!

  • Your IG feed is one of my favorites & one that really inspired me to take my time & work on taking great iPhone photos. Lately I’m really enjoying IG & new editing tools. You truly take amazing pictures! How do you ever decide which ones to print πŸ™‚ @thechirpingmoms

  • I always adore your photos on Instagram. You have such an eye. And your family is just so fun and well, adorable. Plus, you live in one of THE most amazing cities in the world so of course you must take advantage of that while you are there! It’s a win, win! πŸ˜‰

    I also like crimsonkirk, michelleocm and sesameellis.

  • Love, love the gorgeous photos of the city. They capture the feel of it so well!

    Your photos remind me a lot of a aspiring Kennedy, but she does the same as an American in Europe. I also enjoy Targetdoesitagain for some fun clothing and fashion! Mine is thetshirtmama if you want to experience the joys of Dallas motherhood.

  • I’m so glad you joined Instagram after your initial hesitation. I absolutely love your photos.

    Instagram is my favorite social media platform, and my only regret about it is that I’m not better at taking my own photos. There’s something far more intimate about sharing your life through images compared to 140 characters, for example.

  • Your pictures are fantastic. I shared Rebecca’s post on iPhoneography everywhere I could because it was so phenomenally well-written and poignant at the same time. I’ve been on Instagram since shortly before my second was born in 2010, and now I’ll be sharing the pregnancy and birth of baby #3. I can’t believe it’s been a part of my online life for so long. Some of the friendships I’ve made on Instagram have evolved into relationships that will be lifelong, and that’s so invaluable. My IG username is @bohomamasoul if you’d like to see my pictures πŸ˜‰ I personally love @wildlings, @jonie, @sofiabrown, @waldoloves. I could go on and on! So many amazing photographers with such fantastic stories to spin through the lens of their phone.

  • Just found your blog through @etst and just started following you on IG today too. Love your words, love your pictures! I’m sashapeff on IG, if interested πŸ™‚ Happy Friday!

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