by every definition.

Instagram: From likes to lifestyle

A little backstory

When I created my Instagram account on 5th June 2013, it was like "Erm, so I would post a picture and get likes for it?".

I started using Instagram despite not understanding the hype about it because of OKJ Discoveries. Like many bloggers starting out, I took to every social media I know, hoping that it will all come together and make me into a social media powerhouse, an influencer worth the attention.

But I didn't understand going about doing so, and from 5th June 2013 to 16th May 2014, a year of aimless attempts at increasing my likes went by in vain. I was focused on getting more likes and followers that I even thought about buying followers through those shady methods (which I ended up no doing, of course).

Sure, it may seem obvious to most that this isn't the proper way to succeed, but when one is striving for something, he is often blinded with ambition. 

My first real step towards understanding Instagram and hopefully "succeeding" in it was taken on 17th May 2014, during the 9th edition of the WorldWide Instameet held at Fort Canning.

Group shot =) #wwim9_singapore #instasg #exploresingapore #nparksbuzz

A photo posted by Ong Kah Jing (OKJ Discoveries) (@o.kj) on

After just experiencing the 10th Worldwide Instameet on 4th October, I find it timely to reflect on what I had learned. This article is for those who like (the past) me, do not understand Instagram, or why some would go to "desperate" acts to get the photos they want. It is a telling from someone who had been on both sides, and maybe this could be a new perspective that broadens your view.

Here are three changes to my perspective about Instagram

It was about the likes,
now it's about the maker's pride

I remembered during the 9th WorldWide Instameet, I had a small chat with Joshua (a.k.a. @j.osh). He was the guest speaker at the event, had over 40,000 followers and was even featured on Instagram's account. When he told me that likes and follows do not matter, I only replied him that he only felt so because he had already succeeded, much like someone who feels money is of no worry when he had more than enough.

But now I understand what he meant. When I worked towards gaining likes, I found none. But when I focused on making a photo good, it was then that I found these likes, it was a perspective that stuck with me ever since.

Joshua, and other Instagramers alike, are proud of their work, and have gone through respectable lengths to maintain a level of quality and identity to every image they upload.

Through experience and a yearning for the unfamiliar, the photos they capture may vary, but the quality and consistency will not.

Likes are a nod of acknowledgement, a recognition for a photo well taken and edited.

It is not a popularity contest, though it is understandable why many would view it that way.

I now seek for the satisfaction of releasing a photo worthy of people's attention and my own standards. It satisfies a pride, something that all makers share - much like the makers of arms and amours of the medieval period who stamped their marks on their product, a signature that holds their pride.

But before they would dare to stamp this permanent mark on, they would be certain to make their product worthy of their name and reputation.

At the end of the day, knowing that I had released a worthy photo is satisfaction in itself, the likes and follows that come after are a bonus.

Likes are a bonus, not the main point. Seek only for it and you will find none.

Editing was a chore,
now it's like doodling.

I used to wonder why Instagramers took so much time and effort to edit their photos. Sure, some of them have created truly amazing photos, but all this effort for likes and follows, is it really worth it?

But it seems I had been seeing it all wrong. Those who had gone beyond the initial appeal of likes and follows seek the pleasure of sharing great photos with others. This is very much in association with the first point.

When initially trying to achieve the quality some of these highly followed Instagramers, I really had a hard time editing my photos. It took a vast amount of time and the result is always less than satisfactory. But as I edited more picture and follow people with a consistent feed of great quality, I soon became better at it.

Not only that, I began to enjoy it! I would compare this entire experience to that of looking at someone doodling. Not everyone is good at it, and it takes a lot of time and effort. But with practice and inspiration, you get better and faster at it, all the while enjoying the process as others enjoy your work.

It is now a fun past time of mine. When I have nothing to do, taking the train or waiting in a queue, editing my photos has taken over aimlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed.

It may still be seen as wasting time to some, but like what John Lennon said:

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

I didn't understand Instagram,
now it's my passion.

That's right. From not understanding it, to living it. After being welcomed by the passionate Instagram community in Singapore and using Instagram properly for the past couple of months, I view the world with a sense of what my next photo will be without obstructing my life. I do not go out looking for these photo opportunities (only on those occasions that I do) but my vision is now keen on locking into what could be a great photo to work on and share.

It is an instinct, maybe that's what people mean when they say you have the eye for something.

It is very hard to put into words something can only be understood when experienced first-hand. My current self could not have been possible if I did not take that first step to experience it back on 17th May 2014.

So I hope this article could inspire some of you to do the same, be it for Instagram or something else.

If others do not have the answers you seek, then it’s up to you to find it.

Special thanks to Instagram Singapore (@InstaSG), GlobalFamily Singapore (@GF_Singapore), and ExploreSingapore (@ExploreSingapore) all that you all had done in connecting Instragramers of Singapore together and growing the passion!

I have made many friends through this journey, and it seems like it isn't ending anytime shortly.

Follow me at @o.kj if my feed is to your liking, and here's a shoutout to some of my favourite Singapore Instagrammers, they are definitely worth a check.


#wwim10_singapore was great because of you guys, each one of more than 140 IGers that attended the photowalk! Thanks @exploresingapore and @gf_singapore for the wonderful teamwork in planning and running this, it's always great to work as a collective. ~ Thanks heaps to @influr too for the wonderful kindness in providing the refreshment for us, sorry to trouble your team as we changed plan due to heavy rain. Thanks for the gift of GoPro Hero 3+ as the contest prize too, and the pretty birthday cake as we celebrated @instagram's 4th anniversary on Saturday - appreciated much! πŸ™ ~ Please continue tagging the #wwim10_singapore and on Friday we will start working with @dannyst to find the winning post. Make sure your profile is public. If it's private, there's a chance the judge would not be able to see it. ~ Now, this is fun: can you find yourself in the picture? Also try to see how many IGers you know there!

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β—¦ WORLDWIDE INSTAMEET 10! ================================= What is it all about? Catching up with old pals and making new ones! Thank you to all who attended #wwim_singapore instameet yesterday, 4 Oct 2014! We managed to enjoy our walk for quite a bit till the rain decided to pour.. We, together with @exploresingapore & @instasg had it all planned (wet & dry weather) but it happened that we were stuck in the mid of Chinatown & not even a decent shelter were link towards MRT.. Nevertheless, it didn't dampen our spirit! We explored, puddles helped to make good photos & even umbrella became a prop! Thank you all for being with us especially those who stayed throughout and not forgetting those who actually make time to drop by despite their busy schedule.. We would also like to thank @influr for the beautiful delicious cake & beverages! ** Remember, there will be a GoPro Hero 3+ for the best picture, kindly sponsored by @influr. Keep tagging your photos to: #WWIM10 #WWIM10_SINGAPORE The contest will end on Thurs, 9 Oct 2014 @ 11:59pm! Till then, gdluck! πŸ‘ #gf_singapore #exploresingapore #instasg =================================

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THANK YOU EVERYBODY! The whole of the @exploresingapore team, together with @instasg and @gf_singapore appreciates you for coming down to join us on Saturday morning to celebrate the 10th @Instagram Worldwide Instameet Singapore. Yes, it rained heavily, and we had to shuffle our plans on the fly more than once. But overall, we had a great time putting faces to familiar Instagram nicknames, catching up with old friends and making new ones, and of course, celebrating Instagram's 4th Birthday! Remember there is still a photo challenge going on for this WWIM event, with a GoPro Hero 3+ (by the good people at @influr) up for grabs! We have been seeing many amazing photos from Saturday, and look forward to many more. Post your pictures by Thursday 9 Oct, 11:59PM, and remember to include the below hashtags: #WWIM10_SINGAPORE #WWIM10 Thank YOU once again guys - yes, more than 140 of you in total - for making it happen! See you again in our future Instameets. PS: help us by tagging those you spot in the picture above #exploresingapore

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