By Bridget Hollit – @bhollit

#bts / behind the scenes – unretouched behind the scenes shot, usually taken on an iPhone
editorial – paid or unpaid work for a magazine
test – an unpaid shoot to build the books of the team
FINAL or #final – retouched final shots from a commercial job, editorial or test shoot
Outtake – taken on the shoot by the photographer, but not included in the final shots. Usually unretouched.
If a make up artist is tagged – I’ve had my make up professionally done
#vsco or #vscocam – I’ve filtered the shot on an app called vscocam (It’s a goodie. Check it out)
Picture of a cat – I love cats
If I’m on a beach in swim on a shoot – I’m probably freezing!
#backstage – the shot was taken backstage at a fashion show. This means professional hair and make up, but usually no retouching.
If I tag a brand I’m wearing – I may have been given the clothing on the back of a shoot with the brand, and sometimes I’ve had it sent to me.
@eddieseye takes a lot of the candid shots. They’re taken on an iPhone and unretouched, but he’s a professional photographer who knows his stuff.
If I post a photo of Bondi or breakfast – I’m definitely in trackies
If I post a selfie – it was probably taken in front of a window so the light is nice. But unless I’ve tagged a make up artist, I won’t be wearing much! Also, it took me just as many tries as you. Trust me.

I just wanted to post a quick reminder of all that goes into the photos models post on Instagram. I think not knowing exactly what has happened to an image before it is uploaded to social media can cause misconceptions in both the positive or negative direction. Often, girls will post final retouched shots from a ten-thousand-dollar-budget-campaign and people will compare themselves directly. Or a beautifully lit un-retouched iPhone shot is posted and people assume it’s been edited and warped, so that person’s beauty is cheapened somehow.

There’s little clarity as to what our photos have been through, who took them, whether we’ve had our make up done, whether we got the clothing for free, are being paid for the post, and especially how we are feeling when we post. So I figured that at least for myself, I could create a general guide that would help me be completely transparent with my followers in future. Of course, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I hope that this will somewhat help you guys decrypt models’ posts to understand exactly what they mean.

I think we could all strive to make our social media profiles a bit ‘realer’ in the sense that they don’t really represent who we are or our every day lives for the most part. I know that I will often post a photo from the week earlier just for the sake of putting something up. For me, Instagram has always been a fun and creative way of promoting myself as a model. But when I’m having a day off and hanging out with friends, I find it hard to get my phone out and keep the commentary running. This means that my Instagram feed is not a holistic view of my every day life, but only my work life. So it isn’t really real life, and it’s important to recognise this.

I recently had a week where I posted a couple of things about being sad and/or tired, and remember thinking that my feed looked so negative and mope-y, I should probably delete one. But the truth is that week was a pretty negative week for me in general, I was sad and I was tired. I was an 8 hour plane ride away from my boyfriend who had just arrived in LA, I was jetlagged and doing work I really didn’t enjoy for 4 days straight in a cold and kind of boring city, and dealing with a few things that were upsetting me. And I realised that I actually love knowing that week my profile wasn’t a sparkly, shiny lie: my exhaustion – emotional and physical – wasn’t being masked by selfies facetuned to hide my eyebags, or left unmentioned while I posted photos from a different day in which I’m smiling widely.  It felt like a rarity that I’d finally given the whole truth to my followers, in real time. I posted photos when I took them (not at ‘prime time’) and captioned them how I was feeling. It actually represented me, not the image of myself I thought I should be projecting. And that is a lot harder than it seems, especially in this industry.

Of course, most of this time I was working so had a full face of make up. Fail.

My point is, I want people to know when my job is hard, when it’s amazing, when it’s boring and when it’s stressful. Because although it might not seem that way, my job is all those things at different times. I want you to know exactly what has gone into the construction of an image, whether it’s been retouched, whether it’s a big deal in terms of my career, where it was taken, and how I’m feeling when I post it.

It’s easy to get sucked into this ‘everything’s great my life is great’ mentality on social media, and for some reason when we see that we all believe it (even though we’re all playing the same game). It’s like we don’t see each other as people but little internet avatars without family dramas, relationship troubles or the usual stresses of just being alive. Being on the other side of the ‘professional’ social media window has helped me fully understand the discrepancy between what we read from social media and the truth. No one’s life is perfect, even if it is aesthetically pleasing enough to suggest it might be.

I think the beauty of Instagram is being able to connect you to a hundred, or a thousand or 6 million people in one instant, one image. And of course it gives people who are interested a window into the every day lives of models, celebrities, actors etc. But it’s rarely used for sending important messages or giving an accurate depiction of someone’s life. I think a lot of us are yet to unlock the real power of social media as we fight to use it for our own professional benefit, to climb in followers and project the self-image we want. Someone said something really interesting recently; I think it was as a result of seeing a Jimmy Fallon skit. He basically said: we have the technology to connect to anyone anywhere around the world, instantly, learn from them, communicate to them…but instead all we use it for is taking selfies and making memes and trying to climb in followers.
I think that’s pretty crazy. And 100% true. We kinda suck.

No one’s going to start treating their Instagram like a personal diary because that would probably be way TMI, but I think we could all try and take one step further towards the realer, merely flagging when things have been edited, or telling the truth if you’re having a bad day, or letting the world see you without make up. And sharing the things we are passionate about, not just the things that will rake in the likes. I think the realer we are, the realer the connection we create with each other, and isn’t connecting with people kind of the whole point of being alive at the end of the day?

So please know that all final shots I post have been through photoshop, unless I say otherwise. I travel a lot for work but that doesn’t mean I’m having a fun holiday, I filter some photos and most pictures I post have been taken by people whose job it is to make me look pretty and/or interesting. And through this I’ve learnt some small but effective skills in photography myself.

I invite you (yes you) to join me in using this code, or to find creative ways to incorporate as much truth as you can into what you put out into the world. I think transparency is the first and most important step in ensuring social media is not having a negative impact, so I’m going to commit myself to using this key↑ and hopefully it will unlock some truth and a more authentic connection between you and I, because that’d be pretty cool.:)