4 Ways to Embrace Your Own ‘Beautiful Mess’

I’m not very active on Instagram and if I’m being honest, it’s because I’m intimidated. I shouldn’t be. With all of the flattering filters, and a network full of people documenting their lives through photography, I shouldn’t feel like I’m entering a photo contest every time I go to post a picture. Life is messy and there’s genuine beauty in capturing the moments in life that aren’t necessarily polished or camera-ready.

The ladies behind, A Beautiful Mess, the hugely successful DIY blog and brilliant new book, understand this and they want to help you capture the best moments with easy-to-master photography tips that’ll have you posting like a pro. Their new book offers 95 inspiring ideas for taking photos of your people, pets, and your world. (And you could win a free copy if you enter our giveaway! Details below.)Creatively using props or backdrops is not something I ever considered trying. But guess what. It made all the difference! I’m no pro, yet, but after reading this book and trying a few new techniques, I feel a lot better about my photo-snapping skillz. Now that I’m finally having some fun with my photos, expect to see a lot more of them popping up on Instagram.

Here are four ways to embrace the beautiful mess around you and improve your photos, from DIY queens Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman.


For a new spin on selfies, A Beautiful Mess has a whole section on experimenting with light. Natural light is best, but you can also add subtle beauty using low light, shadow effects, outtakes, upside down angles, and SO. MUCH. MORE.


If you have a pet, I’m sure he/she is filling up the feeds of your followers. I feel you. My dog, Sullivan, is my pride and joy. Everything he does is amazing. Even when he’s growling at me to back off with one of my socks in his mouth. Pets can be hard to capture though. They wiggle, they lose focus quickly, and they don’t really understand the concept of a pose. Elsie and Emma suggest using treats as bribes, and if you can make it work, add a prop or costume for extra cuteness.

Sully is a terrible listener, so I decided to capture his beauty when he’s doing what he does best – sleeping. I said his name once just so I could get him to open his eyes a bit, and SNAP. Got a great one of his natural, sleepy state.


This was my favorite section, because I was blown away by the fact that I had never even considered it before. And backdrops are an easily added accessory that can create a whole new feel to a photo. “Wait, so you mean every single product from Anthropologie WASN’T photographed in a room with gorgeous vintage wallpaper?” Probably not. You were probably creating that never-ending wishlist because of paper or fabric backdrops that complimented the colors of the product.


Your hobbies bring out the best in you, and they should be showcased in the most flattering way possible. For my amateur attempt at DIY photography, I decided to use a backdrop with two things that I simply could not survive without – sneakers and books.

I probably went too far making sure the set up was somewhat neat, but despite that, the scuffs on my Chucks, the clashing colors of my running shoes, and the stray dog hairs on the polka dot blanket behind it, perfectly show off the beautiful mess that is my life.

Share your favorite Instagram tip below in the comments and you can win a copy of the book!