Saturday, March 7, 2015

Travelin' Doll, Instagram, et. al.

Sorry things have been quiet around here lately. Crap-tons of family drama combined with having two toddlers attached to me around the clock have conspired to eat up all the spare time I don't have. I don't plan to make any changes to the format of this blog in the near future but it occurs to me that I need to do something different to accommodate my life as it is. Two major problems are that Blogger isn't very usable in iOS and the photo host is somewhat limiting for loading cell phone pictures. Blogging on my home computer and lugging around my DSLR for photos has gotten much more difficult with my two "assistants" constantly underfoot and aforementioned lack of spare time.

So.... What to do? One thought that occurred to me was to do a sort of travelogue featuring one or two of my GI Joes and post it on Instagram or maybe Flickr. I nearly always have my phone with me or close by and I use it to do a lot of my actual blogging and other internet stuff as well. Of course, this photo blog doesn't have to be just Joes; it could feature Neemos, Obitsus or even some other dolls/action figures that I haven't shown around here. However, my thinking is that there would be one or two primary characters and not a "cast of thousands". Since I always have kids in tow or crawling on me, whatever subject I chose would need to be portable, durable and not too precious in terms of cost or rarity. So yeah, no super-rare 70cm resin ball joint dolls for this project!

So, how does this all work? I know a number of my readers have traveling doll blogs and use Instagram and/or Flickr with cellphone cameras. What was your experience with these services and were there any limitations, frustrations or pitfalls that I should know about? Can I cross post images from Instagram to other platforms like Blogger or (for the old-school among us) message boards? Any tips for photographing dolls with a cellphone camera? I find I still prefer my DSLR for image stability and quality but maybe I'm not giving the phone a fair chance. Finally, is this the sort of thing any of you would find interesting? Or would it be just more links to click and more sites to join just to look at some boring, silly pictures of dolls and action figures? Let me know what you think!


  1. Okay, this is going to get long, but this is a hot topic for me too at the moment. I'm trying to broaden my horizons on social media although I have my suspicions about it... (I still don't want to use Facebook on my mobile :'D ) I have accounts in both, Instagram and Flickr and I definitely can recommend them both! Heh, I've only been on Insta since February but I'm already so hooked! x3

    I love it how it's very easy to just take a quick photo, maybe tweak it a little with a photo editing app and then load it on Instagram, with a few words to describe what is on the picture & tags. Quick and easy, you can take photos in advance and post them on the go when you have the time. It's so liberating because posting on Blogger always makes me feel like I need to have something intelligent to say, not just post random photos... and it takes time from me because I post in both English and Finnish, and while I'm pretty fluent in both languages it still takes time to write the same things all over again. (I usually write in English first, then translate it to Finnish. I'm more used to writing in English and I make a heck load of grammar mistakes in Finnish... Makes me hope that everyone in Finland could really understand english so well as they make you think but no. ^^;; )

    Some of the things that annoy me about Instagram is that a lot of the really popular pics are taken by members using a DSLR, then transferred to the phone and posted on Instagram. I thought the whole idea of Insta was to take quick shots, Polaroid style and using pictures taken with a DSLR kind of ruins it. Well, I've done it a couple of times no too,, but I still prefer mobilephone pics on Insta, even if the picture quality might be a bit grainy (but isn't it meant to be? :-O )... I have Samsung Galaxy Note, the first version and am thinking of upgrading it to the current Note 4, so maybe I'll get the picture quality better with a more advanced mobile camera...

    Instagram can also be pretty time-consuming in the sense that you get the urge to check if someone has commented on your photo or if your friends have posted something... I've never been this addicted to a mobile app before, it's ridiculous! :D

    But yeah, otherwise I think Instagram is brilliant! There are some doll, toy- and figure-centered "communities" or something - I don't really know what they are called in Insta-"slang" - that gather pictures from hobbyists and add them under a certain Instagram account or feed, similar to the different themed groups on Flickr.
    (I found one called toyartistry on Insta and there are some great shots there).

    So, I'd definitely recommend Insta. I'm still getting the hang of it, but I think I'm going to use it for posting things about daily life, my drawings and doodles (finally have a place where I don't feel too intimidated to post them!), funny things that I see, doll- and toypics. I kind of want to record things on Insta, a little bit like a small (and not all that personal) visual diary.

    I got an advise from a friend that if I wanted a lot of followers on Insta, I should make separate accounts for my doll pics and for my "random pics" but I personally like accounts that have variety in photos. I'm usually interested in lots of other things than just dolls so... if someone isn't interested in my random pics maybe they're better off not following me. :'D I don't mind.

  2. About Flickr. That's a great place for posting pics too, especially if you want to share you DSLR pics. They have great groups for almost every topic you can think of, where different people can post pics under a certain topic. Weekly photochallenge groups and all kinds of fun things! You can also make your own groups and invite people.

    I'm using Flickr to showcase my best pics (heh, well, I'm not that good in photography but still...) where as Instagram is all about fun and snapshots and Blogger is for contemplating on my hobbies, interests and collections, and maybe a little bit about my life too, sometimes the odd picture-story of dolls or toys thrown in the mix. Some people seem to post the same photos everywhere, but I like to use different communities for different things. Well, if I have a pic I really like, then I'll post it to multiple places but.. ^^;;

    I don't think having accounts in different communities and services is too over-whelming to your followers (although everyone can of course speak for themselves. ;) ). I've noticed that a lot of the people I follow on the web already have accounts in different places, and some have also followed my lead and joined Instagram, which I'm pretty flattered about! :) Quite on the contrary, it might attract more followers to your Blogger too. I'm not sure if your goal is to get more followers or if you just want to share pics with your existing audience, but getting more accounts might be a good solution for both.

    I've yet to try cross-posting things from Instagram to Flickr etc. but I've understood it is possible. I posted some of my Insta pics in Blogger, but I don't know any other way to do that than using a certain piece of script and I've only done it manually with my computer... so I'm sorry I can't help you with that one. :) But I feel you, the Blogger interface is not that good on Android either... at least not on my phone.

    Oh and I think you could choose a few G.I.s or dolls that you feel comfortable carrying around as the "main cast" of your pics and maybe have a visiting surprise star every now and then. :)

    1. Spica, thanks much for your advice! I'm giving Instagram a try and I'll look in to Flickr as well.

      Right now, I plan to have two main characters for the travelogue photos but with a number of supporting characters and guest stars. Now, I just need to decide who I should feature.

      I found it fascinating that you write your blog first in English then translate to Finnish. I would've expected it to be the other way around so it's interesting to get some insight in to your writing process.

  3. I *LOVE* Instagram. It's user friendly, and you can easily cross platforms and post things to FB, Flickr, Twitter and Tumblr. Not to mention they also have a smart search that you can use to find other users using hash tags, or if you just look at the search they generate for you, they'll pull from images you've liked recently based on the hashtags attached to those... so I've found a lot more Neemo and doll people that way! (I'm littlebearries on Instagram, btw, if you join :) )

    My only complaint about Instagram is that it sometimes goes wonky... but that seems to happen less and less (maybe once every 4-6 months)... and sometimes it has more to do with my wireless connection in my house than actual Instagram.
    (but sometimes you'll be in the middle of posting a pic and the whole thing just shuts down... as apps on phones do sometimes... and it's so annoying).

    I also love Flickr... it's a great, easy way to store higher quality images, create groups to share things (Adventurer's Club!) and find groups that interest you, where you can ask questions on the message boards and post your own content. I also find it really easy to download images from Flickr to my phone, and then upload them to Instagram.

    I take a lot of photos with my phone these days (being super pregnant = hard to lug the ol' DSLR around) and the main key is always "Good Lighting"... but there are quite a few brands of "enhancement aides"... I highly recommend checking out this site:

    I haven't ordered anything yet for myself, but I'm going to... for baby photos XD

    Also... when you use Instagram, there's a site where you can make pretty cool prints really easily (and not too expensive) from your Instagram images:
    That I really love (I have used them, they do great work)

  4. Don't use my phone for photos at all and very rarely post photos elsewhere, except for Flickr occasionally, there is just not enough time in the day for me to use a whole pile of separate accounts. I guess I'm not that interested in what other people think of my photos either and tend to only take pics when I intend to use them on my blog.

    I enjoy blogging and reading other blogs, to me it seems much more personal, but I guess it's each to their own, you've just gotta do what works for you.


  5. I have an Instagram account that I opened for a Sparkpeople challenge in 2013, but when I upgraded my phone last year I never installed it. I hadn't missed it until you asked about it.
    I take all of my doll pictures with my phone. I really like the community on Flickr. I am in 3 different year long picture groups that feature dolls. One is daily with a prompt, one is every other with a prompt and one is once a month with a prompt for a picture and a short story (at least 100 words). Each group sparks my creativity in different ways.I have found that I take more pictures in general when I am in a prompted group because the pictures of other members prompt me to be more creative. I carry a doll and her teddy bear companion with me everywhere. Their travel case holds both of them safely and two or three props. I also have pre-packed prop boxes sorted by type of prop that I can grab and go. (Weapons are packed separately from books and board games.)
    These days I use my phone more often than a full size computer. I haven't ever owned a DSLR and my phone camera is better than the last point and shoot that I bought. I also post pictures on Facebook because it is easy to post directly from my phone in the app.