I know I am late to the Instagram party, but I had a good excuse: I didn’t have an iPhone.

I still don’t.

But all the cool kids were doing it, so I’ve finally made the plunge and joined. Here’s why, and how, and what I think so far.

WHY

I joined Instagram because Facebook keeps messing with their “algorithm” (whatever that is), which means, even if you’ve liked my page, you won’t necessarily see everything I post. That’s lame. The problem is that Facebook lumps bloggers in with businesses. They would like me to pay to “promote” my post so that more people will see it. I’m sure that makes sense for businesses, but I’m a not for profit blogger, so I can’t really justify paying Facebook to let you see my posts.

On Instagram, if you follow someone, you get to see everything that person posts.

Also, I kept hearing that Instagram was drama-free. Just an image, and a few words. A happy place. I feel like my blog’s Facebook page is pretty positive, but overall, Facebook IS drama-full. I see comments on friends’ posts and cringe, and then I have to decide: to engage or not to engage. Not engaging is, of course, almost always the right decision. I’ll leave it to you to figure out if I take my own good advice.

So, I decided to do it. But how to manage without a smart phone?

HOW

Instagram is viewable on a desktop computer, but you can’t share images from there. You can only post using the Instagram app, and it has to be on a supported mobile device. Currently Instagram works on iPhones, Android phones, iPods, and iPads. Well, I don’t have an iPhone but I DO have an iPad. But it’s not the new one with the fancy camera. And it’s a big ol’ iPad, so if I use it, I’m pretty much stuck taking bad photos and looking lame doing it.

So that’s one way to do it. Just use your iPad. And own the lameness.

However. I’d rather use my nicer camera anyway, because . . . it takes nicer photos.

So, here are the two ways I’ve found to do it.

1. Take photos on camera. Upload to desktop as usual. Then either
          a. Email or message the photo to myself, or
          b. From the desktop, upload it to an “only me” album on my personal Facebook page
THEN, from my iPad, I save the image to my iPad photo library, either from email or Facebook, and share it on Instagram right then, or later.

Many steps, but it works.

But THEN I got a Wi-Fi Memory Card
. And things got a lot better. They aren’t cheap, but they are a lot less expensive than an iPhone 6, and you don’t have to camp out to get one. I just got one and am still playing around with it, but mostly, the idea is that this SIM card wirelessly transfers photos to an app you install on your mobile device. So, I can quickly get photos from my camera to my iPad (or a smartphone) without a computer. And, again, better camera, better photos for Instagram. Having a really great subject doesn’t hurt, either.

The limitations are:
1. It needs wifi, so, home or a hotel or a wifi hotspot, but not . . . the beach. Not just anywhere, like the “real” Instagrammers. (I suppose if you had a smartphone with 4G, you could transfer on the go.)
2. There’s no option to select which photos you send to your mobile device. It sends them all. This isn’t a problem for me, because I usually download photos on a very regular basis. I scroll through the photos on the camera and delete the obviously bad ones, then I upload just a couple onto the iPad, and then choose which ones to share on Instagram.  Later, I download them all onto my desktop for keepsies. If I’m traveling, I’ll need to use two cards, one to store all my photos to bring home, and the wifi one for social media images, or just be good about deleting unneeded images off of the iPad.
3. It drains the camera battery more quickly than usual. So, I carry an extra battery.

But. I think it’s a pretty great compromise. I get to be on Instagram and I get to put the photos I like on there.

LIKE?

Yes, yes I do.

As a blogger, it’s nice that with one click in the Instagram app I can share images to Instagram and Facebook as well. Since I was already sharing images on Facebook, it doesn’t really take anymore time to do both.

I’m a complete amateur when it comes to photography. But I do love looking at GOOD photos, and some people are just SO GOOD! There are plenty of beautiful photos of ordinary things to be seen on Instagram. I’m trying to wade in slowly, so I’m just following a handful of friends, family, and bloggers so far, but already, I find myself loving the artsiness I’m finding there. I also like that it’s a window into the everyday. I love the feeds of my family members and friends who are clearly not staging the “just so” perfect photo of their breakfasts, but are sharing the joy of little moments in their days.

And, again, I have a SUPER small sample here, but do people seem to “get” it more on Instagram than Facebook? It seems to me that the captions are funny and insightful, the comments are funny and insightful, the images are fun and sight-ful, and it’s just a nice, smart place to be.

So, if you’re on Instagram, or if you have been convinced to join, please come find me, I’m @kendra_tierney. And, hey, just to make it a little more fun, let’s play a little game.

Lulu just happens to be setting off today on a very exciting journey. She’ll be spending the next ten days visiting some lovely and special places, and if you’re on Instagram (or Facebook, it’ll be there too), you can try to guess where she is. She’ll be posting photos labeled #whereislulu. The first few correct guesses on each photo will get entered into a drawing for a prize package of little trinkets from the trip.

Speaking of prizes . . .  today is my birthday! And to celebrate, all this week, while we’re galavanting about with Lulu, I’ll also be here at the blog, hosting Hobbit-style birthday giveaways for YOU! (That mean it’s MY birthday, but you get the presents.)

The first giveaway is a beautiful handmade cross of glass and wood, created by artisan Hylda Rodriguez of SACRO.

The winner will receive a MINI handcrafted Cross in any color the winner prefers. The winner will have 10 business days (2weeks) to reply the email from SACRO choosing the color you prefer in order to claim the cross.

And there are coupon codes especially for Catholic All Year readers. If you purchase a minimum of $50 (one large cross or two MINI) you’ll get a $5.00 USD discount and if you purchase a min. of $150 you’ll get a $25 USD discount. The codes expire on September 30th.

MYCROSS – Code for a $5.00 USD discount.
LOVEJESUS – Code for $25.00 USD discount.

All the crosses are totally handmade of natural materials. The colored glass cross on top is formed by cutting little squares of glass and fusing them together at very high temperature (1400 F). They tell me, “These little squares represents all the ups and downs in our lives, but when looking at the big picture; it is just beautiful.”

There are many colors available, and each one representing a different virtue or gift of the Holy Spirit. The SACRO Facebook page explains the meaning behind each color.

To enter the drawing, just go to the SACRO etsy shop and take a look at the lovely items available, then come back here and leave a comment telling me which color you like best. You may also, if you choose, wish me happy birthday and/or bon voyage. But to enter the drawing, you must mention a color. The winner will be announced on October 2nd. Good luck!