Watering your creativity: What I learned through Bloom & Grow

Last month I made two, relatively big, investments – a ticket to the Blogtacular conference and an online Instagram course with a floral focus from Sara Tasker, Bloom & Grow.

I’ve talked about what I got out of Blogtacular already on the blog, so I thought now I’ve come to the end of the Bloom and Grow course I would talk about what I got out of this too.

And perhaps more importantly, what this investment has taught me about creativity.

First of all – why an Instagram course? I’ve always loved photography but always been that little bit too lazy to get myself officially ‘trained’ in it. When I came to launch Blue Jay of Happiness in January this year, I knew I wanted to make more of an effort with my photography. Over the months, this grew to me wanting to improve my Instagram.

I discovered Sara Tasker as an ‘Instagrammer’ through a podcast (Make it Happen by Jen Carrington) and discovered she had her own blog, Me & Orla and podcast (Hashtag Authentic). I spent hours swimming in her fantastic content and was intrigued after hearing she was launching a new e-course that looked at the use of florals in Instagram.

It was at a lower price point than her other well-known e-course (the Instaretreat) so I thought this would be a good taster for me to see what I could learn.

So… what did I learn?

My visual style and tastes

I had never really stopped to think about my visual tastes – what I’m drawn to, what my preferred ‘aesthetic’ was. Some probing journaling questions helped me identify what I like, why I like it and how to incorporate it into my own feed.

How to think outside the box

Instagram is a visual platform (obvs) so I always thought images for here needed to be ‘pretty’, I hadn’t really thought about them being unexpected. Unusual. Creative even.

Giving myself room to think creatively and actually come up with ideas for something a bit different on Instagram during this course made me feel amazing. See below my ecstatic scrawling when the right idea hit:


The importance of community

One of the things that has truly stuck with me through this course and through my experience at Blogtacular is the importance of community. I have met so many lovely people, both in real life and online through these experiences and feel like I’ve ‘found my tribe’.

That’s what all this malarky is about at the end of the day isn’t it? Connecting with people, sharing your experiences and lifting each other up.

To stay true to myself

I hit a point during the course where I found myself a little overwhelmed at the sheer talent of other people on the course. I began comparing my photos to theirs and felt deflated. I tried some different editing techniques to make my images look more like theirs… but then I caught myself.

I went back to my notes on my visual style, looked at my feed and realised that I didn’t want to change the tone. I like that my feed is warm, light and minimal. I like the negative space, the simplicity, the neutral tones that weave it all together. So I stopped editing and went back to my usual style – and interestingly, these were some of my best received photos.

That I weirdly like self-portraits

I’ve been on quite the journey in terms of self-love and self-acceptance, and feel I’m in a really good place in that respect. So when the chance came up to be creative with floral self-portraits, I got really excited. Shooting the petal tear photos was empowering.

Did I feel a bit of a dick posing in my bathroom with glued petals on my face and my phone bluetacked to the mirror? Sure… but I also kinda loved it.

That I’m a storyteller

First and foremost, I’m a writer. I like to take pictures too, but what I learned through this course is that I need a story to give my Instagram posts life. I need conversation, the human touch.

And I don’t just mean in the captions, I mean IN the photo. The photo needs to depict something relatable, or to simply prompt an emotion. This is what I need to work on more, but I hope I’ll get there with practice.


Dan indulging me on our first trip abroad together

The biggest takeaway…

You have to nurture your creativity and feed your curiosity.

Being inquisitive, learning new things and engaging with others is the best way to water your creativity and watch it “Bloom and Grow” (see what I did there?)

Terrible pun aside, I’ve come away with a thirst for more. I want to learn all the things, immediately. I want to create and learn, experiment and fail, try again and flourish.

So, I think I’ll do just that.

(P.S. I’ll be putting all my Bloom & Grow photos, including the one’s that didn’t quite make the cut for Instagram, into an album on my Facebook page so check that out if you’re interested.)

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What I learned from the Bloom & Grow Instagram course

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