Whether we prefer to use Social Media as a way to keep in touch with old friends, to post videos of the funny things our pets do when confronted with green vegetables, or simply for 3am rants about the FBI and the fake news media while sitting on the toilet, we are all becoming increasingly adept with these useful tools.
Instagram’s visual strengths have solved the issue that many record collectors face, namely how to square the owner’s pride in their collection and wish to shout about it from the rooftops, with the rest of the world’s total and profound disinterest in anyone else’s record collection.
Instagram does this by providing a platform for people to post pictures of their record collections, which combines brilliantly with a function that allows viewers to swipe swiftly past them without giving them a second thought.
The more persistent or perhaps insecure record collector therefore has to find ways to make their record collection more interesting. Self worth on social media is measured by “likes”, and therefore the most determined record collector must find ways to (as social media strategists put it) engage their audience, or to put it another way, secure these confirmations that yes, someone out there gives a flying flip that you once had the money and inclination to buy a purple vinyl pressing of Morbid Angel’s third LP.
The more enterprising Instagrammers must therefore find new and interesting ways to display their records, so here at Every Record Tells A Story, we have produced what can only be described as a public service: a comprehensive guide to allow you to emulate these brilliant and inventive minds, and engage your own audience in new and exciting ways.
1. The intimidating Record Collection
Why not put people in their place straight away by showing off just how enormous your intimidatingly large record collection is? If you don’t have an enormous record collection, take a photo of someone else’s and pass it off as your own. No-one will check.
Then, why not take exactly the same photo, only with different records? Fascinating! This poster (below) mixes it up every day by showing us the dregs of his tea, after he has drunk it.
Lovely! Do show me more!
Nothing engages your audience better than the promise of another three hundred almost identical shots of records. That’s an instant follow! People love seeing and hearing the same old thing over and over again. I mean they must do, right? Westlife were huge.
2. Try To Capture Other Hashtags
Instagram users bloody love hashtags and pictures of food and fashion. Why not post a picture of some #vinyl next to an #avocado and double your exposure to avocado eating vinyl-heads? Genius.
3. It’s All About Capturing The Moment
Others go for a “lifestyle” vibe, perhaps depicting an attractive millennial or hipster, just caught in the act of pulling out a record from his heaving, pristine Ikea Kallax shelving. These are both classic takes.
I do admire the photographer’s instinct in these shots, because they invariably have found the exact moment where the sleeve is most prominently displayed, but just before it is completely removed from the shelf. Such skill!
4. Capturing The Moment (part b)
Sometimes the camera catches the exact moment the record is pulled from the sleeve, albeit usually the inner sleeve is nowhere in sight.
It is unquestionably a gift to have such reflexes, and to also frame the shot so the turntable is just visible in the background.
5. Focus on the Impromptu Moments
Some photographers have natural improvisational / on-the-hoof skills, These are useful when capturing the moment the poster is gently adjusting the volume knob on their amplifier. Note how they always adjust their amplifier from the side. Never from the front, despite that position being undoubtedly an easier one to adjust the amp from. It’s photographer’s luck, some might say, to capture both the finely-tuned adjustment as well as a clear shot of the amplifier and knob-twiddler himself, but you make your own luck in this game.
6. The Rodin Shot: The Thinking Record Collector.
Another shot we can learn from is seeing the poster sitting on their wooden floor, quiet in contemplation, looking at a particular album cover. It’s more effective when the artist in question has passed away.
This tragic picture of Steve Kouta (above) looking forlornly at Prince’s records on the second anniversary of the latter’s death pulls greatly at the heart strings. What greater tribute could the great man have wished for? Again, let’s admire the skill of the photographer capturing this private and intimate moment of contemplation and bare, naked grief.
Sometimes, as in this case, Instagrammers have been looking at records all afternoon, and have carelessly strewn a number of records on the floor, all captured in the shot. I do worry they will be spending most of the afternoon tidying up, but I guess we must all suffer for our art. At my age I can only envy their ability to get up from that cold floor without a) stiffening up the joints and b) accidentally treading on one of the records.
7. Sex Sells
The “Half-an-arse-cheek” shot is a bit of a classic. Here’s that man Steve Kouta again showing us how it’s done…
In this, the poster will have selected the chosen LP, but will be holding it by their fingertips (seldom the most comfortable way of holding a record but bear with me), cover facing back towards the photographer. The patience the photographer has to show in capturing these moments is remarkable, because that awkward way of holding an LP, especially with the cover so prominently displayed, can’t happen too often, yet the moment is captured quite magnificently, and quite frequently. If the photographer was round my house, I can’t help feeling they would have their work cut out. For some reason I tend to carry the LP with both hands, and in front of me, so these magic moments must be more difficult to capture.
8. Now You Have Lots Of Followers, Why Not Tell People About Stuff You Like?
It’s remarkable to see how often the posters with large numbers of followers have new equipment that they really like, and which they are pleased to photograph – and endorse apropos of nothing I would imagine – just from the kindness of their hearts. This must therefore be really popular with audiences.
Sometimes they carry the hashtag #ad but I’m not sure what that stands for. Oh well.
9. Definitely Don’t Own a Cat.
Despite most vinyl-lovers owning cats (a fact contained in the Dust and Grooves book), 100% of Instagram vinyl lovers definitely do not.
I have worked this fact out by counting the number of times such folk play their records with the dust cover on. Zero. Here’s a random dozen posts. None of them are playing records with dust covers. They clearly don’t own cats.
I once played a record without the dust cover on when my cat was in the room.
First, the cat spent a few seconds wobbling it’s head round and round. Then, it leapt on the deck with gusto, having decided it needed to act.
Although my cat had not necessarily anticipated the landing surface would revolve, it realised remarkably quickly, leaping off with a triple salko having spun a full 180 degrees in the meantime – quite a difficult technique. But in the cat’s haste to pull off the trick he wasn’t quite adept enough to prevent the tonearm being knocked significantly off-course and ploughing a large furrow through my Style Council LP. An ignominious end to an old LP, similar to the reaction that many fans of The Jam gave the same record nearly forty years before.
10. Don’t Forget Your Street Cred.
Instagrammers who own hip hop albums, like Mr Kouta here, tend to store them next to their trainers. It isn’t clear why…but best do this anyway. It seems to work.
So there it is. Hopefully this guide will help you to improve your own Instagram content and lead to thousands more followers. If you do follow this advice, please share your posts in the comments section below, perhaps confirming how many extra followers you get as a result.
However, if you want to send me pictures of your intimidatingly large record collection do please post it on Instagram. That way, it’s much easier for me to swipe past the photo on my phone…