The Staged Life of Social Media

Published: 17/09/2020 by Kayleigh Walter


Nowadays it’s a murky line. With so many Social Media Influencers/Celebrities and Travellers who get paid to visit places around the world and pose in designer shoes and a designer dress with their back to the camera looking out at the beautiful view in front of them.

Do you ever wonder what happens before and after the picture is taken because behind every great and seemingly perfect Instagram post is time spent setting up the perfect scene and making sure you've got a decent and tidy space to work in. All that matters is the image within the frame, everything else is just an inconvenience.


Photo Credit: Facebook/Chompoo Baritone

I am no influencer, I’m just a creative person who likes to share exciting and creative images on Social Media, mostly Instagram, and I have found myself wondering about these things and actually going through the process of staged/un-staged imagery myself. The truth is, nearly every single image shared on social media, is staged to some degree. The above image does a really good job in highlighting the stories behind every perfect post.

Recently I took a trip to Florida and I found myself standing in front of the Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios, already knowing I had to have a picture with me looking at the beauty in front of me. This was something I started when I was in New York back in 2012 but I also found myself wondering if I had been sucked into the world of Social Media staged posts when visiting any beautiful location.

Now it wasn’t as if I picked out what I was wearing that morning thinking of the photo I planned on taking but there will be others who will pick out their outfit down to the colour of their nails, staging the entire image from the first idea to final post. I didn't travel all the way to Florida, simply to stand in front of Hogwarts to take this picture like I’m sure some Social Media Influencers do.

I wasn't standing on the bridge, naturally looking at the beautiful castle in front of me and my mum just so happened to take the picture. However, how great would it be if we all had personal photographers willing to snap candid photos of us as we went about our day? It would sure make Instagram a lot less time consuming, but you get my point.

I took some time to fully appreciate the site in front of me, being a huge Harry Potter fan it had been my dream to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for years and I did have a little moment, but soon after the moment passed I was getting ready for that perfect photo. I handed over my bag and tried to find the perfect position while my poor mum stood there waiting for me to give her the go ahead.

After she took a few pictures I looked through them to see if there was one I liked, and there wasn’t so we did it again. Twice was enough and I soon had the perfect picture to share on Social Media. After the photo was taken, I pocketed my phone, took my bag back and we wandered off to Jurassic Park and onto our next ride. In total, 12 images were taken, which isn't a lot at all considering. Later that night when we got back to the hotel, I probably spent about 2-3 minutes trying to decide which image looked the best and a further 4-5 minutes editing the image before it eventually found its way to my Social Pages.

Photo Credit: Personal Library

Here is the end result. I don’t heavily edit my images, but I did sift through all the images to find the one I liked the best and felt comfortable sharing it on Social Media. I wonder why I felt the need to post it to social media at all, but I guess that’s a topic for another post.

Though not everything about this image was staged, parts of it were. When taking the image, I told my mum where to stand and how to frame the photo but why? Did I have something to prove? Was it just the perfectionist in me wanting the perfect shot? (This could be true) or have I, unwillingly already succumbed to the staged world that is Social Media?
Most of the images you find on Social Media are staged, some will be more staged than others, but every image will have an element of staging and I am just as guilty. The truth is we only share the good things on Social Media so we want to make sure we are showing off this picture perfect lifestyle, but is that necessary? Life isn't perfect so why should we feel like we have to share only the perfect bits. If life was perfect, it would be boring.

So remember the next time you're scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed and find yourself questioning why your images don't look that perfect, I can assure you a lot of time and effort went into creating that image. You're much better off posting a real image and enjoying life, rather than spending hours editing a single image to share online.