Their growing popularity stems from the ‘casual Instagram’ trend, where everyday users are posting to the social platform more ‘casually’. This shift to people sharing photos because they like them, rather than posting them for engagement, has been deemed a much healthier use of the platform.
Authentic, casual content is what Instagram users want to see at the moment, and content creators have adapted to their audience’s needs. Creators have turned the ‘casual Instagram’ trend into a social strategy, and are sharing filler photos to help curate a feed that looks and feels more natural and spontaneous.
We’re unpacking the latest Instagram trend to help you upgrade your feed.
Filler photos can mean different things to different creators, so we asked two Vamp creators to share their insights and knowledge with us.
@iamnkirote defines a filler photo as: “Organic and aesthetic imagery that ties your feed together and makes it more cohesive.” While @yourbaeray calls them, “Photos that aren't full body or full outfit shots. They could be a shot of a single item such as fresh flowers, a coffee table flatlay or a closeup of my outfit details.”
The general consensus is that they are images that break up your feed to make it look less cluttered with the same self-portraits. It started as a more authentic, last-minute style of posting, but has since evolved to be a trend that is now used for its aesthetic benefits too.
Now don’t get us wrong, filler photos do look more casual. But in reality, they’re not. They’re technically not more spontaneous, casual, or less-curated than a creator's usual content. This is because every filler photo is posted to a creator's feed with intention. Each one is meant to be there and serves a purpose to the overall aesthetic of the creators' feed.
Making your feed look more cohesive and aesthetically pleasing aren't the only reasons why creators post filler photos.
Another key reason filler photos are used is to add dimension to a feed and reduce overstimulation while scrolling through your profile. They allow your followers to really absorb the story you’re trying to tell through your content, because they create a calming flow to your feed.
“I like to break up my feed so it has some negative space. This is why most of the time my filler photos will feature a lot of white, empty space.” Explains @yourbaeray. “I also find that filler photos are great when I don’t have other content ready to share, but still want to post something to keep the algorithm happy. Plus, they make great cover photos for your Reels!”
Filler photos are also a great way to hero the smaller details of a shoot location, makeup look, meal or outfit, helping you shoot as much content as possible from one single shoot. Not only does this help you save time and stay on top of posting, it also helps push your creative boundaries and challenges you to find a beautiful image somewhere that is usually overlooked.
Finally, filler photos help you capture the entire story behind a creative idea and share those tiny details that you can’t fit in your main content. And if you’re someone who puts in a lot of time, effort and creative energy into one shoot, creating filler photos while on set is a great way to get the most content out of your time.
It’s entirely up to you how strict you are when it comes to posting your filler photos. Some creators find their feed looks best when they alternate between one filler photo and their usual content, so you never find two full-body shots next to each other. This strategy almost creates a pattern on your feed, which your audience will find aesthetically pleasing to scroll through.
Meanwhile, other creators are a little more relaxed and post filler photos whenever they see fit. “Sometimes I’ll post them more sporadically if I’m in a bit of a creative rut with my usual fashion content.” Explains @iamnkirote. “But usually I’ll have a few images set aside as a buffer between content that is similar in format. For example, I’ll post a filler photo between two Reels or between sponsored posts to give my audience a break.”
Similarly, @yourbaeray says, “I have a very loose strategy for my filler photos. I do the typical ‘alternating between one full body photo and a filler photo’, but don't always follow it so closely. This is because I don't want to restrict myself too much and end up overthinking it. I want my feed to look effortlessly curated, and a loose strategy helps me achieve that.”
Whether you’re a newbie to the ‘casual Instagram’ game, or a pro looking for fresh ideas, here are seven tips that will help you shoot aesthetic filler photos.
#1 Use Pinterest to gain new ideas
Besides other creators' feeds, Pinterest will be your biggest source of inspiration. Take a look through the platform to gain inspo, but try and avoid copying someone's exact image. Instead, put your own spin on it to make your content feel more authentic to you and your personal style. This is what @yourbaeray does, saying “I search for ‘filler photos Instagram’ on Pinterest and recreate the images I like.”
#2 Kill two birds with one stone
Shoot your filler photos while you’re creating your usual content or sponsored content. This will help keep your feed looking more consistent in terms of colour, lighting, and themes. Plus, it’ll save you loads of time.
#3 Lower the exposure
Low exposed images are currently trending for the moody vibe they give off. Luckily, they’re really easy to create on your mobile. Just shoot your content like normal, find the image you want to use in your Camera Roll and hit ‘Edit’. Click the ‘Exposure’ tool, drag the exposure down to where you most desire, and voila!
#4 Use lots of different textures
When shooting a flatlay or still life as a filler photo, using a plain and simple white backdrop can help you achieve that clean and simple look. But adding in a fabric backdrop, like linen or silk, can feel really chic and add a bit of texture to a previously empty image.
#5 Draw inspiration from everyday-life
Unsure about what you can shoot for your filler photos? Here are some ideas that you should be able to find at home or while you’re out and about: Fresh coffee, magazines and books, jewellery, perfume, home decor, greenery, candles, cocktails/wine/champagne, pastries, fresh produce, beauty and makeup products, outfit details, bed linen, and landscapes such as the city, window views, the beach and architecture.
#6 Learn about composition
This is going to help you style and compose a filler photo that looks unique and interesting to the eye, and help you craft visually compelling images that appeal to your audience. Start by learning how to shoot the rule of thirds, diagonals and triangles, leading lines, rule of odds, left to right rule, and repetition and patterns.
#7 Take every photo op you get
When @yourbaeray is out and about, she’ll take every photo opportunity she can get to shoot filler photos, even if she doesn’t end up using it. “If I find an interesting-looking setting, I’ll take photos of whatever I have on me. This is usually my bag, shoes or accessories. I may or may not use the shot, but taking photos whenever I can, helps train my eye to pick out the most creative and aesthetic-looking locations in life.”