Our book of the month is Hashtag Authentic by Instagram coach and influencer Sara Tasker. The book promises to provide readers with tips, advice and guidance on how to turn your personal Instagram account into a profitable creative outlet.
We asked 5 mums in business to review the book and this is what they thought.
First we get the opinion of Lavinia Brown (aka BoboMama on Instagram). Lavinia is a Transition Coach and Gender Equality Consultant who supports multi-tasking mums to feel confident, competent and in control whilst creating work/life/parenting balance, and who also works with organisations to close their gender pay gap, strengthen their female talent pipeline and create more inclusive cultures for working parents.
I enjoyed reading Hashtag Authentic: it is well-written and organised and Sara’s style is funny, caring, unassuming yet insightful. That said, I found myself quite intimidated by the first section because the pictures that complement her prose seemed so perfect that I felt I could never even begin to follow her advice. Not only is she clearly a very talented artist but she also has access to some great equipment, editing tools and not least a “poor, long-suffering” husband who “perches on rooftops” in order to get the perfect angle of her looking beautiful doing arty things. My Insta account felt like a bit of a Primark compared to her Conran.
I would definitely recommend it for its multiple how-to tips – I’ve downloaded and enjoyed using the editing apps she highlights in order to up my game on the quality front – but I’m not sure I will ever have the inclination to wait for the light to be just right in order to capture my dishcloths drying on the rack, nor to create the perfect #shelfie (had no idea this was a thing) or those both-hands-in-shot pics which I’ve now learnt entail “just” holding the phone between your teeth whilst waiting for the self-timer mode to kick in.
This felt slightly at odds with the title of the book and I feel Sara’s community is probably far more arty than my authentically just-getting-through-without-accidentally-killing-the-kids-or-going-insane crew but what I did takeaway was the reminder that social media is about the social – another way to “find our people” – and that Sara is certainly someone who I would want to include as one of mine.
Next up, we found out what mum of one and book lover Helen Slater thought. Helen is using her 18 years’ experience in communications and marketing to a coach & mentor amazing creative women freelancers & small business owners. She also supports corporate and not for profit organisations by producing authentic wellness, communication and engagement strategies to develop meaningful relationships both with and amongst their workforce.
I’ve been a fan of Sara Tasker’s work for few years now, and was therefore keen to delve into her book to try and understand a bit more about how she both creates such compelling imagery and curates an amazing social media account.
What struck me immediately was the lovely gentle tone in that Sara writes this book. It feels like having a conversation with Sara herself. It feels AUTHENTIC, it feels like her.
The book initially lays down the foundations to creating beautiful imagery, through the idea of storytelling and understanding what elements make up a successful image. It quickly invites you to begin to consider how you can use what you have now (i.e. props in your home and garden) and how your everyday life can offer opportunities to begin your journey of thinking differently about how to use photography to tell your own stories for your business.
There are a number of exercises in the book so that you can begin to work through things such as finding your niche and style, look at what appeals to you in other people’s photography and why, plus ideas to explore the world through a lens by going out on a ‘photo walk’
What I loved most about this book, apart from the beautiful photos scattered on every page, was that Sara provides lots of useful hints and tips on how to use your iPhone to produce great photos. She offers up simple suggestions such as composing a great image, how to use light and ideas for Apps to help you edit your work on the go.
I personally know very little about photography, so this was a perfect starting point for me to begin thinking slightly different about my brand and how I represent it on image driven platforms such as Instagram.
I think that if you are looking for a business book in the traditional sense, then this is not for you. But if you enjoy the work that Sara produce’s as Me & Orla, want to learn more about how to take greater photos and begin your journey of creative discovery from behind the camera and apply it to your brand, then I would definitely recommend it to you.
Blogger and full time mama to two little ones, Moira tells us what she thought of Hashtag Authentic as someone who is fairly new to Instagram. Moira has always had a passion for photography and writing and is now combining the two via her blog and Instagram account to write about her journey in life so far and to inspire and share the wisdom of her experience, while having a laugh along the way.
If I could sum up Hashtag Authentic in five words, they would simply be, inspiring, creative, relatable, captivating and of course authentic. But it’s this, and a whole lot more. Sara has captured her Instagram journey in such a way that it doesn’t matter what stage you are at, a beginner looking to build your following or perhaps just tweak your existing social profile.
For someone like myself who only started my social profile a few months ago, once I had discovered Sara’s book, I was hooked. It confirmed some ideas I had already but was hesitant to try, such as pre-planning my grid, but it also gave me a lot more creative inspiration and the confidence to go out and try new techniques, such as Sara’s ideas for photos. Because the book is so well laid out, it is easy to refer back and refresh your memory.
Hashtag Authentic would have to be a “go to” for any social mum looking for an easy, inspiring read. Sara speaks from the heart, and her passion oozes from the pages of this fantastic book.
Next we find out what busy mum of two Hayley thought of the book. Hayley works full time whilst also setting up her fledgling business and writing a book herself.
What strikes me most about this book is the accessibility for all and how anybody can get involved. I particularly love the suggestions about taking photos regularly and using them to journal your journey and see the world differently with your camera as your tool. It’s something I am trying to do so struck another chord. So many metaphors just ready for a # ! #buyit
And finally, we hear from Kimberley of Nourish Northern Mamas who is a speaker and writer as well as organising self care events for mums in Manchester.
When you pick up Sara Taskers #Hashtagauthentic book you feel like it could become a coffee table favourite, beautiful, inviting, one you could have for show, one to make you feel like you could try photography too.
But it is more than that.
Beyond the beautifully composed photographs there are useful hints and expert tips and techniques on photography and on social media. It gives you the belief that you too could take those fabulous shots with practice.
It has been beneficial beyond the prettyness of the pages. It has helped me rediscover what I loved about photography and using my phone camera to create, crystallise and enhance a moment.
For my business in events I have taken the advice and it has helped me take and edit photos to be proud of. With go to social media and #hashtag examples to inspire I would definitely whole heartedly reccomend this book as a way to help you capture and communicate the essence of your business through photography. It has also helped me take some frame-able family photos too. A winner all round for me!
We think that Hashtag Authentic was an overall winner among our reviewers, there was a lot of love for all the useful hints and tips that are shared as well as appreciation for the beautiful photography.
If you’ve read the book we’d love to know what you thought in a comment below or let us know if we’ve inspired you to pick up a copy of your own.
This month we’re encouraging you to read How to be an Overnight Success by Maria Hatzistefanis.
When the skincare company Rodial launched its cult ‘snake’ serum, the press quickly called the business an ‘overnight success’. However, Rodial’s founder Maria had been toiling for 18 years, building the company from scratch in her bedroom. In this book the beauty boss sets out to demonstrate that its success stemmed from sheer hard work, tireless efforts and a lot of patience.
If you’ve read this book and would like to write a review for us, you can find out more about what we need here. We’ll then feature some of the best reviews in our blog post at the end of the month.
(PLEASE EMAIL REVIEWS TO US BY SUNDAY 1st SEPTEMBER 2019.)