How to start an Instagram trend, according to this candy-colored minimalist

Matt Crump's way of composing and editing shots has made his style an Instagram trend. The photographer shares his insights.

[Ed.: Photographer Matt Crump is a best known for his candy-colored view of the world. His particular way of composing and editing shots has also made his style an Instagram trend, complete with its very own hashtag, #candyminimal. Here he shares what it takes to make waves in the saturated world of IG imagery.]

I got into photography by accident. I was working as a creative at an ad agency in Austin, when I downloaded Instagram. After a while of posting non-artistic shots, I started noticing minimal photographers that were using the app differently, which inspired me to start looking at the world differently. I became aware of how to use negative space and color, and soon after that I started developing my own style.

I wanted my minimalist work to look and feel different than what I’d seen elsewhere, so I started heavily experimenting with angles, compositions, and editing. During that early phase, I discovered what worked and what didn’t, which helped me nail down a palette and general aesthetic.

Whenever I see a scene, most of the time I know how I want the colors to look. I call it candy vision. Then, I carefully consider the different angles I could shoot my subject and then capture my favorites. During the edit, I choose the best photo and then get to work on making it is minimal as I can. This includes cropping to make sure I get the right amount of negative space and that all the photo’s elements are balanced properly, removing any elements that don’t add anything to the image (like power lines or tree branches), and adjusting to bring out the candy hues.

Starting an ‘Insta trend’ was an accident too! Once I developed my style, my (very few) followers started commenting about how they loved the colors I was using, and some started even creating photos inspired by what I was doing. I wanted to give people a way to group all these photos together, so I made #candyminimal hashtag, and soon after the @candyminimal features account to showcase the best photos from the hashtag.

To keep the momentum going, I wrote how-to guides to help people make their own pictures and encouraged the early adopters of the style to keep creating. Had I not spent the time upfront encouraging others, maintaining the @candyminimal account, and making my own photos, I don’t think the trend would’ve taken off in the way it did.

Since my art has become my business, there’s a lot non-creative behind the scenes stuff that takes place. I spend almost as much time responding to emails and working out budgets as I do taking pictures. I also spend a lot of time looking at what other people are doing on Instagram—@jesuso_ortiz, @benedettodemaio and @littledrill are my favorites.

Disneyland is the best place to take photos. It’s full of whimsical architecture, color and happiness. In every direction, there’s something magical to capture. I took a shot of a lake yesterday and the sky and water were perfectly pastel. The whole scene was peaceful and quiet. I only had to do minor adjustments to it to get it to where I wanted.

My tip for budding photographers? When you’re taking a picture, make sure you’re paying attention to the composition of the shot. Consider how things are balanced in the frame. It took me a long time to develop my eye, but I started by considering composition.

Having a general idea of how you want your photo to look before you snap the shot will greatly improve your photography. Oh, and if you want to build your profile on Instagram, don’t ignore your followers. Half of sharing your work is posting it online, and the other half is engaging with your fans!