Golden, summer vacays ooze from Sydney-based influencer Helen Driscoll of Style Structure’s Instagram page. Through rich, amber overtones and clothing ensembles chic enough to propel any fashion fiend into a wardrobe revamp, Helen has turned her account into a sumptuous reverie of travel and treasures.
From hotel corners adorned with sling-back heels to turquoise seaside snaps, we’re craving a glamorous getaway upon every visit to this grid. Before conducting anymore page stalking sessions, we decided to get the goss from Helen on this visual Paradiso and attempt to answer the time-old question of ‘just how exactly does she do it?’
What camera do you use and why?
I use a Canon 5d Mark III. I used to be a Nikon girl, but when it broke one time – I used the Canon at my job and have never gone back. I currently use a 35mm lens as I shoot a lot off my tripod self-portrait. This lens is wide angle and pretty light compared to my 85mm.
Do you make the most of the ‘magic hour’? How do you work with lighting?
I only shoot for my website and Instagram on weekends, so try and plan my shoots at sunrise through to lunchtime on Saturdays/Sundays. Thankfully, the winter sun has been less harsh, which means there are more hours to work with in the day. This year, I have really made the most of shooting in direct sunlight. As long as the sun isn’t too high, it gives images a golden glow. Plus, it’s a new skill to try and master as I always used to shoot in the shade.
Do you strive for a certain aesthetic on your grid?
I do. I know a lot of creatives are striving for less ‘perfect’ Instagram feeds right now, which I think is refreshing to see, but I think I’m too much of a perfectionist to change that! At the moment, I would describe my aesthetic as luxe and warm.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration? What accounts are you lusting over right now?
I definitely love Pinterest for creative direction when planning my shoots. There’s something so effortless with that platform and I could scroll for hours. Major inspo right now would be Vanessa Hong (@thehautepursuit). I have always loved her account and her images are high quality – this definitely attracts me to a page. I also love @carmengracehamilton, @lucywilliams02, @collagevintage and @oumaymaboumeshouli for style inspiration.
How do you edit your photos? Do you have a favourite filter that you like using?
I shoot the majority of my images raw on my Canon 5d. This gives a wider range for editing potential. If I shoot a coffee/lifestyle shot on an iPhone, I will send to my laptop to edit on Lightroom. I usually warm my images up and desaturate the yellow. I like images to look sharp so I always add a good amount of clarity and contrast. This keeps the images clean looking. I shoot in all different lights, so don’t tend to use filters or presets. All my images are individually edited.
What’s your dream shooting location?
This is a tough one! I am loving shooting in Ibiza right now, especially in the old town. So, I would probably say the south coast of Italy is up there for a place I’d like to shoot.
Do you adhere to a strict schedule for posting or take a relaxed approach?
I used to be so OCD, posting twice a day every day – but as I work full time aside from my blog, it was a lot of pressure to put on myself. I still try my best to upload morning and night, but if I miss one or don’t post for a few days I don’t beat myself up about it. I would rather upload good quality content than just a filler shot.
What do you do when you’re in a rut/are struggling to create content?
This can happen if I don’t capture travel content for some time. Pinterest is always my go-to for creative direction inspo. Earlier this year I moved to Manly, so I am still hunting out new locations which can sometimes lift a style post.
What do you think makes your feed unique? What are some tips for finding your ‘niche’?
I think it’s hard for any creative to be unique. Everyone pulls inspiration from what’s around them. I think being selective with the brands I work with could be classed as being slightly unique, and I would put that down to having my full-time job besides Style Structure. It helps me stay grounded, and I don’t have to take sponsored jobs I am not so keen on. I also still buy a lot of the pieces on my Instagram. If I buy a piece I love, I will feature it.
What’s your most-searched ‘Place’ on Instagram?
Wherever I am travelling to next.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
It would be great to collaborate with a high-end ecomm site, such as the likes of Net-A-Porter and My Theresa. I also love the Euro fashion houses Sandro and Maje. In terms of interior content creation and photography, it would definitely be Design Hotels.
With endless notifications and a flowing feed, do you ever manage to completely ‘switch off’?
It’s hard, especially because my full-time job is more strategy-based right now on top of Style Structure growing. I am usually up early most days, so I tend to relax in the evenings. I’m a bit of a home girl, so I like to go to F45 after work and then head home for early nights. I would love to take up meditation!
What’s your current goal for your page?
To build my image to work with high-end brands. I also want to grow my freelance business to open my own content creation and production agency to manage social media accounts and produce campaign and social media shoots for brands.
What are your top photography tips for capturing the perfect image?
If you don’t feel great about the shots after 10 attempts, give up – there’s no point putting time and effort into something you don’t love. Try and shoot sunrise or sunset – you will be amazed how much of a difference a little golden light does for your images. I also use spot focusing for my detail shots, this is a great tool for making sure your hero items are pin sharp.
And lastly, can you give us five tips for how to nail Instagram?
I wouldn’t say I necessarily nail Instagram, but I can share some of my tips to stay true to your brand…
- Find an aesthetic that works for your lifestyle. Don’t find a blogger you love and replicate their page, find edits and concepts YOU love
- Engage with your audience. I always use my morning and evening commute to respond to followers and to share the love on the accounts I follow
- Don’t accept sponsorships or collaborations that you wouldn’t buy yourself
- Don’t be scared to evolve. Over time, your style with change. Go with the flow and don’t get stuck with an aesthetic which can hold you back
- Don’t always choose the image to upload that you think will get ‘likes’. Sometimes I upload images that I know won’t always get a lot of love, but if you are proud of a picture – then don’t hold back.