Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

27 Feb 2021

Song of Seasons

Hi there everyone, long time no see, I've been micro-blogging daily on instagram instead of posting here but decided to put a page up about a new hashtag community I've formed with Rachel of Foxglove And Ivy. 

Over the last year the world has changed enormously, dividing our life experiences like never before. As last year started to drag into more lockdowns I became aware of how many people like myself, were quite isolated except for social media to get them through the day. As the summer weather changed to autumn and gardening became redundant, I found the need to connect even more on instagram. 

Hashtags are, in short, a search mechanism for a topic. They are a great way to build a community of like minded people. By adding the hashtag #songofseasons and clicking on it you are taken to two lists of other people who are joining in with the fun and putting that hashtag on their photos. Instagram divide it into one list for the most popular posts and the other for the most recent posts. Within no time you are building a gallery of images that have a theme and thread posted by people with similar interests. The hashtag can inform, inspire and connect. It's how people find other instagramers and companies. 

To make the hashtag even more enjoyable we give prizes from small companies and makers, who send a gift to the winning photo. We call them our sponsors, or prize givers.  

The reasons for doing the hashtag initially were simple, to cheer up some people with gifts while in lockdown and to introduce the followers of the tag to new products they may not have known before. 

It's a simple idea, to spread awareness for the sponsors, (particularly small independents and sole makers) and create some joy in the process. All our winners so far have been over the moon with their gifts and many sponsors have formed new friendships. The sponsors therefore, will be reaching the followers of three instagram accounts plus shares by participants, and in so doing, raise brand awareness. We see it as a building block in a marketing campaign where we open up a dialogue for the brand. 

We teamed up last December for a hashtag themed with Christmas Carols and it was so engaging and well received we have decided to continue for the forseeable future. Under the main hashtag #songofseasons we will create different  themes each month, starting with a Musicals theme for our Spring to Easter Tag. 

We divide the month into four photo prompts, asking our followers to post a photo loosely based on that prompt with the tag #songofseasons. The prompts/themes are a way of starting a conversation with our followers about different subjects. The conversations will be different on each of Rachel and Janice’s feeds as we naturally will also be interpreting it in our own ways and talking about our own interests and daily lives, it’s not a photographic competition per se. At the end of the week we choose our prize winner although we also share participant photos in our stories and on our dedicated tag page, @song.of.seasons 

Prizes are given at the end of each week by small independent businesses that we call our sponsors, who post to the winners directly. We look to work with like minded, community first, ethical independents of all sizes and do our best to share their page/posts during the week they are gifting a prize" 

Above are the cashmere gloves gifted by Swedish sponsor Wilma & Louise
who posted a pair to Janice to review and photograph

I'm a great believer that photography can help with mental health, without trying to use too many photographic analogies, the camera is a great tool for focusing the mind on the small and beautiful, a way to slow down our observations and put emotions into visuals. Photos can tell a story, suggest a mood, share an experience and prompt a conversation. With everyone now having a camera in their back pockets its not going to be about the technical aspects of professional photography, but as a communication, story telling, community building tool. I am always happy to give advice about the more tech side of how I take my photos although I'm not crazy about the hardware, like some, I prefer to just learn what I need to know.   

Above there are products gifted to Janice to review and photograph
from Seep a company making eco cleaning cloths and scourers.  They sent the same bundle to the winner. 

The changing of seasons is at the forefront of this hashtag, it's something we can't get away from, and whatever a persons surroundings they can observe the world around them from their own unique perspective, whether its their walk to the shops, or something happening on their table. With fun photo prompts we open up an engagement in the community for all areas and topics. We like our prompts to be loosely interpreted in any way the photographer wishes.

The above photo was taken to illustrate how Janice has repurposed 
china tureens into planters 

The photo above contains gifted wood fuels from Lekto 
who regularly supply Janice with products to photograph in her fireplace, they have gifted many bundles as prizes to hashtag participants. 

Myself and Rachel both love a themed hashtag and really enjoy coming up with the concepts. As we started with songs we thought we would continue with them for now. Our list of prompts/themes will go on the dedicated @song.of.seasons instagram account, probably saved in highlights as well. We also love it when the winners photograph their prize and share it on their insta account, it creates a snowball effect for the sponsor and the photographer.  

Heres a photo Janice took of her Duvet Hog delivery before 
she tried it out. Duvet Hog also sent one to a hashtag winner 

Rachel and Janice are not paid for their time, the intention is to build a community over competition. Our aim is to help people connect.

I hope this helps to shed some light on the why's and wherefores of hashtags on instagram. If anyone would like to be a prize giver please contact Rachel or Janice on our instagram pages. 

I really hope you manage to join us with this new project. The list of photo prompts for the first month are taken from four Musicals - The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Easter Parade and My Fair Lady.

The song choices from those musicals are on the dedicated @song.of.seasons page saved in highlights. 

I hope to be back here next month with more information about the next theme and how it's all going. There will be some photos of our prizes here too. 

Thanks for reading, see you soon. Janice

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