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Hunting for epic joy ~ Q and A with Hayley Garnett

Tell us the short version of your history with photography and social media.

Hey guys! So I first got into photography when my son was around a year old, so roughly 3.5 years ago!  I had a tumblr blog when I was pregnant with my son and then switched to documenting him on Instagram instead.  I was mostly posting photos of my son and also self portraits, with a pretty small following.  When I got pregnant with my girls, towards the end of my pregnancy, I had a pregnancy letter board countdown series that ended up taking me from 25k to about 50k in only a couple of months! I have since moved from 60k to 92k after the girls were born (so in about 8 months time).

Some of us are relatively new to Instagram and hardly remember it pre-algorithm. What were “the good old days” like for you?

The good ol days were when I was learning to really use my camera and edit my photos. I was so excited to share my photography journey, and I was not concerned with likes, but I did really hope to be featured on different instagram photography hubs!  I was definitely more mindful of that than my numbers.

You are juggling a lot! How do you structure your time to include keeping a strong social media presence?

Generally most of my time spent on Instagram is while I’m at work, in between doing my general job tasks!  When I’m at home I will answer DMs sometimes, but I NEVER post when my kids are awake because I tend to spend a solid 1-2 hours on Instagram afterwards engaging.  This is a nice balance, because it means I’m barely on Instagram when around my kids. I even take videos for stories for later, never right at the moment unless I just cannot wait to share!

Do you have any tips for building and maintaining the great connection you have with your followers?

Being “real” has seemed to really get me where I am today.  Which is FANTASTIC because you can’t shut down this level of wacky!

What would be your advice to someone starting a new account in 2018?

This is a really hard question to answer, because I honestly would have no idea where to start if I just joined Instagram right now. I guess I would say to be true to yourself and what you want to do. The worst thing you can do is force something that isn’t authentic to you- it just invites a boatload of stress into your life!

You are the founder of @candidchildhood, a long time favorite of many. Tell us a bit about how feature accounts have evolved over the years.

Oh my gosh, this makes me so sad!  I have to be honest- once the algorithm change happened, I lost most of my will to run candid childhood.  We worked SO hard to grow our community to 143k, but now we aren’t even shown to 1% of people that don’t follow us AND we seem to not show up in anyone’s feed.  It’s hard to keep your passion when the work you put into it doesn’t match what you used to get at even 1/10 of the followers!

Do you have any tips you can share about getting your photos featured?

Just keep tagging!  There are so many people who use our hashtag that it can definitely be hard to really get your photos seen. My best advice would be to tag for our theme of the week, because the pool is really small for those – generally only 1k posts or less!

Your postpartum body photo series has been extremely popular! How has the experience of being vulnerable on a public platform been for you?

It has actually been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. There is truly nothing like this postpartum community. Not only is it freeing to share myself and my journey with friends and followers, but to get messages and comments from women telling me that my posts have really helped them, gosh that’s just a mind blowing feeling to me. So much pride for everyone!

Who has inspired you along the way? Are there any accounts you particularly love to follow?

Oh my gosh so so many! With photography- OG’s like Meg Loeks (@meg_nlo), Anna Aromin (@seldabelda), Jess Dunn (, Brittany Dejesus (@beextraphotogenic) and recently Kristen Ryan (@kristcx)!  Instagram inspiration: Kayla Petering @this.little.wandering, @theblushingbluebird, @gypsynspice, @dearest.sisters and Tina (@tina.v.b)!

What is coming up next for you? 

Not a whole lot… I’m a simple gal! I am taking it one day at a time over here!

Hayley is mentoring this week at The Social Gathering and will be sharing with us “Documentary photography and workflow” and “The art of not giving a f*ck about the numbers” … click HERE to join us. You can also find her on Instagram.