Social Media Star: Carmyn Joy Effa on vintage stationery, still-life snaps and if cats are the trick to Instagram success

Carmyn Joy Effa instagram
Carmyn Joy Effa instagram

Each Friday, we’ll be profiling one of our favourite movers and shakers on social media. From the pop-up power of Pinterest to the beautifully crafted images on Instagram, we’re learning the tricks of the trade from the ladies that do it best (and most stylishly, of course).

Edmonton-based photographer Carmyn Joy Effa proves that talent trumps all when it comes to social media. With an Instagram fan base of more than 84,000 followers, the popular photo-sharing platform has become her springboard for creative opportunities.

However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the selfies that dominate so many Instagram feeds in her portfolio. Instead, Effa finds inspiration in objects and still life shots (retro stationery, colourful plates of food and her cat are popular subjects). “I am interested in the stories that lie behind the things people collect, purchase, find, and place value in.” Did we mention her vintage-like photos average 1500 likes? That’s right. Quite the Instagram rock star.

Thanks to the social media platform, not only has she met new friends all over the world, but also has come across a few life-changing opportunities including a recent collaboration with MTV Canada for a short documentary project held in Toronto, which featured her amazing photography skills and, obviously, her Instagram feed.

From talking about her favourite photographs to her dreams of opening her own company, we got to know the girl behind the phone lens for this week’s Social Media Star feature.

The photography on your blog and Instagram are aesthetically different. Is there a story behind that? What audience are you speaking to with each? 

I find it interesting that you’ve come to that conclusion. Personally, I don’t really think my approach or aesthetic actually differs all that much between the two platforms; however, I do definitely use both my blog and Instagram to showcase different things. My blog mainly contains commercial work I’ve been hired to do, projects I’ve shot in film, and personal series that I’ve developed over some time. In contrast, I treat IG more as a daily visual journal, and mainly record my experiences with my phone, on the go. I think my work has a fairly consistent style and that it contains reoccurring themes, but the intent behind both platforms is, indeed, a little different. 

You love showing off your cats on Instagram. Would you say they are your inspiration? 

Well, despite the plethora of cats that makes an appearance in my stream, I actually only own one myself. :) I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my cat inspires me, but I am interested in recording everyday moments, and he’s certainly a large part of my domestic life. 

Do you have an all-time favourite photo that you’ve taken? 

It changes often. Which, I like to think means I’m improving my skills and approach, rather than being indecisive. Currently, I’d say I really like a shot I took of my apartment building’s basement pool a few months ago. It had such a strange and eerie set-up—with support pillars running through the water itself—and I never saw a single person swim in it the entire year I lived there. 

What is the social media scene like in Edmonton? How is it different from major media cities like Toronto? 

As expected, the scene is much smaller here, but it exists. I used to attend a social media breakfast (#SMBYEG), which occurs monthly in downtown Edmonton, and that was both informative and fun. From my experience, Twitter is the favourite here. No one has attempted an IG meet-up in Edmonton, but perhaps that’s something I should think about initiating. I love networking, and I love my city.

How has Instagram helped with the exposure of your blog and the interaction with your followers? 

IG has opened up a lot of exciting opportunities for me, and I feel incredibly fortunate. I’ve been featured and interviewed quite regularly, both online and in print, and most recently on television with MTV! I’ll also be speaking at an awesome conference in California in a few weeks, and have had the chance to collaborate with some companies, too. Finally, as any individual fairly involved in IG will tell you, connecting with other users and developing true relationships with them has also been a highlight for me. I have made friends all over the globe, thanks to the app, and have had the pleasure of visiting a few of them.

Do you have a favourite Instagram filter?

I prefer to use a free editing app called VSCO Cam to edit my photos. It’s fantastic.

It seems like you shoot a wide variety of fashion, food and lifestyle. Is there something in particular that’s your favorite to shoot, or you feel is most photogenic?

I’d have to say that objects, still-life, really compels me the most. I enjoy creating compositions, and I am interested in the stories that lie behind the things people collect, purchase, find, and place value in. 

What are some of the interesting things and places this occupation has taken you and where do you hope to see it going in the future? 

While I haven’t travelled a ton as a result of job opportunities, I’ve begun to plan a lot of my personal trips around places I think might be interesting to photograph. For instance, an absolute highlight just took place for me in July while I was in Europe. I purposefully went in search of an abandoned amusement park I’d heard of in Berlin, and was able to gain access to it. I had the most phenomenal time capturing the place with my Hasselblad, and you can see some select images on my site. 

In terms of career goals, I hope to own my own communications company in the future. I have an MA in English, and find great satisfaction in transmitting information–whether that’s through visuals or writing. I would love to work with a creative team to represent local brands and organizations that I can really get on board with.

You also dabble in videography. How has that changed your experience as a blogger?

I’m very new to videography, so it hasn’t altered my blogging approach. However, it has changed my outlook on how I view my surroundings. I now stop to contemplate the ways in which I might frame a still image or a film clip differently, and how both mediums are effective for different situations. Playing with elements that film enables, such as music and sound and multiple camera angles, has been really exciting and rewarding to try my hand at. 

Your pictures have a sense of tranquil aesthetic to it. Would you say that is a quality you strive for in both your blog and Instagram? 

Yes, I would. I strive to find moments of quiet beauty in my surroundings, and enjoy being able to share those splices of tranquility with others.  

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