By Amy Molloy
Bohannah Gerritsen can remember the moment she realised her Instagram following of friends and family had the potential to become bigger.
“It was the first photograph that got over a hundred likes. It felt huge at the time. It was the only image I had ever used hashtags on – a cropped shot of myself holding my pregnant belly. From that moment, I started gaining followers from outside my social circle which changed everything.”
Bohannah never imagined that less than three years later, documenting her life on the social media platform would not only be her passion – but a professional income stream. Today, The Simple Folk Instagram page has over 163,000 followers, along with its accompanying blog where Bohannah (Bo) documents her “road-tripping, coffee-roasting, day-dreaming, creative” life as a mother of three to Indiana, Archer, and Olive.
Now describing her professional job as ‘image-maker’ she has struck sponsorship deals with global companies and amassed a worldwide fan base of people who love her seemingly care-free life in Western Australia, and wherever the road takes their family-of-five.
“Instagram has encouraged me to expand my love of photography while still being at home with my kids. It’s opened me up to opportunities that I can’t imagine getting elsewhere. And I’m able to earn an income. I guess you could say it’s a dream job.”
So, how did a mother with no creative industry experience become a maternal Instagram sensation?
“I am still surprised at how my account has grown. I’m pretty selective with the content I post. I’m aware not to over-post and I also don’t repetitively post the same image. I think a lot of people post photos because they are chasing the likes – they’re hungry to gain more followers. I’m sure that works for some, but I also think it comes across as quite unauthentic.”
Adventure is at the core of the family dynamic. When not exploring the beach near their home-city of Perth, artful images show the brood uncovering the Australian outback (Indiana complete in a feathered tutu), navigating six-hour road trips, and exploring the hidden sites of Bali – the children still a picture of sibling harmony.
“[My husband Tye and I] have always loved the outdoors. So when we had kids, we committed to trying to continue to live as we always had. When Indi was only a few months old we hit the road at 5am to go on a trip and we were at our favourite beach by 8am. I think it’s so important for children to spend as much time in nature as possible to learn how truly precious it is. It’s safe to say our kids don’t have iPads!”
Yet, technology is now at the centre of their mama’s career. A keen photographer since her schooldays, Bohannah has had to learn fast when it comes to social media management.
With her children’s lives documented in such a public manner, there is the inevitable debate however around how much is the right amount to share.
“As my account has grown, I have thought about this topic more and more. I am definitely more conscious about what I share on my platform. More often than not, I decide to keep photos on my camera roll as some things just don’t need to be shared there. Having said that, there are always going to be pros and cons in everything we do, and I prefer to focus on the positives.”
With a desire to inspire other mamas and with a will to live freely, Bohannah is certainly on a mission to break down stereotypes, proving that motherhood is truly what you make it.
“Motherhood isn’t always easy, but it’s also magical and I want to share the beauty of it. I hope my feed inspires others to explore their surroundings, to go on a road trip or to try something new, and to capture and share those experiences. I am lucky though. Juggling work, family and travel is easier when all you need to work is a camera and phone reception.”
How to Insta-Style your Family
1 // Coordinate outfits
This happens quite naturally for us and often isn’t forced. Even before having kids, my husband Tye and I used to go out dressed the same all the time and wouldn’t even notice until we were out (so embarrassing!). Now with the kids, I often dress them in similar colours which always makes for aesthetically pleasing photos.
2 // Clear the clutter
If you are planning to take a photo inside, then make sure the area is clean and clutter-free. Allow for good natural light and a few simple accessories (pillow, throw or flowers) and of course, your kids!
3 // Shoot at sundown
I don’t really attempt taking outside daytime photos anymore unless it’s a cloudy day. My favourite time is 4pm onwards. Sunsets always make for good photos – no shadows, no harsh lighting and beautiful tones in the sky.
4 // Don’t force a smile
Only take photos when the kids are in the mood for it. Sometimes it does feel like you’re wrangling monkeys and there’s just no point if it’s not fun and they aren’t wanting to cooperate. Photos should be a real portrayal of a moment in time.
5 // Stay true to your style
I see so many accounts that all look the same because everyone is so ‘inspired’ to share photos that are sometimes replicas of another person’s art. Be yourself, be authentic and only post what truly makes you happy.