• Us@UO: Home for the Holidays

    If you follow Urban Outfitters on Instagram, then you already know Sarah Kunst. Sarah is our community coordinator, aka: the girl behind the scenes making all the IG magic happen! One member of our amazing social media team, her role is multifaceted: not only is she is a master at capturing and posting inspirational moments, but also going out and discovering all the cool things that other people are posting within the UO community and in local UO stores. 

    Sarah's history at UO starts on the sales floor: after studying design and marketing in college, she started working for Urban Outfitters in Philadelphia (at the original UO location) in 2010 as a sales associate before moving over to the home office the next year to intern in marketing. And she's been here since! For this installment of US@UO, which tells the stories of the creative, talented people who work here, we flipped the lens on Sarah to shadow her through a day in the life, learn more about what inspires her, and get her tips on how to shoot Instagram pics like a pro. 
    Photos by Sarah Kunst and Amy DiLorenzo

    Above: chilling at a Philly coffee shop. Reading materials, coffee, and...a maple bacon cronut. Amazing!

    Can you walk us through a day in the life? What all goes into making a UO Instagram post happen? 
    Manning the UO Instagram is a group effort, and I work with a team to lay out a game plan for what we're currently inspired by, what products we want to shoot, and what we're most excited to share with the UO community. It's also really fun to figure out how we can be creative in sharing them with our followers. This time of year has us torn between wanting at the same time to be out and dressed up for a bunch of holiday parties and also to be inside, cozy, and away from the cold, so we've really been drawn toward capturing that. Every day I also go through all the feeds of our #UOonYou and #UOaroundYou hashtags to pull out some favorite posts that people have shared to either regram or post on our Community page.  

    There really is no typical day! Some days I will be in the photo studio shooting new arrivals, some days I will be out visiting UO stores, some days I will be traveling across the country to host UO community events or go to music festivals!

    Doing my thing: Taking photos on a recent trip to Helsinki — click here to see more of my trip in this Photo Diary post

    Jewelry-making station: I started making jewelry in high school and continue to make it whenever I can. It's nice to have a tactile outlet for creativity where I can unplug and work with my hands. 

    A double-exposed Instax photo from Newport Folk Festival, which I covered for UO.

    How did you first get into photography?
    I started shooting on film in high school and loved spending time in the dark room, then moved to shooting more digital in college. I'm fairly self-taught and have picked up most of what I know by observing what I'm drawn to: In high school I remember being hugely influenced by the UO print catalogues, and that evolved into finding inspiration from things I see on tumblr and Pinterest.  I love how a Pinterest board or a tumblr page or Instagram feed allow you to blend together what you're seeing and experiencing and tell a story that way. I try to do the same thing in my own photography, by observing what is happening around me and pulling out the details to share with other people. 

    In this same way, I love reaching out to bloggers and photographers or identify people on Instagram that it would be fun for UO to collaborate with: everyone is always really excited and it's fun to be able to give people a platform to share their work.  

    Styling a UO #stylethis for Instagram. Here is the "before" staging station. 

    Sometimes when I'm behind the scenes at UO shoots, I end up being a "prop"! Here's my feet lounging on the couch in an UO Apartment shoot! 

    Getting ready to go home for the holidays and laying out  my travel essentials. Never go anywhere without at least three lip balms and a notebook!

    Winter light shining in through the window in my apartment. 

    Your job requires a lot of travel, exploring, and being the woman on the ground at lots of events and festivals! Can you share some stories from the road? 
    While there's always so much happening behind the scenes at UO's home office, it's also really important to get out there and tell the stories of the stores, go to events, and meet the people who are part of the UO community. This year I traveled around the country to a series of events for our Dreamers + Doers program, which brought together young artists and entrepreneurs for a series of small gatherings. For these, I was able to finally meet a lot of the people from UO stores who run the local Instagram accounts. A lot of these people I've been corresponding with multiple times a week for two years but had never actually met them until then! But what's so amazing is that through all being aligned aesthetically and following them on Instagram and working toward the same goal, I felt like I already knew all of them. 

    It's also pretty amazing to be able to shoot pictures and be behind the scenes at bigger events — from going to SXSW and Coachella to working with models and big photographers, I feel like I brush up against every cool thing UO is working on (which is a lot!) and it's so fun to be able to connect the dots to make it one big story in our photo feed. 

    Walking around my Philly neighborhood with my boyfriend's English bulldog, Dump Truck. (What does it say about social media's influence on me that my cat and his dog have their own hashtags. Follow #babydumptruck and #marleegram you guys.)

    A pile of Polaroids I found at my grandmother's house that she took during the 1960s — flipping through these and thinking about how she saw the world is a huge inspiration for me. 

    A break from the phone camera! Instax shots are the best shots. 

    Can you share some of the stories behind some of your favorite photos you've taken for Instagram? 

    Not pictured: me getting lots of weird stares as I crawled around looking for the PERFECT color of leaf!

    One of my favorite work trips of the year, a Dreamers + Doers gathering at Cosanti in the Arizona desert (read about the gathering on the blog here)

    Staging a little party dress scene in the studio. Though it looks simple, this shot took me over an hour to assemble! I wanted to get it JUST right.

    Another snap from Dreamers + Doers, this one at a Tallahassee picnic, read about it here!

    Chasing light around the office

    Arranging UO jewlery at home.

    This was a photo I took at Coachella last year — the first time a UO Instagram shot got over 100,000 likes. I was SO excited!!!

    Sarah's Tips for Taking Better Instagram Photos:
    1. Have your subject be deserving of a double tap: be intentional about what you share, and have a clear subject.
    2. Lighting! Good light is imperative for taking a good picture, especially natural lighting. 
    3. Editing. Don't be afraid of sharpening up a pic with a photo app. A couple of my favorites are VSCO and AfterLight. 
    4. Don't forget about captions: whether explanatory or clever, saying a little goes a long way. 
    5. Just because you're shooting on a phone, standard rules of photography still apply: make sure your composition is straight and balanced. If I'm shooting on my phone and know I want to post the photo on Instagram, I take the picture as a square so I know that the format will be best. 
    6. And a fun "statistics" fact: in general, cooler-toned photos (blues!) perform best.