It takes this many shots to get this

Her 5,000 followers see her photo, exposed by natural light as she climbs a spiral staircase, hair and skirt flowing perfectly.

But what they do not see is 23-year-old Hilary See's 50 unused shots, how she spent close to an hour scouting for locations, then hours more choosing the best photo and editing it.

Miss See, who manages the Instagram account @hlrys, said: "Usually I shoot between 50 and 100 photos before narrowing it down to just one to post online."

This is common practice, according to social media personalities The New Paper spoke to.

"I think people do not know the trouble and extent we go to get a good shot," she added.

But this practice has come under scrutiny after social media superstar, 19-year-old Australian Essena O'Neill, said late last month that she was giving her social media career up, describing it as "contrived perfection made to get attention".

She had 500,000 followers on her Instagram account, but she described the brutal hours it took to get a perfect shot and hawking products that companies paid her to use, calling the entire process "a lie".

Social media personalities here said that the act of taking many shots before uploading is normal, but they disagreed that the process "lies" to the consumers.

Miss Wahyu Rahman, who has 32,000 Instagram followers, takes about 30 frames for each shoot before choosing the best one to upload.

"It's a common thing that people in the industry do. I believe in safety shots so I can have more choices and edit them easily," Miss Rahman said.

Miss See said: "There might be some pressure to make the shot look best because so many people upload such nice photos, but it is nothing too crazy and I give my best."

Miss Angeline Yeo, 23, whose yoga-inspired Instagram account @sassyyogi has more than 12,000 followers, said Miss O'Neill's views were extreme. 

Miss Yeo said: "She got the personal and the public (life) confused. Social media is ultimately a neutral tool. It all depends on how you want to use it."

She felt that what is most important when it comes to social media is being honest with yourself, adding: "Your online persona should be in line with your offline persona."

She said that when it comes to her Instagram feeds, she features only products she likes.

Similarly, 26-year-old Carla Dunereanu, whose Instagram account has 30,000 followers, said: "I make sure companies that I feature are in line with who I am. It's dishonest to do otherwise."

As an animal lover, Ms Dunereanu has used her feed to promote the World Wide Fund for Nature and Bow Wow organic pet food.

Sponsorships and number of likes aside, social media personalities say that the effort put into their photos is worth it because it is done out of passion.

Miss See said: "Yeah, girls in this community do fuss over how many likes we get for each photo, but when you're doing it for passion, it really doesn't matter.

"All that matters is that you know you're creating good content."

This article was first published on Nov 23, 2015.
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