Why it took Kim Kardashian and Kanye West ‘like four days’ to perfect their wedding photo for Instagram


Kim Kardashian, center, with her mother, Kris Jenner, and Kanye West, front, leave their hotel in Paris last month. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

It took Kanye West and Kim Kardashian "like four days" to perfect a flower-filled photo of their wedding for Instagram, Billboard reports. Here's what West told the audience at a Cannes seminar about the production of the photo and why it took so long, referring to famous celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz:

Annie Leibovitz pulled out right before the wedding — maybe she was scared about the idea of celebrity… But I still wanted my wedding photos to look like Annie Leibovitz. Now, can you imagine telling someone [Kardashian] who just wants to Instagram a photo, the No. 1 person on Instagram, that we need to work on the color of the flowered wall? But the fact that the No. 1 most liked photo has this certain aesthetic on it was a win for what the mission is — of raising the palette.

The photo took off on the photo sharing service -- as this post was published, the photo had just under 2.3 million likes.

However, West is wrong about one point -- Kim Kardashian is not the most popular person on Instagram. That honor goes to singer/alleged vandal Justin Beiber, whom Kardashian trails by about 1.5 million followers.

But she is a force to be reckoned with: Based on the most recent Census estimates, Kim Kardashian has more Instagram followers than the 14 least populated U.S. states and territories combined. On Twitter, she has more than 21 million followers -- roughly the same as the 17 smallest states and territories combined.

That gargantuan audience is why it makes total sense for celebrities like Kardashian and West to be extra judicious about the shots they beam out to fans. Social media is a major part of their public relations strategy, and the number of followers represents audience appeal that media companies believe will translate into revenues.

The Kardashian-West clan's obsession with cultivating their social media facade is really not that far out of the ordinary for celebrities -- or even your everyday user. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr have turned the individual online identities of everyday people into personal brands that often receive similar treatment.

One study by co-authored by a researcher at Carnegie Mellon and one from Facebook that was released last year found that 71 percent of the 3.9 million users they looked at "exhibited some level of last-minute self-censorship" over a 17-day time period, a finding the researchers believe was tied to "perceived audience" of a post.

Unfortunately, this self-censorship may have the net affect of making everyone less happy because we tend to underestimate the misery of those around us: Some researchers believe that if all anyone sees from other people's lives are the awesome parts, they may think other's people lives are all awesome -- thus making their own imperfect existence seem even worse in comparison.

Hence the "fear of missing out," or FOMO, a term that generally means anxiety about positive experiences occurring while you're not around. Did you get a pang in your stomach when pictures of a party you didn't get invited to were posted on Facebook? That's FOMO and -- surprise, surprise -- a study published last year by the academic journal Computers in Human Behavior said it is "associated with higher levels of behavioral engagement with social media."

Conveniently, social media means we can experience that pang of being left out on an even grander scale by envying the lifestyles of jet-setters like Kardashian and West. But it also means heavy pressure to perform online for everyone.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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