Hashtag Authentic, book review by Helen Perry @notaboutthekids

Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker: book review

Sara Tasker has a way with pictures. Her first book, Hashtag Authentic, Finding creativity and building a community on Instagram and beyond is just beautiful to look at. She should be delighted with it. Her slow aesthetic of muted tones, her West Yorkshire home, her daughter Orla, and (importantly) tea, run through it with one clear visual voice. She transports us to the world of @me_and_orla with every picture. As someone who feels they are still finding their feet with photos, I can only envy the clarity and consistency of her creative vision. So, this is a book for me then, someone who would like to know…

The how of it all

What sets Sara Tasker apart from other beautiful photo takers on Instagram, is her writing. Her ability to communicate her ideas and processes in a way that helps other people improve their work. She calls it explaining “the how of it all”. An influencer, iPhone photographer and Instagram specialist, Sara has built a six-figure business on sharing her expertise. Her how. And that is what this book Hashtag Authentic is all about. It’s a step by step guide to taking great images for Instagram. A guide to finding your visual voice for social media. Using theory, examples, and exercises, it walks us through ways to create images (on our phones, hallelujah) that authentically reflect our world and passions. The idea is that this is the right way to find your tribe online. Or as she calls them, your “right people”. 


The book is broken down into four sections that walk you through better photo-taking, and better Instagraming. When it comes to photographs, the central message is that we should be aiming to take pictures of moments, not things. So she teaches us where to find these captivating moments in our everyday lives and then how to photograph them brilliantly.

But what if you don’t live in a beautiful period cottage in West Yorkshire and have a cute kid? What do you photograph then? I live in a new house in Reading in the south of England. I like bright colors and stripes and will be found daily in ill-fitting jeans rather that dreamy floaty dresses. However, the same principles apply whatever message you are hoping to share on social. Find and photograph the small stories of your day. 

I’ve taken Sarah’s online courses before, so themes like this were familiar to me. However, I found it super, super helpful to revisit them in this book. It will stay on my shelf as something to reach for when I’m stuck for inspiration. It is full of great prompts for when you are low on ideas.

An iPhone masterclass

It’s undeniably for those of us who are really pretty dedicated to creating better photos. And I think more smartphone photography guides like this are much needed. I left my DSLR camera on the shelf many months ago and use just my iPhone for taking photos for social media. Instagram, in particular, is a hungry beast to feed, and phone cameras make it easy.

I wrote about ways I make my photo taking easier a little while ago, click here to read the post

Hashtag Authentic has lots of guidance around what makes a good photo, particularly when it comes to composition. There’s also advice about editing and which apps to use. This is a photography lesson for Instagram. I see many a qualified photographer that could benefit from reading about what particularly works on the platform.

Will it make you Insta famous? 

Sara’s voice is so compelling and listened to because of the huge organic growth she has enjoyed on Instagram. It has changed her life. But in Hashtag Authentic she is not offering a manual for how to become Instagram famous. It does cover Instagram best practice, but I would think of it more as a book about how to create a social media account that will genuinely be of use to you. Because if you find your right people, good things will come.

The next hashtag

What is missing (and I get it, it isn’t the point) is an insight into the Me & Orla business journey. I’d have loved to have read more about how Sara has turned unexpected success on Instagram, an app on her phone, into a (more exciting) real business. I know that she will have worked much harder than her slow-living aesthetic suggests to establish herself as an expert in her field. She’s an entrepreneur, with an excellent business brain who has been able to see a clear way to channel her social media success into a truly viable money-making brand. She deeply understands how to connect with people who are attracted to her brand of lifestyle photography. That’s the stuff I’d love to chat with her about over coffee. I hope it’s all being saved up for a future book. It’s one I’d buy into.

Hashtag Authentic is released on 21st February but is available for preorder on Amazon now. It was sent to me for review by the publisher White Lion. 

What's your View?

13 comments on “Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker: book review

  1. Heather on

    Well that’s a great first review Helen 👏 It sounds like fascinating reading for those of us interested in how to find our USP without losing ourselves on social media. Our of curiosity, does the phone phototherapy section focus on IPhones? I have a Samsung Galaxy S9, which I would benefit from understanding better, especially the camera!

  2. Helen on

    Hi Heather, thank you for taking a moment to read and comment. The book doesn’t focus on any particular model of phone, or phone camera functionalities really. It comes at photography from the ‘what makes a good photo’ angle. So there is advice on what to photograph, how to frame and compose it, things to avoid etc. There is a little on apps, but I think anything Sara mentions is available to iPhone and Android users. I hope that’s helpful x

  3. Helen on

    What an interesting read. Thank you for sharing. I love that she talks about sharing moments and not things. So so true & so inspiring. I can not wait to read. I also love your honesty about what you’d like to see more of. Please can I join you and Sara for that chat over coffee xx

  4. Helen Hobden on

    I pre-ordered my copy of Hashtag Authentic ages ago, and after reading your review I’m now more excited than ever for mine to arrive! Hopefully it will help on my Instagram and photography adventure 🙂
    Thank you!
    Helen x

  5. Helen on

    Imagining the two Helen’s and Sara putting Instagram to rights over coffee. Thanks for popping over for a read, I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book when you get your hands on it H. xxx

  6. Helen on

    I’m sure it’ll be landing on your doorstep any day now. Sara does set things out really clearly and helpfully, I think you’ll find lots in there to work with. No surprise that she is a good teacher. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment, it’s much appreciated! x

  7. Neha D’Souza/ on

    What a great read Helen. I look the bit about capturing the moment and not thing- I am trying to think how that works with food. Should I not be staging it too much? Should it be more natural. So much to learn. Excellent how she has become so successful. I think you are on route to that path too

  8. Helen on

    I guess with food it means showing more about the setting, of the context within which the food would be eaten? Maybe showing some of the table settings or suggesting who’s there enjoying it? Or what’s the occasion? I think Sara has worked incredibly hard to make the most of the opportunity Instagram gave her. She’s pretty smart 😉 I reckon. Thank you for stopping by Neha x

  9. Helen on

    Thank you for this review Helen, I cannot wait to receive my copy which it feels an age away since I pre ordered! I have a question for you, does having the christian name Helen automatically guarantee me a seat at your coffee table with Sara and more lovely Helens?! I do hope so…x

  10. Helen on

    All Helen’s are welcome at the Helen’s and Sara Tasker Instameet!! I think you’ll love this book. It’s full of good tips and exercises. Thanks for popping over for a read, it’s much appreciated x

  11. Louise Kasozi on

    Oh what a great review! Thank you for sharing this Helen. Another one of your really helpful and informative articles. I had no idea this book was due out but after reading your recommendation I’ve just ordered my copy! Cant wait to read it xx

  12. Helen on

    Hi Louise, what a lovely comment I’m just delighted if you find what I do helpful, thank you. If you have time to pop back, I’d love to hear what you think about the book. Hx

  13. Fiona Austin on

    This comment ” aiming to take pictures of moments, not things” is so healthy. Accepting the ‘phone’ is in our lives .. but that it’s not a phone .. it’s a multifaceted computer but of course so much more. So if we can focus on the single use aspect of this information spider – the camera – it can lead us into a world of wonder. Getting lost in the consideration of a cloud, a happy feeling, a sunset – or joy with your family, (even when our hair is messy) .. and to know above all – we don’t have to publish for it to have happened.

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