There is no doubt in my mind that having an Instagram profile will help in showcasing your work to a broader audience. The platform is image and video centric so this allows photographers and artists of all genres to post their work and get discovered by like minded creatives.
How is Instagram useful for photographers? Instagram is useful for photographers because it provides an open platform for you to post your photography and have it shown to a wider audience. The organic reach of your photography posts can vary depending on the instagram algorithm. If a post becomes popular it can be seen by new users who will be able to view your work, your profile and further connect with you online.
Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly of Instagram and see if this platform is right for you and your creative photography.
Table of Contents
- Start with the basics: What is Instagram?
- Potential Instagram reach
- How do find photographers on Instagram: Use Hashtags
- The Good – Instagram is a strong platform for creatives
- Now For The Bad – Don’t get caught up in numbers
- And for the Ugly side of Instagram
- Is Instagram good for beginner portrait photographers
- Connect and find models for your work
- Tips for getting started on Instagram for beginner photographers
- Always keep in mind why you started
Start with the basics: What is Instagram?
Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to create free profiles and post images and videos to their feed. At the heart of the app, it is a social network. This is the simple answer. When you think “how” it works, then you realize the functionality is pretty basic.
When you think about “why” it works, the possibilities are endless. Self promotion, brand awareness, and so much more opportunity lies in the platform for individuals and businesses of all sizes.
The app can be downloaded to your phone for full functionality. You can also access your profile via desktop but you are not able to make a post live.
Potential Instagram reach
According to Techcrunch.com, Instagram has an active monthly user base of over 1 billion people as of 2018 and this number has grown over the years.
Over 500+ million users are active daily on the platform. This means the platform has great potential for global reach and strategic brand awareness.
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How do find photographers on Instagram: Use Hashtags
Using hashtags you can find photographers, and profiles for just about any category of photography. Using the hashtag #portraitphotographer can help you find and discover the work of thousands of photographers from all over the world.
Add your current city to the hashtag like #dallasphotographer and you can see more creative people on a local level. This can help you connect more to your local creative community for feedback or recommendations.
The Good – Instagram is a strong platform for creatives
There is a case for Instagram being a strong and lucrative platform for creatives. Especially photographers. Your work and your profile can grow organically on the platform and allow people from all over the world to see and comment on your creativity. Normally this type of exposure and advertising can be very expensive, but you have a chance. (Though it might be small due to the search algorithm for beginners)
No matter what type of photography you do, you are sure to find other creatives with the same passion for similar interest. Portraits, landscape photography, product photography, macro photography and so much more can be found on the platform.
Connect and Grow
In addition to being able to discover new photographers, you can also connect and follow their work. When they post you will see the work in your personal timeline so you won’t miss a thing. You can comment and ask questions and hopefully pick the mind of some other photographers.
I answer as many questions as I can when I get messaged on the platform. Many people just want to know what gear I use or what flash system I am shooting with. Either way, I try my best to answer all questions and comments that come my way.
Now For The Bad – Don’t get caught up in numbers
Likes and followers seem to be the goal of many people on the platform. they call it being “Instafamous”. Working to get your follower counts as high as possible can really distract you from concentrating on your own photography.
People look for photos with lots of likes, or profiles with lots of followers, and try to replicate the work they see. To me, there is a fine line between inspiration and just plain trying to copy other people’s work.
Get Inspired, but don’t copy
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be inspired by other photos on the platform, but keep in mind that you’re a unique artist with your own style. Work to stand out from the rest and don’t let the numbers discourage you.
The ugly truth is there are people who use artificial ways of growing their accounts instead of natural organic ways. It happens all the time so don’t be fooled by numbers.
And for the Ugly side of Instagram
Don’t worry about how many likes you have on your photos or that you don’t post every day. The Instagram algorithm changes all the time, so everyone will see ups-and-downs in engagement.
Also, there is no clear way to get your numbers and engagement up, so it’s best to just stay active with your followers. Ask questions and create conversations with your network. Don’t expect to start gaining followers just because you post 3 times a day. That’s not how the platform works.
Unrealistic expectations for post engagement
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have photos to post every day. This type of pressure can get in the way of your creative process. Yes, it’s great to stay active on social media, but this should not be the only reason you a photographer on the platform.
Numbers can be skewed and can really take a toll on the confidence of photographers.
Don’t compare yourself to other photographers
Are you guilty of comparing yourself to other photographers? I know I am. We can sometimes be our own worst enemy when critiquing our work. Instagram can intensify this feeling when you start seeing other photographers rise in popularity. Especially if you feel less than excited about their work.
The best thing to do is have a support network around you. People or professionals who will give you honest feedback so you can concentrate on getting better at your craft.
Don’t let your feelings get in the way when you’re browsing Instagram. Get inspired and be happy for the people who find success. (Sometimes you may find out that success was paid for. Just saying…)
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Is Instagram good for beginner portrait photographers
Yes, I think instagram is a good platform for beginner portrait photographers as long as you are using it as a means of inspiration and growing your network.
I think if you weight the pros and the cons of the social media platform, you will find that there are probably more pros than cons. Every platform will have it’s own unique issues, but this platform is so visual centric that you can grow as a creative when you start posting your work.
Welcome feedback and respond to creative critique. Use caution as there are some people who simple want to bash anything and everything they see. Don’t fall into the trap of arguing with an anonymous profile.
Remember a few things when using Instagram:
- Try to post at least 2-3x a week
- Connect with people in your area by using hashtags to find them
- Answer comments on your posts
- Post comments on other people’s work
- Encourage and don’t discourage
- Provide valuable feedback and not just 2 work comments
- Thank people for commenting and connecting
Connect and find models for your work
One of the best things about Instagram for photographers is helping me find models for my portraits. I have built my profile to narrow in and target the Dallas, TX area. I use hashtags like #dallasmodels and #dallasmua to find local models and make-up artists.
When I am doing a creative shoot, I also put together model calls. This allows models who are interested in my concept to reach out to me to book TFP shoots. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about TFP or Trade For Portfolio shoots. Check out my article here on shoots.
Tips for getting started on Instagram for beginner photographers
- Start a profile and find a unique name – This can be your own name or a variation of your name or business
- Have at least 4-6 image posts ready to go. Find some of your best work and have it ready to go for posting to the app.
- Post daily for the first week or two so you can gain a small following and help Instagram learn you are not a bot (machine trying to pass off for a person)
- Post your profile on other platforms and let your friends and family know your new profile is live. This will help get you noticed when you are just starting out.
- Follow similar profiles – Find other profiles that you like. This does not always have to be photographers. These could be music artists or other creatives.
- Make sure to connect – Find people and don’t be afraid to comment on posts to ask questions. You can even message them but don’t get discouraged if they don’t answer. It happens.
- Have fun and don’t take yourself so serious – It’s a platform to grow and connect. The last thing you want to do is stress over the profile.
Always keep in mind why you started
If you take away one thing from this post, it’s remembering why you started portrait photography. The feeling you get when you’re out taking photos and the creativity it allows you to feel. Remember there is more to photography than likes and followers on an app.
Get inspired by others, but don’t let that bring you down. Every professional in the creative industry always gets discouraged at one point in their career. It’s what you do during this downturn that will help you stay on track.
Social media has provided a unique opportunity for creative minds. It has made connecting with people from all over the world easy because the access is literally in the palm of your hands.
That kind of technology is a gift but can also be a curse. Don’t get discouraged and make sure to take a break if you find yourself being consumed by the experience on the platform. You hold the control so make sure to use it.
Author - Jason The Creative
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