Instagram 101 for Photographers

Of all the social media networks, Instagram is one of the most widely used and accessible to photographers. And unlike Facebook, every post will actually show up in your followers’ feeds, greatly increasing the chance that your images will be seen. To build your following on Instagram, take a few moments to plan your strategy. Don’t post everything – curate your work just as you do your portfolio so your stream is focussed and inline with your style. What photos do you think your followers want to see? What images do you feel like sharing? Is this a side, personal project? Or are you giving a behind-the-scenes view of your professional work? Are these images exclusive to your Instagram followers or cross-posted elsewhere?

Photographer Alex Prager's Instagram account gives followers a glimpse into the inspiration and behind the scenes look at her fashion, street, and film work.

Using hashtags is a good way to get more followers and establish your voice. Every time you post a photo, add relevant hashtags to increase the exposure of your post. Here are a few tags you might consider adding:

  • location of the photo – city, state, country, park, building, event
  • your photography specialty, ie #weddingphotography, #familyportrait, #seniorportrait, etc.
  • a few details from the shot itself – the camera it was shot on, the filter you used, subject matter
  • your Instagram account and your client’s account if they have one

Spend the time to write good captions to get followers more engaged with your posts. Without the character limitations of Twitter, you have the space to write the story behind your photos. For examples of how effective this is, follow @humansofny to get a good idea of how much a well-written caption can add to an image and see how multi-part posts keeps readers waiting for the next post.

    Humans of NY instagram multi-part post keeps readers guessing.

    Instagram is also a great space to have a dialog with your followers. You can ask a question in your post to get feedback and responses. Leave comments for others and respond to any comments or questions on your own posts. Remember to tag the Instagram user (@ + profile name) so they know you are responding.

    And finally, have fun with it. The reason photographers are so fond of Instagram is because it allows for experimentation and open dialog without the need for everything to be perfectly shot. It is also a great source of inspiration as users aren’t afraid to try new things in this open, vibrant community.