Instagram Explodes Past 500 Million Monthly Users and Why It Matters

Instagram Explodes Past 500 Million Monthly Users and Why It Matters

If you are still one of the few photographers or creatives on planet earth not on Instagram, you might want to reconsider after hearing these stats. Instagram has now reached more than 500 million monthly users and 300 million daily active users. That is outrageous to think considering the large portion of those came within the last 2-3 years. It shouldn't take much to convince you that its still a powerhouse when it comes to sharing images and connecting with an audience.

I have been on Instagram for over 5 years now and I continue to find value in sharing images every single day with my following and the growing social platform. In the last couple years Instagram has added quite a few tools to users that can easily be seen as great tools for photographers in todays industry. Video clips have been extended to 60 seconds, you can now see view counts on those videos vs only likes, and also the addition of some pretty amazing business profiles and analytics. The growth in which Instagram is building is considered slow in the fast paced industry but to me that is important to their organic reach and overall appeal. 

If you are new to photography or possibly a seasoned veteran, I can't stress enough how powerful a tool the social platform is currently. The fact you are able to share and post to a massive audience so quickly is far from what we as creatives were able to do even 10 years ago. As the growth of Instagram continues to build, and people use it more, the better it will be for those looking to get better reach. By simply adding a tag to your photo you are building in search capabilities for others to find you. With tags like  #PortraitPhotography having over a million photos that's an unbelievable reach for people to see your work. Don't forget that even though it seems daunting and too large now, Instagram is still a great tool for photographers to get their work out there. 

Like many photographers I gravitated to Instagram early on because it was a simple and clean app that helped me share images on the fly with friends and family. Over time I realized that the app could bring so much more, community. Having grown a following and connecting with so many creative people around the world over these past few years has been the most inspiring for me. I don't necessarily have a niche for shooting, but rather I shoot my daily life in family, work, and freelance photography. 

Andrew Griswold's picture

Andrew Griswold is a photographer and designer based in Indianapolis. Born and raised in Indy he has made a name for himself by staying very active in the creative community in both photography and design. He has also founded a community of photographers via Instagram connecting them with brands to work with and shoot locally.

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How many of clients that left with you more than $1000 found you on instagram? Just curious.

I'm not sure I understand what the questions is? Are you asking how many clients that paid me over $1,000 came from Instagram? If that is the questions I would say 90% of the clients I have come from Instagram and also 60% of those are retained year over year.

I checked your Instagram. Visually nice pictures. I am trying to figure out what is your target though. Who is your average client and what type of job are you being booked for?

Appreciate it. Mainly lifestyle, product, and architectural. Many of the contracts I sell in to clients that reach out to me on Instagram or vise versa are based on a loose project list of a half day or full day shoots with a bonus of x amount of posts to Instagram. Rarely do I sell only Instagram posts. That would simply not last years or grow further. I am looking to retain clients in photo shoots rather than only on Instagram posts that are one off. I am simply using Instagram as the tool that drives people in to my style and look to do larger projects and expanded campaigns. I also do consulting work to help brands use Instagram and social media in general. Hope that makes sense?

Absolutely. Thanks for the explenation. It could be interesting read if you elaborate on the details of this business model.

I'm not sure if I have or not but I will look back at my articles and see if I have yet.

I couldn't agree more. Aside from a handful of photographers whose photos have gone viral on social media, who have then decided to sell actions and "workshops" on how to be a great photographer, trying to quickly monetize from their instant fame, I see little stability, longevity, or return on investment when it comes to marketing on social media. It's a good platform for keeping existing clients in the loop (or for selling $200 headshot deals), but as a solid marketing channel, it's far too volatile. I've seen too many photographers pouring all of their eggs into the Facebook basket, only to be drowned in silence when sponsored posts became the only way to reach their audience. IG understands the value of an audience. They're at a stage where growing your audience is easy and free. Just don't expect it to last. A for-profit company is not going to let you talk to your audience without getting a piece of the pie.

Yup, its dangerous to allow yourself to get stuck into one area of social to rely on that. Sure some folks do that very well but eventually they push to teaching courses or selling a product in the end and that can become tough to leave one area of selling work to selling a product. Myself, I use Instagram as a tool to simply reach out to and engage with brands (thanks to the big follower base, it helps a little) I can use that to get my foot in the door. Sell packages in various sizes that are half and full day shoots and then add on x amount of posts to Instagram as a bonus. That has yielded the best results and gained retention of clients for a few years now. Hopefully that makes sense? Feel free to ask any more questions you might have. I simply use IG as a tool to reach clients in photography, not a way to ONLY reach clients to work with ONLY on Instagram.


Perfect question. I would suspect few if any of my real estate photography clients peruse Instagram for prospective photographers. Am I wrong here?

Check out

He has done countless talks and videos about how Instagram is a powerful tool for architectural photography and real estate markets. Not just selling properties but selling clients and followers on properties that he is working on.

I think we have to use the social media plataforms to our benefit, and don´t let they use us. I mean, we as photographers MUST use them to our benefit, and use ONLY the most viral and popular. When some new social network appear and become more popular and replace others (like instagram repaced Flickr) then we have to move and use the new social network, that´s it. The only online presence that we never have to change is our web page (domain name). Today we must use FACEBOOK-TWITTER-INSTAGRAM. Tomorrow will be others.

Have any photographers not realized Instagram is important? 15 of your last 20 articles are about Instagram, with the majority of them embedding your own work? Seems like thinly veiled self-promotion. Hope you can mix in a broader range of topics in the future.

Working on it buddy. Thanks for the feedback

Andrew, your engagement rate to followers numbers is incredibly low. How are the sponsors paying over $1000 getting their money worth?

In the Instagram community, engagement is everything. A lot of my sponsors use this link ( to check on the IG accounts that they are planning to collaborate with. Most sponsors looking for an above 2,000 score with at least 5-6% engagement rate.

when I run your account on that website, it returned a score of 643 and a 0.4% engagement. Something must be wrong here.

Feel free to check out my account:

Very good observation. I was one of the few that were featured by Instagrams Suggested User List, you can look it up by a simple Google search. That helped me boost my following to large numbers very quickly. Though the downside is a lot of those users were brand new to the platform early on and some left quickly. Leaving me with a large number of followers but a smaller engagement rate. I am find with it as I am still yielding 100-150k impressions per week with 1-2 posts per day. I am able to reach a wider net because I have a larger following and each type of follower will like different things. So for all my lifestyle shots, these 300-400 people like it. Then for product realted stuff another totally different 300-400 people like those shots.

I think what I am doing with Instagram is using it as a tool to bring clients in and connect with so many great creatives around the world. Those realtionships have brought me clients that have lasted much longer and have extended well outside the Instagram platform. The usually rate for a half or full day shoot with a few Instagram posts included or less is $3,000-$5,000 with my current follower and engagement rate.

You sir though have some outstanding work and an incredible follower base. Loads of engagement. That is great! Would love to chat more here or offline about what you are doing and how you go about talking with clients or if you do at all do Instagram promoted posts or if you shoot outside of the app in a more professional setting.

We have been on instagram for a while, but recently have started seriously posting, usually one or two a day. But looking at other profiles, how can some photographers have fewer that have posted less than 50 mediocre images have 2000+ followers? This is if common to see and I'm wondering if Instagram is artificially inflating numbers.

Good question. I think the big difference is Instagram will find and seek out those that are really pushing for the community within Instagram. I dont only post photos but comment, like, follow and push out to others on the platform on a daily basis. I even host photo walks here locally every month bringing out dozens of photographers each time. I have run those for a few years now. Some of my photos have been reposted pushing engagment and some have gone viral across a few sites. There is just a lot to each social platform and it takes time and loads of effort to keep that needle moving forward.