As a Professional Photographer, Why the Hell Do You Have a Personal and Business Page on Instagram?

As a Professional Photographer, Why the Hell Do You Have a Personal and Business Page on Instagram?

One of the biggest questions I get when photographers consult with me about managing their brand on Instagram is: "Should I create a business page separate from my personal page?" This discussion was started on the Instagram for Business group by Martin Bonden, who asked what I thought about creating a business page on top of a personal page, as opposed to having just the one. Here are a few reasons why I like to keep mine all in one page as a professional photographer.

I have always known my personal and business page as one and the same but then again it's all I've known. Given I have done work for various other businesses in the past it does push a great question overall and though in the end it's up to you and how you feel it all fits within your image and overall work flow. The biggest pain in the ass has to be the lack of a switch between accounts quickly on IG though that is NOT the reason why I don't have a business page. I have a few live accounts currently along with another handful that I mange for clients on the side. I have no issue with logging in and out of each to post and engage inside each. Obviously it takes more time but in the end a few seconds to flip out and back into an account is not that hard and simply keeps me from accidently falling into one account and posting the wrong material like I have done on Twitter or Facebook.

Now, I started on the app fairly early on, just a few weeks after it went live. I created the personal page for fun under a nickname I got when I was in high school, a name I was already used to years before, thanks to my last name being "Griswold." My older brother was "Big Gris" and my younger was "Little Gris." I was just known as "The Gris," thanks to a few close friends making that decision for me. Now, I have thought about a business page before, but in the end, I feel they are both one and the same. As beautiful as a business page that features only your absolute best work and professional life is, the personal aspects of my own page show I am still human and will post what I feel fits my style and overall branding and image. It's helped me nail jobs I would have never got with wasting time jumping back and forth, fighting for various clients on a business-only style page.

As I said above, having simply one page where I feature some of my best professional work alongside my day-to-day life has brought me projects I would have never had the chance to work on if it weren't for that simple fact. It's all about finding that look or style of your own that can be adapted to many genres of shooting you truly enjoy. For example, the sample of shots below are snapshots from around my own city, shot on none other than my iPhone. Though to be completely honest, I shoot professionally with my phone 90% of the time anyway, but those photos were seen by some of the biggest names in the city, some of which eventually hired me to shoot for them, including The Conrad Hotel. The first photo is a shot of a local photographer venturing to the pool lounge in the hotel while on a photowalk. It is paired with the second photo, taken a couple weeks later when the hotel hired me to come back, stay, and shoot the location for a local magazine. 

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Wait for it... // #WHPactionpacked

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Campus vibes // #chasinglight

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​This is the Insta-meet that landed us inside the pool area of The Conrad Hotel.

This photo was featured in a local magazine.

The photos below were a more recent experience with the same brand, as I got to stay in newer suites added this year to help share more user-based photos, rather than the standard interior environmental shots you become so accustomed to seeing in magazines and on billboards these days. This has been a running client of mine for almost two years, thanks to that one simple photo in their pool lounge, when we ducked indoors to warm up while on a freezing winter photowalk. I host a photowalk each month with my local Instagram group @igersindy and have for almost three years. One photo, that honestly was taken strictly because we were hunting for locations to explore while in the winter months, turned into a multiyear client. 

Though I strongly believe these two page styles should always be combined on the Instagram platform, there is one example in which this might be okay: someone with a very niche brand image. Some people have very specific niche styles in which their personal eye can never match what they do professionally and vice versa. For example, when someone shoots high fashion day in and day out, leaving them very little room to snap a random photo of their breakfast between models strutting down the runway, it could become a bit of an eyesore. Then again, each photographer has their own style and if done well, a creative eye can shoot anything with perfect execution, making it flow seamlessly together in one portfolio — in this case, a single Instagram page.

Do you have a personal and business account? Why? Or, do you mix both the personal and business-related material on one page? We would love to hear what people think of this topic! Give some solid reasons specifically for having both in this day and age. I especially would love to hear what people think of photographers in niche markets mixing and matching unrelated content with their day-to-day shooting style and brand image.

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19 Comments

Martin Van Londen's picture

My IG is more like a mistreious alter ego then a business or personal account. But I do use it mainly to promote my business and gain leads. And it ha been the cheapest and most effective way to market my self.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Haha! It truly is a great way to market on the cheap. My page has been all about personally growing creatively and profesionally. I have mixed both styles of work across a vast number of photo in one style. It has helped me grab so many more clients and connections than I would have ever got just pushing into one niche or creating a new account for every single type of shooting I wanted to do.

I had a personal account, where I would occasionally post images from some project I was working on for my site. But I scrapped that, and instead post to an Instagram that's branded with our site's name. This has gotten me a ton of new clients - I estimate that one on ten likes is from a brand that I have started a new relationship with. And I still post personal photos, it's just that they contain the gear we're writing about, or are taken while we're out reviewing some gear.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Totaly man, whatever works for you and keeps the photos coming on the daily. Telling the story about yourself and all that you do is key to keeping a moving relationship with the audience.

Kjell Denti Gunnarsson's picture

I used to have a combined account, but I recently started an account just for my "professional" stuff. I actually like it that way because on my personal account I only follow people I know IRL and I'm able to post corny, poorly-shot pictures of the moment without worrying about people unfollowing me or thinking my stream is inconsistent. I use iconosquare for both accounts so it's pretty easy to manage. I've only had my professional account for 2 months and my personal for almost 2 years and the former has double the followers already so I think it's paid off.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Interesting. To each their own man. What works for you is what matters most, this just is a general question I get all the time and the reasons I feel it works best for most professional shooters. As you can see though obvioulsy your profesiona will grow faster becaause its the best of the best work. Your pesronal you just post away with not much rhyme or reason. I think my push in the article was to tell folks to always think and shoot the best shot possible whether that is your lunch or you mowing the grass. It just shows a further appreciation for the artist when I see them pushing their craft beyond the paid gigs.

Michael Kormos's picture

In contrast, I could think of a million reasons why it's better to keep a separate Instagram page for yourself and one for your business. For one, not every professional photographer operates under their name. Example: Our maternity and newborn brand - glow portraits (http://www.nycnewbornphotography.com) caters to a specific type of retail clientele. I can assure you that none of those potential clients want to see what I - the owner have had for breakfast, or the vacation that my wife and I took, or the mess our kids have left in the kitchen this morning. Two, you're going after two separate audiences when using a single Instagram account. On one side, your friends and family are kept up-to-date on your daily happenings, on the other side you're trying to attract new business. I can only think of a few rare instances where this would be a successful strategy. If you're a wedding photographer, your market segment might be women aged 20-40 with X income living X amount of miles from you. I assure you, if you want your personality to aid your brand, the trick is certainly NOT to use your personal Instagram page. Those potential clients would much rather see things like behind the scenes, pictures of you retouching, seeing how much fun you make the experience, etc. I think you need to fully understand a given photography genre, their market segment, and how to target to their clientele most effectively. Frankly, I think mixing social media pages for both uses is an awful idea.

Andrew Griswold's picture

I agree with you that it may not be for everyone though to speak honestly, my entire personal life and professional career from start to finish as a photographer has been documented in the best way possible though my Instagram feed. That is where I have found the greatest return on my investment of time and creative talent. Instagram is a unique platform and one that I think would benefit photographers and creatives in general when they put their entire lives into the work they shoot. I shoot my kid in the morning running through the house, maybe the sunrise as I commute to the day job or the nightly adventures as a photographer as either my finish product shot or even a fun behind the scenes shot. All of which have brought me more business than I know what to do with through the social network. I could name off hundreds of opportunities in the last year alone that have brought me more clients. My son for one, something photogarphers always tell me they want to separate they personal from professional accounts (shots of my kids are not going to go well with clients) though I just recently shot with one of the biggest luxury hotels in Indianapolis and they specifically asked to have him interacting in the new renovated space because they love the shots I have mixed into my feed the last couple years with him. On top of that they were also in love with my architectural photos and enviromental portraits. All of which have built up from these shots across personal photos of friends hanging out at night to my son smashing toys across his room. Obviously its not for everyone but this article is a push in the direction of teaching folks its possible and in my case far more beneficial than making a ton of accounts for wedding, newborn, family portraits, product photography. I blend it all into one and bring in a larger piece of the pie this way. Not to mention it brings a personality and story to more of my photos. Great argument though man and one I love seeing on here! Thanks for the message and wish you the best bud

Hillary Fox's picture

I've actually struggled with this quite a bit. When I first started using Instagram (https://instagram.com/hillaryfox/), it was great to post daily mobile snapshots that may not have had the greatest aesthetic appeal, but were true-to-life moments. I thought it would be a place where I could share my life, rather than show off my skills. Then every pro photographer upped their game and now it's just another portfolio site. So I've thought about creating a personal account that's truly personal and casual and fun, and I know a few other photographers have done that. As soon as Instagram brings us built-in account switching, I'm on it :)

Andrew Griswold's picture

Yup, totally understand. There are some moments I find myself wanting to share and post about but just wont because the shot is not up to part with the rest of my photos. Heck that is why we have personal facebook pages right?

Hillary Fox's picture

I wish! :( My personal Facebook page is my business page as well... See this is what happens when your life's work becomes your whole life, haha! :D

First of all, I just checked out your Instagram and I love it. Really nice work. I debated for a while whether or not I should make a separate business IG account; I'd gotten a decent following on my personal one. After a lot of thought, though, I decided to go for it. People knew who I was as a person, and even though I had my photography business website linked from my Instagram, I have so many different hobbies people often didn't realize I was actually doing photography professionally. There are so many people who pull off decent Instagrams that are just hobby photographers (or not actually photographers at all), and I realized I needed to separate them to give my brand name a personality. I did keep Instagramming more personal things, I just made sure they kept up with my aesthetic. It's been really beneficial in making a name for my business in the area instead of just who I am personally, even though they do intertwine. Separating it for me was really helpful, but I definitely don't think it's for everyone.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Thank you! Really appreciate the kind words. I agree and might have mentioned it in the article? but it may not be for everyone or a full business per example but for a freelance photographer on a platform that has a specific use and following I think it could be far more bendicial to the overall branding and image of the indiidual to go all in one than separate. Totally up to each person for sure though and it can get more complex

Casey Berner's picture

As a photographer, you are most likely your own brand. Many photographers are a one-employee company and I agree, it's still to have two accounts when much of the time you are selling yourself as a photographer. But sometimes I think it's an important distinction to have more than one account if your professional brand is beyond just one person. Many creative agencies, production teams and duos have a dedicated account for their brand which I think is warranted.

Andrew Griswold's picture

I completely agree with you. I think this stand mainly for the freelance and single photographers out there that shoot on their own or even have an assistant at most. When it comes to production and stuff like that along with bigger projects I would say grab a business account under that business name.

Scott Cushman's picture

While I think this is good advice for some photographers, the penultimate paragraph makes an important point. I'm strongly in favor of separate accounts for different types of photography.

On my personal account (@sacushman), I post a lot of nature shots and a few pictures of friends. On my more professional account (@scopho.to), it's pretty much all (male) modeling portraits--fitness, portfolio shoots, etc. If someone is interested in both, they can follow both. But for the most part, the audiences don't overlap. It also helps me segment out who I follow. On the personal account, I follow friends and coworkers. On my other account, I follow professional photographers, athletes, models and wannabe models. Different focus, different audience, different account.

Some photographers I follow don't segment their posts between accounts, and I really wish some (but not all) would. If I follow someone to see fashion shoots, I don't particularly want to sift through bathroom selfies or breakfast. And if I do want to see bathroom selfies, it would be trivial for me to follow another account.

If I decide to get into other specialties, I will start another account and tell my existing followers about it. If they are interested, they'll follow again.

Like pretty much everything related to social media, you have to think of it in terms of uses and gratification. What does your audience want and expect when they follow an account? Or, to rephrase in marketing speak: what brand promise are you making? When you narrow the scope, you're less likely to fatigue your followers. You make a tacit promise that what you post will reflect the interest/s that brought them to you.

I also manage an account for the college where I work, bringing the current total up to three. Thankfully, I have an Android phone. Managing multiple accounts on an iOS device would be a nightmare. On Android, I can have three instances of the IG app at once. I don't have to log in and out; I just choose the right icon.

Alex Kent's picture

I have both, my personal is private and I don't ever intend on changing that. My business is public because I want the world to be exposed to my business!

George Perez's picture

I have a personal and a business account on IG. I don't think I'll ever been converging them just because I'd like to have the freedom to post unrelated things on my personal account. However, I totally understand what you mean when you say that it makes you more personable and real when you post less-than-professional photos from time to time, like the photo of you telling your followers that you're editing photos from the weekend. It's a great idea and one that I think I'll be adopting.

Thanks!

Max Leitner's picture

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