Instagram Today: 7 Tips for Photographers

Instagram Today: 7 Tips for Photographers

Instagram has changed a lot in the past year with new algorithms, new content opportunities, stories, and live videos, just to name a few features. Although Instagram’s organic reach isn’t as great as it once was a few years ago, the platform can still be a key component of any photographer’s business. Here are seven tips to help photographers get more exposure on Instagram.

1. Use the Social Aspect of Social Media

A lot of people forget that social media is a social platform. You need to interact and talk or chat with other people in your niche to achieve any goals you have. While a select few of us can simply leverage the content we produce and not interact, Instagram favors people who comment, post to stories, and use the app. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, just 10-20 minutes a day will suffice, but it can help you out in the long run. I’ve found that commenting on people's photos in your niche and on people who also comment is a great way to drive interaction and engagement. I've also noticed a great way to gain followers is to target hashtags in your niche. These posts tend to be seen more and can help you focus in on your target audience. 

2. Connect with Instagram Influencers


Previously, it was fairly easy to grow your following through likes, comments, and posting regularly. Unfortunately, those days seem to be going away as Instagram becomes more commercialized and favors paid, sponsorship-oriented content. In order to get more leverage and exposure, you can reach out to influencers in your niche using the platform. Try to form a meaningful relationship with them through a cold email, personal message, or just actively engaging with their content in a meaningful and positive way. Even if you don’t succeed in doing a shoot or becoming their best friend, your exposure and engagement will grow due to naturally piggybacking off of their devoted followers. Accounts that regularly collaborate with each other will grow faster, and having multiple influencers involved through video, stories, and live feeds only accelerates that process.  

3. Gram Quality Over Quantity 

It’s important to post, but I’ve noticed that if your account doesn’t have a major cult-like following (which some do), posting less frequently with better content is the way to go. At least for photographers, you don’t need to use Instagram 24/7, just enough to keep people who follow you interested and show them that you produce content with value. I've found that this is actually a welcome change for those of us who believed that they need to use Instagram constantly to do marketing or outreach.

4. Instagram Stories 

It’s true that the story craze has hit Instagram! Stories are great for several reasons. You can tag and share with brands, businesses, other photographers, and your models in order to get noticed (with a chance for a re-share). You can utilize live videos if you have a larger audience to easily engage with your followers. You can keep yourself relevant by posting great content to your story and ensure that it goes to the top of your fans’ pages. I’ve noticed that often, people will engage and interact more with stories than with my actual images. For better or for worse, this is an essential part of keeping yourself in the hearts and minds of your fans. Photos and videos you post to your stories can also be directly sent through direct message to followers, a quick way to spread information about an upcoming event or to showcase your latest content.  

5. Use 5:4 Crop Ratio

This tip is actually an Adobe Photoshop tip for those who want to optimize images for social media. During shoots, you can “shoot wide” and then crop down to a 5:4 crop ratio (check the crop ratios at the top of the page in Photoshop or use the editing tools on your phone's photos, VSCO, Preview Apps, etc.) to ensure you have all the parts of the image you want in your Instagram post.

In terms of cropping and what you can do, Instagram users have also got creative with their design and the layout of their feeds, utilizing white space, images that span two panels, and other fun experiments to break the linear square or landscape ratio that can seem to limit creativity at times. Experiment with different crops and see what you can come up with. 

6. Use a Business Profile 

If you want to see the analytics of your Instagram Page, switch to a business profile! This feature allows potential clients or customers’ access to a direct line to email or call your business through Instagram and also shows you audience demographics and what the best times of day to post are for your profile.

Speaking of profiles, it's also important to keep your bio interesting and to have a recognizable profile photo for your photography business to ensure that people go to your page and instantly want to follow along. Depending on who your audience is, you should tailor your profile to what can provide the most value to your customers while still letting your personality shine through.   

7. Utilize Other Forms of Content Marketing 

At the end of the day, you should try to socialize on and utilize Instagram as a platform, but you shouldn’t worry about the amount of followers you have. Instagram is one of many ways to connect with other photographers, models, businesses, and clients. If you don’t become Instagram famous overnight, you can still become a successful photographer through your website, referrals, connections, friends, or family, and those are just a few avenues to help grow your photography career or to help maximize your hobby.

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28 Comments

Grant Henninger's picture

Based on the photos in this post, I’m surprised one of the tips isn’t to include scantily clad, attractive women in all your Insta posts.

John Dawson's picture

Ha! I saw this after commenting the same.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Well, it works. Always has-always will.

John Dawson's picture

Yeah, so does porn.

Obligatory Disclaimer: I'm not saying that this is porn

Morey Spellman's picture

You need to think of your target audience when you post and the kind of clients (or people) you want to attract. It's different for everyone.

Grant Henninger's picture

So what are you saying is the target audience you're going for with this article?

Michael Dougherty's picture

Half the human population that is male, plus or minus.

John Dawson's picture

8. Skin Sells - Post shots of very young scantily-clad women.

Tom Reichner's picture

Does skin actually sell, or does it just generate a lot of interest - likes and followers? I have learned that there can be an enormous amount of interest over some content, yet the producer of that content isn't making any money off if it, and has no idea how to monetize it.

I will spend a lot of time searching for and looking at "skin pics", yet I will never spend any money on any of it - I'm certainly not going to buy a print of a hot girl to hang on my wall. I think this is typical of most people out there ..... we like to look at stuff, but we'll never spend so much as a penny on any of it.

revo nevo's picture

Problem I have with instagram comments is that they are so fake. It just screams "hey take a look at my profile!!!!"
Some people are honest and just write "take a look at my profile" lol.

I really can't play that game.

John Dawson's picture

My favorite follower filter is s follow with no like.

Jeff Walsh's picture

In these comments, lots of people who can't seem to get over the fact that girls in swimwear are in the article.

John Dawson's picture

Uh, I get it. Again, skin sells.

Morey Spellman's picture

It's my current work / niche, I originally started with self-portraits and moved to swimwear.

Chad D's picture

I just post my awesome dog pics for those others that like pets ? but reality is I find %90 of it trendy garbage except for a few other fellow togs that just post the work they love ? I could care less about color matching my tiles or having a theme feeling etc...

to each there own I reckon agree with many others that said it also its not a photographers tool as much as it is a social cry for help of look at me look at me I am popular ? kinda sad really

Rob Mitchell's picture

'Composition'

<sigh>
Next.

Leigh Miller's picture

For a moment I thought it was April 1st....

Seriously man, how can we even take you seriously. Is your niche half naked women?

Morey Spellman's picture

Yes, my niche is swimwear.

Leigh Miller's picture

Strictly for young women, no men?

Morey Spellman's picture

I've photographed men and women of all demographic ages (young, old etc...)
The audience I specialize in as a business is women's swimwear.

Leigh Miller's picture

But....not any you would be inclined to share in your article right?

quit the BS buddy.

We all know why you have scanty-girls in your article and it has zero to do with your excuse. Skin sells...or rather "attracts" viewers to your feed. Most of those viewers will be male and they won't buy a single thing from you because of those images. It's kinda like tatty porn...why buy a magazine or online subscription when the same images/video are being given away for free.

If all you want to do is drive viewers to your IG keep right on with the bikini (female) models. But don't pretend that it's anything else.

steve fischer's picture

You are seriously giving the guy a hard time because he shoots swimwear? You are judging because you do not feel he has enough men in his portfolio?

I think the problem is you don't really understand how the commercial market works. Art directors, ad agencies, branding agencies etc. hire photographers that specialize in certain markets. They don't look for "i can shoot anything" type of photographers. I mention that because i notice on your website you mention you shoot everything from weddings, to travel, landscape, models... i mean that's not what commercial paying clients look for.

I shoot exclusively in the women's market except for brands that have female and male collections. I made that decision because it's what I personally enjoy shooting and it's also the largest segment, in terms of advertising dollars spent, in any fashion genre.

Unreal you would give a photographer a hard time for focusing on the market they wish to shoot. Besides you have implied nudes under your "model" portfolio.

Leigh Miller's picture

I think you miss the point. I couldn't care less what he has in his portfolio. Skin sells. Nobody cares about his social media tips. The only one that matters is to post scantily clad YOUNG female models. I only mentioned male models because none of his article samples includes them. Don't men wear swimwear....isn't it about representing your best work and all that?

Tom Reichner's picture

You suggest that we use a 5:4 aspect ratio, yet I think that you are actually talking about a 4:5 aspect ratio. Remember, in standard aspect ratio terminology, the width is always stated first, and the height second. You say 5:4, yet you are posting examples that are 4:5.

Morey Spellman's picture

You are correct, thank you Tom. I'll go ahead and make those changes for review.

Jure Makovec's picture

again a few things are completely wrong. I have friends, who changed their IG accounts to business profile and the first thing they noticed is much much lower engagement. unless you pay. but then you pay and your boost ends and you then have even less engagement, so - don't go business. yes, there are some amazing tools there - but are those tools more important than your work being seen? I guess not ...

and yes, I know that, because I wanted to change to business account, too, but my friends warned me, that engagement just falls too much and it is not worth.

Morey is a skilled photographer. Morey shoots very beautiful scantily clad young women in beautiful locations. Morey's Instagram has 302 images with 2800 followers. His oldest image dates back to August 2016. . Should we be taking Instagram advice for Morey ? I ask this seriously.

Anita Zvonar's picture

First off .... writing these articles is very time consuming, so thanks Morey. Good tips. Quite shocking how quick to negatively comment people are on here. Seriously!??