Why Are You on Instagram?

I don’t think there’s a more polarizing social media platform than Instagram. From photographers who sing its praises to those who loathe the day it was invented, there’s no denying that Instagram evokes strong feelings.

Even if you’ve grown to hate Instagram, it’s hard to deny that it has done something for the photographic community. Whether that something is good or bad, I’ll leave up to the reader.

Because of the polarizing nature of Instagram, it’s worth asking each person who’s had an opinion on the social media platform and how it’s either benefited or hurt the photography community: “Why are you on Instagram?”

Know Your Why

If you’ve ever listened to me speak or sat with me during a business coaching session for any length of time, then you’ll know that everything I speak and teach about comes down to understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing. Without having taken the time to intentionally assess why you’re trying to promote your photography on Instagram or even why you’re in business, you’ll have no clear direction for how to use Instagram to benefit you personally. It’s worth noting that if you haven’t taken the time to intentionally find out what your goals were for joining and staying on Instagram in the first place, you’re probably not utilizing IG in the best way for yourself.

Conversely, if you feel that Instagram has benefited you, does it align with what your original goals were when you joined it and began utilizing it to advertise your photography and business?

If you’ve been feeling discouraged with Instagram, whether it be because you’re not having the success you wish you had or because you’ve been comparing yourself to others who are seeing more success with the platform, I’d urge you to go back to the reason you joined Instagram to begin with. It’s easy to get caught up in a popularity contest of who can get the most likes, but ultimately, likes don’t pay the bills. Once you reassess your “Instagram Why,” you may find that likes or the number of followers don’t even matter to your end goal for the social platform. 

Gaining Success With Instagram

Furthermore, if you take time to evaluate your ultimate "why" for using Instagram, you may find that you’re not feeling as aimless anymore while using the platform. Having a foundational reason for doing anything from running a business, to advertising, to getting clients, or using social media is one of the most helpful ways one can gain a clear vision for the future of their photography business.

The bottom line is that success on Instagram looks different for everyone. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others or getting caught up in the Instagram popularity contest. Trying to get as many likes on your photos just for the sake of having the most likes is probably not going to be as beneficial as you think it is in the long run. Why did you join Instagram? Let us know in the comments.

Lead Image by freestocks.org via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.

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Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I’m there for high-ISO selfies and lousy food shots. Who’s with me?

Sebastian Romero's picture

I'm on Instagram to have a feedback on my work, and to enter to business.

Mood Translator's picture

Well people dont actually leave "feedback" there. Its mostly for empty compliments like "great snap!" or emojis. Hardly what I would call feedback. "To enter business" also is wildly vague and doesnt make a lot of sense

Tom D's picture

I suspect English is his second or third language. No need to be unpleasant.

Mood Translator's picture

Dont be so sensitive, I was being straightforward and what I said was true.

Chris Jennings's picture

Interesting article. For an opposing view, read my blog column about why I'm Not on Instgram:

Timothy Daniel's picture

I find it hilarious that even photgraphy websites are using free stock images.

I was on instagram because I beleived in the power of images, something even fstoppers seems to have given up on.

Ahh well, you win some you lose some.

Harry Martin's picture

I am still trying to "asses why you’re trying to promote your photography..." (see above) Respectfully, spell check probably messed this up - not you. :-) Those who don't take advantage of IG in some way may fall into this category in some way.

Danette Chappell's picture

This has me laughing! Thanks for pointing that out! ;)

Toney Smith's picture

Personally, I’ve gotten way more “free” publicity with Instagram than any of the paid photo hosting sites that I’ve used over the years. Learn to use the hashtags in relation to your work.

Nathan Klein's picture

Hi Toney,

I find the hashtags limited. My analytics suggest that most of my posts are found by about 30 people from hashtags. Do you have a similar experience?

Christian Howell's picture

I joined Instagram to... Wait, why did I join Instagram...? I did start posting my photos recently and have been getting some likes and comments... It's a bit frustrating that I want to take pics of some of the women but they barely reply to anyone... Most have no contact info except Fakebook... And I won't go there as an alter-ego...

Kurt Hummel's picture

I’m on there because people said I should post shots on it. To be honest I don’t get it, it’s kind of a pain for me to put pics there but I have one follower so I need to keep that person happy I guess. Feel free to join a very exclusive group and look me up. kurtvhummel is what I think I’m under there.

Rich Foley's picture

i ask myself this question every day

Nathan Klein's picture

Danette, what would be your advice to someone who wants to get paid jobs and influencer business opportunities from Instagram? Would you still suggest to not compare oneself to others or be concerned with popularity?

To me it seems like the most popular photographers get approached because of their feeds and followers and that they spend a lot of time ensuring that their feed is appealing

Danette Chappell's picture

Hi Nathan! I think there is a big difference between comparing ​yourself to others and analyzing what others are doing correctly so you can emulate them; if they're appealing to the target audience that you'd like to have. I definitely recommend doing market research to see what other influencers are doing so you can adopt some of their strategies. I also think an appealing feed is important for brand consistency and voice. If you find someone to follow that has the same type of brand as yours, I think it's good to take note of what they're doing and how people are responding to them. That would be the first step toward becoming an influencer. Thanks for the question!

Lee Ramsden's picture

Why on instagram, as for me it generates paid work. My work is quite specialized and from it I have sold stock images, or been paid to go on assignments.
Also I enjoy viewing others work.
Plus I have met and talked to some amazing photographers on there.
"social media" be social
Hate facebook so not on there,
Instagram tends to have a happier audience and not the horrendous comments like say youtube which is a plus for me. Couldn't careless about the shallow hearts and comments with no meaning. But just nice to not be subjected to the abuse youtube receives.
@lee_ramsden if interested


I love instagram, great for creative ideas, some excellent images from around the world, easy to network with photographers

John Skinner's picture

A completely useless platform that has done more to kill photographs, than most useless places that ask you to post them. Utter rubbish.

A more clear article might have asked: 'Why would you want to be on Instagram?"

Kenneth La Rocque's picture

I'm on Instagram because of a girl.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I originally joined to share my hobby, Flickr is kind of a graveyard these days and my actual friends couldn’t care less about photography regardless of how good or bad it is (they’d sooner like a picture of a dog taken on a smartphone than anything by Thomas Heaton).

My original hope was to get and give feedback and meet people. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t leave any meaningful feedback. It seems most comments I get are just them hoping I click on their profile and follow them... or them directly asking me to do so.

Since joining Fstoppers, I rarely spend more than 5 minutes a day on instagram.

collis Torrington's picture

i joined because I wanted other ways of showing my work. Some of my best gigs came from Instagram. Had a couple destination weddings because of it.