How To Make Instagram Your Friend

As a photographer, it feels like the only way to get your work out there these days is through Instagram. This is obviously not the only avenue, but Instagram can be an incredible tool to help get your work seen by people across the world, to create connections and to find paid work. With the help of the wonderful Natasha Reeve from Shout Social Media, we've compiled a list of the most effective ways to grow your following and get your work seen by the right people. 

 

Content

Above anything else, the content you are providing has to be top notch stuff. Not only that, but there has to be a theme of sorts. If you're a landscape photographer, but like to dabble in photos of your pets too, create a second account. Your audience is following you because they like your landscape photography. Be consistent with what you post. 

That isn't to say you can't post more than one genre of photography, just be clear in your bio. For example, I've made it clear that I am a landscape and portrait photographer. I will only post landscapes and portraits (and the occasional plug for my website or a giveaway). Limiting yourself streamlines your content and makes it easier for users to navigate.

However, "It's not just about well shot images with gorgeous lighting", Natasha adds. "Your content needs to either educate or entertain your audience and if you can make them smile or shed a tear well that's just a bonus."

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Hashtags

You might love or loath them, but hashtags really are the number one way to get your content seen. "Hashtags need to be as creative as your visuals and captions", says Natasha. "Look at the hashtags your audience, influencers and competitors use. Try to get into the mindset of what people would search for if they were trying to find you." It's important to use hashtags that don't have millions of hits, too. You don't want your photo getting lost in a sea of others. Use hashtags with 10-200k hits and you'll be more likely to be discovered.

"Also, try and mix it up. The dreaded Instagram algorithm will penalise you if you constantly use the same hashtags. Here are some examples to get you started: #justgoshoot #visualsofearth #photartist, #photographyislifee, #visualambassador" 

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TAGGING ACOUNTS

Natasha says, "tagging other accounts in your posts gives the potential for them to re share your content, engage or follow you.  When tagging another account in a post, use the caption AND the photo. That way you have a greater chance of being seen by the account you have tagged. Don't forget to tag in stories as well. The algorithm can reward you and push your content to a wider audience."

Not only that, but tagging accounts associated with the place you've shot in will increase the likelihood of your photo being seen by people who are interested. For example, I recently shot in Iceland, so when I posted photos to Instagram I would tag @exploreiceland @icelandair and @tourismiceland because these accounts are visited by people who WANT to see beautiful photos of Iceland.

GeoTag

It should be clear by now that tagging is your key to success! Using the geotag function allows people to find your content by place name, which is very helpful if you're a landscape photographer. Natasha adds, "make sure you tag posts and stories for maximum exposure. No geotag for your location? You can create one through Facebook's "Create the Location" setting."

Collaborations

This might sound obvious, but contact people. A great way to get your foot in the door as a portrait photographer, for example, is to contact Instagram models or influencers who would let you take their photo. They get new photos for their feed and you get exposure. It is very rare to see money being exchanged in these situations, but not uncommon. Just don't expect to be paid for your efforts; that isn't what collaboration is about. 

Another avenue to take would be to contact local businesses and see if they need photos for their social media. Coffee shops and cafes are a great place to start, as they rely on social media to get people through the door. Not only will this boost both your social media following, but you'll also be making real life connections that could lead to more opportunities in the future. 

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Engagement

Natasha says, "The clue is in the name "Social" media. Be social and chat to your audience, potential audience and like minded accounts. If you put in the time, you will get it back. A great way to grow your own engagement is to simply ask a question in your caption."

You're hoping people will engage with your content, so it's a good rule of thumb to engage back. Give and you shall receive! Like posts that are similar or relate to your own content, comment on posts, and like Natasha says, ask questions in your captions that get people interested. However, be genuine. We've all had bizarre comments from Instagram bots or accounts that just want you to look at their feed. It's sloppy, boring and for what? You're a real person who wants to make connections with other real people, so be real!

You'll also see that I 'promoted' this post, where I paid a bit of money to make sure as many people saw it as possible. This is a feature on a Business Account and can significantly help your content to be seen.

You'll also see that I 'promoted' this post, where I paid a bit of money to make sure as many people saw it as possible. This is a feature on a Business Account and can significantly help your content to be seen.

 

If you follow these steps, you'll see your follower count grow in no time. However, it's a lot of work. You won't get 10k followers over night or by accident. It's easy to get complacent and I notice when I don't take care of my feed, if I don't post as regularly, choose the wrong hashtags, or forget to engage with my audience as much, they loose interest in me. 

I used to really worry about how many followers I had, as I related that to how successful I was and how good a photographer I was. But now, I know that just isn't true. Growing a following is helpful, but don't equate it to your worth. It's all about effort; put in the time on Instagram and you'll get rewarded.

 

Be sure to follow Natasha @shoutsocialmedia and get more in-depth advice from her at www.shoutsmm.co.uk

 

 

How Do You Know You're A Photographer?

I'm lucky enough to call myself a professional photographer, but that is still a fairly new concept for me. It's been something that I've been thinking about for a few years now; when can you really call yourself a photographer? With the massive success of Instagram and how easily people can take good quality photos these days, how can you determine if you're actually a photographer or just someone who understands the Portrait Mode of an iPhone? 

There is always the conversation in creative circles about who is really an artist and who is just posing for likes and accolade. How do you make that decision and what makes you a real artist? 

I believe it boils down to passion and failure. Are you willing to put yourself out there, with the possibility of being ridiculed, because you are doing what you love? 

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I started photographing when I was 13 years old. I definitely wasn't a photographer then. It was just a fun thing to do with my dad. It wasn't until many years later than I got my first camera, and many years after that before I took it off auto. But unlike clarinet and hockey, it was a hobby that I never got bored of (to my parents relief!). Through this period of time, I would tell people I enjoy taking photos, not that I was a photographer. It never occurred to me that this was something I could really make into a career.

Until I met Joanne. She was my aunts partner who lived in Arizona, USA. We visited them when I was a teenager and she instilled in me a passion for photography that I could never shake. Joanne viewed photography like an instinct; it didn't matter what camera you used, it mattered if you could create feeling in your images. She helped me to take this photo, which I entered into a competition back home and ended up winning! 

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This was the first shot I took on the day, I managed to just nail it somehow. I was working from instinct, and didnt think so hard about the technical side. That was a lot easier to do when I was a teenager and I had a professional setting everything up for me! But this was a real lightbulb moment for me. I loved the process of taking the photo, couldn't wait to see them up on the computer later that evening and not only that, complete strangers liked my photo enough to award me first place in a competition. Surly this meant something? 

I've had a variety of jobs in my short life so far, including working behind a bar at a comedy club and on the set of Hollywood movies. But nothing sparks as much joy and excitement in my life as photography does. There is nothing more rewarding than taking the perfect shot. I now live and breathe photography, I couldn't imagine doing anything else. It's a form of therapy for me. When I'm behind the camera, I am totally present in the location or with the person I'm shooting. I'm always striving to be better, to learn more and to be using the correct equipment for the job. 

That is where the conversation of who's a real artist comes in. I truly believe that the equipment doesn't make the artist (although it sure can help!) but it's about how you feel inside. Does photography bring you joy? If you're out without your camera, do you see potential shots around every corner and kick yourself? Would you do anything to get THE shot? To me, that's what makes a photographer. It is coursing through your veins. 

I didn't believe I was a photographer until late last year. I had won two competitions and was taking shots for fun around where I lived in Australia. People would ask me what I do, and I didn't like saying I worked behind a bar. That didn't feel right. I decided to 'fake it', as it were, and tell people I was a photographer. I wasn't making money from it or being hired by anybody, but I decided there and then that was my job title and it's what I will be pursuing for the rest of my life.

So how do you know you're a photographer? You decide you are. It's like everything in life, nothing worth having is easy. You have to work at it, practice, learn from peers and masters and hone your craft. The posers are the people who find shortcuts. The fake artists are those who buy their way to the top. Work at it, make mistakes, create projects for the love of it and keep going. 

A photographer is someone who wants to create and to showcase the world through their eyes.