A Photographer’s Guide to Being #InstaFamous


Aditya Nair shared twenty tips on becoming popular on Instagram.

Instagram isn’t just an easy-to-use photosharing social network, it also happens to be the fastest growing medium for self publication that has ever existed for photographers. In addition, to being able to showcase your photos to millions of people, the app is filled with potential editors, clients, art lovers and collaborators whom you can engage and work with. Ultimately, this isn’t a story about getting millions of followers overnight, rather about getting found by the right people who appreciate the images you make

1. Build Up Your Instagram Handle
Before you start publicising your Instagram handle add at least 15 great images that represent your work. This gives people an idea of your work and a reason to follow you.

2. Who You Are Makes a Difference
A catchy handle and a descriptive bio about who you are and what you shoot will go a long way in distinguishing you from the hoards of spam bots out there. Choose a profile picture that is welcoming and easy to understand in a small size.

3. Leverage Your Existing Networks
Connect your Insta account to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and share your images here. If you have business cards, have a link to your account so that potential clients can connect and see your work here as well.

4. Don’t Be a Ghost
The most annoying kind of Instagram users are the ones that go around following everyone in a hope to boost their own follower count. Instead, follow people whose work you enjoy and engage with them about their photographs. Have a look at the people they follow as it will help you discover even more great photographs.

5. #Dont #Be #That #Guy #Either
Hashtags are useful but add them within reason. Stick to relevant hashtags. If you are use apps like VSCOCam, or a particular brand of cellphone or camera, mention them in your tags. Certain brands pick up these images and share them with a their followers.

6. Geotag Your Pictures
Tag the images to the places where you make them. This serves two purposes. Firstly, your photographs act as a document for others to see. And secondly, it is always fun to go to the Map feature of Instagram and go through all the places you have visited when you want to reminisce.

7. Be a Part of the Community
There are plenty of collaborations that happen on and as a result of Instagram. For example, since the @EverydayAfrica and @EverydayAsia handles gained popularity, it has spawned many local replicas like @EverydayMumbai. Try getting your work featured by such handles. Additionally, Instagram themselves run Weekend Hashtag Projects each that you can participate in to get featured on their account.

8. Join Insta Walks in Your City
Groups of Instagrammers getting together and going on photowalks are now a common sight in almost every city. There is no better place to network, share ideas and talk about photography. If there isn’t one in your city, start one!

9. Try Being a Guest Instagrammer
Take over another account for a week or two and post your images there. This could be an account of a magazine, group or even trade accounts with a fellow photographer. It exposes you to a whole new and interesting audience. One of the best examples of such a collaboration in India was by @Scroll_In, where photographers across the country documented the Indian elections.

10. Monitor Your Statistics
Sites like IconoSquare (formerly Statigram) and Totem (Nitrogram) give you analytics for Instagram like number of followers, unfollows, comments and likes to help you understand your followers and what they are interested in.

11. Be Known For a Style
As you start building your followers, people will start associating you with a certain kind of imagery and quality. We all love to experiment but new Instagrammers are more likely to follow you if they see a profile filled with great photographs. So, be picky about what you choose to share. Above all, avoid clichés. Sunsets may get you immediate likes but they will severely limit your audience.

12. Let Instagram Evolve Your Style
It is always fun to scroll down to the very first of thousands of images posted by Instagram pros and see how their styles morphed over the years. You can see when certain trends, hashtag projects and apps became popular, even how short or longlived their popularity was.

13. Stay Current
Choose subjects that are current in people’s minds. Before a festival, photograph the making of idol. During the IPL, try making pictures at the stadium highlighting the team you support. You can use websites like Webstagram (websta.me) to get an idea of popular hashtags.

14. Get Personal
Your style may define you as a photographer but also throw in a few images that help humanise you. Photos of friends, family, your workplace, funny things that your pets do are all good fodder to feed the insta-hungry.

15. Experiment With Video
Can you tell a great story in a few seconds? Or show off the breathtaking scenery of the place you are travelling to? Or even capture a funny moment? Then you may want to mix your photography up with some entertaining 15-second video snippets too.

16. Don’t Become the King of Spam
Post regularly but don’t spam people’s feed. Avoid posting more than three images at a stretch. Conversely, avoid going off the grid too often. If you feel the need to share a lot of images in one go, try using apps like @Flipagram or HTC’s Zoe to create slideshows.

17. The Best Time to Upload Photographs
Figure out when your followers are most active. Do they check Instagram as soon as they wake up? Or prefer to end their day looking at beautiful imagery, before going to bed? Give them something to appreciate… an interesting story.

18. Partner Up With Popular Blogs
Ask them if they would like to feature your stories and photographs. Most blogs will jump to the chance as it means free content for them. Ask them to embed the Instagram images they use. Or, at the very least link to your profile.

19. Most Importantly, Be Aspirational
People visit Instagram to see stunning imagery and read interesting stories behind them. There is a reason that travel, food, pets and kids are popular topics. Positivity works wonders on Instagram. Even if it is your objective to bring to light social issues, avoid lamenting or ranting about them. Instead point your followers towards NGOs or groups working to fix the problem, through your captions.

20. Creative Use of Apps
Nothing wows a photography audience like seeing something unique. There are a number of apps available that help you conceptualise weird and unique ideas—from editing (Snapseed), filters (VSCO), B&W tones (Hueless), collages (Photo Grid) to more interesting prospects like animated 3D graphics (Matter), multiple exposures and layer blending (Union) and psychedelic effects (Glitché). Even adding music or augmented virtual reality in an everyday setting can result in some fun photo-video projects to enthrall your audience.


Tags: POPULAR, instagram, Followers, HTC Zoe, VSCOCam, Hyperlapse, EverydayMumbai, EverydayAsia, EverydayAfrica, Totem, Statigram, Webstagram