Monday, February 24, 2014

Why you should be on Instagram

You’ve probably heard of Instagram. The wildly popular photo-sharing app has 150 million active monthly users with over 16 billion photos shared. Unfortunately, it has a bit of a bad rap. Filters, selfies, food porn, spam, so-on-and-so-forth have all contributed to Instagram’s reputation as an app causing the downfall of the photography industry. But, believe me when I say Instagram is so much more than all that. I joined Instagram, reluctantly, a little over a year ago. I didn’t know what photos to share, so I just started adding photographs from my portfolio as well as a few from a trip to Ireland I had taken. I felt like I was just using Facebook, but with fewer followers. After friends, and some strangers, started “liking” my photos, I wanted to keep sharing. Soon, like all Internet-obsessed twenty-somethings, I was hooked. And, I am so glad I joined. Personally, Instagram has become a way for me to share actual photographs I take, whether in the studio or on set, as well as everyday occurrences and oddities. And that is why I am here to tell you why you should be on Instagram, too.

1. Use Instagram as a way to follow photographers whose work you admire.

One of the best reasons to join Instagram is the ability to follow the work that talented photographers create. I love the work of Scott Schuman and Garance Doré and Robert Whitman and Ira Block, etc., and now I’m able to see all of their photos everyday on my phone. And, you can follow some really cool/fun Instagram accounts, like NASA or Pete Souza.

From left to right: @thesartorialist, @garancedore, @whitmansnaps, @irablockphoto

Tip: Look for your friends through Facebook or your contacts list by tapping the gear symbol on your account tab, then the “Find People to Follow” link. That link makes it so easy to find all your friends in one place and follow them all at once.

2. Find new and exciting photographers to follow.

Of course you will, and should, follow your friends, but, like I mentioned in #1, look for new accounts that will get you excited and inspire you to shoot and share. There are plenty of photographers I had never heard of before joining that I now idolize and follow consistently. People like professional photographers Nicole Franzen, Leila Peterson and Patrick Janelle, and enthusiasts Kevin Russ or April Flores have filled my feed with some amazing photos that I look forward to discovering every single day.


Tip: You can search #hashtags to find specific photos of places or subjects, or you can do some “research” like reading our previous blog post “20 Instagram Accounts YouNeed to Follow”. Another way I like to find interesting accounts to follow is to go to an account that I really like and see what accounts they’re following. Just explore.

3. Get inspired!

Since joining Instagram, I feel real pressure to shoot more, and I like that. When I see people exploring exotic places, or even neighborhoods in Manhattan, I want to walk around my neighborhood and find something to share. More and more I feel like I need to get out there and just go shoot and, because of that, I’m becoming more observant and a better photographer.


Tip: Go somewhere you’ve never been before to shoot. I’ve been living in New York City for about a year and a half, and since I’ve joined Instagram, I’ve actively sought out new neighborhoods, new streets and new tourist areas to shoot, because not only can I see a place I’ve never been before, but I can share that place with other people.

4. Expose your work to fellow professionals and enthusiasts.

Of course you’re using Instagram to share your photos, but you need to do it the right way. If you want to use Instagram as a way to make professional contacts or show your professional work, but you also want to share some personal photos, maybe create two different accounts: one for the pro stuff, and one for everything else. As for your professional photography work, try to make those photos known. Allowing other talented and knowledgeable photographs find you, like your photos and leave you comments is a great way to get feedback. And don't be afraid to interact! If someone leaves you a comment, comment back! Check out their account; they may have some pictures you like as well.

Tip: Use hashtags as a way for people to discover your work, and use them often. As you can see below, I above “#nyc #manhattan #empirestatebuilding” for a photo I took at the top of the Empire State Building. By adding those descriptors, I was able to get “likes” from people all over. But, do go crazy. There is nothing more annoying than someone using 30 hashtags on a photo, most of which don’t even make sense. So, tag wisely.

So, I think you should be on Instagram. And, when you do, you should follow Foto Care’s account, @fotocarenyc! We try to share the daily goings-on around here as well as event photos, new product announcements, etc.