Not on Instagram? You’re missing out – Hannah explains why it’s the perfect social network for photographers
All images by Hannah Argyle, unless otherwise labelled
When I was growing up there was no such thing as social media. That makes me sound really old (I’m really not THAT old!), but when you think about it, it’s all very new. Life was possibly simpler without it, but used in the right way it can be a very useful tool for photographers. What I have discovered is a wealth of inspiration, support and encouragement through a community of photographers and creatives on Instagram.
The days of leaflet dropping, advertising in local magazines and putting your card in the post office window are over, and with 1.5 billion people using Facebook and over 400 million using Instagram, it makes sense to be putting your work out there.
There are of course a huge number of social media platforms, many that have fallen by the wayside (remember when everyone was on MySpace?!) and new ones being launched every day. However the big three (for now) remain – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I find each has slightly different benefits and it’s worth having a presence on them all.
Facebook used to be a great tool for small businesses, a little corner of the internet that you could update with news and images, your posts easily reaching your followers, your friends and their friends. These days it’s not quite as simple as that and I hear many business owners complain that the heyday of Facebook is over. If you are a personal Facebook user you may well feel that you will miss a lot of what your friends are up to due to the way the feed is ordered by an algorithm. It can be very frustrating, and it’s also making it hard for businesses to be seen using you are paying to promote your page and/or your posts.
Having said that I think if you are a professional photographer, having an up-to-date, attractive business Facebook page is a must.
Look at it this way: if a potential or previous customer follows your Facebook page, it’s like them sticking your business card on their kitchen noticeboard. They bookmark you, they know where to find you if they need you, and when you update your status they might just see it, and fingers crossed it will remind them to use you should they need a photographer. Facebook is indisputably useful for reaching local people in this way.
Twitter is equally about putting yourself out there and reminding people of your presence, but it isn’t geared toward imagery. I find scrolling my twitter feed is an untidy business and I struggle to see the tweets I’d like to see amongst other users’ chats and replies to each other, I think you’ve got to tweet A LOT to get noticed. However it can be a really useful place to connect with people and there are some great forums there as it lends itself to quick fire discussions.
Then there is Instagram, far and away my favourite social media platform and the one I concentrate most of my efforts on. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms and has now surpassed Twitter in terms of number of users. Whether you have a photography business to promote or are an amateur photographer, there are many reasons why if you love photography, I think Instagram is for you.
It’s perfect for photographers, because on Instagram the photo is king. It’s based around imagery, and images simply look good there. Gone are the days of weird compression formulas making high resolution pictures look pixelated, or everyone thinking the Instagram filters makes picture look cool. When I open up the app to have a browse it’s like dipping into a glossy magazine, or the pages of National Geographic. Wildlife, landscapes, travel, homeware, children, new-borns, still life, architecture – wherever your photographic interests lie, you will find great examples on Instagram.
These images are excerpts from the beautiful galleries of @hannes_becker, @_foodstories_ and @helloemilie
I want to fill my eyes with beautiful images each day. It’s after admiring the work of other great photographers that I have gone away and tried to teach myself what I’ve seen. What is this gorgeous glowing light I see? Two years ago I knew nothing of the golden hour or how to work with it. I was getting frustrated trying to photograph my kids in harsh light and not understanding how to use the light more effectively. Having noticed the way photographers far better and more experienced than me did it, I would go and away and research it.
Similarly, it is only through admiring the still-life compositions of other photographers that I have had a go myself. I have hopefully ended up with a style that is my own through this process, but I am always still looking and learning and there are still huge gaps in my knowledge. Instagram serves as a daily reminder to me to keep trying to be a better photographer.
A selection of my still-life compositions
Not only is Instagram bursting with all this beautiful imagery, it is on the whole a positive and friendly place to be. Community has always been important to the founders of the app, and interacting with other users is made much easier than on other social media. You will without doubt find a network of photographers all over the world who are supportive and encouraging. It’s a happy little app!
I am of course aware that Instagram has its fair share of celebrities, bad photos and probably all the usual cyber nonsense, but I do honestly think it’s easy to avoid. I don’t follow any celebrities, mostly only individuals or companies who share beautiful content that inspires me.
The Explore page is tailored to you by the sort of accounts you follow and the pictures you like. On the whole it does a really good job and I see some beautiful work there. For example if you like a lot of pictures that are tagged #London, more will pop up on your Explore page. There are hubs and communities for people who photograph beaches, nature, sunsets, flowers, families, and everything else in between. There are also pages dedicated to most locations around the UK and the rest of the world.
Changes are however afoot on Instagram, and they will soon be introducing an algorithm to the feed as Facebook did. We are yet to know how this will really affect Instagram, and there are also plans to monetise the app even more with sponsored posts and business pages.
I feel confident though that you can’t change the people on Instagram, and the people there LOVE to share their pictures, and to look at other people’s pictures.
In the second part of this article, I will look at these changes in more detail, as well as how to make your mark on Instagram amongst all these millions of other photographers – how to use hashtags, find feature hubs and communities to follow, and how to curate your Instagram feed and find your photographic style. Until then, if you’re not yet on Instagram, post a few pictures, like and comment on other people’s pictures, and see how it goes! And please come and say hi!