Over the past couple years, Instagram has blown up into an incredibly huge platform. So much so that it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t use it. I used to feel silly caring so much about what I posted, until I realized it was justified for someone who uses it for their business. Instagram is a free and effective platform where we can promote our businesses, network with other photographers and reach potential clients. We would be foolish to not take advantage of that!
Although Instagram is mostly about pretty pictures, in order to have a successful account for your business, there’s much more to it.
Think of your followers as potential clients. What story are you trying to tell them? What are you trying to ultimately sell? As photographers, we are using Instagram to reach a specific market of people who want us to create portraits and portrait products for them. If we are using Instagram primarily for business reasons, we want our followers to know who we are and what we offer.
Ultimately, I want to be recognized on Instagram as a wedding photographer who loves the outdoors and traveling, so I limit my photos because my ideal client (maybe a bride eloping on a mountaintop), doesn’t care that her potential wedding photographer likes to cook or paint.
I believe my followers don’t want to see selfies at the gym or what I’m eating for breakfast because that tells them nothing about why they should hire me as a photographer. But photos from hiking and traveling tells them “I like the outdoors and we could take some awesome photos in front of a waterfall” or “I travel, you can book me even if you live across the globe!”
Maybe your hobby that you highlight isn’t traveling, instead it’s fashion or design. But instead of highlighting everything that interests you, select one or two that you can use to benefit your business and the story you’re telling your followers. Giving viewers a small window of insight into your personal life is important so they know a bit about who you are and they get to see a some of your personality since most followers don’t know you personally. It also tells followers that you are more than just pretty pictures and you can offer them something a bit extra.
Once you’ve decided what content you’re posting, you have to think about how you’re posting it. It’s important to think of the impact of each individual photo (what your followers see), and how all of the images in your profile fit together (what potential follower visiting your page see). Try to stick to an aesthetic and think of your feed as one big collage. Feeds that are visually appealing are ones that maintain a consistent color scheme and editing style, aren’t too busy and are mindful of where photos are laid out.
Tip 1: Editing on your phone and on your computer can produce very different results. For a consistent feed of photos from your personal life and professional work, try experimenting and find a style that you can match from computer to phone. Consistency helps brand your work and clients feel confident booking you because they know what to expect.
Tip 2: Layout is important. I use the VSCO app on my phone (import the last 9-12 photos in order that you posted on instagram so your VSCO grid matches your feed) and then you can try out a new photo to see how it works with the others. Sometimes you’ll upload a new photo and realize it looks too similar to the one next to it or below it, or it makes your feed look to busy, or you posted two bridal portraits right next to each other. So try a different photo in it’s place. This avoids the whole upload-and-delete move that I used to do all the time!
So, as you’re combing through images, keep these tips in mind. Don’t be afraid to show a bit of your personal life, but create a separate account if you’d like to have a place where you can always showcase your private endeavors. Remember to keep your ideal client in mind, and don’t forget that less is more. Oh, and when you’re curating a beautiful feed, consistency is definitely key. Now get out there and start Instagramming!
Dawn Charles is a wedding and elopement photographer from Southern California and currently based in Salem, Oregon. When she’s not shooting and editing, she loves to travel and hike with her husband and two pups.
To view more of Dawn's work, visit her here.