Are you a photographer looking for some simple and powerful tips on how to use Instagram? Here they are. As we all know, social media is constantly changing. There are more apps that are coming into the market than most of us can keep up with. Apps like Peach and SnapChat that are gaining popularity. But where does that leave the ones that are already popular, like Twitter and Instagram? It leaves them exactly where they are, thriving.

The Basics: What is Instagram?

For those who don’t know, Instagram is a photo-based app that people post to “instantly.” There aren’t any good scheduling apps that will integrate with Instagram well. Therefore, making it “instant” and “real.” Instagram is a feed-based service, like Twitter, where the most recent photos show up.

How to Use Instagram for Photographers

Now that we have a background let’s get into the good stuff… Instagram for Photographers: How to Use Instagram Like a Pro.Instagram has quickly become a place where many people need to be “perfect.” I know for my brand, I reallllyyy have to think about what I’m going to post for it to get the most likes possible; sometimes it’s tough! But first thing’s first, steps:

1. Post photos that are clear, non-pixilated and have the main subject.

This may sound silly to add this tip. However, many people don’t know what a great photo looks like on Instagram. Why do some photos do better than others? Here’s an example of a great photo and also, one that had significant likes:

I enjoy this Instagram page because it’s so simple. It talks about Coffee And Clothes. It has 172,000 people following it, and it gets significant interaction. The photo is clear, has the main subject (or, in this case, subjects- coffee and clothes), and it’s simple.

2. Use the right (#) Hashtags.

Hashtags are the search engine of Instagram. If you don’t use them, people can’t find you. Hashtags are important because they need to be under your photo and related to your photo. Take this photo as an example:

This is an Instagram account I follow, and it showcases areas around Thornton Park, an area in Orlando. The account uses great hashtags under it tagging areas around Orlando and even tagging the church (hoping for interaction or a thank you)
SNEAKY TIP:?Use?three tiers of hashtags: 1. Hashtags related to the photo 2. Hashtags related to my industry 3. Hashtags related to the area around my photo. Why is this good? Because every time someone clicks on one of those hashtags, they’re brought to a page of everyone else who has used that hashtag. So, let’s say we click on #ThorntonPark, this is what we’ll see:

It’s a list of everyone else who’s used that hashtag, #ThorntonPark. Now, let’s bring this back around.
Instagram for photographers: You can tag the camera you’re using, the area you’re in, the model or brand you’re shooting, etc. The possibilities are endless. Another thing to go along with this is you can see how many hashtags are being used by other people. When you’re typing a hashtag, it usually populates to how many other people have used it before you hit the spacebar. It will look like this:

As you can see if I type in #OrlandoLife, other hashtags will pop up. This is important (as mentioned above) because you can see how many people used that hashtag. You want to use hashtags that are more popular because that means people are using them AND searching them to see like-minded people.

3.Come up with your hashtag for your brand.

This can be the initials of your company; this can be a little hashtag that you made up- anything. Example: My brand’s name is South Street & Co., so my hashtags are #SSCo and #SetYourselfApart. These are important to use your photos (I use mine at the end of every post) because then you can search just for the photos you’ve posted, or for others who have reposted your photos. It’s like a mini search just with your work in it.

4. Tag people around you in the photo.

What do I mean by this? Instagram gives you the option to tag people within your photo. This is a HUGE advantage that most people forget or don’t know. Not only can you tag people (tagging people means using the @ symbol with their Instagram name) in the text of the post, but you can also tag them in the photo too. Here’s what I mean:

You can see that this account takes FULL advantage of the people around Lake Eola Park, or Orlando, and tags them in the photo.
This is a little neater than tagging them below in the text (that can get overwhelming with the hashtags and your actual message).
How to tag people in Instagram: Before you post your photo, click on the area that says “Tag People.” Then click on the photo and start typing in areas around where you are.
Photography example: If you’re shooting in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, there is probably an account that the city or county owns that represents New Smyrna Beach. Start typing it into the search bar and the results will populate.
Then, click the account you want to add and VOILA, you’ve tagged them. There is no limit to how many people you can tag. However, I can usually get around 15 people. It fills up the photo, as you can see. Remember, you can only see these tags if you click on the photo once (if you click twice you’ll like it).
What’s the advantage to this? This tag sends a notification to the person you tagged saying, “(Insert your Instagram name here) tagged you in a photo.” They’re notified and then you’re getting your reach out to many more people.

5. Connect with other photographers through Instagram.

Other photographers aren’t your competition; they’re your support system. Instagram has a very loyal group of people, each having their interests and interacting is key… hence “social media.” Suppor their photos by liking them, commenting and even sharing. Which leads me to my next point…

6. Sharing others photos.

Sharing is huge on Instagram and in my mind, it’s the best form of flattery. Sharing a photo can be done through third party apps. However, I like doing it the good ‘old fashion way by taking a screenshot and posting it while giving the person credit. THIS PART IS IMPORTANT: ALWAYS give the person’s photo credit. Photographers probably know much more than others how important this is. I tag the person in the photo (as mentioned above in step 4) and I also say at the bottom of my post, “Repost from (insert Instagram name here)”. This way, they’re getting tagged twice and they’re bound to notice. Now, I’ve done this multiple times because not only are you supporting their work, but they usually come back and support you. I’ve had two things happen: 1. They comment a nice thank you message OR 2. (the bigger thing) they tag other friends after saying thank you for letting them know their work was shared. The latter of the two is most preferred because now those friends are exposed to your page.

7. Capitalize your Hashtags!

In 2013, there was a trending hashtag?#nowthatchersdead. Since the person doing the hashtag didn’t capitalize the letters of the words, people thought that it said #NowThatChersDead. Instead, what it really said is #NowThatchersDead. Margaret Thatcher was England’s former Prime Minister and she passed away, not Cher. A mistake that remained in my memory and the sole reason I capitalize my hashags- even the single word ones. #PhotographyTip #Photography #TipOfTheDay The last thing you want is for someone to misinterpret what you’re saying or for there to be an inappropriate word within the hashtag and you didn’t even know it. Here’s the link to that story by Mashable:

Now that you have some pro-tips for Instagram, here is an app you need to download now. Quotes or positive messages are so powerful and get a lot of interaction on Instagram. There’s an app that allows you to put words over your photo or another stock photo that they provide. Here’s an example:

This was a post I used to get people to interact with me about SEO, one of the services I offer. This photo was made in the app called WordSwag. The app is $2.99, I believe and it’s worth it! You can change the font of the words, you can make the photo background more blurry and you can even add a different background if needed. The app has worked wonders for me and it’s also allowed me to be more interactive with my followers. Use this for asking people what their favorite place to shoot is. By asking questions, it increases the interaction on your page. Ask the question in the photo, THEN implement the steps above to tag people within your community and watch the interaction begin!
These Instagram steps are a wide snapshot of what you can do with this social media account. And, I was recently emailed an article from HubSpot about 15 Hidden Hacks & Features Hacks Everyone Should Know. That’s a must-read too in order to change certain settings and to understand more about Instagram. The possibilities are endless! If you want to know more about my brand or you want to ask a question about this article, tweet me at @MarketingGal_ or email me at I look forward to seeing your brands grow and flourish!