In a world that’s highly mobile-driven, a small picture on a screen can make the world of a difference.

Photographers and artists alike have seen this as an opportunity to not only make a living from a platform like Instagram, but also a profitable channel that can garner sponsored and paid opportunities that further promote their work. Something as simple as an app with over 600 million monthly active users makes this platform a no brainer for promoting your photography business and aspiring for “instagram success”.

On a platform like instagram it all boils down to how much you publish, what you publish and how you communicate awareness – because not only are you an artist, but a brand as well. Instagram is flooded with agencies and potential clients looking for fresh talent to collaborate with. That is why your photography needs to add value to your brand and communicate your artistry to the public.

But just how do these photographers do it? What is it about these successful users that give them rights to the ‘paid partnership’ tag on their posts? Photographic skill is just one small element of the equation and that’s why our guide will show you a variety of methods you can adopt to get you closer to garnering your own instagram success.

Subject Matter

Capture a focused subject matter

Cramming far too much into an image can cause your photos and your whole instagram wall to be overwhelming to the public eye, which in. If you’re focusing on a particular subject – actually focus on it instead of trying to capture too many other objects or people. This can be further reinforced by keeping an eye on your analytics (which we will discuss later on) and seeing which subjects perform better than others – a good indicator on determining the content you post.

If there are too many people or subjects in the shot, consider how you can crop or edit a photo to draw attention to your subject matter.

Best work

Great artists show only their best

The urge to upload every shot can be very tempting – as much as we love behind-the-scenes and outtakes, it ultimately boils down to quality over quantity when it comes to cultivating your instagram account.

Treat your instagram like a mini portfolio – imagine yourself presenting your photographic work with a random selfie shot in the middle, it’s not going to impress, right? A general rule of thumb when posting your images: If it doesn’t belong or doesn’t look right with your other photos then get rid.


Study the analytics

Have you ever wondered why people actually like your posts, what posts perform better and how can you ensure everything you post gains consistently good feedback?

Analytics not only offers key insight into your followers and prospective followers behaviour but it also provides this in a simplified format you can use to determine how you post your next set of photos. The following metrics (indicators of data) are relatively easy to understand and there are various sources online that go into further detail:

  1. Impressions – the total number of times your content or story has been seen
  2. Reach – the total number of unique visitors you gain through your content
  3. Engagements – the total number of unique accounts that have liked, commented and/or saved a particular piece of your content

You can use settings within Instagram that drill this down further to show when your followers are most active – this is known as peak times, which should be utilised when posting your images to maximise your metrics.

Build a movement – Interact

By building a movement or community you can become instantly recognisable through your captions, storytelling and most importantly – your imagery. By interacting with other users you develop a relationship with other users and essentially put yourself in their radar. This eventually leads to recognition and reciprocation from said users who will then return the favour!

Leaving thoughtful comments as opposed to a ‘Great Pic!!’ comment will earn you respect amongst the community and will boost the likelihood of these accounts responding to you with a response just as thoughtful. Remember that these are the people worth getting into your following – they have value and are worth more than a follower count – they could even be contacts worth collaborating with.

This process can be lengthy, but the hard work pays off and you’ll be a go-to for inspirational images and become highly recommended by your followers.

Edit to your style or aspiration

As quick and efficient the ‘snap and post’ style of photography can be – as photographers it is essential that you take both your composition and editing seriously. Unfortunately instagram filters, as lovely as they might seem just aren’t cut out for getting the message across in your images.

Upload your images onto editing programs like Lightroom and manipulate shadows and clarity to your liking. Your editing should enhance your photos and not make them appear “too” edited.

If you’re on the go and don’t have access to editing software on a desktop – some mobile apps have highly sophisticated editing that can fine tune on details. Apps like VSCO Cam are highly popular in the photography community due to its advanced editing compared to other editing apps.


Utilise your captions wisely

Crating your captions is arguably just as important as the image itself. It’s an extension of the story you’re trying to tell and is a space for inspiring your followers. You can even try asking questions that build a personal connection, is open-ended and allows room for discussion is a powerful way of increasing your engagement and in turn – building your community.

Weaving your hashtags is also a vital element within your captions. Important nouns and verbs that are obvious in your photos are key to people searching for these terms. If you’re photographing a breathtaking view of the ocean – quite simply using the #ocean tag will draw up your image in viewers’ search results. This is what you need to aim for

Antonio Profile PhotoWritten by Antonio Leanza, owner of the London School of Photography is a photographic artist, coach and teacher with extensive experience lecturing at LCC for over ten years and for Ilford Film across the UK. His approach to teaching focuses on helping students to invest in their creative processes and inspire a transformational learning experience. Antonio also believes in helping students achieve their full potential as creative individuals to realise their aspirations in the photographic world.