So many others have discussed the dos and donts of Instagram so I’m going to avoid that. This is not an instruction on how to get the best out of the application, I’m just going to write about the reasons why I like it.
What is it? Its a ‘free online photo-sharing application and social network’. Nothing complicated, just a platform to showcase your work. Being a more ‘mature’, ie older, user, and seeing social media more as a younger persons means of displaying their work, I saw it as a challenge. Could I attract an audience other than family and friends? Initially I chased followers and admit to feeling wounded if someone stopped following me! However, I have relaxed into it now and my usage and perception of the programme has altered from my initial newbie view. I have a few followers and thats just fine.
I enjoy using it. At its best it brings together those with a common interest and creates a vast global community of those people. Recently I received a request from a photographer in Colombia asking if I would allow her to use some of my images (credited of course) in a lockdown project she was preparing. I believe the final exhibition comprised of 90 photos from photographers in 25 different countries. An example, to my mind, of what Instagram is about. Photo sharing with others and engaging in online conversation when replying to comments you receive relating to your images.
It’s also a useful source of inspiration. Choose to follow those who’s work you admire and you will have a stream of images to inspire and motivate you. The ones which stand out for me do so because of the consistently high quality and style of their images. Whilst all the advice on using Insta and other platforms will urge you to post only your best images its easy to panic that you will lose your followers unless you are constantly giving something fresh to view. Consequently you end up posting images that are only second rate just so you have something to show. I know I have been guilty of this and still find myself doing it from time to time. If you don’t have anything worthwhile to post, then don’t. You are challenging the integrity of your audience if you think they will settle for second best. Posting regularly is of course the ideal, however your audience won’t disappear overnight if you don’t post for a little while.
I also use my gallery to review my own photographic journey in street photography. I tend to keep about 300 images in the gallery at any one time, which if I post once a day (and miss a few) will give me about a years worth of pics to scroll through. Culling the images regularly keeps the gallery fresh. Reviewing older images gives me a chance to evaluate my images, whether I think I have improved and whether I see a style developing. Am I subconsciously drawn to certain subjects or situations over others. Perhaps there are recurring themes in the images. Ultimately, have I improved!
As I mentioned before there is a generational division between those using the various social media platforms. Many of my contemporaries are content using Facebook and the younger Gen Z sector of the population are more likely to use Youtube, Snapchat and Instagram. You can however have a foot in both camps and link your Instagram posts to a page on your FaceBook account. Facebook acquired Instagram in, I think, 2012 and linking the two accounts is quite simple.
There are many different ways of sharing your images. If you decide to use Insta, enjoy, have fun with it. Its a useful, free, tool for showcasing the results of all that hard work and worn shoe leather!
A few Insta accounts you might like: mark.fearnley , fred_ladeveze , womenstreetphotographers , _barksey_