Back in April 2017, when I was watching the CreativeLive online photography course given by Joe McNally, I took note that he seemed to be encouraging photographers to create a presence on Instagram. He referred to it as serving as an agent, interacting with the public, and letting them know about your product or service. I really didn’t know anything about Instagram at the time, but I figured that I should be aware of how it worked and what it could do, so I started looking into it.
From the Instagram.com website, I set up a personal Instagram account titled, @richfinkphotography, and I configured it to be a public account. Then, I started posting some of my better photos, across all genres, to my @richfinkphotography ‘feed’, focusing on those photos that would look good with a square crop. From that account, I started looking for existing hashtags that would be relevant to the photos I posted, and then I tagged those photos with the hashtags that were most relevant. I also ‘Liked’ some photos posted by others that used the same hashtags, and in some cases, I wrote ‘Comments’. For some of the people whose photos I ‘Liked’ or ‘Commented’ to, and others that Instagram suggested (presumably based on finding other Instagram users in my MS Outlook contacts list), I ‘Followed’ them. In some cases, using the same processes, others started to follow my @richfinkphotography account.
I found that posting photos using my phone was a pain, because the images are too small to really judge their quality on the small screen. And besides, I, like many others, edit my photos using desktop software, and moving the resulting images to my phone is just an extra step. I searched the web to see if there was some way to post directly from a desktop computer, and apparently about a year ago there was, using a technique that effectively fooled the Instagram.com site into thinking that you were on a phone or a tablet. But from what I can tell, Instagram changed that so that the workaround no longer works. I figure that at some point, the ‘Powers that Be’ will figure out that if they want Instagram to be used for business, they will have to build a useful interface for business computers. In the meantime, I will just edit and transfer.
One of the other pains with Instagram is having your nicely cropped photos re-cropped for you when they’re posted. This is what happens automatically when you try to post photos whose aspect ratio (width x height) is not square (1 x 1), or since 2016, those whose aspect ratio is taller than 4 x 5 (8 x 10 is ok, but 5 x 7 and 4 x 6 will be clipped at the top), or wider than 1.91 x 1 (16 x 9 (HDTV) = 1.78 x 1 is ok, Widescreen = 1.85 x 1 is ok, but Univisium = 2 x 1 will be clipped on the sides). So if you want to post on Instagram, keep your creativity within these limits ;-).
After I started using Instagram to post photos, I realized that mixing photos from different genres on the same Instagram feed would be a turn-off for people who viewed my feed based on liking a photo which I had tagged with a genre-specific hashtag. I could avoid this by creating genre-specific Instagram accounts that aligned with the major photography genres that I will be pursuing.
So first I had to figure out the minimum set of categories of photography that people would not find to be excessively non-homogeneous or overlapping, and what are the most common labels for those categories In coming up with these names, I Google’ed “types of photography”, and other such things, to get an idea of what is considered to be common. What I found was, “Not much.”. I found relatively little commonality across various supposedly authoritative lists of ‘types of photography’. So, I had to give it my best shot. The list I came up with omits some pretty common ones that I want to pursue, such was “Portrait Photography”, “Wedding Photography”, and “Senior Photography”, but I had to trade off the chance of more hits by people looking for a specific category, with the additional effort to produce fresh and worthwhile content for each one. Besides, I could still tag photos that I post on those accounts with the more specific hashtags.
Here are the additional Instagram account names that I decided upon (The account names are also links to the Instagram feeds for those accounts.).
- @richfinkconcertphotography – Images of people making the music they love.
- @richfinkfamilyphotography – Images of cherished family members and events.
- @richfinkheadshotphotography – Images that capture the essence of who we are.
- @richfinkproductphotography – Images of artists’ creations.
- @richfinksportsphotography – Images of athletes at their best.
I had a couple more that I wanted to use, but it turns out that the Instagram iOS app allows a maximum of 5 open Instagram accounts at any one time. So, I stuck with what I had.
I fully expect that at some point the folks at Instagram will find other ways to provide genre-specific feeds in the same account. That’s part of the reason why I won’t be deleting my @richfinkphotography account any time soon. But in the meantime, I do need to migrate the followers of my @richfinkphotography account to the genre-specific account(s) that they would be most interested in.
The profile for each of these Instagram accounts shows the URL for my Richfinkphotography.com web page, but now I also need to find better ways to publicize my Instagram accounts from my web page. There appear to be multiple WordPress plugins that will display an Instagram feed in WordPress, but to me displaying the same feeds on my web site would be redundant. I’ll look for something a little simpler.
Somewhere in the process I became aware that you can convert your personal Instagram accounts in to business accounts. It looks like there may be a couple of benefits, such as showing active links in the header for your feed, and apparently giving you some form of analytics for user visits. But when I went to convert one of my accounts, I received a message that Instagram business accounts must be linked to a Facebook account. Personally, I think that would be a bit over-the-top for what I’m doing. The tools need to serve me, not the other way around.
Oh, and I should mention one more thing. Although I’ve started geotagging most of my Instagram posts so they can be found by people searching Instagram for posts related to that location, I don’t identify the individuals depicted in my photos, either by tagging their Instagram account, or by mentioning their name or their Instagram handle in the caption (In either case, Instagram would automatically notify them that I’ve done so.). My posts are actually for the benefit of my subjects, and for the groups (teams, bands, etc.) that they represent. So I may tag the group’s Instagram account, or note the group’s Instagram handle in the caption, but I don’t identify individuals. The individuals in my photos already know who they are. 😉