Wildlife Photographers on Instagram

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My own Instagram account at @davidlloyd


A LITTLE HISTORY

Instagram is a little like Twitter where simplicity is the requisite, but with the emphasis on pictures over text. It emerged in October 2010 and got to a million users within three months, 10 million in a year, then surpassed Twitter’s 300 million users by the end of 2014, all in turn making billionaires out of its two student developers.

Undoubtedly this coincided too with the rise of camera phones and digital cameras. Initially Instagram was available only on the iPhone and it’s culture developed to be that of an online photo-diary for thousands then millions of people, photo-diarising almost every conceivable event – even idle moments of the day did not escape Instagrammers as evidenced by posts of coffees, lunches, pets, and bored-waiting-for-the-bus snaps of one’s own feet. Arguably it also gave rise to the selfie, and by extension the development of the selfie stick.

Then, from that beginning, people began to recognise it as a useful marketing tool. From its cultural coffee-lunch-feet-selfie beginnings, more serious photographers jumped on board and started to post pictures taken with their DSLR’s, which gradually eroded part of an established unwritten rule where Instagram pictures ought to be taken with a phone only. “It’s cheating if it’s not taken with a phone” has been muffled in no small part by a new photo-marketing mindset.

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Wildlife photographers in particular have seen its benefits, particularly taking advantage of its very effective sharing abilities, an Instagram account can gain hundreds of followers very quickly if shared by one of the mega-accounts now resident on Instagram – A recent post of mine was shared by such an account of two million followers resulting in a few hundred new followers for me in a matter of an hour or two.

I started my own account in December 2010 as a deliberate place to post personal non-wildlife pictures away from my Facebook page and website, but then about a year ago I succumbed to using it to attract a new audience to my pictures. It’s proved worthwhile, now having sold books and prints to followers, as well as a few “I follow you on Instagram” attendees at my recent exhibition last year.


A FEW TIPS

If you are a wildlife photographer, whether making a start or seeking to use Instagram more, then a few useful mega-accounts to take note of are @animals, @nature, @earthpix and @natgeo. Hashtag them to your post, and hope they notice.

Post reasonably frequently, once a day or every other day, not several times a day and not once a week. Don’t open your account with a dozen of your best, start with one and add gradually, don’t over-tag, just a line of subject related hashtags will do plus two or four more of the mega-account ones to get their eyes. Remember, you can still tag pictures long after you’ve posted them too.

A few more tips:

  • Don’t open your account with a dozen of your best, start with one and add gradually
  • Don’t get carried away with accompanying long captions or stories, or attempt to make Instagram your blog, a brief background about your photo will do
  • By the same token, avoid excessive hashtagging: Just a few – remember you can delete them after a day or so then add new ones
  • Don’t over-hashtag: and broad tags like #photo or #life are inherently useless
  • URLs in captions are rarely of any use as Instagram doesn’t make them functional
  • Don’t be afraid to repost photos occasionally for the benefit of new followers, so long as its not too soon after the original post
  • Don’t post too many photos in one posting as that may take over your followers’ timelines too much
  • As it is anywhere, it’s better not to post a photo at all than it is to post an substandard one
  • Follow others that inspire you, and comment and like their posts too. It’s reciprocal; so when they then mention you, it will be noticed by their followers as well

WHO TO FOLLOW

This is my own list, in no particular order at all, and it’s of those who have either inspired me, helped me or pushed me, or simply those who I have admired from afar for taking consistently wonderful photos. Each of these will offer you something to appreciate or simply to be inspired by.

Making lists is a tricky enterprise, and I’m bound to omit some that others may feel deserving of inclusion; but simply put, there are too many talented photographers to fit into a concise list such as this. If you can add to it though, please feel free to comment below, and I may include it here.