Instagram for Photographers - 10 Dos and Don'ts

Tue 1 Dec 2020

This post is by Anna-Maria Pfab, MA Photography Lecturer at Falmouth Flexible.

This is not a blog post reminiscing about the pre-social meda era!

Quite the opposite - I am a big fan of social media networks, especially Instagram, and know how much they can help photographers to promote their work. However, I must admit, that social media is a double-edged sword and also has the potential to hurt your work just as much as it can help you to promote and endorse it.

Here are a few things you should do, and some others you should not do, to make the most out of Instagram without compromising your work.


It's not your portfolio. Think of Instagram as a way of showing your latest work or use it as a daily journal (or a mix). There were countless times when a photographer showed me a picture from a recent shoot on Instagram because they haven't yet added it to their portfolio, or it didn't fit in the portfolio.

Not only can you post images you wouldn't usually put in your portfolio, but you are also free in terms of content - you can show a series, but a single photo will do too.

For many photographers, their Instagram account acts as a business card - instead of exchanging business cards, photographers now often follow each other on Instagram.

It's also a place where you can be less formal and more playful. People love behind-the-scenes shots (or stories), or little things that they would not find on your website.

Use a real camera. The images you are sharing will be much quality this way. And, you can save and edit them according to your preferences! If you do this, then the images you are sharing from your actual practice can be mixed with shots from your everyday life without looking too different.

Stay consistent. Keep in mind that your audience, or the one you are trying to build, will expect you to keep posting similar kinds of images. For example, a architecture photographer’s audience does not expect him to post a portrait.

You don’t have to restrict yourself and only post one genre, but try to be consistent in your posts. Just like you are advised to try and be consistent in your actual portfolio.

Someone who lands on your profile will first see the 9 last posts you did – if those are a mess, then maybe they will not hit that follow button. So be consistent in your style, theme, editing, colors and subject matter.

Be selective. Provide only content that you feel is valuable to your readers.

Make your account public. Since you are using Instagram for business purposes you will want as many people to find it and follow you as possible. Set your account on public, meaning anyone can pull it up.

Be polite and reply. When someone leaves a comment on a post or on your work it is good etiquette to answer and that will probably drive that user on your profile for a second time. They may then follow you or simply appreciate the fact that you have replied. Because Instagram is open commenting can also be a good way to connect with potential clients in a less formal manner!

Discover great photography – let yourself be inspired. I use Instagram a lot to discover new photographers and be inspired. There are so many great photographers on Instagram and it’s fun to discover new people, their work – and maybe even connect with them.

Person taking photo with phone


Don’t be obsessed with numbers. When someone likes one of your photos, your brain apparently produces dopamine – the pleasure hormone. This can become addicting! BUT – don’t compare your number of followers and likes with others. Numbers are just numbers and they do not represent the value of your work.

Don’t post low-quality photographs. It’s quality over quantity here!

Don’t overuse filters. Just don’t do it! Use the editing app you are usually using, I should think that’s Photoshop, to do your post processing.

Don’t spend too much time online. Only spend a reasonable amount of time building and curating your online presence – and then focus on what’s actually important, which is creating that work.

Don’t forget to have fun Instagram is a social network – so you should be social with it. Have fun with your followers and the images you post. Treat Instagram as a community where you can meet new friends and promote your work! You’ll get feedback on your work and, because it’s become such a popular tool amongst photo editors that you might well land a few new jobs, too!

The Falmouth Flexible MA Photography will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills to meaningfully engage with a technologically and socially evolving medium, and succeed within the increasingly complex and competitive creative industries.

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