Instagram is one of the most used platforms by photographers and non-photographers around the world. For this first group, the social network has its advantages with respect to business creation, dissemination of work and it offers opportunities to collaborate with other photographers, collectors, etc. around the world, but it also has big drawbacks.
In this article I’m going to talk about the pro’s and con’s of Instagram. For many of you this all may seem obvious, I’m sure, but being reminded from time to time can’t hurt, right?
1. A good-ish gallery.
Instagram is an easy and cheap way to have a gallery of your work that is also accessible to a vast number of people. However, as is the case with many things, to get some real and valuable diffusion you have to work hard.
On the other hand, the format in which people see your photos is very small and that often does not do your work justice and at worst, might end up forcing you to only publish photos that work well in this medium. The best thing is to have, in addition to your Instagram account, a platform of your own like a blog or a website where you can show off your work in a more impactful way and without the limitations of a social network.
2. Quantity: Your first 10,000 photos will be your worst.
One of the things that helps in becoming a better photographer is perseverance or simply put, taking lots of photos. Instagram is a great tool to stay focused on shooting and produce material to publish, however, it is easy to fall into the trap of shooting for the sake of shooting.
To improve as photographers, we not only have to practice a lot, we also have to try to improve ourselves every day and venture out of our comfort zone from time to time. So, if you do not think you have a good photo do not publish it, wait to have something better. It is not mandatory to publish every day (we’re talking about photography here, not trying to become influencers!), it can also be twice a week or once a week. What’s important is to show your best work and that often takes time.
3. The social network.
As the description suggests, Instagram is a social network (or at least it was created for that purpose) and one of the great advantages of this is precisely the social aspect of the platform.
Getting to know photographers from around the world, sharing ideas or forming groups is very enriching and totally recommendable. I myself have made great friends and have done very interesting collaborations with other photographers and clients thanks to Instagram. But, at the same time and because of the dynamics of the platform it is easy to fall into trends just to get those much desired “likes” or “follows” (if that’s what you’re after, apparently you’re supposed to focus on monochromatic photos, cool colours rather than warm colours, low saturation…oh and include your cats, dogs and the food you eat 😉 and that is a disadvantage since it will most likely be in detriment of your own “photographic voice” and limit your creativity. So, with regards to this, forget the trends and learn from the masters.
4. Immediacy can be key…but it can also be your downfall
In this world of ‘right now’, whether you like it or not, you have to keep up, especially if you want to dedicate yourself to photography. Instagram offers you something very convenient, immediacy. You can be anywhere in the world and if you have an internet connection, you can share, almost in real time, what you are doing. This gives you the ability to spread your “brand image”, however, it also tends to translate in spending less time editing your work (and when I talk about editing, I’m referring to selecting you work). Editing and processing a series is key to having visual coherence and a clear narrative and that can only be achieved with a little time once you have finished your project.
What you can do is use the different tools that the platform offers, such as the “stories” or IGTV, for the more immediate stuff and take the time necessary to publish your final work.
5. The virtual world.
As a digital platform, Instagram is not the only social network available. In fact, there are countless social networks with slightly different audiences that may also be interesting for you. It is convenient that you explore those other options to see what’s out there and decide what is most beneficial to you.
That said, one of the great pleasures of photography that you simply can’t get from the digital world is to hold a printed copy of your work in your hands. So regardless of what you do on Instagram, print your photos. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for yourself or to give away as a preset, whether you create a “zine” with your work or print a photo book of your last trip, print. Make your work tangible because it is something that is being lost and that will give you a totally different vision of what you can do and a satisfaction virtual world simply cannot give you.
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