Instagram has become the number one platform for sharing photos with a global audience – with 100 million photos posted every day. But it’s much more than just a hobby. For some people, posting great pictures on Instagram has led to ditching the 9-5 for the job of their dreams.
Learn from the pros
We talked to cityscape photographer Neil Andrews (@mumhad1ofthose), portrait expert Vicky Grout (@vickygrout) and low light specialist Bal Bhatla (AKA @mrwhisper) about how they were able to turn their passion into profit. They assembled for video tutorial series O2 Sessions.
Whether you’re just looking for a few more followers or you want to make photography your full-time career, take your lead from photographers at the top of their game. As Vicky Grout says: “Look for inspiration from other people’s work. Don’t compare yourself with them, but just look at things you like and would like to try yourself, says Vicky.
Drawing from their own experiences, these three entrepreneurial influencers share their knowhow.
Top tips to super charge your Instagram
Focus on your passion
Vicky Grout started out by taking her camera along to late night Grime gigs. Now she’s the go-to photographer for the UK’s Grime scene. Among her famous subjects include Stormzy and Skepta, with her portraits splashed across the front cover of Time Out.
She thinks her career is the direct result of a passion for music, so it was easy for her to put in the work: “If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it will come through in your work and people will see that” she explains, “and you’ll get bored of it very, very quickly.”
Previously working in advertising, Bal Bhatla used to post photos of his daily commute. Now, his clients include Netflix and Lonely Planet. He’s clear about what your focus should be: “Don’t follow trends. Don’t worry about what other people are doing.”
Be active in the community
Neil Andrews went from selling greetings cards to globetrotting photographer, finding new angles and perspectives to capture familiar global landmarks. When he joined, Neil found a new community on Instagram. He quickly built up his network by posting regularly and becoming a supportive community member. He also took things a step further by meeting other London Instagrammers in the flesh. He suggests you throw yourself into the photography world: “Go on photo walks with people, maybe go to some talks. Learn new things. It’s great because it’ll change your perspective on how you see the world around you.”
Find what makes you unique
With one trillion photos taken in 2018, standing out from the crowd is crucial, Neil Andrews suggest finding one thing you really want to focus on and following that path. Whether its fashion, nature or travel, it’s vital to find your brand.
Neil also uses a trick that helps people remember him: “When I go out shooting, virtually every day now, I wear a hat because that’s what people recognise me for. It may seem like a trivial thing, but it’s like my personal branding.”
Don’t stop experimenting
It can take a while to find what works for you, so keep playing around until you find it. Bal Bhatla takes to the streets when the sun goes down looking for interesting sources of light – which has included everything from a shopfront to a reflection in a puddle. Taking this approach has made him a low light photography master.
Neil Andrews tries new things every day: “Take as many photos as you can from different angles” he says. “The beauty of today’s devices is that they can store loads of images that can easily be deleted, so take lots of shots until you catch something special.”
Even when you’re posting every day, being active on Instagram and finding your niche, it can be frustrating when you’re not getting noticed. The answer? Keep at it.
“The difference between success and failure is finding your own style and sticking at it” says Bal Bhatla. You’re on your own personal journey that you have to pursue. It’s a long journey and there are no short cuts.”