Photography In A Post-Instagram World

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Josh S. Rose
Apr 2 · 7 min read
Photo by Josh Rose on Unsplash

Instagram Is No Longer Designed For Organic Success

What made Instagram so interesting in the beginning was the idea that everyone was on it and therefore one’s talent could be seen by the masses. No other platform offered as much possibility for a photographer. Most platforms we’d known, like Flickr, simply attracted other photographers. Instagram was suddenly a place to be discovered. And it happened because the medium was new and largely unregulated, so great work naturally rose to the top and garnered organic success, based on merit.

Instagram Now Constricts Individual Growth

I know at least three people who established photography careers solely within the Instagram platform, but this was before organic growth was capped. Not that it matters entirely, but these individuals were not trained in photography; they can’t run a set, do lighting design or even design a treatment. Their skill is in doing travel photography, with one of two strategies: using themselves as models or establishing a look and applying it to killer locations. And while thousands of young would-be photographers are trying to emulate that success model, Instagram has made it near-impossible to replicate what these front-runners have been able to achieve.

Photographers Went From Using Instagram For Promotion To Using It For Self-Promotion

When Instagram offered a place to reach a wide audience and grow your popularity through the merit of your work, it was a good promotional tool. A photographer might offer up some great content in a fair exchange for the exposure and work that it might bring. It was certainly working harder than a website or printed portfolio — and it even seemed that a photographer might be able to be their own photo rep with the tools available. But with the constriction of individual growth and the death of organic success as described above, the work shifted away from being a place where the work promoted the artist and inverted to a place where artists promoted their work. In marketing terms, that’s a far-different strategic place. We call that self-promotion — and it’s not that effective, or fun.

Photographers Will Embrace New Business Models

Right now, I’m looking at new ways people are building photography businesses and I see some real inventiveness out there. It doesn’t reject social media, it simply relegates it to a distinct part of the business model. Take for example Off Leash Studios:

We’ll Replace The Affirmation Loop

My portraits on the Washington Nationals Instagram feed

We’ll Return To The Website

As new models come about in photography, people are going to want to better understand them and know specific things, like how to hire you, buy your work or schedule you. Eliminating the friction and amount of time between their appreciation of your work and the hiring of you is what websites are best at. I suggest taking the time you used to spend thinking up your next caption and using it to update your website and working on your conversion strategy in the new post-Instagram world.

The website of Thomas Whiteside

Josh S. Rose

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