I recently wrote an article about why photographers hate but still use Instagram. While writing it, I started thinking about how photographers use Instagram. Unfortunately, there are several mistakes you are probably making. Here are some of the most common.
The bio is a crucial part of your profile. Only the most important information should be included. This important information is not what your camera is, what lens you use, or some quote you snatched from the internet. Your email doesn’t belong in the bio either, especially if you have two or more.
If you put your camera gear and other technical stuff in the biography, people won’t look beyond that and consider you a proud amateur of the tool they have, now what they do with it. You are not that person, are you?
If you have a scam quote, I would say you are taking valuable real estate in your bio. After all, you can use this space for something that will show you as a professional photographer.
Why doesn’t your email have a place in the bio? Well, because if your name isn’t literally Tom Scott (I’m a big fan of his YouTube), people will be wrong. Even Scott can be misspelled as Scot, Skot, etc. I don’t need to go into the 1001 ways I saw Illya misspelled in an email. Instagram has a feature that lets you add an email button. This way the email address the mail is sent to will at least be correct. Another reason for not having your email in your bio is because of wasted space.
So what should you have in your bio?
I try to make my biography a mixture of somewhat personal and professional things. Here’s mine, I haven’t changed it significantly in a while:
🇺🇦 Fashion Photographer | rock fan | coffee addict
Although it is not the holy grail of the bios, it works in most cases. Each element has a role:
- Ukrainian flag: a personal touch
- Fashion photographer: what I do
Please do not put photographer, videographer, graphic designer, pianist, professional juggler, divine creature, lawyer, paramedic and freelance writer. You can’t be good at all of these things at the same time. The maximum would be photographer/videographer, possibly art director if you are known for that. The debate over photographers as art directors deserves a separate article.
rock fan | coffee addict: a personal way to connect with people who view my page. I have a Q&A on my website for the same reason.
Budapest/Vienna/Munich: my position. I travel between these three cities every week at this point. Everything beyond a camera is hired for jobs.
I had a “represented by” line until I cut ties with my old agent not too long ago. Once I sign with the next person, I’ll add it.
The biography I have is minimal, but it says well what I do, who I am and what I like. As you develop your style, you might want to write something like “ethereal fashion photographer”. Just like startups have an elevator pitch, you need to have one for your work. What describes it? For me, it would be a “colorful and vibrant fashion photographer”. But because my feed doesn’t just reflect that, I can’t tell.
If you want to work in the commercial world, get rid of anything that isn’t your name. I wish I could have “illyaovcha,r, but I can’t, so I use the next best thing, “illyaovcharphoto”. This is the maximum allowed. Last name, first name and “photo” if the first two are not Forget anything that looks like “prettypixel_photography_99_Xx”. Sounds silly, sorry. If you have a brand name for social photography, feel free to use that, but I think I know one, max two photographers doing that. Even then, they’re photographers within a company, which makes it less grumpy.
Mix personal and private
Your Instagram must be professional. This means that no private images are allowed to be shared there. I have a second account to share private images. When my main account went down, people started tagging my private account, to which I responded by asking them not to tag me at all.
The approach I take for my professional Instagram is quite simple: portfolio work in the feed and BTS in the stories. Sometimes the occasional workshop announcement and other things become part of the story, but I almost always refrain from posting political messages on my account. Also, I don’t share my personal life on my professional Instagram unless it’s a big holiday like a birthday or anniversary. It is important to draw a line between your professional and personal life. As a freelancer, it can sometimes be a blur and people will want to get into your personal life. Keep your private closed, please. Some people in my audience and beyond have successfully attempted to fish me out on private social media. It’s no surprise that I blocked these people regardless of the situation.
Here are examples of what I post on my private Instagram, as opposed to my business Instagram:
I get it, you probably want a lot of followers. Although I don’t have a particularly large following (close to 2k), it’s still something. There are times when I follow people I really want to work with, but they don’t follow me back. But instead of following/unfollowing and starting over, I move on. There is no reason for you to follow someone just because you want more followers. One tactic suggested by some people is to go to a celebrity’s page and follow everyone who follows them. Even if it will bring you followers, what will be their value? If all you want is a higher number, of course. But having an audience of people who aren’t your customers and therefore aren’t generating revenue is, to some extent, pointless. I would rather have 10 great art directors follow me than 10,000 random people. Oh, and don’t buy followers, that’s kind of sad.
There are many more mistakes that photographers make when working on their Instagram profiles. To be frank with you, I am also guilty of these things. My biography sucked, the name was “ovcharstudios” and I posted whatever I wanted. In fact, my @illyaovcharphoto account started out as a personal account, which I turned into a photography account once I started taking photos. But hush, I didn’t tell you.