By Helen Anne Travis
Every Monday we sit down with some of our favorite Instagrammers to chat about the art and business of mobile photography. We pick their brains on their editing process, their favorite apps, and how Instagram has changed their approach to photography. See all our Best of Instagram interviews »
Over the past year we've picked up some great tips from true Instagram masters. Rather than keep all their words of wisdom to ourselves, we compiled some of their best advice below. Read on to learn how to get more followers on Instagram from 16 photographers with a combined following of nearly two million fans.
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"Shoot for yourself."
This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you want more followers on Instagram, you need to quit worrying about how many people are following you.
Instead, focus on developing your voice. Figure out what you like to shoot, the subjects you like to work with, and what editing process really captures your vision. The photographers we interviewed said once they started to shoot for themselves the likes and followers poured in.
1) "Don't aspire to be an 'Instagram photographer'. Shoot for yourself; try to disregard 'likes' and whatever's popular. Experiment. Get out of your comfort zone. Document your life in a different way. Oh, and get closer to your subject!" - @ikedeani, 602K followers
2) "Don't worry about your follower count or how many likes you get. Shoot what you want, share what you want, and let your feed represent you and not someone you're trying to be. I love shooting portraits of my friends, and when I look back through my feed it's the people I see that give me the best memories." - @laurenlemon, 230K followers
3) "There is the temptation to take the photos that you know other people will 'like'. I decided to take the photos I want to take, regardless of how many likes I get. I seem to get more comments and feedback when I do that anyway." - @cschoonover, 32K followers
It may look effortless, but our Instagrammers confessed it takes time to capture that perfect walking-down-a-deserted-road-into-the-sunset shot. Sometimes they take as many as 20 or 30 pictures of the same subject before they get the perfect capture. Give your photos time to develop (pun intended).
4) "Learn how to use your camera to the best of its capabilities, and then spend your time experiencing the world around you as you move through it. Observation is the most important tool a photographer has." - @danrubin, 761k followers
5) "Be patient. The gratification is not instant. You have to slow down and take your time. In doing so, you may find there is a lot more to offer in a composition than what originally caught your eye." @rubenhughes, 46K followers
6) "Take a stroll! If I need to be somewhere, I'll try and give myself the time to reach my destination by foot. I find that walking gives a photographer the time to really soak up their surroundings and capture moments they might otherwise miss." - @megaguire, 31K followers
"Do something different."
Stop posting photos of your feet in the sand, photos of you jumping in front of famous sites, and please, enough with the duck face.
7) "It's easy to follow trends and hack what 'works' but we have enough of those accounts. Do something different. (And quit jumping.)" - @reallykindofamazing, 58k followers
8) "Experiment when shooting. Look for different angles. Get down low to the ground, climb on top of something or hold your camera over your head. If you take a shot, find another angle to shoot the same scene. The more you shoot, the more you will learn what you like and develop your own style." - @mrsgrubby, 132K followers
9) "Have a 'thing', something that consistently shows through every photo. You want people to look at a grid of your pictures and see something that unifies them. They are more likely to follow you if they can clearly see what they are signing up for." - @jonpauldouglass, 42K followers
"Learn from the best"
Let your feed guide you. What is it about the photographers you admire that makes their work so captivating? Is it the way they light their shots? Their perspective? The captions they write? For extra credit, get off Instagram and look at the work of commercial and fashion photographers. Try to understand exactly what you like about their shots and see if you can apply some of those techniques to your own work. You can be inspired by others but still create something entirely new.
10) "Instagram was my photography school. Being exposed to so many incredibly talented artists, thinkers and adventurers inspired me in ways I had never dreamed of. I had so many teachers who, unknown to them, completely changed my life. From composition to editing and storytelling, through Instagram I learned everything I know." - @simonebirch, 12K followers
11) "Follow people whose feeds you would like to emulate. The more good photos you see in your feed, the quicker you can develop an eye for it. Also, don't be discouraged or overexcited about likes. Certain types of photos get more likes than others, regardless of the quality. Focus on taking photos that you like, learn from the best, and don't be afraid to try something new!" - @coryacrawford, 49K followers
12) "Follow artists you like and ask them questions. If you are genuine, you may find a few photographers who don't mind answering questions about their art and process." - @dvl, 132k followers
13) "Be mad nice with the likes." - @AlanaPaterson 6k followers
"It's like any other photography"
Sure, advancements in technology have made capturing, editing and sharing photos a snap, (yep, another pun) but that doesn't mean you can take shortcuts. If you want more followers on Instagram you have to treat your work like the art form it is.
14) "Like any other photography lighting is really important. Pay attention to lighting and composition just like you would with any other camera." - @cannellevanille, 105K followers
15) "Using a grid overlay on your camera app can help for lining up or dividing your frame as you shoot." - @safesolvent, 37K followers
16) "Take a lot of photos. You can only get better with understanding your weak points in photography." - @jcb_jhnsn, 2K followers
Your turn. What are your tips for getting more followers on Instagram? Share your thoughts below!