7 Reasons Why Photographers Need to Be On Instagram


I know that a lot of you already are on Instagram, but almost daily I have somebody ask why they should be on Instagram if they’re already on Facebook or on Twitter. But it wasn’t really until two things happened recently, that I really got excited about Instagram and started to post there regularly.

The first happened during an episode of “The Grid” where we were talking about social media for photographers, where that same “Why should I be on Instagram” question came up, and when I heard my answer out loud, it even upped my usage of Instagram (I was really, really late to the Instagram thing – I started an account years ago but only used it a couple of times because I really didn’t “get it” but there were other reasons. So today, I’m giving you 7 reasons, including my first one, from that Grid episode:

  1. It’s the only big social media platform based on photography
    Twitter is about text (and not much of it at that). They just started embracing photos recently, but they still penalize you for using a photo by taking away from your 140 character count. Facebook only started really caring in the last couple of years, and that’s only because when Google+ was getting big, it did care about a photo. A lot. That’s why it resonated with the photo crowd. So, that was what I said on “The Grid” that day in answer to that guy’s question — it’s the only big social media platform based on photography – how can you not be there?
  2. They fixed the whole “your image has to be cropped square” thing
    Now you have the choice, and it’s built right into the app. This is a brand new development and it changed everything for me personally (this is the 2nd thing I mentioned above). I used to use a separate app called SquareReady which kept my image’s original wide orientation intact by adding black bars on the top and bottom (kind of like letterbox widescreen in movies), but now that’s it added right in, it doesn’t take me twice as long, and two different apps, just to post one photo. This is a HUGE thing for serious photographers because the original crop is how we saw the scene. It’s our composition. Having to make your image square (or use a separate app with a letterbox effect), wasn’t cutting it. Thank you Instagram for making your app serious photography friendly.
  3. You don’t have to write a lot.
    Unlike the other social media, here your image counts more than your words, so you can say very little, or nothing at all, and its totally OK. Sometimes, I just can’t write another post, but I still want to share an image. Instagram is perfect for that.
  4. Tons of photographers are already there
    All the big name photographers. All the big brands. The whole world is on Instagram, so you’ll be in good company and lots of it. It took off back in 2010 and it’s just exploded since then. I wish I had embraced it a long time ago.
  5. It’s a wonderful place for inspiration
    Just like other social media platforms, you follow the photographers you want to follow and you’ll see the images they post daily (I hope you’ll follow me there – I’m posting lots of travel, portraits/fashion and sports images there each day now. I’m on there under ‘scottkelby‘ on Instagram). There’s tons of inspirational images that keep your creative juices flowing. I see a lot of really wonderful, beautiful, compelling images there every day. You can tap a heart to send a like. You can comment. Or you can just sit back and scroll through a stream of inspiration and fun.
  6. The Instagram App is really good
    It’s simple and clean and that’s a good thing. It’s the least complicated app on earth – you just scroll down through images. If you want to post an image, you can tap the bottom center icon; either upload a photo from your camera roll or take one with the built-in camera. It has built-in filters (it was Instagram that made all those retro looks so popular) and you can apply them with one tap (you get a preview), and that’s pretty much it. Simple is good.
  7. There are photographers you’ll only find there
    Just like you have people who are famous ‘Youtubers,’ you have photographers who have gained their fame from being ‘Instagrammers’ and this is where they showcase their work. They’re getting working from Instagram. Lots of people are. People can get noticed here. Maybe you’ll be next.


Of course, there are some things I wish were different on Instagram. For example:

  1. It doesn’t allow you to embed links into your posts.
    You can put a web URL in your post, but if viewers click on it, it doesn’t take them to your link. It does nothing. Ugh. It’s about the only place left on the entire internet where posting a URL doesn’t create a live link.
  2. It gives you very little analytics other than likes and comments 
    I use a Web app – Iconosquare.com (which is excellent by the way) to give me all the stats you should be getting from Instagram.
  3. You can’t post images from the desktop
    You can see them on your computer, but you can’t post images or comment, etc.  without subscribing to an expensive third-party service – you have to do it from the phone app itself. Ack! This is a pain for sure. Plus, there’s no iPad app — you just download the iPhone app and then it runs at 2x size, but the images don’t look nearly as good. Instagram just recently upped it resolution, so I’m hoping that an iPad/Tablet app is behind that move.

Those three things aside (things that I imagine will all be addressed at some time in the near future), I have to say I’m loving my Instagram experience (and it’s now my wife’s favorite social media. You can follow her at kalebrakelby – she posts some really wonderful stuff, and her stories and commentary and either quite touching or really hilarious).

If you’re not already on Instagram, I hope this post at least has you giving Instagram a try. The app is free. The account is free. The free is free. It’s free! Give it a try for a few weeks – I’ll bet you fall in love – after all – it was made for you!

Hope you all have an awesome Tuesday!



P.S. I’ll be up in NYC all week this week at the big Canon Expo. I’m speaking on Thursday afternoon doing a class “How to Present Like a Pro!” (the class is sold out, so if you’re already signed up – I’ll see you there! I’m really excited about this session – I’ve put a ton of time into making it really valuable for anyone who attends). 

  1. There is an Instagram iPad app called padgram, I’ve only just downloaded it so can’t vouch for it yet. The pro version offers some analytics but haven’t tried yet.

  2. you can cheat, if you have (and of course you have that, Scott) Lightroom for iPhone/iPad then you can sync photos from your desktop to your phone/ipad and then from inside Lightroom post them on Instagram :)

    1. Maybe I am missing something, but my Lightroom mobile app on iOS doesn’t have the option to upload to Instagram… I can save to camera roll and then upload, but as I sync that back to my desktop via LR mobile, au end up with multiple versions of the same photo…

  3. I’m very late to Instagram. I just figured out yesterday tha I could import a finished photograph from my iMac to the native Photos app and sync my iPhone. That gets the finished photo onto my phone, from where I can upload to Instagram. Still clunky, but at least it works.

  4. It is possible to upload from a windows desktop, it involves useing chrome in Developers mode and installing Instagram through Arcwelder app…but it works

  5. Thanks so much for this post. I remember that Grid episode, how useful it was and how ignorant I felt not knowing enough about Instagram. I too am very late to this particular party. I’d like now to know a bit about how you use it – how it fits into your general workflow. Or is it just a matter of allocating a number of your images for Instram in the someway you might have done / still do for Facebook, Twitter or Google+?

  6. You can’t use any aspect ratio though. Here is what the help page says.

    You can share photos and videos with aspect ratios between 1.91:1 and 4:5.

    Which means you can’t post a portrait image straight out of most dSLR’s which would be 4:6.

  7. Scott, I only recently starting posting my photos on Instagram as well. I have a 500px account too. As for posting pictures from your desktop – you can get around that by having a Flickr account. You can post from there. That’s how I post. Wish I could do that from 500px. I’ve never had a cropping issue either doing this.

  8. Hey Scott, you have a misspelling under reason number 7. Shouldn’t “They’re getting working from Instagram” be “They’re getting work from Instagram”? Other than that, great post but I am still trying to figure out what use Pinterest would be to a hobbyist photographer like myself.

  9. What about their terms of use where they can use anything your post anyway they want without compensating you for your work…that’s just too much of a hurdle for this photographer to get over….it may not be so bad for a marketing guy, but for me it’s a deal killer…

    1. I agree. How do you protect your own photos @ScottKelby:disqus is it by use of copyright? If so, can you help your readers understand how to protect ourselves especially since most like me do not have the funds to hire a lawyer. Read the article of Richard Prince who pocketed $ on prints of other IG users and sold a bucket of them for 90K a piece and won the lawsuit

      1. I protect my material by only posting small low res files pretty much anywhere. Nothing I post is a size worth printing..I don’t use the internet to prove to someone how great the resolution the file is, just to get an idea of the content of the image. The one exception is if I am hosting the photo as a media hand out for an event. If anyone wants the image for any real use the have to come back to me to get any decent sized file.

  10. I’m late to the party too, but as you I get now and I am sharing daily, I really like it. There is third party app free to use Crowdfireapp that let’s you schedule posts from your computer. It works for me, and as it sends the photos to your phone you’re technically posting from there and not violating Instagram policies. .

    1. Thanks for sharing this info. I downloaded the Smugmug app and immediately posted from my Smugmug site to my Instagram acct. Nice to be able to post my Lightroom/Photoshop edited images. I don’t use my phone for much ‘real’ photography!

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