Instagram is the main social media platform exclusively centred around imagery, but things have changed and video is becoming as important as still photography. What else do we need to know about the ever-changing Instagram in 2020? Well, it’s #TravelTuesday, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m about to share what I’ve learned so far this year. Let’s go!

Instagram remains a huge means of exposure and if we want to progress our photography, be it as a hobbyist or a pro, we need to be seen. It can be said that to be seen we need to take risks, and it can also be said that putting our images on Instagram is becoming a risk, owing to the recent judgments that Instagram posts may be shared without credit. That’s not what it’s all about, though. It’s not just a case of getting our images shared and “stolen” because of these judgments, but also about the potential rewards. When we have our images shared without credit it’s annoying, it’s an irritation, but it’s usually not benefitting the person sharing it. The difference is that it can benefit us. To get that exposure we need to “work” on Instagram. Here’s how: –

First, it’s not as easy as it used to be. There are algorithms in place which dictate our exposure, our audience, our limits, and if we work to the algorithm, we can take advantage of it rather than dwelling on the negative aspects. The “work” we need to put in involves one thing and one thing alone: engagement.

If we engage with others, it encourages and attracts reciprocated engagement. That engagement is noticed by the algorithm and offers us more exposure because the algorithm “sees” that we are doing well and are, therefore, worth showing to more accounts—more people.

The “post and forget” strategy simply doesn’t work. If we post a photo and just close the app, we aren’t going to get engagement and exposure. We need to genuinely and sincerely interact with other accounts, particularly those similar to ours. The reason is twofold: first, we’re interacting with the person who posted the photo we’re leaving a nice comment on, and second, we’re exposing ourselves to their followers who see our comment.

There are bots, automations, engines, whatever you want to call them, and we can pay for services to do this for us…BUT DON’T DO THIS! It simply doesn’t work. The comments are not real, the likes are spam, everything the bot does stands out to people, and, perhaps more importantly, to Instagram (who will suspend your account because of a breach of terms.) There are entire studies on this and it’s nothing more than a way for someone else to make some money—it will not grow your account.

When we post images (or videos) we need some kind of strategy. The account needs to have a focus so that people who follow us do so because they know what to expect. It could be that they see a certain editing style or a certain subject matter that attracts them to hit the Follow button, so we need to deliver this attractive element to an audience and encourage them to hit that button in the first place. A grid that looks cool is just as important as an image that looks cool.

Stepping it up, there’s a location field and a description field that we need to make the most of. Tagging a location is another way for our image to be found—people search locations and if our image doesn’t have a location, we negate this method for being discovered. The description also pulls people’s attention—if they are drawn to read our description (or caption) and like it, they are more likely to also hit the heart to like the photo or even drop a comment in. If this happens within the first hour or so of our image being posted, we’re far more likely to attract further attention or even end up in the Explore tab.

Hashtags are a hot topic, but there’s the potential that we can go very wrong with them, as well, so check this out: –

Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post, either in the caption or in the comments. Many, many people have noticed that rather than using all 30, a post performs better when 10–20 are used. When selecting hashtags we need to ensure they’re applicable to the image, and that our image will not get lost among a plethora of posts. If we use a popular hashtag, such as #landscape, we’ll have people post the same hashtag soon after us and our post will be pushed down the list very quickly, whereas if we use a less popular hashtag, such as #landscapephotographer, we’ll retain a position close to the top for longer, offering more exposure before our post is lost down the list.

Finally, take note of what else performs well on Instagram. Bear in mind that the most “liked” image is simply a stock photo of an egg! What we find to be technically and artistically the best images are not the ones that perform well. The truth is it’s the vivid, vibrant colours, scenes packed with action, adventure, and things people can relate to that actually do the best and attract the most attention. Also, cats!

PS: You should totally follow me!

Much love

…and if you think it’s because I stayed up way too late last night playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare with my friend Terry, man are you off base. ;-)

Anyway, sorry I whiffed on today’s post, but if you’re a Lightroom user, I did (earlier in the day yesterday) get a post together for my other blog (yes, one blog is clearly not enough, though I obviously have a hard time keeping up with even one), and it’s on how to create multi-photo layouts in Lightroom’s print module (and no you don’t have to print the layouts —  you can save them as JPEGs and share them on social, email them, post them on Instagram, etc.).

Here’s a link to the post and the short video where I show you how easy it is (you’ll be surprised). :)

Here’s to a great week; one where you are more productive than I was last night. :)


The Art of Black and White Photography with Serge Ramelli

Ready for a master class in fine art B&W photography? Join Serge Ramelli as he takes you through his workflow for capturing and preparing photos to be included in fine art photo books. The beginning of the class takes a very detailed look at some of his favorite photos from his book on Paris. From there, Serge moves on to a behind the scenes look at some of his top photos from New York.

As Serge steps through his post processing workflow using Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, and Aurora HDR, he shares the decisions he made at the time of capture, his approach to basic processing, HDR merging, panorama stitching, noise reduction, and of course, black and white conversions. Be sure to download the practice photos to follow along!

In Case You Missed It… Unlocking the Secrets of the Black and White Masters: Classic Techniques for Creating Black and White Images

Learn how to create amazing and dramatic black and white photos in Lightroom! Join Serge Ramelli as he pays homage to the masters of B&W photography by teaching you his tips and tricks for creating compelling B&W photos.

Serge shares his techniques for dodging and burning, working with high key B&W, creative uses for panoramic merging, converting high ISO images, creating and applying presets to save time, and so much more. Serge shares some of his own Lightroom presets to get you started.

Secrets to Amazing Photo Composition from the Masters with Marc Silber

Improve your ability to tell stories with your photographs by learning new compositional tools and secrets from the masters! Join Marc Silber as he demonstrates and explains over 80 different composition techniques that you can mix and combine in your own photography.

Marc uses a series of live shooting examples, diagrams, and examinations of photographs to illustrate each tool and technique. You’re sure to come away with a new perspective on composing photographs, and an expanded visual vocabulary for communicating with your images.

In Case You Missed It: The 20 Time Proven Rules of Composition with Rick Sammon

Don’t just take pictures, make pictures! Join Rick Sammon as he dives deep into his 20 time proven rules of composition. It’s up to you to tell your story with creative composition, and in this class Rick provides you with new ways of seeing when you are holding your camera in hand.

Whether you call them rules or recommended guidelines, Rick shares over 250 visual examples to help you understand how to use these tools to make great shots instead of snapshots. In the end you’ll be a better photographer for not only knowing the rules, but knowing when to break them, and have fun while doing it.

If you follow my work, you know I am passionate about bringing my kids’ imagination to life, and since most of us are getting to spend more time with our kids at home, I want to share some of my favorite tricks with you so you can create the most amazing memories with your family too!

My approach when it comes to working with kids is a little different from other photographers I know. When I work with kids, I step down and let the kids take the Creative Director role (with a little guidance of course). So how do I do that? EASY! The magic of storytelling!

It all starts with, “Once upon a time,” a pencil, and paper.

I’m sure by now, you have heard about the elements of storytelling—the setting, characters, plot, theme, symbolism, and emotion.

I use all of these as prompts when I do storytelling sessions with kids. You can ask questions such as: where does this story take place? Was it day or night? What were you doing? Who else is in the story? Etc.

Then make a little sketch about the story. The sketch will serve as a visual prompt when it is time to posing, and it will also serve as a reference if you are making a composite image.

So, Gilmar, why don’t you just take a picture and that’s it? Why complicating things?

Because I want these pictures to be a representation of these kids’ imagination and their sense of wonder, I want to validate their ideas and feel empowered by them. Lastly, I want to cultivate and nurture their creativity. All of that translates to the final images.

Once you have a story and a rough sketch, it is time for the photoshoot! Believe it or not, photoshoots are super fast if you used the techniques I mentioned above. There is no awkwardness because your little subject will know exactly what to do, and if he or she is a bit confused, you can show them the sketch. It always works like a charm!

Another great way to keep kids engaged in a photo shoot is by giving them props. I found this trick works great with adults too! In the images below, my daughter picked lots of sailing props and played around with them as I was taking her pictures.

Let them get into character. My daughter has been worried about getting older, to the point she said she didn’t want to grow up (she is only 5!) so to face her fears I dressed her up as an old lady, and let me tell you, she was the most adorable old lady I’ve ever seen!

You don’t need to have any props or to be Photoshop compositing wizard. Find a cardboard box, give it to a kid, and see all the creative uses and stories a kid will make out of that box. You can turn each one of them into photos you will treasure forever!

You can see more of Gilmar’s work at, and keep up with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Hi all, I’m here! I’m Dave Williams and this is #TravelTuesday on, and although I realise we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, I want to share some tips that will be useful where and when travel is allowed.

Today is about the mountains and all their splendour. The mountains ground us somehow—their majesty and beauty captivate us and inspire us, as well as offering us an awesome adventure. There are some awesome photos to be had of and in the mountains, and it’s well worth getting back to nature and giving the mountains (and ourselves) some attention.

Top of the list for mountain photo tips is to remember two key words: “foreground” and “composition.” These two things alone will make our mountain photography stand head and shoulders above the rest. If we can include a foreground element and employ a compositional technique that links the foreground and background together, such as the leading lines here for this Canadian Pacific train running through the Canadian Rockies, we’re set for a win.

Shooting in bad weather works with mountains because it creates drama and often mystery. The weather that we see as bad weather for walking in is usually the weather that’s great for photography in the mountains for this very reason, just like here at Vestrahorn in Iceland. Planning ahead and scoping the area, the route, and the weather will help us to be in the right place at the right time to smash an epic shot of a moody mountain.

It’s never a bad idea to include water in our mountain photos and the reason is largely twofold: First, it offers us an easy foreground element. Second, it can double our photo to have a mirror image.

Mountains are huge and we can exaggerate their size by including something for scale, such as a building, person, or animal. We need to keep our eyes open for these opportunities to arise and if we don’t find them, we can create them by getting into the scene ourselves.

The mountain doesn’t have to be the subject—including it as a feature of a photo can be just as effective, like here in Rio de Janeiro where I’ve included this mountain to break the scene. The subject here is nature and the sunset, with the mountain simply helping to draw attention to it.

Finally, we always need to ensure we have the right gear. There’s no feeling worse than making the effort to find a beautiful location and not having what we need when we get there. Sufficient batteries and memory cards, along with a tripod/Platypod, filters, remote shutter release, lens cloth, and anything else that will help us to create the shot we want is crucial to pack and to use, just like for this shot in Senja, Norway.

There’s a reason people so often say “the mountains are calling.”

Much love