There's something to be said about the power of Instagram. With around 600 million active users, Instagram is an amazing marketing and advertising tool for photographers.
Companies like the New York Times, Getty, Associated Press, The Washington Post, the NFL, the NHL and many, many more have Instagram accounts that help them highlight the photographs they want their readers and fans to see.
On top of that, there are literally millions of extremely talented photographers that use Instagram to highlight their work and as a way to be discovered by some of the companies I mentioned above.
As such, getting likes and followers on Instagram has become a business in itself. There are entire books and podcasts published to help users maximize their following and turn it into marketing gold.
In my experience, the biggest piece of advice offered by the books, articles, podcasts and videos out there is the idea of "being consistent."
Find your niche and stick with it. Be that star trails, sports, wildlife or landscapes. If you plan to venture outside of those things make a separate account and build up the following on both accounts.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you how to become an Instagram star, I haven't figured that out. But, I do want to address this idea of making your Instagram feed into a pretty one-trick pony.
For me, the magic of photography has always been its ability to share so many magical moments from the world with so many different subjects: people, landscapes and animals. Photography has never been one faceted and I've always felt that making myself one faceted would do nothing but hurt my photography.
It's not uncommon to hear photographers complain about "shooting for Instagram."
"Gotta get those hearts!"
The problem is that shooting for Instagram often means focusing on pretty rather than interesting. Sunsets, landscapes and girls in bikinis will often litter the recommended page.
While there's nothing inherently wrong with sunsets, landscapes and bikinis there's also nothing particularly meaningful about them either. Vary rarely do I see a picture of a sunset that I remember the next day.
I doubt many photographers see a sunset picture that they remember, but one thing they do remember is the likes.
Because of that, there are many amateur and semi-pro photographers that feel that the only way to get noticed is to simplify their work and cull it down to nothing but a single subject.
I don't think I'll ever be an Instagram star but I find a lot of joy in the idea of expanding my craft.
My Instagram feed features everything from landscapes, wildlife, sports, breaking news and the occasional selfie. I'm an Instagram Self-Help Guru's worst nightmare, something that I actually take a bit of pride in.
To be clear, I'm not bashing photographers who specialize in certain topics. Scott Kelby for example is an amazing travel photographer. And I understand why he and people who specialize in other areas want to feature their best work.
What I take issue with is the idea that photographers are essentially being given the advice to become one-dimensional. To specialize in certain areas so that they can get more likes and followers on Instagram. Not only do I feel that is a disservice to a learning photographer, I feel it's a disservice to the art of photography itself.
Photography is about capturing the world, as you see it. Not capturing a single subject to show off to other people.
But, who knows, maybe I'm just behind the times.