Photography is a hobby that many people like. It provides a still image of that special moment you experienced in your life allowing you to share it with others not present, be it with family or anyone else. It is a somewhat affordable pursuit that is fun and very fulfilling if you’re an artistic or creative type of person. It is as if your talents come through the lenses and are forever printed onto a piece of paper or digitized and ‘megapixeled’ into being.
Yes, the equipment used matters greatly, but more importantly, the eye of the person behind that camera is the end all be all of photography. You may own an extremely nice camera with all the bells and whistles, but if you lack the artistic background or this innate skill found in most with a sensitive eye for beauty in the world even in the worst places, you will just have a nice camera. Some can make masterpieces from phone cameras and cheaper digital cameras. It is truly all a matter of talent, as it is the case in most other arts.
Ergo, since not everyone can afford an expensive camera, many settle for a cheaper alternative, be it a digital camera or a phone camera. Today, one can make great use of a phone camera due to current technology and editing materials via a veritable cornucopia of available applications. However, let’s zero in further and narrow the field down to one specific camera and market; the iPhone camera and the Apple market
There exists an iPhone-centric application that in a relatively short period of time this author has come to love. That app is called Instagram. This app was launched on October 6th, 2010 when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger decided to shift their focus from their HTML-5 platform check-in project Burbn to mobile photography. Shortly thereafter, others joined the team and the app became an instasuccess as subsequent add-ons were released in version 2.0 during September 2011. This app quickly garnered massive following, gaining one million users by December 2010 and five million by June 2011. It has since passed the ten million user mark and currently sits at above twenty-five million users. Clearly, many others share this author's enthusiasm for Instagram.
Instagram caters to many people. It is wonderfully refreshing to see how many truly artistic souls exist out there, and here is a platform from which they can finally share their feelings, personalities and emotions with the rest of the world through photography. There is so much to see and so many nice images that at times it is overwhelming to the eye. It truly is in today’s grimy vernacular; visual pornography, or in Instagram hashtag lingo; #eyeporn.
You can clearly see through its sundry postings that a great majority of the app’s users (including this author) are very passionate about what they post and can at times be extremely meticulous about the types of pictures taken and the edits done to augment the effect they are attempting to convey to their followers or random viewers. It’s a virtual mobile center for self-expression and displays of art.
At this point, the reader must have decided to at least check this application out. Fair warning has been given though concerning the fact that once downloaded and used, you will get addicted to Instagram.
However cool the app is, one must know how to use it to its full potential. A user must know how to get attention and how to obtain more and more followers. Although this author is relatively new to the Instagram scene, he has spent enough time lurking at other popular users’ accounts to figure out what brings people to your profile to check out your postings. Below are some concise steps in how to get to this point:
Don’t post too often.
It’s hard to resist the urge to share in all the glory you see every day. Tread lightly though, because this constant flooding of new pictures on any of your followers’ feeds can become an annoyance which leads to a quick tap of the ‘following’ button. Refrain from posting new pictures often, let others savor the current posting and give yourself ample time until the next one. A good rule of thumb is one posting per day and at the most two.
Post only things that count and are unique.
Instagram is not meant to be a daily account of your experiences. It is isn’t an online Journal or Diary. Moreover, unless you are a famous actor/actress or star, you will not get people liking every single one of your unimportant posts of what you’re drinking at Starbucks, what type of ice cream you are currently stuffing yourself with and many other situations that are best reserved for your eyes only. Make the posts cool and different, they should consist of different angles which most people would never think to use or look at objects and view them in such a manner, therefore blowing their minds and earning you more followers and likes.
What types of pictures to post.
From surfing the popular section of Instagram you will quickly get an idea of what gets hits and what doesn’t. The following are pictures that usually get a good following and amount of likes, not in any necessary order: Beach, Skylines, Skyscrapers, Models, Beautiful Women, Nature, Sunsets, Sun rises, Sky and Cloud formations, City Life and some others. Usually these pictures offer a mental getaway for most, hence the ‘likes’ they receive. Ensure that the color displays are wonderful and mind boggling as well.
Use your Hashtags #properly.
Instagram functions much like Twitter when it comes to hashtags. The pound symbol signifies that the word following it can be utilized as a keyword for a search result in the app’s search function. Ergo, #Sky will be available when searching for pictures relating to Sky. Therefore, use hashtags to your advantage. Scope the most popular shots to see what type of hashtags they are using to bring in more viewers and likes. Some popular hashtags are as follows: #Sky, #Summer, #Spring, #Winter, #Clouds, #Skyline, #Skyscraper, #City, #Instagram, #iPhone, and many other ones.
You can hashtag the tool with which you used to take your picture, i.e., #iPhone, #iPhoneonly, #iPhoneography, #iPhone4, #iPhone4s, and etc.
Comment on popular shots and show some love to your followers and those on your feed.
Visit the popular section often and be nosy. Post comments and likes on the pictures you enjoyed looking at. Don’t be a comment bot either, post interesting remarks that drive people to your profile as well. Think things that incite curiosity in others. Also do not forget to like the pictures too.
On your feed, make sure to like the pictures of those you follow and be genuine in your compliments as well via the commenting function. They will become appreciative of you and at some future point in time when enough rapport is built, become just as supportive of your postings as you are of theirs. Heck, they might even give you a shout out to increase your following.
Adding effects to pictures.
When posting pictures, not all of them look good in their virgin or pristine state. Often, a bit of editing and tweaking can make all the difference with regard to driving traffic to your posts. Many good apps exist out as mentioned above that provide this type of function for all of your editing needs. The following are a handful of apps this author recommends: Snapseed, AvgCamPro, PhotoToaster, PhotoForge2, Fotolr PSP and others. Doing a quick Google search on this subject will fulfill your need for further recommendations.
You may also choose to not add any effects as well. Some pictures actually do look better in their natural state. You may give a picture minimal tweaks by using Instagram’s tools as well. Unfortunately there is no right or wrong way to add effects to a photo through editing, it really stems from the eye of the user posting the picture and how much of a talent he/she has in doing so.
So, there you have it, a short how to guide and fun introduction into a very popular app that millions and millions have come to adore. Don’t wait any further and join in on the fun and see where your talents take you. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me @Davidkishere !!