Ignite Your Instagram in 10 Easy Tips by Catherine Guidry

Hello and Welcome to Photographer Week here on JasmineStarBlog.com! I'm excited to collaborate with fellow peers as they shed light and share industry tips. I met Catherine Guidry a few years ago at a photo conference and I was so impressed with her joie de vivre and her desire to help people. Today Catherine is getting into the nitty gritty of strategically using Instagram for your business!

So my story on Instagram began when I was using the platform as what I thought was editing software ONLY. I would take silly photos and fun photos with intentions of using the app for editing. One photo I remember specifically was when I had cut my hair very short (no longer than 3 inches or so) and I woke up with “lion hair.” So, I took a selfie and sent it to a friend…only to find it publicly displayed on Instagram with “likes!” weeks later.

It was such an embarrassing moment. LOL

Needless to say I've come very far with my Instagramming capabilities. So far in fact that I would say I'm actually more confident with using Instagram than Facebook! And I definitely check it more often.

1. Creating Your Profile

-When creating your profile, make sure to have a defining profile photo. This should be something that will catch people's attention in the feed and when they open their comments and likes.

– Be sure to include your website or Blog URL. Often, I'll add into the caption that there's a “link in profile” so that those seeing an image who want to see more can visit my website.

– By listing where you're located it gives future potential clients the opportunity to inquire. I can remember when searching for my own wedding photographer, location was very important to me…and I would breeze over anyone who didn't have their city or area listed.

– Something fun or personal in the description will help page visitors decide if they want to follow you or not! The more you can attract followers like yourself the better.

2. Linking Back

Just like I use facebook as a way to get followers to visit my website, I do the same with Instagram! When I post a teaser image from a wedding I always include a note that more images can be found on the blog. And I'll add the words (link in profile) so that viewers are encouraged to visit my profile and click on the link.

Something new that I've been seeing a lot as well: Rather than including your primary home page link in your description, if you have a specific blog post you're announcing, you can update your profile that day to link to this individual post. In this case you would caption “direct link in profile.” This has really encouraged me to click on other people's posts in the past.

3. Personal vs. Business

This is a constant balance for me in social media. I like for my profile to feel personal and allow me to share and record moments that are special, but I also want the feed to feel beautiful and professional.

I've found the best way for me to mix personal into the business feed is to simply make sure that I'm being selective with the images that I'm posting. I believe your feed is only as strong as your weakest image. And if I'm deciding whether or not to follow a person I'm definitely looking at the quality of their imagery.

I think adding personal text into business image captions also gives a feed a personal feel and allows your followers to get to know you and your brand better.

4. Hashtags

This word has become so popular over the past few years. And the power of a hashtag is truly incredible on instagram not only for growing a following but for finding others.

For now, we'll focus on how you can grow your following through hashtags. Initially, when trying to add hashtags to a photo, I'd put something fun or silly (for ex: #sobeautifulicantdeal)…but now, I put words that I think others will search for!

For example, this was a photo I took at a recent photography workshop. So the hashtags I chose below were either geared toward other film shooters : (#contax645, #fujifilm, #richardphotolab), toward other brides: (#rainbowwedding) or toward other future workshop attendees : (#propel, #carolinetran, #futurepropellers)

5. Choosing Your Hashtag

By searching a hashtag, this brings up ALL images that have been captioned with that same hashtag. For Example, if I photograph with my Contax 645 camera and then write in the caption #contax645, when someone searches #contax645, my photo will come up alongside anyone else who has captioned their photo with this same hashtag.

Choosing WHAT to write in the hashtag is key however because if someone happened to search #contax645camera, then my image would not come up.

6. Tagging Vendors

One of the coolest connections I've had on Instagram so far was the result of tagging a vendor. I had photographed a client in a Tara Keely gown (who also just so happens to be a photographer.) And when I tagged Tara Keely, their marketing director not only visited my bride's feed but mine as well and asked us to collaborate on a shoot together!

It was such a unique connection to have Instagram lead them to us; and I'm still so grateful to have had this opportunity for collaboration.

Tagging other vendors allows your images to pop up in their tagged photos and gives them the incentive to notice you!

7. Supporting Others

The photography and wedding industries feel smaller and smaller each year. And each year, I'm continuously blown away by the talent that surrounds me.

I absolutely LOVE to share others companies that I believe in. Below are two such examples of that. Caroline Tran is a photographer I've admired for years and after attending her Propel Workshop I had to share! My film lab has also been very instrumental to the growth of my business. After visiting their lab in Hollywood I photographed the visit and shared the images!

Others have made these small, thoughtful gestures towards me…and I want to pass on the love. I enjoy seeing an industry that continues to grow together.

8. Research

So, once upon a time when I wanted to research a travel spot, location, idea or ANYTHING for that matter I would open google. Now, I open instagram.

It really is the truest form of research because it's unfiltered and it's real life photographs.

By searching a hashtag, this brings up ALL images that have been captioned with that same hashtag. See two examples below! For both of these wedding venues, these are real life images that others have posted!

9. Finding Inspiration

The ability for instagram to connect others from ALL over the world…is insane. Truly. (But in a good way of course) I've found artists from all over that have inspired me simply through searching tagged photos, tagged artist, and hashtags.

Also, in the image below this is the Activity section where when selected, displays photos that people I follow are liking as well.

In my opinion, this is the most wonderful aspect of Instagram. I love that this platform has made art so easily accessible and shared. It's a beautiful thing.

10. Giveaways and Competitions

There's always giveaways, competitions, and sharing happening on Instagram. I remember for this particular image below, my film lab was encouraging its followers to use the hashtag #richardsaysboo for their Halloween images.

And so..when I posted this photo, I used the hashtag and they displayed the image that afternoon in their feed. Richard Photo Lab has a much bigger following than I do so this was a huge honor. And the fact that they support me just as I support them is so encouraging.

Instagram, like any form of social media can be a bit daunting at first. And of course, there's always the temptation to resist “another social media platform” just because there's so many already out there.

But I can honestly say that this platform brings more joy, art, and healthy competition to my life! It inspires me daily with what people are doing and achieving and that's something to be admired!

Happy Instagramming! <3 Have you read... Last Monday's post about Sue Bryce's secret to using a white sheet on a photo shoot?
Last Tuesday's post on how Katelyn James controls her image color by shooting in Kelvin?
Wednesday's post on Melissa Jill's tips to photographing group portraits that are in focus?
Thursday's post on on of Amy and Jordan's favorite life hacks for getting ready photos?
Friday's post on Jamie Delaine's list of 16 things to bring to every shoot?
Check them out!