How I Use Instagram

How I Use Instagram

I’m coming up on my 2,000th Instagram photo, and it’s got me thinking about what is my favorite social media platform.

It’s really fun to experiment with mobile photo making, and see the work of other great Instagram photographers. Every day, I think about making good photos for Instagram, and sharing them for the world to see. It’s like a 365 project, even though there are days wen I don’t post (usually the weekend) – thought I post multiple times per day, which kind of makes up for it.

Instagram helps me experiment with photo styles, moods, and subjects. I was never really a landscape guy, until my commute inspired me to share the rural countryside I see every day. And going back and seeing my old stuff (I’ve been using Instagram since January 2011)? It’s rough, but you can see the growth.

What’s nice about Instagram is, there’s no social pressure. Yes, I follow some friends and family members. But the majority of photographers I follow are people I’ve never met. That’s the fun part. Like Twitter, I get to interact with people who are mostly strangers.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff figured this out in his “You’re Using Instagram Wrong” piece:

Inspiration through photos is a function of interests, not your social connections. Chase what inspires you. Be true to yourself, and inspire others with who you are.

His point: don’t feel bad about not following people you know in real life.

My own quick-read tips:

  1. If someone follows you, check out their profile. Like their photos? Follow them back. Don’t like their photos? Don’t.
  2. See if a photographer shares different stuff on his/her Instagram than, say, Flickr or Tumblr.
  3. I’m still a stickler for mobile-only photos (#iphoneonly!). Call me Old Fashioned.
  4. Hashtags are a good way to (a) be found and (b) find stuff you’re into. Follow your #furry or #abandoned passions. Just, for Pete’s sake, don’t inappropriately tag your photos (#sunset on a non-sunset photo, for instance)
  5. Comment on photos you really like. But say what you like about it. Be specific and generous.
  6. Don’t be afraid to experiment with styles. In time, you’ll develop your own signature style. It took me a long time to find my groove.
  7. HDR sucks.

And, of course, you should follow me on Instagram.

Shadows & Light

As a photographer, shadows and light (along with maybe color) are your paint and paintbrush. You are a recorder of light, or the absence of light.

It’s what I love about taking urban exploration photos: finding those areas where light meets dark, and creates mystery. What’s in the corner? What lies waiting in the shadows? What can’t I see?

I found a great abandoned warehouse in mid Michigan where these big, bright windows let in a lot of light. But as usual with window light, it falls off in such a great way. There’s just enough illumination to highlight details on the interior, and just enough shadow to make some mystery.

I’m drawn to these areas when I find something to photograph. Where just enough light leaks in to make something magic.