If You’re a Portrait Photographer, This Could Be Your Biggest Problem with Instagram

Instagram’s terrible algorithm causes an issue that’s sort of embarrassing if you’re both a genuine portrait photographer who cares about their career.

The embarrassing feeling of being “caught” is something that every guy dreads–especially if he’s a genuine portrait photographer with a clean record and who put his career first. “Caught” is a term that I’m using in relation to an issue with Instagram’s algorithm; and to fully explain what’s going on, I should relate a tale of embarrassment and explain how it’s changed me. After speaking more with the site’s staff, I’ve seen how it can happen to portrait photographers of both genders.

One night a while back, I was on a date. In telling the woman I was with about my job and my creative vision, I figured that it would make more sense to show her.

“Can I have your permission to reach for my phone and show you?”

“Sure, and thanks for asking first.”

Smooth sailing; she was still intrigued. So I brought up my Instagram and tried to immediately go to my profile page. But instead the feed refreshed itself to a photo of a scantily clad women. Keeping my cool, I explained that that photo was of a model that I shot while on a press trip. And indeed, it really was. This wasn’t an excuse. Men, however, for years have been known to look at such material in private. But now, that material is posted freely online by models, actresses, etc of all sorts. Again though, a similar situation could happen to both genders–this is just my personal story.

I proceeded to tell her more about my job, and luckily, because she was a photographer she actually understood. But not every woman does. And to that end, it’s taught me to ensure that they don’t see my feed first and instead bring them right to the image(s) that I’m talking about.

Please understand that I’m not at all blaming the women (or the men in the case of referring to the other gender) who post this content. It’s 2018 and we’re beyond that at this point. The feeling of guilt though may still linger with people who aren’t creative or understand how the algorithm works or your interactions with this type of content that is posted to Instagram. Do we tend to double tap the photos that I’m speaking to? Of course, that’s part of professional relationship building. It really, genuinely is. In the same respect, they’ll double tap and comment on the content that I post. It’s a working relationship.

This has become part of our work as photographers. So what do we do as a response to those images coming up first in our feed when others are looking?

  • Some men get privacy screens, which has its own merits and issues
  • Some of us hide the models’ feed and stories
  • Some of us unfollow those models

The solution: It would be wonderful if Instagram gave us the option to go directly to our profile first to ensure that if there are images there, that we can at least show off that this is the type of work that we do.