Instagram is a useful tool for photographers, but it can quickly become toxic and a barrier to productivity when misused.
Ask yourself this question: “Am I using Instagram exactly how I should be?” Some of you do, but most don’t. Although Instagram has become a key player in a photographer’s journey, it was designed to be addictive. The powers that be want you using the app all the time, and most of you are doing just that. App dependency, as harmless as it seems, isn’t healthy. The likelihood is you’re giving Instagram far more time than you should, no matter how you try to convince yourself otherwise. To help you break away and use the app more economically – and effectively – we’ve got some tips that will help you have a healthier relationship with Instagram.
1. Instagram Daily Usage Limit
Instead of using Instagram as much as you like each day, set a daily usage limit. Take some time to identify how much time you use the app for professional purposes. Ideally, you don’t need to go over one hour per day for your personal photography account. One hour should be more than enough time to post content, interact with followers, and do any other miscellaneous tasks you need to do (that doesn’t mean looking at swimwear models and THOTs).
You can install apps like Stay Focusd, that enable you to keep track of your usage and set daily limits. Ideally, you want to be in control of this yourself, but apps can help you in the early stages.
2. Create an Instagram Timetable
One reason many photographers get lost in Instagram is that they use it too freely. They are mindlessly scrolling at random times throughout the day and posting whenever they feel like it. If you’re serious about your Instagram game, get a timetable in order. Set up a weekly schedule for posting photographs and interacting with followers. Only use the app during the scheduled time frames and stick to it. Having a fixed routine will not create consistency in your content and free up for time outside your timetable to focus on other things, like, you know, making photos!
Top Tip: To help you stick to your timetable, switch off Instagram notifications. Turning them off will stop you from being tempted to open the app each time you get a new notification.
3. Only Follow Accounts of Value
Most of us follow accounts on Instagram that we never interact with. The consequence of this is that, instead of adding value to your experience, they just add more minutes to the time you spend scrolling through your feed – that’s not productive. Take some time to go through the accounts you follow and ask if they add any value to your goals on the app. Don’t be surprised if most of them don’t. Unfollow those accounts and free up your feed. It also enables you to create a better relationship with the accounts that do add value, which will have a positive impact on your networking and your photography career.
4. Use Instagram to Share Your Best Work
Let’s get brutally honest for a moment. Most people don’t just post their best work on Instagram, they also post their mediocre, and often their bad images as well. Why is that? Well, the reality is, Instagram has created a reward dependence in the mind of most people who use it. Constantly searching for a fresh hit of validation, they post image after image just to see the likes come through. That’s a sad reality. To have a healthier relationship with the app, you, we, everyone, has to move away from this toxic mentality. Instead, let’s have some confidence in our own abilities, without being dependent on the opinion of others.
If you’re serious about photography, then you should know the difference between your great work and your not so great work. Only post the best of the best. The benefits of that are that your feed will look a lot more professional, your eye for a good photograph will improve, and your dependency on the thoughts of others will decrease.
5. Take Breaks
Unless you’re making money from Instagram (which most photographers aren’t), then you don’t need to be using it all the time. Take breaks from the app. A break could be one day or one week, whatever suits you. But stepping away should make you realize either how dependent you’ve become on the app or how little you actually need it. The best part of taking a break is you can put more time into picking up your camera and camera bag and going out and making shots (which should always be the main motive for a photographer). You should also see an improvement in your mental health too, as you spend more time in the real world instead of lost in a tiny screen.
Use Instagram How You’re Supposed To
There is no denying the positive impact apps like Instagram have had on a photographer’s marketing strategy. It has allowed people to build careers, get rich, and do what they love for a living. But it’s also closed the door to a more enriched experience in this world. Instagram and social media have turned humans into zombies, and it’s a sad sight to see. It should be a productivity tool, but instead has become a barrier to creativity, as our minds are lost in cyberspace. By taking back control and implementing the steps above, you can break free. What’s the best part of all this? A healthier relationship with Instagram means a healthier relationship with yourself.
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