The Instagram Portfolio: The Essential Checklist for a Photographer

Before you put that photo up on Instagram’s portfolio page or an actual website, ask yourself these questions.

Every photographer needs to start somewhere. Some folks want better photos just because, but at the same time, not everyone knows what constitutes a better photo. You can pay for a portfolio review and get candid feedback for sure, but before you do that, consider asking yourself several questions. Also, separate your emotions from your images. That’s a crucial step here. You’re sometimes going to need to be brutal on yourself but within reason. If you stick to asking yourself these questions over and over again, you’ll come out with a better curated set of images.

The Essential Checklist

This is the important list. A lot of it is about psychology and separating yourself from your work. That’s the critical first step. To do that, acknowledge that this is a process, and in the long term, you’re not going to regret putting a single image in your portfolio that isn’t strong. But, putting a bunch over and over again is something you’ll grow to hate. Years from now, you’re going to look back and ask yourself why you uploaded a particular photo. You’ll also see how far you’ve come. I’ve done it. I started doing it with Flickr, and now everything that’s on my personal Behance page is stuff I really have a strong connection with.

Further, I think what’s on my Behance page is excellent work. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t lend itself to great work. It lends itself to you just feeding their algorithm. For that reason, I’m not really a fan of the Instagram Portfolio. It’s going to hurt you in the long run.


Let’s get deeper into the emotional side of photography. Of course, this is your hobby or probably your passion. So, of course, you’re very attached to your images. But, remember a few very real facts:

  • Everyone takes so many photos in digital photography that you’re not going to remember every single one
  • Out of the last 100 pictures you shot, which one is worth paying good money for a print of it?
  • Who else cares about your images besides you?
  • What makes this image so unique?
  • Why is this image so unique?

Don’t Give In to the Algorithm

The big thing about Instagram is that you’re playing into an algorithm. So, when more and more photographers create an Instagram Portfolio, they’re feeding the machine. And that’s all. You’ll try to get images to pop up in a news feed, but the fact is that people pay attention to the feed less and less vs. Instagram stories. And those stories are fleeting.

Further, you’re again building someone else’s platform. Your images could be taken away at a moment’s notice, and you wouldn’t know. You can also get shadowbanned easily. But you can instead take control of all that and create images that make someone want to explore more. To do that, you need to figure out a way to get someone to visit your website or some other platform. The key is to get someone off of Instagram. And again, that’s a psychology game. You have to convince someone that it’s worth it for them to leave the platform. Otherwise, it turns into the equivalent of a sovereign state where a lot is done to prevent you from leaving.

Don’t give in.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.