Photographers, Stop Chasing Instagram and Focus on Sales

Instagram doesn’t care about you as a photographer; it’s done, and other platforms are better.

I’m writing this post after a year away from Instagram. It was more than just a detox. I still logged onto The Phoblographer’s Instagram to check and focus us as needed. But for the most part, Arts and Culture Editor Dan Ginn runs it. A year away from it, and so much has changed. We’ve got cool things like ClubHouse. Photographers are trying to promote themselves on Tik Tok. Then there’s Foundation, where photographers are selling images for blockchain. And a few tried and true options like Tumblr and Behance still keep me inspired. But if you put all your eggs into the Instagram bucket, they’re going to rot. 

For The Phoblographer, we’ve traditionally used Instagram to get pageviews. But we stopped. Why? It sucks for that. So we switched it up to getting sales. And I’m not sure that’s working. As it is, social media is awful for us for traffic, but Social News platforms like Flipboard are great. And lots of folks still discover us through a good old Google search. 

Personally, I’ve used Instagram a few ways. I used to use it to find and work with new models. But after a while, I just ended up using my own network. It’s much better to build up trust with a few models and work with them on a referral basis. People attract like-minded folks. And it explains why our industry is so incestuous at times.

So instead, I opted to use my Instagram personally. It turned into a spot for looking at photographers, cameras, watches, tea, and other interests. But, I do yearlong challenges for myself all the time, and Instagram had to go for a year. 

I honestly didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. If I wanted to talk to someone, I texted them, called them, sent them an email/message, etc. Life went on. On top of that, The Phoblographer not only broke its traffic records, we also grew!

For photographers, I think there are lots of other options. Behance is a spot where big names go all the time. Foundation is a spot where you can sell images for blockchain. Clubhouse is a spot to network. And, of course, you can just become a content creator for platforms as needed. But the industry has needed a change.

When I left Instagram, I was still Vice Chairman for the NY Chapter of American Photographic Artists. Many times, I felt like I was trying to teach a whiny grandparent a new trick. That was just the tip of the iceberg. With a year now passed, there’s so much more. And if you’ve struggling with Instagram, I think now is a great time to jump ship. It’s also a time to network again. Get on zoom calls. Talk to people. Embrace your inner extrovert. 

Life doesn’t end with Instagram. I know too many photographers that are sitting there feeding it hoping to get more work. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. We’ve reported on lots of folks who took time off Instagram. Charlie Naebeck and Jens Krauer are just two of those photographers. And they kept going. Give it a shot! You’ll surprise yourself with what’s possible!

Chris Gampat

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