I recently caught up with co-owner and marketing mastermind behind Boston co-retail space For Now, Kaity Cimo. She runs the space with friend and business partner Katharine ReQua. They opened a year ago and have played home to over 80 brands in that time.
Eight of the Top Instagram Photographers to Follow
If you’re a photographer or you follow photography, there’s no better social media network to be on than Instagram. After all, the platform was created for sharing images and makes it easy for both amateurs and pros to show off their portfolios and market their work.
We’ve gathered some of the top Instagram photographers to explore how to go from starving artist to influencer status. We’ll break down everything they’re doing well from their bios, how they promote themselves, and the type of content they share.
Read on to learn exactly how these photographers are leveraging Instagram for their businesses and how you can do the same!
Our favorite Instagram photographers
How Paul uses Instagram for photography
Did you see that follower count? Paul Nicklen is one of the best photographers on Instagram and is absolutely KILLING IT with his account! He’s a contributing photographer to National Geographic, a filmmaker, and a marine biologist that specializes in documentary photography on wildlife and nature. His love for animals and concern for the environment is almost palpable through his photographs – and that’s what makes them so authentically loveable.
His images have won high-caliber awards for the better part of the last decade. And in addition to stellar photography reputation, he’s also a sought-after public speaker (check out his Ted Talks!), a conservationist who co-founded a non-profit wildlife advocacy group, and a published author.
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What makes Paul a great Instagram photography Influencer
It’s hard to be that talented and not naturally excel on Instagram. But take just one look at his account and it’s obvious Paul has mastered the platform and achieved influencer status for himself.
So how does he do it?
First, let’s focus on his photos. There’s no denying each one of them is incredible.
He tends to focus on Alaskan wildlife and never ceases to produce stunning images.
And his pictures regularly get over 100K likes and thousands of comments.
But he also promotes himself and his business by running contests.
Did you notice that link in the last photo caption? It leads back to his website where fans can sign up for the contest. Leveraging Instagram to lead followers back to your main website is an awesome strategy for priming them into becoming leads.
He also uses his status as one of the most followed photographers on Instagram to advertise his book – where eager fans can view even more of his work.
He even leverages his fanbase to advertise for his public speaking events.
On occasion, he’ll share professional photographs of himself, and when he does, he uses it as an opportunity to speak directly to his followers.
Paul uses his photography influencer status to get complete strangers from Instagram back to his main website where he can continue to market to them. He also leverages his photos to advertise his additional projects and uses contests to market his IG account.
How Murad uses his Instagram photography account
Murad is one of the most popular Instagram photography and travel influencers, but you don’t have to take our word for it. He’s got over 4M followers and has been awarded “influencer of the year” and listed as one of the top three travel influencers by Forbes. But how did he get so popular? Well, it all started accidentally.
Originally Murad used mobile devices to take photos of travel destinations with his [then] girlfriend back in 2011. She would become annoyed each time he interrupted their activities to take pictures, which only encouraged him to continue. After consistently posting the photos, the couple went viral and the “FollowMeTo” series was born.
These days Murad uses a professional camera and works as a photographer collaborating with brands like Google, Macy’s, and Samsung when he’s not hosting exhibitions or writing books. He continues to work with his now wife, Nataly, on a charity to raise money for clean drinking water for the people of Ethiopia.
What makes Murad a photography influencer
Although Murad is a photographer now, he originally went to school for engineering and stumbled into Instagram photographer influencer status as more of a fluke.
But his images speak for themselves.
Are you noticing a trend? That’s his “FollowMeTo” series that went viral and started it all.
These days his photos are receiving over 100K likes. That’s crazy engagement.
So how is he doing it? Well, since Murad’s rise to fame was due to the viral nature of his photos, he understands the importance of connecting with his followers. That’s why he regularly asks them questions and encourages conversation through his posts. Just look at the engagement on the post above when he speaks directly to his fans!
Murad uses his influencer momentum to his advantage by making his followers part of the conversation and keeping up engagement. He uses all of the real estate in his bio section to display his credibility, tell followers about his work, and lead people back to his professional website where he advertises his photography services.
How Cristina uses Instagram for photography
Remember how Paul Nicklen was the co-founder of a non-profit? Turns out the other founder is another awesome Instagram photography influencer. Cristina boasts just over 1M followers and also specializes in wildlife and nature photography. She, too, works as a photographer for National Geographic and like the other photographers in our list so far, she juggles several hats, working additionally as a marine biologist, writer, and philanthropist.
Her photography has won awards from the Smithsonian, she’s been recognized as one of National Geographic’s “Adventurers of the year” (alongside Paul), and she founded the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
What makes Cristina a top Instagram photography influencer
Her passion obviously bleeds out into her work, so it stands to reason that many of her followers are also conservationists and photography lovers.
Because of this, Cristina is able to leverage her fanbase into active participants in her awareness campaigns that also contribute to her follower growth.
Her photos can reach nearly 60K likes, helping her spread her message and gain traction with new followers.
And she’s able to continue gaining followers through solid descriptions and relevant photography hashtags.
She also uses her photo captions to lead followers away from Instagram where they can explore more about her and her work.
She even uses them to run contests, like this one offering an excursion to Mexico with her!
Like any professional Instagram photographer, Cristina understands how to drive engagement to her posts. Here she encourages followers to tag friends in the comment of her picture so she can not only raise awareness but also improve the visibility of her post by boosting its comments.
Additionally, she uses photos of herself for self-promotion. Check out this awesome testimonial from her mentee.
She even uses branded images and post captions with strategic hashtags and mentions to lead potential followers back to her bio, which then leads to her website.
Cristina uses a lot of tried and true methods for Instagram marketing. She includes a mix of hashtags and mentions to expand the reach of her content, she regularly leads people to her website, and she leverages passion projects and contests to boost engagement.
How Creative Soul uses Instagram for photography
Creative Soul Photography is a duo of up-and-coming Instagram photography influencers composed of married couple Regis and Kahran Bethencourt. They specialize in storytelling through the art of their photography, with a creative flair to their natural hair focused portraits.
One of their most popular series is their passion project, “Afro Art” but their day-to-day work includes photography of kids, families, and working with brands.
What makes Creative Soul Photography top photography influencers
Their dedication to “visual storytelling and capturing unconventional beauty” shows throughout their entire portfolio.
They have a niche, and they’re definitely owning it!
They know how to use Instagram features to their fullest, like posting to IGTV for behind-the-scenes glimpses of their shoots – something followers love with any brand.
And they also use their stories to show off specific projects they’re working on.
Their posts get up to 15K likes.
How, you ask? By using a mix of appropriate hashtags and mentions to expand their reach to a relevant audience.
They also interact with their followers through Q&A posts that answer some of their regular FAQs.
When they have speaking engagements which are promoted through their posts.
They also provide a link back to their professional site to learn more.
Finally, they advertise portfolio sessions with branded images and links to booking information.
And they share collaborations and cross-promote with brands that feature them.
Creative Soul Photography uses lots of tactics in the Instagram influencer lexicon to spread the word about their business. They take advantage of IGTV and stories, use hashtags where appropriate, and create opportunities to generate leads and send them to their professional website. Their bio also boasts several of their featured pieces for social proof.
How Cest Maria uses Instagram for photography
Maria Vazquez is a student of digital art. She specializes in photography, styling, and design – and she’s taking advantage of Instagram to show it off. Maria’s a great example of someone who’s new to using Instagram to build her following and market her work and she’s already got a few professional projects under her belt as well as a book.
What makes CestMaria a top Instagram photography influencer
Right off the bat, it’s clear that Maria has a specific aesthetic.
And she keeps it consistent throughout her entire page, and in-line with her branding.
She’s obviously knowledgeable about leveraging Instagram as best she can – check out all those stories!
On a good day, her posts reach 3K likes or more.
We love that she talks directly to her followers to share her accomplishments and inform them of her services in the process.
When she does share photography she’s proud of, she understands how to leverage hashtags to boost visibility.
She keeps her account fun and relevant by incorporating posts about recent holidays. That also gives her a huge boost in visibility by allowing her to use fresh hashtags and be hyper-relevant on specific days.
And finally, she applies design and style scenes, then uses photography to share each of her skill sets right on her page. She’s advertising all of her services in one post!
Despite being newer to the scene, Maria is clearly already packing a punch with her photography influencer status. She keeps her branding consistent and regularly shows off her skillset through her posts. We also love that she stays relevant by relating to her followers and taking advantage of current holidays.
How Drcuerda and Anniset use Instagram for photography
Believe it or not, the duo (Daniel Rueda and Anna Devis) behind these creative accounts are both architects – and it’s a theme you’ll notice in their photos. They love using eclectic structures to create fun, whimsical stories with their images, and it’s no wonder why they’ve built such a following.
SUCH a following in fact, that Daniel snagged a gig with Netflix to scope out and photograph potential filming locations for the streaming giant’s original series. They’ve also worked with brands like Disney, Coca Cola, and LG.
They prefer a “Less is more” approach, relying heavily on patterns, geometrics, and simplicity to tell stories with their images – no doubt inspired by their architecture background. When they’re not designing structures (or taking pictures of them) though, the pair also host a course teaching other photographers how to create compelling photography content for Instagram.
What makes DrCuerda and Anniset top photography influencers
They don’t just take photos of architecture – they “Interact” with it. The result is a super fun, and often adorable image you can’t help but smile at.
Even though their art is technically simplistic, it’s obvious there’s a lot of planning behind each one.
Their combined feeds are so fun…
And relatable. It’s no surprise they were able to gain the followers they have – architecture fans or not.
They take full advantage of their stories and use them for everything from behind-the-scenes sneak peaks, to hosting contests.
They each use their bios to link to their online course.
It’s not uncommon for posts on either profile to get up to tens of thousands of likes!
Probably because they keep content interesting and fresh – like tying in current events and holidays.
DrCuerda and AnniSets focus on creating content they know people are going to want to engage with, and it’s obvious they’re having so much fun creating the content that people can’t help but love it, too. But they know just posting photos isn’t enough, so they engage with their followers through story-driven captions and Instagram stories. They also utilize that bio space wisely to lead people off platform and to their course.
As you can see from his bio, Martin Wong is a busy bee! He’s simultaneously running three photography brands and a YouTube channel – and you’ll love them all! His specialty? You name it – travel, portraits, wedding, product, fantasy…the list goes on. Even with so many disciplines though, the quality is consistently great across the board.
Forget about his Instagram account just for a second – he’s also making waves on his YouTube channel sharing behind-the-scenes photoshoot footage, social media and photography tutorials, and casual content of the events he attends.
If you really like his style, you can even borrow it! He sells several of his pre-set and photoshop packages aspiring artists can download and use on their own photos. And if you’re still not satisfied, you can follow his blog where he gives even more free photography and social media tips – and of course more behind-the-scenes action.
How Martin Wong uses Instagram for photography
Right off the bat it’s clear his feed has a certain aesthetic.
His intuition for marketing may be just as strong as it is for photography. Look how he uses his feed to simultaneously give advice, and by doing so, lead followers back to his site.
He uses his stories for a variety of functions, including to engage with followers. And because he’s answering fan questions, it guarantees his followers will stay tuned to his content and actively reach out. He’s building a great relationship with them!
Let’s revisit that bio, though. Remember those three brands and all his other cool projects we mentioned? He links to every. Single. One of them. So it’s easy to follow what he’s up to (and of course, make purchases from his site.) It’s also a fantastic way to build up his personal brand.
He’s clearly mastered Instagram – so of course he does collaborations. And OF COURSE he advertises them right in his feed.
Martin Wong has A LOT going on – his main account is practically a master class of what any influencer should be doing with their Instagram photography accounts. He uses his bio to link to each of his other accounts, as well as his YouTube channel and contact info for bookings. But the most marketing savvy (and often over-looked) part of his bio? The hashtags. Ensuring that his whole profile – not just individual photos – come up when people search for them.
David Love is an up and coming photography influencer who specializes in cosplay, sci-fi, and beauty. What’s cool about his photos is that he uses a digital art aesthetic to transform his costumed models into the actual characters they’re dressed as, and it makes for an absolutely mesmerizing feed. He blends the line between real life and fantasy so well that scrolling through his account is almost like flipping through a comic book.
He’s amassed such a fanbase that his followers have begun reaching out for photography workshops and courses. While he doesn’t have any now, his Patreon account linked in his bio gives fans the opportunity to donate to his fund to get those projects off the ground. You’ll find even more content there; including short films, music videos, and tutorials.
How David Love uses Instagram for photography
Check out how seamlessly he blends photography with digital art. If you love this photo, you’ll love his entire feed.
When he does break out of the fantasy, it’s only to show his audience how he creates these cool scenes. Not only are these features neat little sneak peaks, but they’re also educational for other aspiring photogs.
He makes sure to tag the models he collaborates with – especially if they have larger followings than his own. Not only is appropriate tagging a good best practice, but it leverages those larger audiences to get more eyes on his page.
Of course for the pop culture characters, he uses hashtags of the media they’re from to make sure fans of those franchises see his related work.
Plus, he’s not afraid to be cheeky and have a little fun, too. Game of Thrones fans will remember that coffee cup that accidentally made it into a scene. This is a great example of an influencer using a timely trend to stay relevant.
And when it’s appropriate, he promotes upcoming events he’s scheduled to be at.
David Love is still a burgeoning influencer, but it’s very clear he’s on the right track. His phenomenal work speaks for itself, but he never misses a chance to use relevant hashtags to give his photos the best chance of being seen by the right audiences. He leverages larger accounts he’s connected with to lead their followers back to his – a great tactic for an influencer trying to grow their page. And of course he uses that bio to link to his Patreon account where he’s raising funds to create even more cool content and resources for his fans; which will in turn help his account grow even more.
Tips on how to leverage your pictures to become a top Instagram photographer
There are a few talking points we can touch on to make sure your photo game is on-point for Instagram. Remember that different social platforms have different laws of the land, so it’s important to make sure your photos work for IG.
Here are a few things to remember when getting your Instagram content together:
- Each photo is a part of your entire feed. Make sure your photographs look good on their own, and cohesively when people are scrolling down your page. You might want to try a feed planner.
- Remember that Instagram photos appear square. Keep that in mind when considering the ratio of your pics. For instance, the rule of thirds is tried and true, but it may not be ideal for Instagram where your photos have a 1:1 ratio.
- Unless your style of photography just doesn’t mesh with it, include faces from time to time. Studies show that images with faces get more engagement on Instagram.
Are there any photographers you love on Instagram? We’d love to hear about them via @ampjarcom!
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