I like Instagram. I like it a lot in fact, I don’t love it, because I don’t love any social media network. I love my family and friends, but I know that my heart will never fall in love with essentially a website of photos even though there are a lot of photographers and photos on it which I adore. I like it because it does bring me in work and bookings, and it’s nice to curate my portfolio on it. Definitely if you have not followed me on Instagram and you like what you see on my website follow me there because I update it more regularly than my blog now. But there is a dark heart in Instagram, and unfortunately that’s with many of its users, who use Instagram like a complete jerk. At the start of this article I had 681 Instagram followers.
I made a joke a while back along the lines of ‘Amazing I am now up to 600 Instagram followers, and I reckon if this carries on the way it is, this evening I’ll be up to 582 followers!’ Surely I meant 612, or any number above 600? No I didn’t. The problem is that there are a lot of businesses and individuals on Instagram who use Instagram like a complete jerk. You are not the centre of attention on there. Or indeed in the world. And neither am I! I am just someone who uses a miraculous piece of technology to take a photo which we can see, but ultimately I’m just a bunch of matter, standing, sometimes sat on a big lump of rock in an endless universe and that rock is spinning around a very hot ball of fire. I know my place.
But I also know the power of what I do if its in the right audience’s hands, it brings smiles, laugher, sometimes tears of joy and sadness. If however chasing your follower count is what gets your rocks off, then well, sure, carry on using Instagram like a jerk purely for your weak ego’s self preservation by mindlessly following and unfollowing. Savage but come on, you only live once and to fulfil your genuine potential pour your love into being genuinely creatively inspired and make things that make you and others happy in life, because that still stands up in this briefest moment of time, follower count is a fool’s game. Pour your time into creating and building thousands, tens of thousands of followers on the basis you are just a shit hot creative and a damned nice person to be around or associate with.
Disconuts now on specal (sic)
What I cannot stand about Instagram is users (this is to say tohose who are clearly not bots offering me ‘Ordar now for special disconuts before Crismas on Tomy Hilfigah Pants’ (sic)) but other actual businesses or individuals. Such as other wedding suppliers and of course other photographers, who follow, and then if you don’t follow back, unfollow you. Now for me I’ve never cared much about how many people like me on social media, I’ve always built it organically and slowly and it’s why my figures are crap when say compared to Jose Villa who on one photo alone can garner a greater amount of likes than I get in an entire year – but I don’t really mind, what I care more about is that people find some joy, adoration, inspiration — whatever it might be from the photos I post. The fact that one photo may get 50 likes and another 130 is fine by me.
But what I cannot understand is the mentality of crashing into someone’s page, following say for example myself and then if within 30 minutes or even 24 hours of me not following you back, you unfollow. Let’s spell out what you are doing:
All you care about is your follower count.
You don’t care about who you’re following.
And you’re being a jerk.
And there are some of you who repeatedly do this.
Some of you even unfollow within minutes.
Get a grip!
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When you know where to look, these beautiful cobbled streets can be found in London, the perfect location for evening portraits in the city!⠀ ⠀ Film: Kodak Portra 400 @kodakprofessional ⠀ Film lab: @canadianfilmlaboratory ⠀ ⠀ Bride's Dress: @charlottebalbierbridal ⠀ Bride's Shoes: @officeshoes ⠀ Flowers: AnniePansy.co.uk⠀ Stylist: @rebeccanewportstylist
Why I don’t follow you. And why I do follow you.
I have a simple policy. I regularly like stuff on Instagram and users whose work I admire I follow. I leave comments sometimes. If I haven’t been followed back, I don’t unfollow that user, I keep following because I love their work. It’s really simple, I want to be inspired by that user who I really appreciate and admire. That is more important than any follow in the world.
If however I don’t particularly want to follow your estate agency page advertising condos in downtown Pipestone, MN (yes I have actually been there in 2004, great food…), mega cheap parasols shipped cheap now from China, or indeed if you’re a wedding supplier who loans out chocolate fountains or I’m not really drawn in by your photography, I’m not going to follow you. When I go into Instagram, I barely get to see the wealth of the 400 or so followers I already follow let alone polluting that with work I’m not inspired by or by mass manufactured crimplene bras — those have nothing to do with what I like.
I genuinely don’t want my Instagram homepage filled up with knock down apartments with easy access to Interstate 90, body building products or photography that personally doesn’t inspire me. That is why I don’t follow back. It’s nothing that personal, I’m using Instagram to connect with genuine friends and associates, and to be inspired and have my creativity extended by having them along for the ride through life. And I do this above and beyond retaining a handful of followers who frankly don’t give two hoots about me, what I do, who I am, what I’m creating and so forth.
And I have another simple rule, if you follow me, and I check you out, and I like what I see, and I follow you, and then you unfollow me. Your loss. Because I probably won’t notice you did that but unfortunately you have internalised a value system that has become intrinsic to your self-esteem, which has and is increasingly based on a number that is shown on a small 5″ screen. That’s not building your creativity and inspiring you, that is the one way street to finding yourself at 3am paralysed by insomnia when you should be asleep, refreshing Instagram repeatedly hoping for another follow. That’s a lonely life.
Mass produced plastic pineapple hawking bots
Why not sleep, and wake up and take a look at Instagram when you’re ready and really appreciate what is in your curated feed, think about it, let it inspire you to do your own thing with the ideas it provokes. You can’t keep on going through life like it’s some smash and grab looting exercise because this is not going to fill your soul up, all it will do is leave you feeling querulous if all of that energy you have is put into building a massive Instagram following has eventually lead to naught.
You will be creatively the poorer for it for having spent your time doing that, when you could have been out there on a cliffside photographing a beautiful rugged fashion shoot, that in turn booked you more work because you have genuine people following you who will book you and employ your services. Or you may brighten someone’s day who is having a tough one in their office job by sharing a photo that they totally love!
Alternatively, you can follow that bot that is offering you mass produced decorative plastic pineapples that double up as a handy exfoliator for all that dead dry flaky skin if it enables you to retain one extra follower for a little bit. It’s a tough choice I’ll grant you so maybe being a jerk on Instagram is harder than I give credit for (please dial your sarcasm meters up if you’re now Googling plastic decorative pineapple exfoliation devices.)
I do understand that Instagram following is a bit self fulfilling the more likes and follows you get the more visibility you get which could mean more bookings, but sincerely, is that how you want to come across, as a jerk who is concentrating only on their follower count? Or are you better than that? I think you could be if you allowed yourself to be.
I started this post on 681 followers, and I’ve finished it on 681, but whilst writing this, I had two unfollows, and two new follows. And I’ve only been writing for 15 minutes.
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Here I am, here I am, waiting to hold you – Song to the Siren⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Photographer: @victoriajklamburn ⠀ Film Lab: @canadianfilmlaboratory ⠀ Film: Kodak Gold 200 @kodakprofessional ⠀ Dress: @this_modern_love_bridal ⠀ Bouquet: @jenn_pinder_flowers ⠀ Ring: @london_victorian_ring_co ⠀ Model: @lucierosedonlan ⠀ Styling: @victoriajklamburn