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Even though Instagram is moving away from being solely a photography app, the popular platform has over one billion users. Therefore, it is still very useful for generating awareness of your business. 

So, how do you stand out on Instagram? How can you use the platform to build clientele and boost your reputation in the community? 


Start with Your Profile 

Since it’s for your business, you’ll want to create a “business account” so you can include contact buttons on your Instagram and see your business insights, including follower analysis.

Here is an example of a well-done business profile on Instagram.

An instagram profile screenshot for Sara Kalish

Define Your Business

Your name should say it all. The first action consumers take on Instagram is to type in the business name to find the page. If you use a handle name that’s not your business, you’re making it a lot harder for clients and potential clients to find you on there. 

In the name field, enter a brief description of your photography business. For example, you might label your page “Jane Smith Wedding Photography” or “Joe Smith Family Photography.” Although it’s tempting to go for a cute or catchy name, simplicity is key. At a glance, people should be able to understand what services you offer.

In your bio, include a slightly longer but clear description of your business. Provide a link to your website and add your location. 

You want potential clients to immediately understand who you are, what you do, where you’re located, and how to reach you. Your bio gives them all of this information in one place and quickly. 

Consider Your Audience

A successful photographer needs to know who their audience is and how to appeal to them. 

Think about the people who are most likely to hire you and ask yourself the following questions - 

  • What characteristics do they have in common?
  • What are their interests? 
  • Where do they live? 
  • Where do they shop, eat out, spend leisure time?
  • How do they use Instagram? 

You want them to know why YOU are the right photographer for them.

Once you have built your profile, you are ready for the next step in building your page, and that is your feed. 

Your Feed as Your Portfolio

Think about your Instagram feed as a portfolio of your work.

An instagram feed example for Jane Goodrich Photography

While you want to post consistently, you still need to prioritize quality over quantity. Feature images that highlight your artistic skills and the value of your services.

Your Instagram should have a cohesive look and feel. Choose high-quality images with consistent themes that reflect your style. Consistency helps you establish a brand identity and personality. Your brand will set you apart and attract clients far more than just another collection of good photos.

It is important to note that although your feed should look like your portfolio, Instagram stories can be a bit more relaxed. 

An instagram story example for a photographer

Instagram stories disappear within 24-hours, so they do not live on your feed forever. You can, and should, save them to your “highlights” section, but this does not affect your feed at all. Instagram stories are meant to be fun, interactive and do not need to be as thought out and planned as your feed posts. A story doesn’t even need a caption, but your feed posts definitely do! 

Captions are Important

Although Instagram’s focus is visuals, It is important to include a caption with that visual. This demonstrates your credibility, creativity and helps your followers connect to your vision. In addition, creating an engaging story around every image increases comments and improves engagement. If you don’t know what to write, think of what you would say to the client when you describe the image; when in doubt, use a quote (make sure to quote the source). It can be helpful to write several captions at once so you can have some handy when you have writer’s block!  

Use Specific Hashtags

When used effectively, hashtags make it easier for people to find your business. They make your posts visible in searches when people click on hashtags in other images. The most important rule of hashtags is: Be specific. 

General hashtags like #photography, #art, or #beauty are unhelpful. You’ll be lost in a sea of other individuals and businesses using these generic hashtags.

Instead, keep your hashtags focused and specific. Make sure to include: 

  • Your location so people in your area will find you. (eg. #chicago, #windycity, #surroundingtown) 
  • Tag locations, people, and businesses that were involved in the shoot. This way, they can share with their followers. (@clients, @milleniumpark, @drakehotel @chicagoweddingplanner @chicagohairstylist, etc.). 
  • The type of photographer you are / you do (e.g., #weddingphotographer, #weddingphotography)
  • The type of photographer and location (e.g. #Chicagoweddingphotographer, #chicagoweddingphotography) 

This encourages sharing, builds engagement, and helps locally based potential clients discover your work.

Finally, create a hashtag specific to your business. This hashtag will be unique and branded - something other photographers do not use. View this as your “brand” hashtag... Include this hashtag every time you post an image. A “branded” hashtag makes your images searchable and shareable and contributes to your branding efforts.

The Importance of Reels

Instagram Reels allows you to create and share 15-second videos as Instagram focuses more on video content; the more reels you post, the better. Right now, the Instagram algorithm favors accounts that are consistently posting reels. 

When using Instagram Reels for your photography business, just be you. You want your clients to see the real you. Provide helpful, engaging content that encourages people to interact with you and your brand. Over time, you’ll build trust and credibility because your audience gets to know you, and ultimately you will get more clients.

Do you prefer being behind the camera? 

Not to worry, here are some tips on how you can still create reels without being “on” camera:

  • Create tips on how to prepare for/what to bring to various shoots (e.g., headshots, newborn, family, engagement, or wedding photos)
  • Give people a behind the scenes look:
  • A look into some shoots 
  • What’s in your camera bag? 
  • Scouting locations
  • A studio tour 
  • Show them the side of photography they normally wouldn’t see
  • Editing photos - show the progression from SOOC (straight out of the camera) to the final image
  • Post-shoot happenings
  • Wall art or album of images
  • Video testimonials

If you are comfortable on camera, in addition to the above, here are some thought starters for creating reels: 

  • Why did you become a photographer?
  • What is a shoot like with you? 
  • How to prepare for a shoot with you.
  • Types of photography you do.

Using Reels allows you to leave a lasting impression of your work in a short amount of time! 

Be Active - Don’t Post and Ghost.

Connecting with prospective clients also means being active on the platform, and that doesn’t mean just sharing your images and reels. 

It works both ways.  

How to Engage on Instagram 

  • Respond to comments and questions from your followers. 
  • If you follow your clients, like and comment on their posts. The same goes for your local friends and family. 
  • Network with other businesses. 
  • If you are a family photographer, find family businesses in your area - comment on their posts and share them.
  • If you have a favorite small business or restaurant, be sure to show them some love! 
  • If you are a wedding photographer, find vendors you would love to work with, follow them, and like and comment on their posts. The more you can share the love, the better! 

Ultimately, you’ll build and enhance relationships, leading to more business.

Be Authentic, Original, and Professional

A happy woman looking at a phone


On Instagram and other platforms, it’s your personality, your originality, and your professionalism that will attract clients to your photography business. Use Instagram to communicate who you are so that your clients understand your style, methods, etc. 

Being professional also means don’t head to your competitor’s account and follow all their followers. Often, you are simply following their friends and family! 

Not only is it in poor taste, but it will also reduce your Instagram engagement rates (plus, it appears to your fellow photographer that you are trying to poach clients from them). Aim for at least a 3:1 ratio of 3 followers to every one person you are following. Don’t follow someone for the sake of following them - follow them because you want to know what they are posting about! 

The right way to attract and retain your dream clients is through authentic connection, strategic hashtags, professional communication, and a cohesive brand identity Building your photography business to new heights. 

A Final Word (or Two) 

Social media can seem challenging when you want immediate results! Remember that it takes time to grow your following, so be patient. It is a long-term goal. Just keep at it, and over time, your following will grow! 

Try also to monitor whom you follow. If you lose your confidence looking at other photographers’ work, you can unfollow or hide their feeds for a while. Focus on your work, not other people’s work and success. The only photographer you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday. 

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