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Photo Contest Insider Blog

How to leverage Instagram stories for photography exposure

November 22, 2016

Instagram’s stories feature has made a splash in the world of social media. While there were at first some complaints, and an early surge of use, things have now settled down. We can see how the general use of this feature works, as well as what kind of engagement can be expected, and it looks like signs are good. If you want exposure as a photographer, you should be using Instagram stories. Here’s how.

Show behind the scenes

The first thing that you can do is to add as much content as possible to your own stories. Whenever you are doing a photoshoot, show your followers a glimpse behind the scenes. Allow them to see who you are working with and where. You can even show previews of your work from the camera back if you wish. At this stage, it’s important to mention in text anyone you might be working with. This includes models and brands. You can simply write their Instagram handle over the top of the image or clip. This is important for encouraging others to do the same for you.

What’s the point of this? Well, it shows that you are a working photographer. It can also make you seem busier than you really are. Show off a bit of your editing process if you like, and highlight anywhere that your images may be appearing. A busy photographer must be a good photographer, in the eyes of Joe Public. A good photographer is someone that they would want to hire. That’s how it works. It’s also good for potential clients to see how you work, so that they know you have a professional and reliable approach.

Call for castings

When you have an opportunity available and need a model, use your stories. Make a post with the details of the photoshoot and see if you can get some applications. Models tend to follow photographers that they want to work with, so this could get you some good results. It also shows once again that you are busy, and gives people a reason to continue following you in case something comes up that they would be suitable for. This is also a good way to get models for test shoots. When you don’t want to pay an agency fee, finding a free model on social media is a good way to go for some interesting collaborative work.

Ask for opinions

If you aren’t sure which of the shots you have edited recently is best, you have an army of followers waiting to tell you. Put up two different images in your stories and ask which one they prefer. You can even post their choice later to show the winner. Asking for opinions makes your followers feel more engaged. They have the chance to actually influence your work, which is something that they will love. Again, it gives them a reason to stick around, and to check your stories more often. It’s a bit of a sneaky way of showing off more of the shoot than you get to post online, too. This is definitely a great way to increase your engagement both on stories and in reactions to your posts. With more engagement, your posts are highlighted in tags, and you will gain more exposure. This is a great way to build your audience.

Appear in magazines

Only followers can see your stories. So how can you use them to get more followers? By doing a guest story for a magazine or online collective. A lot of magazines are getting into stories by showcasing behind the scenes moments with photographers. You stage a takeover and film lots of shots during your photoshoot. You can tag your models, and talk about what you are doing. Explain who you are and a bit about your process. This is fascinating for a lot of people, so you will get many views on your efforts. Make sure to mention your handle a few times and you will have people jumping over to follow you there. It’s a great way to get exposure by thinking outside the lines. If you are featured on a very large account, you could see hundreds or even thousands of new followers overnight.

Remind models to tag

When you are shooting with models, a lot of them will be using Instagram stories during the shoot. Modelling is highly reliant on social media exposure in a lot of markets now, as people want to see the person behind the images. When they are using their stories, remind them to tag you. Their followers could soon become your followers. It’s great to have a lot more eyes on your work, especially if the model happens to have a higher follower count than you. When they mention you, more people will be interested enough to check out your work. It’s also great to have exposure in this way because the industry is a lot smaller than it can seem. Getting your name mentioned a lot can make you top-of-mind for potential clients.

Mention new posts

The jury is still out on whether this technique will become annoying, but right now it’s a fair use of stories. As you no doubt know, the recent algorithm changes mean that your posts aren’t always seen by your followers. Instead, the most popular posts are shown in the feed, not always the most recent. If you feel that some people may be missing your posts, you can show them off by adding them to your stories as well as to your feed. Add a comment over the top, such as “new post – come comment” to encourage engagement. You can also use arrows to call people to click on your icon at the top of the screen, which will take them to your page. This ensures that everyone always sees your latest work.


With these tips, you can take your Instagram stories to the next level. Create a high rate of engagement with your stories and you will be on the way to a much-increased follower count!


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