In early May of 2011, I posted my first photo to Instagram. It was a shot of my then-girlfriend-now-wife, sun-drenched, waiting for the streetcar. In truth, a typical shot for any Torontonian waiting for the lacklustre TTC.
That photo hasn’t received any likes. I’m not sure how many people followed me at that point. Probably null, too. Now that I have decent following on Instagram and photos that average around 200 likes per post, it started from pure passion. And fun.
It is the community on Instagram that helped me become a better photographer. To help me assess and edit each photo I post. To get real-time feedback from the community that like one of my shots or give feedback in the comments. To learn from fellow grammers on what angles they shoot, how they see a landscape, how they arrange a model, what filter(s) they use, how they use light, what lenses they use for a specific shot and so on. I still learn every day. It’s a perpetual study.
I still learn every day. It’s a perpetual study.
At first, I would shoot anything that interested me. Photos of Hank, a baseball game, my friends, landscapes from travels and the CN Tower, of course. One of my favourite subjects. Slowly, I started getting more and more traction. This, of course, was in the nascent years of Instagram, before Facebook bought the platform for a mind-bending $1 billion back in 2012. I was getting a hang of angles that worked. Timing. And what photos I wanted to share on Instagram that I truly liked. Like this one:
Compared to other social networks like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, I found Instagram more about creative expression. Using photography to capture a moment in one’s life. To express oneself through visuals. It wasn’t as negative as Facebook or as quickly forgotten as Twitter. Instagram, conversely, was creative, typically positive, expressive, and just plain fun.
All along, I’ve progressed and learned from fellow grammers. What hashtags to use (see this photo for an example). When best to post a photo (later in the evening I find). How to engage with your audience by commenting back. How to take a risk with a photo. To experiment with various styles.
But most important, all along, to learn. Here’s to you Instagram community. Here’s to photographers everywhere. And here’s to always looking for the shot.
Let’s connect on Instagram: @ryanbolton.