Wondering how to grow your Instagram following? Wish you knew how to take a gorgeous photo that really excites your audience?
I recently had the good fortune to review a gorgeous property in Mauritius with a group of travel writers, bloggers and photographers. Among them was Kirsten Alana, her site is Aviators and a Camera. I followed her around like a wanna be on Nicole Richie’s heels. When she took a shot, I tried from the same angle. She taught me things I didn’t even know my camera could do. In short, she really upped my game in terms of images and Instagram. She has over 11,000 followers, she’s clearly doing something right. I asked her to give some insight on her best practices and to share some of her favorite photographs.
Kirsten Alana – Instagrammer Extraordinaire
Why do you love Instagram?
No other social media platform is a global community with as narrow a focus as Instagram, and the same level of interaction. It’s all people who love photos (and now short videos). Unlike Twitter and Facebook where it’s about words, and photos and videos and infographics and it’s a little bit schizophrenic at times, Instagram is more focused and there’s more engagement. At least for me.
How long have you been on Instagram and how did you grow your massive following?
The terrific statistics site statigr.am
tells me that I posted my first photo on October 14, 2010 so wow, I’ve been on it more than three years and I didn’t even celebrate that birthday! I don’t have the precise answer to how I built my following but I do have a few golden rules that I am sure have helped.
- 1) I always reply to comments on my photographs.
- 2) I use hashtags, but not too many, and I don’t put them in the caption of a photo. I save them for a comment just after that.
- 3) I don’t post too many selfies but I do occasionally include myself in photographs because I think that those who follow me want to connect with a person but also care more about where I am traveling. It’s about balance.
What do you think makes the perfect travel photo?
I think there is no such thing as the perfect travel photo because the world is a very large, diverse place and the opportunities for subjects are simply endless. But I know that the ones which do best on my stream usually involve sunshine and a good story. My favorite travel photo of all time though, is this one by Steve McCurry: http://stevemccurry.com/sites/default/files/gallery/INDIA-10720.jpg
What’s your best advice for someone just starting out?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. It doesn’t matter the camera or the smartphone or whatever tool you choose to use to create a photograph, no one is Steve McCurry with their first shutter click. Practice makes perfect. And finding your own voice is key. Frankly, I am still not sure what mine is but I take photographs every day in the hopes I will one day figure it out and every day I see subtle improvements in my own work and in the choices I make as a photographer.
Here are a few of Kirsten’s favorite Instagram images:
South African Safari
New York City
Mauritius (mine was almost as good)
Possibly one of my all time favorite photos – by Kirsten
Follow Kirsten on Instagram HERE. And if you’re not following me, um, why? Follow me HERE, I’m just trying to keep up.