Instagram for Professionals – Top Tips & Close Up V Review

Last month we held our 5th Close Up Talk investigating Instagram as an accessible career for visual artists. Hosted at Gallery Six at The Old Truman Brewery our audience heard from four industry professionals working in the field of photography and learned about their careers, experiences and advice on Instagram for professionals.



So here’s our recap on the event as it unfolded including a curated list of the 5 Hot Tips we took from our wonderful speakers …



The OGC Director Kate O’Neill opened the event and introduced the line-up…

“Instagram is nothing new and we are not unaware of it’s power as a platform, it’s ability to get your professional work seen by the right people at the right time  and it’s potential to earn you a decent living – but how?  and more importantly, can we utilise this as a genuine and worthwhile avenue in to the professional industry?”


OGC Director Kate O’Neill introducing #CloseUpV


Joanne Coates our current OGC Mentorship winner kicked off the talks with an insight into her project on the trawler men of Orkney – North Sea Swells. We watched as her beautiful images uncovered the secrets of the fishing industry while understanding and depicting the difficulties of these jobs. Jo also explained how she uses her feed as a reference on her progress and as a visual diary of her work



Travel and Lifestyle Photographer Kim Leuenberger was next to take the podium. Kim, originally form Switzerland, has being studying a BA in Photography at LCC for the last 3 years but long before that she engaged in the platform as a means of escape and a way of exploring her interest in the medium of photography…



Kim told us how she earned enough from her Instagram work to support her university degree and discussed the difference between studying the practise and the freedom of shooting and sharing her work via her online feed.



With two successful Instagram accounts and a combined 150K followers it’s no surprise Instagram consultant and influencer Jess Angell  gets straight into the logistics…



Not only does Jess shoot and consult for high end brands but also organises meet-ups for photographers and photo enthusiasts to explore new methods and mediums.





Our last speaker of the evening was Anna-Maria Pfab, founder and director of photographic agency  Kiosk. Previously she held roles as the Cultural Manager of the photographers’ agency INSTITUTE and as the Communications Manager of Schilt Publishing, an independent photo book publisher. She has worked with national and international artists such as Simon Norfolk, Elinor Carucci and Rafal Milach and has collaborated with many major institutions and museums.



Anna discussed her experiences on collaborative working within artistic platforms and how Kiosk has adapted to it’s clients needs having it’s photographers create social media only content on a regular basis.

She also explained that even though having your work on Instagram is a useful visual diary it may not be the best place to share ALL your work as images and concepts can be taken out of context.



So after a jam packed session of advice, stories and audience questions we had a lot to take in and analyse. It’s clear that being commissioned via Instagram alone is not an urban myth and people actually generate income while leading a fulfilling photography career.

And for those serious about exploring a professional practice via Instagram…




  1. Shoot for you Keep your work authentic, make sure the art or content you are creating on your Instagram feed is not being dictated by the response you want from your followers. Some photographers keep two or even three accounts to separate their professional life from their personal life but others mix content on a single feed, this is entirely up to you and what you’re most comfortable with.
  2.  Your Followers Can Be Your Editors Having an online public platform for you and your audience can be an interesting method of gauging feedback on your work and even editing projects in progress. Don’t be afraid to engage with your followers and ask their opinion on certain images you may be unsure of, you never know what can come of it and the valuable advice you may receive.
  3. Your Visual Diary  For some Instagram is the initial introduction to the photography industry and can be a valuable learning tool to research different techniques and photographers specialising in specific methods. As you learn and post your feed will become a useful way to map your progress and a live notebook to reference.
  4. Instagram Stories Whether you just have fun and learn about editing between still and moving images or use it in a photojournalist form documenting events as they unfold, it will give followers a behind the scenes look at your work in progress while you hone your story-telling skills.
  5. Hashtag Bible  If your are keen to generate a revenue via the app then making your work as searchable as possible is vital,  Photoshelter have created a wonderful document of some of the best searchable and submittable hashtags for professional photographers. – Get the guide!

So once you’re happy with how your Instagram account is looking just follow the people you’d like to work with, don’t be afraid to engage with them and ideally point them in the direction of your work.

Whatever you may think of Instagram, it’s just another part of the changing landscape of photography so we encourage you to embrace change and enjoy your photography while developing your own methods and techniques to navigate the industry.


The OGC x

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