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Your Guide to Insta-Fame

October 15, 2015

If you want the world to see your photography, Instagram is the perfect platform. We asked one top iPhoneographer how to master the social network.

To share a photo is to give other people the opportunity to see something beautiful or interesting. It is wonderful to connect with friends and family in this way, but there is something undeniably gratifying about reaching a global audience. This isn’t narcissism — it is simply delighting in worldwide respect for your photography.

Instagram is the perfect platform for seeking positive feedback in this way, with more than 400 million users waiting to like your photos. With 80 million photos being uploaded each day, there is also plenty of competition. To help you get a head start, we asked Instagram superstar, Melissa Vincent, for her best advice.Melissa Vincent

Find Your Style

As you might expect, imagery is the most important aspect in gaining followers. Quality is paramount, but most big-name Instagram photographers also have a trademark look. Melissa Vincent (@misvincent), who has amassed 411,000 followers, knows a thing or two about this. “Create a style that makes you stand out from the rest,” she advises. Vincent’s gorgeous iPhone-edited-only photos are often dreamy or surrealistic, with an affinity for the natural world, giving her Insta-account a unique look that her fans can’t get enough of.

While some continuity of genre — landscape, street, architecture, etc. — is important, editing also has a big part to play. Filters provide an easy way to adjust tones in order to fit your preferred look, but it is advisable to mix multiple subtle effects if you want to create something unique. “Usually. I don’t have a specific idea in mind when I begin a creation,” says Vincent. “I find a base image that I want to use and start from there.”Melissa Vincent

For instance, when you pick a preset from the Filter menu in Enlight, you can then tap on Tools tab > Basic to tweak the selected look. Likewise, you can selectively apply your chosen filter under the Mask tab, while Duo (found in the Filter menu) lets you blend multiple filters together with a gradient.

When you find a unique look that you like, it makes sense to keep revisiting it to maintain continuity throughout your feed. Enlight makes this easy by letting you save custom presets; once you have made your adjustments within a particular feature, simply head for the Presets tab (before pressing the ✓ to save) and long-press on the plus icon to save the new preset.image12

Hashtags Aplenty

For people to see your imagery in the first place, is it essential to use hashtags. The general rule is, “the more the merrier”, although there is an arbitrary limit of 30 hashtags on each photo. Using descriptive tags is always advisable, as this allows anyone searching for a particular subject or mood to find your image.

Hashtags are a good way to harness the community aspect of Instagram, too. There are thousands of interest groups on the platform, and using the official hashtag of these groups gives you a better chance of reaching people with similar photographic tastes. For instance, you can use #enlight on a photo you edit, in order to share it with other people who use the app. The @enlightapp Instagram account even searches the #enlight hashtag for great user photos to feature every week.Melissa Vincent

Vincent suggests entering “daily tags” such as the JJ Community. Each day, a new theme is set, with photographers around the world sharing their take on the set subject.

Get Featured

Vincent first started posting in 2011, when “there were only around 5 million users on Instagram.” Because her work drew plenty of attention, it organically found its way onto the Popular page — the screen that users are presented with when they first start to browse the platform.Melissa Vincent

For the rest of us, getting featured means catching the eye of a curator account — a profile that reposts the work of others to a larger audience. In order for your images to be considered, you need to use the hashtag of the account you want to be featured by.

To maximize your chances of being reposted, concentrate on curator accounts that closely match your style, and then remain persistent — the admin has many photos to choose from each day, so stay patient.Melissa Vincent

Engage with Others

It can be easy to fall into the trap of “me, me, me” when it comes to publishing your work. But the most successful Instagrammers all have one thing in common: they engage with other photographers. “Instagram is a social network, so be social!” urges Vincent. “Find other Instagrammers to collaborate with, hold contests on your feed…and use hashtags.” And remember to show us your best shots — we love to see what Enlight users are creating!Melissa Vincent


Written by: Mark Myerson.

Contributing photographer: Melissa Vincent (@misvincent) is a creative iPhoneographer from Mississippi, USA. She has been published by National Geographic, Time magazine and Buzzfeed, among many others, and she exclusively edits images with her iPhone. You can follow her on Facebook here.

Mark Myerson
Mark Myerson

Mark is a freelance journalist and professional photographer based in the UK. He specializes in writing about the subject of iPhoneography, and is an avid mobile photographer in his spare time. When he isn't typing, he can usually be found exploring the countryside, camera in hand.

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