Instagram Tips

Growing on Instagram?


A post shared by Felix Inden (@felixinden) on

If you are a landscape photograpers trying to get his work out there, you have surely heard about that one big imaging platform called Instagram. 

So you made yourself a profile and started dropping all your gorgeous work that you worked hard for and suddenly you wonder: Why is nobody liking my images and why do I have 50 followers while others have thousands and just keep growing?

There reason for it isn´t one- it´s actually many and I´ll try to cover some of them here in this article, giving some tips along the way that have worked for me in the past. 

I´ll also cover why this isn´t exactly working super effectively for myself anymore at the end of the article.

The idea for this article came to my mind after receiving many direct messages about the topic on my Instagram account, so I thought my answers might be interesting for others as well.


If you aren´t doing what i´ll talk about now, that is surely part of why Instagram isn´t working for you (so far)

Using Instagram with the expectation to have a growing following isn´t an easygoing thing. For most people at least, unless you are already a superstar in the worldwide photography business. 

BUT we are not one of those right (at least not me). So for us it will be a decision that more than anything else will involve time spent on the platform and some changes to our imagery done especially to post them effectively on Instagram. 

A post shared by Felix Inden (@felixinden) on

Spend the needed time

You might have read this often, but because it´s true you´ll read it again here: You need to spend time on Instagram in order to grow- „post and run“ does not work! 

So prepare to have at least an hour, better two or more per day to spend „working“ on Instagram. 

Engage with people that have similar interests and well running accounts. While it might be effective to simply like and comment whatever stuff you see, don´t do it and choose images and photographers whos work you really cherish and like. 

After all you are trying to build a name for yourself and it´s important to stay true to quality. Once you have some kind of „name“ you want people to appreciate a like given by you, because they know it´s honestly telling them that they did something right. 

Who you should follow

Same applies for following people, so watch out that you don´t fall in the follow/unfollow trap and instead curate the list of people you follow. I also follow friends that aren´t photographers at all and some people i also follow because they are just fun people. In those cases i don´t care about the imagery they post, but for those photographers that i have been following: I follow you because i appreciate your work. 

Optimize your images for Instagram

Different to other imaging platforms, on Instagram you know 100% that people will be seeing your work only on a very small screen. And your image will compete with bazillions of others beeing posted at the same time. You only have a fraction of a second to capture the viewers interest to get him to double tap and maybe even drop a comment. 

So your images need to stand out in some way. 

Ignoring this might be the biggest mistake causing people to not grow on Instagram. They process the images like they always do and then upload. Most likely it will be looking quite dull on the phone, because the size factor that other platforms offer get´s lost. The image won´t just stand out because of a neat composition and when very subtle colors can totally work seen on a big screen, on a little phone screen they might look less interesting.

Crop your images to vertical format or 1:1

Square 1x1 Crop

Square 1x1 Crop

4x5 Vertical (Portrait orientation) Crop

4x5 Vertical (Portrait orientation) Crop

Now comes the hardest part for us landscapers that often tend to shoot landscape formats or even panoramic work. 

Landscape format does not work well on Instagram. Why? Because only a small part of the screen is used to display the image. Your phone screen is the canvas that you have to display your image, so make sure to use it to the fullest. 

So you´ll have to shoot vertical format (I use this format very often because I love portrait format landscapes, i was lucky there) or if you shoot wide, crop the images to square or portrait format in order to fill the screen with them. 

At this point i got some reactions from people that didn´t want to follow the tip of keeping the aspect ratio of posts in mind. They made a principle about not adjusting/applying changes to their work just because of a social network. But in my opinion one can totally do that without loosing the realness factor- if you spend time on platform then do it effectively. At least that´s my view on it.

Instagram is not your real portfolio- that one should be on your homepage or somewhere else where people can really appreciate your shots in full size with all the important details that you worked out carefully in the field and afterwards on your postprocessing system. 

Instagram is a valuable tool for self promotion of your work and it doesn´t make you less of a landscaper if you adapt to it a little bit. It will instead only improve your Insta experience.

How I actually shot this image


Pimp the images with the inbuilt processing tools

It´s a good idea to post the images with a little higher saturation and contrast than you would normally do. Also enhance sharpness and structures slightly in the app. 

Don´t go too far, but something like dialing in something in between of +5 and maximum +15 will do your images a favor as they will look more crisp. 

Optimizing an image for upload in the app 

Use Hashtags

While it might seem obvious to most of you reading this, there are still some that post on Instagram expecting people to see their work, but have never really spent thoughts about why people keep tagging their images. 

A post shared by Felix Inden (@felixinden) on

In this huge ocean of posted images, hashtags are a way of getting your image seen by people with certain interests. But to use them to their full potential you need to understand how they work. 

There are very popular tags that are used very often and others that don´t get used much. Using #landscape (87 million tagged images), #sunset (176 million) or #nature (328 million) is not effective unless you are already getting thousands of likes on your shots in rather short amount of time. Your tagged image will dissappear from the tag list in seconds as so many images get posted with these tags. 

Drop them in every now and then, but don´t make it a strategy to use them. Better look out for tags that have between 30k and a million tagged images- there you have the biggest chance of getting your image seen because of the used tag. 

Also it´s not the smartest thing to use tags with very low tagged images, because it´s most likely that noone is interested in them (unless a promising new hub or company has just invented the tag- then try it). 

While you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, lately it seems to be better to use between 10 to 20 max- don´t ask me why this is the case. I just noticed it in the last year. Same applies to where you drop the tags. I personally prefer to put them in the comments as my captions look more clean this way, but i don´t think that it has an effect on how the mighty algorythm ranks the image.


If you really want to use Instagram as a landscaper, tripod warrior or whatever you wanna call us, realize that it´s not the best idea to ignore the key factors that can make your work function on the app. Traditional landscape photography is not the ideal kind of imagery for this app- you see it when you look at other photographers that chose the way of a rather documentary style of landscape photography that many call adventure/lifestyle photography. Here they often place humans doing something or interacting with the scene in the frame.

I really love this kind of work by many artists out there when they achieve to create that strong feeling of wanting to get out into nature and gaze at the elements. Often I also find it rather boring when I notice that it was just done to have a potentially popular image.

While this style of imagery is definitly more likely to quickly gain traction I have never considered changing my style just for this fact and i think you shouldn´t do this neither unless that is what inspires you the most. 

We only live once- follow your own passion!

Now we come to the point where maybe some of you may think: OK, Felix, thanks for the tips, but if we look closely you haven’t really been killing it yourself on Instagram anymore. And yeah… that’s true.

The days when I spent the needed time for this app are long gone. There are many different reasons for this fact, the biggest and most important of all being my wife and my two sons. They deserve my attention more than my phone, and this alone is already a disadvantage if I still wanted to keep my account growing as it once did.

I also don’t feel as inspired by the app as I once was anymore. I don’t want to start circle jerking just exchanging likes and comments with others just for the sake of it.


Was this helpful to you? Are you still confused? Leave a comment down below!


Interview With a Photographer | Steffen Eisenacher

Where’s home?

For me home is Germany, but with having lived in Australia during my teenage years, I would call Australia my second home. 

image1 (3).jpeg

What is the favourite place you’ve travelled to?

Definitely the arctic. I know, Arctic isn’t very specific, but I couldn’t quite decided between Iceland, Lofoten and Lappland. These place are so diverse and always look different during the different seasons. You can shoot the same place 4 times a year and it would always look different! 

How did you get started as a photographer?

That’s an interesting question. For me it all start with a passion for meteorology. I have always been interested in severe weather, such as thunderstorms since I have been a kid. At the age of 8 years I got my first very cheap digital camera and from there on my goal was to capture lightning. I remember when I finally scored my first bolt, I was smiling for days. To compensate the lack of severe weather in winter, my focus slowly shifted towards classic landscape photography! 

Want to know more about lightning photography? Check out our blog here

What camera equipment / software / tech do you use?  Any must haves?

I use a Canon 6D with the Canon 24-70mm f4, the Samyang 24mm 1.4 and the Samyang 14mm 2.8. 

For editing I use Lightroom, Photoshop and Starry Landscape Stacker. 

I don’t think there are any must haves. Up until 2 years ago I was shooting with a Canon 500D (you can get that used for less than $200) and a lot of the images you see on my feed and website are still shot with that camera. First improve on your photography, take the gear to the absolute limit and if there is absolutely no way around upgrading, then it’s time to do so! 

What photographers have influenced you, how you think and shoot?

Thinking about this now, I have always tried to keep my style, so I wouldn’t quite say I was influenced, but more inspired by the work of others. If I was to name some of them, it would be Micheal Shainblum (@shainblumphotography) , Jonas Piontek (@jonaspiontek) and Marc Adamus (@marcadamus).

Any top tips for Instagram?

2 things: 

  1. Stick to your style. I have seen many good photographers that started to adopt too much to the style that other instagrams are doing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be inspired, but some people try to follow, what they think will make them most successful on this platform. Nothing wrong with being successful, but I can guarantee you that you won’t be happy, if you’re only doing what you do for the gram. 
  2. Interact, talk and collaborate. Don’t be afraid to reach out to big features pages, such as @canon_photos, if you have quality content on your feed! I, for example got my first ever feature on @canon_photos by sending them a DM. 

What are you trying to communicate through your photographs?

I am always trying to tell a story with my images. The most important part in doing so, is to find a composition. If you want to know more on how you can achieve that, check out my tutorial on composition! (Here

What motivates you to continue doing what you’re doing?

Uffff.. that’s a good one. Sometimes I do get phases where my motivation is down and I don’t feel like doing much. That’s when it is more important than ever to get inspired. Usually I search through Google, Instagram etc. to find images that I would have loved to capture myself. My competitive self will then want to take a better shot than I had just seen. That’s kind of what keeps me going explained easy 

Are you a bathroom singer?

Haha not really, but I do have my moments where I just start singing. Also, I’m really bad with lyrics, so I often just make them up. 

Do you have any advice for young aspiring photographers?

As already stated above, it is most important to stick to what you most love. If you have always taken colourful images, don’t start to edit your images with whiteout sky, just because a lot of people are doing well with it. You’re giving up your individuality just in oder to get more likes. In the long run, people will always look up to people that are different, people that are individual, people that differ from the mainstream content everyone creates. 

What are your goals for the future, regarding your work?

I don’t really have any specific goals, I’m a person that believes that everything happens for a reason. I’m open for everything, and I’ll let my self surprise as to what my future holds. 

Any Questions for Steffen? Ask away ↓