photographic renaissance – the least-read book on travel photography ever published – five inspiring Instagram sites.
I posted this photo of Madein Saleh on Instagram yesterday, offering a free copy of my 100 Top Tips on Travel Photography (below) to the first five people who knew what time of day it was captured.
And I’ve received not one reply.
Now, either no one had a clue what time the pic was shot or – worse still – no one is even vaguely interested in me sending them a free e-book on the pearls of wisdom (as I’d have myself believe) I’ve accumulated on travel photography over the past 20 years (there’s a third, face-saving option: that no one on Instagram reads; they just look at the pictures).
Either way, it’s pretty grim and it sees me briefly asking myself why I’m even bothering with Instagram.
But it’s fleeting – there’s good reason.
I’ve invested in Instagram. I’d estimate I’ve spent more than 500 hours in total (that’s three straight weeks!) over the past two years gathering just over 3,000 followers (which, truth be told, is probably a fraction of the actual time I’ve spent surfing the social media site and checking in to see how my photos have been received).
Every day, for the first 12 months, I diligently scoured my photo library, processed a photograph for uploading, wrote some pithy comment or photography tip, then checked in over the next 24 hours to see whether I’d won the affections of an algorithm or whether anyone bothered to send me a “lazy like”, let alone qualified praise or an engaging comment.
Now, more than 500 posts later, I have a creditable portfolio of images and I’ve managed to wean myself down to posting once or twice a week.
But, while I think it’s important from a professional perspective to have a presence on the social media platform most favored by photographers (and people looking to hire them, he adds), the biggest single reason for me to persist has been the huge advancement it has brought to my photography.
In fact, I’m not overstating the point to say, Instagram is singularly responsible for what I consider to be renaissance period to my work.
All of a sudden, my world just got so much bigger.
With a few clicks of a button, I was exposed to the work of a vast array of talented photographers around the globe. And not just travel photographers but art photographers, documentary photographers, landscape photographers, studio photographers and aerial photographers. The portfolios of the very best photographers and creative minds out there, immediately accessible.
And it didn’t intimidate me – quite the opposite, it inspired me and helped define my work and what I wanted it to become.
Today I check in daily for about 15 minutes, continuing to collect outstanding images for reference to different styles, techniques and approaches, and for links to other photographers or artists whose work I admire.
Even after 20 years as a professional photographer, I’d say this exposure has broadened my repertoire and improved the quality of my work by as much as 30%.
It’s also seen me become part of a community of like-minded people with similar interests – photographers, artists and media types who follow me, as I follow them – some of whom I’ve now met personally and engaged as fellow journeymen.
So, to wind up, if you’re reading this and you didn’t work out what time of the day my photograph in Saudi Arabia was shot (it was 4.30am by the way), just consider this as another tip you didn’t read, in what is quickly becoming one of the least read books ever produced on travel photography.
Five Instagramers who particularly inspire me: