How to Use Instagram Videos to Grow Your Photography Audience

According to Adam Mosseri — the Head of Instagram — Instagram is no longer considering the platform to be a photo-sharing app. It’s been over a month now since this surprising announcement about the new focus on Instagram videos. The platform has always been about photo-sharing and, because of this, has been the favorite social media network for photographers since its creation in 2010. 

Now, to clarify, it appears that Instagram isn’t totally abandoning photo-sharing on the app. You will still be able to share photo content for the time being. However, it’s clear that they are revamping the algorithm and future developments to prioritize and push videos. More particularly, this will be short videos that are between 15-60 seconds long or, as marketers say, “snackable” video content. This type of content has become quite popular over the last few years, especially with the rise of TikTok. It’s apparent that Instagram is trying its best to keep up with a rapidly changing social media landscape. 

What does this mean for photographers? 

Well, for starters, photographers are going to have to adapt to short video content if they want grow on Instagram and lead prospective clients to their photography work. 

This doesn’t mean becoming a professional videographer overnight and creating masterful short videos all the time. However, with a little bit of effort, you can utilize the content, cameras, and equipment you already have to develop valuable video content that can help you grow.

That’s not the only good reason. Diversifying with short video content also provides greater value to your clients. It also expands your audience to platforms outside of Instagram. It’s a win-win for photographers looking for new opportunities in the market. 

To help with this change, we’re going to dive into the necessary gear and tips to help you use Instagram videos to grow your photography business. Take a breath. Don’t get overwhelmed. The transition is not as hard as you think. It’s also incredibly necessary if you plan to prioritize Instagram to monetize your photography in the future.  

Let’s get started.

Necessary gear for short videos

Here’s the good news: most photographers already have most of the gear needed to create short videos. Most professional or mid-level cameras come outfitted with great video specs. In addition to your cameras, you can easily use your phone for quick video content. Most new phone cameras are able to shoot 4K footage with much better video capabilities than in the past. 

Here is some useful gear to get started:

  • CFExpress or XQD cards for faster, 4K video recording and writing times
  • Audio equipment, either a shotgun mic and/or lavalier mic for quality sound
  • Lighting, either:
    • A ring light or studio lights for even lighting 
    • On-camera LED lighting for a portable, on-the-go option
  • A portable travel tripod or gorilla pod for quick, stationary recording

Behind the scenes (BTS)

Now, let’s talk about tips. First, a great way to utilize short video content on Instagram is to show your process — or the “behind the scenes” — of how your images come to life. 

A lot of people  want to know how to get started but need a step-by-step process. You can offer this, whether it’s showing scouting, editing, or technical shooting advice in the field. Create a replicable, simple format that works for your style of photography and see how your audience responds. 

From past experience, BTS and editing videos are very well-received and can go viral quickly. This is especially true if they are shot and edited well, or follow a popular image you post. Load the video with valuable information and/or beautiful visuals.

Take advantage of viral trends and spin them to focus on photography

This is incredibly important considering how video trends are so powerful these days. Spend time on Instagram Reels or TikTok to find audio or trending videos that could be utilized to showcase your photography.

A rule of thumb is to look for the trends that are on the rise, with audio that has around 10K-25K videos. See how the top videos are performing and the techniques they used. Try to adapt it to your style, content, or focus as a photographer or content creator. 

Do your research and start scrolling for viral video trends that are on the rise. Catching them at the right time and utilizing them to promote your content is important for growing your audience on Instagram and other platforms. This leads perfectly into the next tip. 

Cross promote your video content on other platforms 

As you’ve probably noticed, short video content is king right now on social media. The largest social media platforms are adapting to this change to catch up to TikTok’s massive success. Instagram has “Reels,” YouTube has “Shorts,” and Snapchat has its “Spotlight” feature. All of these allow you to share short video content. 

This means you can cross-promote and utilize one video for several platforms to grow your audience, drive traffic to your website, and increase your exposure with possible clients. That’s why short video content is so powerful and should be used to grow your Instagram and other channels. 

Maximize short video and its greater lifespan 

Finally, you can utilize Instagram videos to grow your audience because it has a longer lifespan than photo content. Typically, Instagram photo content’s lifespan lasts around 48 hours in the algorithm while Instagram video content — especially Reels — can last days or even weeks. Instagram’s new algorithm mimics TikTok’s content longevity. 

That means greater value, reach, and exposure for your content, which can grow your audience and lead people back to your photography. It’s important to do a mixture of both photo and video content to maximize your short-term and long-term reach as a photographer.