INSTAGRAM - How to Shoot & Post Savvy
by Stephen Young

1. Shoot Square
This really does make a difference. For my pro commercial and personal images I always shoot in a 4x6 orientation. I continued to do this when I began shooting images specifically for Instagram. I would just crop down to 4x5 (Instagram's max for vertical shots) or crop down to square.
But a few months ago I was shooting specifically for @SavvyHotels on Instagram some boutique hotels in Charleston. This time I set my camera to frame and shoot square and was astounded by how much better the images looked.
Bonus: If you're shooting with a pro or prosumer camera, you can shoot both RAW + JPG. At this setting you can get both a square (or 4x5) JPG AND the full size image. This is how I now compose and shoot for Instagram.

2. Shoot Cohesive
This is a trick I learned while doing the Charleston hotels shoots. I spent a day shooting lots of images in multiple properties (in square orientation). Back in New Orleans I was chatting with a hotel owner client while flipping through some images on my iPad. My client literally yelled "stop!" as I was passing through the Charleston hotel images. What she saw in the midst of all the random shots was a cohesive group of images that looked fantastic together. Without a moment's hesitation, she said, "Stephen, can I pay you to do that for my hotel?"
There's no rule that says you have to take one photo per day and post on your social. If you do that, your feed will look random at best.
So, take an hour or a day or whatever works for you and shoot LOTS of images at one time. Or pay a pro to do it. Then you'll have 6 or 12 months worth of photos and never again have to worry about what you're going to post.

Here's how it looks...

savvy hotels insta sm.jpg

3. Use plenty of #hashtags
This is the primary way new followers will find you. Most Instagrammers use the search function to find interesting photos and new accounts to follow. So, learn the top dozen or so hashtags for your industry and compliment those with hashtags reflecting the specific images. I recently participated in The Distinguished Gentlemans Ride - a worldwide motorcycle ride to raise funds and awareness for men's health. In addition to the hashtags recommended by the Ride, I complimented those with motorcycle tags and New Orleans tags. Most of the people who "liked" the photo were new connections...some of them became new followers.

Here's one of my DGR posts and the hashtags I used. 

insta hashtags.jpg

4. Engage

Use this as an opportunity to make people smile. Take 30 minutes a day or use time standing in line at the DMV to pull out your phone, tap to open Instagram and compliment someone. Or thank them for liking one of your photos and then say something nice about one or more of their images. This is a beautiful and easy way to spread kindness across town or around the world. And you will be rewarded with engagement in return. (see the "brodyrodyody" comment just above. This was from a genuinely nice guy who I met just once at a conference over lunch. We've stayed in contact through Instagram and with that one comment he made my day. Thanks Brody.

More tips to come...keep checking back...

Now, I gotta go Engage - Stephen