5 Easy Ways for Photographers to Use Instagram Stories to Engage Their Audience

Most photographers understand the value of showcasing their work and engaging with their audience. Instagram is often a key (if not the primary) platform for that.

With the increasing popularity of "temporary" content through platforms like Snapchat and as people increase their use of social networks on mobile platforms, it becomes important to understand how this new type of content delivery can work best for your needs.

"What value does your story give your audience?"

I've attempted to highlight five examples of story types of differing complexity which can increase engagement and add more depth and personality to your photos.

Throughout this article I'll be using "story" to refer to an Instagram story and "post" to refer to a new image you posted on your feed on Instagram. Additionally, though I might make some claims throughout this blog post, nothing of what I said should be taken as a rule, and you'll have to adapt your story, tone and messaging to fit your personal brand or what you want to get out of Instagram.

1: The Basic New Post Alert

The basic.

The basic.

You've likely seen some variation of screenshot or static image on a photographer's story with its attempt to call attention to a new post. 

There are a few variations, some which look better than others, but ultimately it's a screenshot of the post or the photographer's feed with the new post either highlighted (others photos scribbled out) or hidden (maybe an emoji or scribbles over the new post).

I don't personally like this method. It doesn't really add much in terms of value to the viewer of the story, and it can often look a bit unprofessional, sloppy, and it just feels like the person didn't care enough about their story to put in some effort.

2: The Slightly Better New Post Alert

The slightly better.

The slightly better.

Same idea.. except with a crucial difference. This story type might be static, but it's not a screenshot, there are no app elements and no scribbling to hide things.

What you do is take your original image you posted to Instagram and put it up as your story. If you go to lightroom you can crop the image for the 1080x1920 dimensions that work for Instagram stories. This way you get more control over the crop.

These first two story types were okay (#2 is pretty decent, actually!), but because we are always interested in improving, these next few tips should give you some ideas to work with.

3: Show Them Something Slightly Different

Actually pretty good!

Actually pretty good!

You have a new post on your feed. Why post the same thing on your story? Sure, the crop might be different and because of the Instagram feed algorithms there is a chance they might miss it... but what value does your story give your audience? 

This idea of showing something different is a simple tip but is easy to do and "connects" your story to your post in an interesting way.

This photo of a bridge that I used for a story is just a bit different than the actual post it's calling attention to. By shooting between the gaps on the wall of the platform I was standing on, I could achieve a different image without much additional effort.

4: Put Things Into Motion

This is where things will take a bit more effort. It's up to you if you find this either fun or worth it for your brand and engagement. For me, it's both.

By taking a video at the same location/time of the photo I would be posting, I'm able to have dynamic story that not only engages my audience but is also able to stand on its own. 

Finally and most importantly, it connects my static feed (and the still image of the bridge) to my Instagram story. It's simple, but looks intentional and professional.

5: Motion + Perspectives

This last tip is more fun and combines some of the previous elements together.

In this story, I did a change in perspective (this time a focus shift to the foreground), combined with motion. I also threw some motion tracked-text on there (though mostly for fun).

The result is pretty cool. I think so, at least.

Let me know your thoughts! Feel free to connect with me on Instagram or one of the other platforms below.