Don’t Make a Hash of Instagram Hashtags – Master Instagram Hashtags as a Photographer


Instagram Hashtags for Photographers

How are you using your hashtags on Instagram?

Instagram is still very much the current and next big thing. More and more brands are turning to Instagram to get their message across. They are turning their backs on more generic forms of social media and embracing the power of imagery.

It's not only the big brands doing this, photographers, photographic agents and image buyers are all using Instagram to connect with each other.

The problem is the usual one with social media platforms, getting seen. Remember, you're competing against tens or hundreds of thousands of other very competent photographers.

You need to do the digital equivalent of knocking on doors and telling people that you are good. And that is where hashtags come in.

Instagram is arguably the premier marketing tool for photographers

Hashtags vs Followers

It's accepted wisdom, that to market yourself successfully on Instagram you need a good following.  However, you might have 100K followers but if they are not the people you are targeting, you end-marketing results will be negligible.

If you've been getting your hashtags wrong there is a good chance that your followers are watching you because they like pretty pictures or because they are just trying to leverage your own followers.

The key to building up not only a decent following but also a targeted following is hashtags.

If you have ever submitted your images to stock agencies, then you will understand the commonality between hashtags and keywords. They are both used to target people looking for specific requirements.

Hashtags, however, can also be used to target other Instagram accounts with much larger and very specific following. In effect, there are two main types of hashtag, searchable and submittable. Let’s take a look at both.

Searchable Hashtags

These hashtags allow you to target people looking for specific things. For example, if I had taken a picture of the Odessa Opera House and used #odessaoperahouse people searching for that hashtag or those words would find my image.

Now, because its a fairly specific location it is likely that the target audience at the time I post will be fairly small. If however, I use #London, the chances are I will be competing with millions of other people all using the same hashtag.

My image will stand little to no chance of being seen.

Photo by Jason Row Photography

Using the hashtag #London means this shot would be competing against millions of others.

The problem with both of those hashtags, however, is that they are targeting people looking for a specific location.

We are trying to attract people that have an interest in our photography. So to do that we use more targeted hashtags such as #travelphotographer or in the case of the opera house #architecturalphotography.

But there are also some very specific hashtags that picture researchers and other people use to find images.

These can be quite specific to the genre of photography you are shooting. For example, #cityview will attract people looking for aerial or elevated shots of cityscapes whilst #blackandwhiteart attracts people looking for fine art black and white images.

There are literally hundreds of these photography-related searchable hashtags. Your best bet is Google search to find searchable hashtags for your own genre of photography.

Photo by Jason Row Photography

Using the hashtags #odessaoperahouse and #architecturalphotography would narrow the target audience in this case.

Submittable Hashtags

‘Submittable' are hashtags designed to get your images seen by specific Instagram accounts be it individuals, companies or groups.

The advantage of this is that if seen, the editor of such accounts might use your image on their account (with credit). This, in turn, leads to potentially much greater exposure to your account by targeted individuals!

The problem with submittals is that your images not only need to be top notch to be seen, but also they need to fit the genre exactly. For this, you need to research the specific requirements of the submittable accounts and only submit shots that stand a chance of getting picked.

Some examples of submittable hashtags are #moodygrams. This is an account looking for soft, moody looking travel images. Another example might be #dronedaily. You might submit extraordinary and interesting drone images to this account.

Using #dronedaily would give it a chance of being seen on the Dronedaily Instagram page. By Jason Row Photography

How Many and How Often?

These are pertinent questions to getting seen on Instagram. How many refers to hashtags. Although there is a limit of 30 hashtags, the consensus is that Instagram does not penalize too many hashtags.

For example, research suggests using more than two hashtags on Twitter lowers the chances of your tweet being seen. However using many hashtags on Instagram does not incur a penalty. Indeed it is said that you should be aiming for 11 or more as a minimum.

Instagram does not penalise you for using many hashtags

How often refers to how often you post images. That should be at least once a day at a regular time but preferably two to three times per day. Do not post more than one image at a time as some people may unfollow you for spamming.

However, target your posting times towards your audience. If you are targeting for example people in the UK, they will be more active on Instagram at different times to people in the US – makes sense really.


Instagram shows no signs of slowing down as the place to market your photography. However to get seen in a sea of images you need to target your audience with searchable and submittable hashtags and make frequent and regular posts.

Further Resources

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

Great input.
So if I use a high number of hashtags on my original IG post then share it by clicking the Twitter feed is the Twitter post penalized for too many hashtags?


Thanks Jason. I’ll give posting to Twitter separately a try. I am not a big Twitter enthusiast but might as well get as much out of it as I can.

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