Instagram has become the number one platform for achieving a stronger online presence. Whether you promote a brand, a product, your blog, or your cat having massive following on Instagram will bring you more engagement than other social media channels. It’s no wonder that we all want to up our instagame. As it turns out, travel photography is very popular and women are more successful instagrammers. If this is true, how can I be such a terrible instafail?

HASHTAG WOMEN RULE ON INSTAGRAM

As of December 2016, according to Forbes, eight of the top ten instagrammers are women. The top five is completely dominated by females, each with millions and millions of followers. Hopper, a UK-based Instagram planner and scheduling tool, ranked travel as the fifth most popular type of content on Instagram for both genders. Add those up, and you end up with a winning formula: travel photography by women. Which means, I totally got this. I’m a woman, I blog and post about travel and landscape photography. #itotallygotthis

HASHTAG LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW

There’s a recipe for everything. Also for Instagram. There really is. Google gives you about 57 million on “how to get followers”. Influencers, marketing experts, YouTubers, and bloggers give you tons of tips on how to grow massive following. You act upon all of them. Clearly not all 57 million, but all the ones you read. #howtogetfollowers

Post authentic content, preferably one each day. Take high quality images. Be engaging. Polish your profile. Master them hashtags. Use only the popular ones, but not too many, you don’t want to seem desperate.Search for relevant accounts, comment, like. Important, like like like. Comment strategically. Follow 4 follow. Then repeat. Repeat until your eyes turn square and your fingers turn blue. Just to have half of your new followers unfollow within a week. Obviously, something must be wrong. #majorconfusion

After  and quite confusion, it took me about a year, but I figured this out. There’s a special ingredient and success is guaranteed. #winkwink

HASHTAG MAKE TRAVEL SEXY

Make your photos worthwhile for a like. Let’s be honest, wide vistas and tranquil landscapes are not very engaging. Popular urban locations in beautiful light are also rather lame without the right object in the frame. #dontbelame

Instead, you need to work with the right ingredients. Take attractive female person (nota bene this is subjective to taste) and a random backdrop (preferably abroad), you can also use preps such as a wide brim hat, a bikini, cocktails, food or the like. Ideally, if it’s your account, the female person should be you. Position female person in frame, take shot. To get shot, use a timer or a remote. Or ask someone to take shot. Is it then your photo? I’m not quite sure, but who cares. It’s going to be amazing. And if you are conscientious and follow through with this, you’ll succeed for sure. #therealrecipe

Don’t bother about long exposure to erase the stream of tourists. Don’t bother about HDR. For a matter of fact, don’t bother about anything except the filters. You must master them Insta-filters for authenticity, consistency, and for you to look great. Obviously. You won’t need Lightroom or Photoshop at all. Who needs them? They’re too complicated anyway. Just make them photos glamorous. Literally. #glamour

HASHTAG I’M AN INSTAFAIL

What if you can’t do glamorous? Well then, I’m sorry. You’ll become an instafail like me. I can’t do glamorous. This is the best I can manage, after a windy morning on a beach in Portugal or during a hike in Norway. Both of which was accompanied by a heavy camera bag full of gear and rather unflattering clothes. The third image is close to an insta(s)hit – only you can’t really see it’s me in the rain and I couldn’t quite master the right pose. #soclose

Please note that none of these images were ever shared on Instagram. Why? Because these shots are not a reflection of my photography, nor were they taken by me. Apart from that they are memories conserved for my personal amusement and thus they were never meant to be glamorous, but rather evidence of my offline reality.

HASHTAG LOVE AND HATE

All this made me have rather mixed feelings about the instaworld. I love Instagram, but I also hate it. I’m fond of Instagram because it allows women to be part of a very lucrative business and gives them visibility. #loveinsta

However, I also hate Instagram because this visibility comes at a price. Those most successful at the top are rather the objects of their own accounts than the person behind the camera. Those most popular galleries feature more fashionably dressed (or half-dressed, in the latest beach wear) beautiful women than actual travel photography. #hateinsta

Forbes contributor, John Bishop, also compiled a list of the “6 Female Travel Photographers You Need To Follow On Instagram In 2017“. The Blond Abroad is, of course, on the top of the list. Please don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Kiki’s Instagram account. I’m actually a fan. It’s an amazing gallery with nearly 450k followers. Except she’s not a travel photographer. She’s female for sure, she’s posting about travel and posing for the camera, but that doesn’t quite make her a travel photographer. #conceptualproblem

So, dear John, please allow me to disagree. Some of the women you listed might have very popular travel-related accounts on Instagram, but they are not necessarily photographers (emphasis on not necessarily, some of them are). They are all, however, quite attractive. And this attractiveness is their currency. Followers do not only wish to see those locations, but imagine being like their instaidols, the famous and beautiful. #OhJonhYouGotThisAllWrong

HASHTAG NOT PHOTOGRAPHY

Perhaps my objection comes from my understanding of travel photography. Perhaps the word photography has lost it’s initial meaning. It seems in the world of Instagram, everyone becomes a photographer, regardless of technical skill, artistic achievement or the quality of the output. And, as soon as you upload a travel-related images, you become a travel photographer. #philosophicalquestion

Maybe I’m wrong, yet I often feel that following in this context is not the result of high quality photos or photography skills, but rather the amazing women featured in the image and seriously smart marketing. When I say these women are amazing, I really mean it. They have the looks, cleverly use their assets, and are successful in what they do. What bothers me is that they are labelled as travel photographers when more often then not, they are not the person behind the camera. #notphotography

And this bothers me only because you can often be a damn good photographer, you can produce authentic images, and never get the attention you deserve, because for women attractiveness still seems to be the ticket to success on Instagram. #imsobothered

HASHTAG REAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography is a craft. It takes time, effort, and dedication to master it well. Owning a camera and taking glamorous shots of yourself in beautiful locations don’t make you a photographer. Just like pulling your own tooth at the age of 7 doesn’t make you a dentist, or switching the light on and off in a room doesn’t make you an electrician, or possessing a random appliance doesn’t make you an engineer. I guess you get my point. Although I’m a passionate enthusiast and enjoy sharing my work, I’d never dare to call my self a photographer. #photographyisacraft

Sadly however, it seems to me  that those who produce excellent photographs but refuse to share images of themselves, appear to have less success in marketing their work. #desperation

I can’t help thinking that some ice-cream or a glass of wine paired with a white-bleached smile or alternatively a bare pair of well-shaved long legs would make my photo of Palermo much more likeable. Only I don’t drink wine, I’d fear to ruin my camera with the ice cream, my teeth are not bleached, and my legs are short. Apart from all that, I also couldn’t have managed an appropriate pose from where this image was taken. I wonder whether I gotten more likes on Instagram if I stood in the frame instead of waiting for the perfect moment when no tourist was occupying space in it. #totalfail

HASHTAG LET’S SUPPORT EACH OTHER

I’m sure there are many of you out there who don’t agree with any of my arguments. But there must be some of you, who find some truth in my words. If you’re one of the latter, join me on a small quest. #TravelPhlogQuest

I’ve decided I want to make a difference. So I made it my mission to find, follow, and with that support female landscape and travel photographers on Instagram who prioritise images of cityscapes, landscapes, and seascapes over photos of themselves. If you’re with me on this, follow such accounts and tag all your favourite photos with #TravelPhlogQuest 

HASHTAG PHENOMENAL FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHERS

Here are ten examples of fantastic travel and landscape photography by women. The list is by no means comprehensive, just a small selection of extraordinary artists. I have chosen these accounts simply based on what I think is great photography. My criteria, and thus this list too, are completely subjective. However, I’d love to see these ladies grow their accounts, so please show them some love by following and liking their images. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Their work is stunning.

Please bear in mind that their win on following is not your loss. Let’s support each other! If you’re interested in my Instagram account that features about three photos of me (out of the current 245), you’ll find me as @travel.phlog

Thank you for tuning in for this random rant, I would love to hear your opinion about the matter. Remember sharing is caring  ^^