What an experience! Last month, one of my underwater photos was featured on Instagram BY Instagram (see it here)! The holy grail of features!!! It has been a crazy month and I have been getting tons of messages about how it happened and what gear I use, so here ya go...
Being a photographer on Instagram (@tessiewallace) has been amazing. I have learned so many techniques and I have been inspired by so many fantastic artists. This summer, I have seen lots of underwater photos and I knew I wanted to try it - I just didn't have the gear or the money to purchase anything. My brother in law owns a GoPro Hero 4 Silver and he offered to let me borrow it, but with one catch,
I had to photograph his twin sons underwater. Absolutely. Easy. Done. I also decided to purchase a Dome.cam so I could take split water shots, and I have loved this product because it is larger than most and doesn't leak. It took me a while to figure out the settings on the GoPro, but I knew I wanted to turn on Protune, so I could have some control over the settings since it isn't completely manual.
So on my second underwater shoot (a Saturday), I captured several photos of my nephews and niece and I posted a black and white edit of the boys sitting on the pool floor looking up at the sunlight the next day, which was Sunday. My good friend on Instagram was asking advice on the #whpmood tag and I didn't know what it was. She told me Instagram has different themes for photos posted over the weekend and the current theme was "mood." What the hell. I tagged my black and white underwater photo and followed Instagram. The very next day, I opened an email at 7pm titled "Hello from Instagram!" WHATTTTTT??!!!! It was from an Instagram producer who was trying to reach me to let me know that my photo had been selected for their mood theme and would I mind filling out a questionnaire about the photo? HOLY CRAP. I was shaking. I was freaking out. I could barely type but I sent in the questionnaire immediately and then shared the news with my Instagram friends who told me to clean up my account and make it as beautiful as possible. I didn't do much cleaning up, but I did pick the photos I posted on Tuesday and Wednesday very carefully. I didn't know when the photo would be featured. My other potential problem was making sure my brother in law was okay with his children being on Instagram. I was scared he would say no but of course, the second he asked his kids if it was okay, they went crazy and freaked out!!! Talk about serious street cred for a 12 year old to be featured on Instagram.
I'm not sure the exact time the photo went live, but it was on Tuesday night (July 25th) and it was a blast. Just refreshing the page was fun because you'd see the likes jump by thousands each time. I called my nephews and it was like Christmas morning for them. We were all reading the crazy comments and cracking up. One of our favorites was "and then they drowned." We were peeing ourselves laughing. What a night! I went to bed and kept checking my phone throughout the night and my follower amount started growing. Like crazy fast. Messages were pouring in asking about my gear. I think I typed "GoPro Hero 4 Silver" at least 200 times in replies and messages. I had a little over 2k followers before the Instagram feature, and by morning, it was almost double that amount. That was when the panic began. Should I go private? Are there creeps following me? How do I protect my son and these children? I couldn't stay on top of the deluge of followers because they were coming in faster than I could check. I started blocking the crazies. I think over 100 made me uneasy and got blocked. I felt very exposed and vulnerable. Especially when creeps starting messaging me for closeups of the kids. BLOCK. Or when that guy sent me a creepy message about wanting to be my husband. BLOCK. But mostly the comments and messages were amazing and positive. Everyone wanted to know my secrets and tips for using a GoPro underwater. So this winter, I plan to offer an online download about how I take and edit my underwater photos - so stay tuned for that.
I did get a lot of unfollows the following week, mainly from scuba companies that I didn't follow back. But I'm not a scuba diver so there ya go. I did send GoPro an email through Instagram about how I would love to promote the crap out of a GoPro Hero 5 if they could send me one for free ;) No dice. They didn't even reply back. But hey - it's worth a try! It's next on my list of purchases here:
I did send at least 100 customers their way, who still message me for tips now that they own a GoPro. But all in all, the Instagram feature has been amazing. My account seemed to be on hyper-boost for about 4-5 weeks following the feature. Now I'm almost up to 5k followers. I have also seen 2 Instagram friends get featured by the whp tag over the past 2 weeks which has been awesome! I messaged them right away offering support and letting them know what they can expect. Damn straight - #momtogtakeover at Instagram has begun....
Thank you again to the wonderful team @Instagram and to the folks at @GoPro and @Dome.cam