Photo: @THEDRESSEDCHEST © Rainier John Pazcoguin.
Ahh fame, it is the catnip of so many lives, the thing that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning: they know you’re alive! They’re waiting, hanging on your every word, every post, every single thing you do is worthy of taking note.
Science has shown that the sudden and complete dominance of digital culture has powerful effects on the brain, with some psychologists working to establish the existence of Internet Addiction Disorder, which they consider to be analogous to substance abuse.
Social media is particularly sticky, in as much as allows a constant flow of give and take between friends, family, colleagues, and strangers from all corners of the earth. By removing the actuality of time and space, as well as physical cues that we read when interacting in person, social media can easily become an obsession and a compulsion to those seeking attention and feedback, be it positive or negative.
As with any substance that can take people to great heights, it can also leave them in deep lows. The key then, is to know the purpose of all of this potential power that exists at their fingertips—and how to execute with strategy and intention.
That’s where Henry Carroll’s new book, Read This If You Want to be Instagram Famous. (Laurence King) comes in. The charming new how-to paperback book is a guide to tactics gleaned from 50 of Instagram’s key influencers, who reveal the secrets behind their phenomenal success.
Essentially, it can be broken down to a simple series of rules that allow you to think about what you are doing before you press “post.” It’s essentially the same rules of life, but honed in on the practice of photography and image-making in a culture where seeing is believing.
“Be honest. Be distinctive.” This is the rule of @THEDRESSEDCHEST, the IG account managed by Rainier John Pazcoguin that gives a detailed view of men’s fashion as expressed by the styling of the upper torso. Pazcoguin, a software engineer who started his account in 2014 to keep track of what he was wearing and share them with people who would appreciate his often-unnoticed looks, observes, “I think it’s very important to be as genuine as possible. People can often tell when someone is just posting content for followers rather than displaying a genuine passion.”
“Be active,” Johan Lolos aka @LEBACKPACKER, advises. The Belgian travel photographer left Europe in 2013 to spend two years exploring Australia and new Zealand and began posting his photographs. “The key to getting lots of new followers is to be really active on the app,” he observes, recognizing that in and of itself social media is a major hobby, bordering on a job. It can be pleasure, but what it takes is work—but the results can be massive; Lolos’s work has been published everywhere from National Geographic Traveler to Outside.
“Do it your way,” is the advise of Philippa Stanton, who runs the account @5FTINF. Stanton started Her account in 2011, long before most people had even heard of IG, for the same reason so many of us find ourselves on social media: procrastination. “Instagram is like me creative notebook; it is always with me,” the artist observes. With success and fame comes opportunity, something Stanton understands warily. “When you account gets to a certain point, it’s inevitably going to attract the attention of certain brands. This is great, as it means a potential income, but I think you also have to absolutely be true to your artistic self.”
Read This If You Want to Be Instagram Famous. will address all your questions, concerns, and help you hone your ideas, giving you tips and tricks to master your voice through a well-crafted series of images with captions, hashtags, and credit information. It’s a well-conceived book in a culture where anything goes. Consider it the ultimate how-to/etiquette book for a culture where art and photography has become the one language everyone can speak, no matter where they are from.
All photos: From Read This if You Want to Be Instagram Famous by Henry Carroll (2017). Used with permission of Laurence King Publishing.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.