It might have come a long, long way from its initial roots as a pure photo-sharing platform, but for today’s professional photographers, Instagram remains essential. If you haven’t already, optimizing your use of photography hashtags in 2023 can make a world’s difference.
The fact that nearly everyone has an Instagram account these days makes it one of the best places to get your work some well-deserved exposure. However, the extremely high concentration of content here means that just posting your best photos alone won’t be enough. This is where hashtag optimization can help.
That doesn’t just apply to Instagram, either. Today, nearly every social media platform that’s relevant to us photographers uses hashtags. That’s why it’s so important to understand exactly what they are, how they work, and which to use.
If you’re reading this, then you’re in luck! In this guide, we are going to deeply examine all these and more topics surrounding photography hashtags in 2023. Join me, and read on below for more!
- What are Photography Hashtags?
- How do You Use Hashtags?
- What Makes Hashtags Important?
- How to Choose the Best Hashtags
- Effective Use of Hashtags for Photography
What Are Photography Hashtags?
First, let’s make sure we got our fundamentals in order. What exactly is a hashtag, and how does it work?
In a way, a hashtag is not much more than an internal hyperlink. You click on it, and it redirects you to its original source. The trick here is that a hashtag works not as a conventional link, but as a tag. This is to say that it redirects you to not one page, but to every search result that contains or mentions the tag.
On Instagram and most other social media platforms, you can follow hashtags just like how you can follow other people. And just like a person’s latest uploads can show up in your feed, so will the latest posts identified by that hashtag.
As a photographer, you can use this to your advantage. Hashtags can create compilations of pieces united by a common thread. This is a win-win because it makes Instagram more interesting for users while allowing those who post photography content to reach out to their intended audience more easily.
How Do You Use Hashtags?
Using hashtags is very intuitive. Simply add the tag somewhere in the body of your post description, prefaced by a # sign.
Some people like to integrate hashtags into the body of their posts, like so:
“Just got done shooting some amazing #landscapephotography in #minnesota, it was an incredible experience!”
This works fine (even if it reads a bit outdated), but it quickly gets messy when using more than a small handful of tags.
That’s why most photographers these days paste a block of hashtags below the main body of their posts. Just make a few blank lines following the last sentence of your text so that the tags don’t appear unless the user clicks on “read more” and scrolls down.
Note that hashtags don’t work properly if your profile is set to Private.
Why Are Photography Hashtags Important In 2023?
First, let’s address a basic, but very important issue: why use hashtags anyways? What difference does good use of hashtags make nowadays?
Think about it this way. With no hashtags, your published work is entirely at the mercy of Instagram’s algorithm. Whether you will be shown to others or not will be almost entirely up to luck and how much of a presence your profile has to start with.
Obviously, this is not such a nice spot to be in, particularly for beginners. Where do hashtags come in to fix this problem?
Frankly, the answer is: in almost every conceivable way.
Hashtags help you look more professional by associating your photography not with the randomness of the crowd, but with the specific genre, style, demographic, and look you are going for.
They allow you to compete with peers instead of being swallowed up by the superstars of the platform.
Using the right photography hashtags for 2023 can also allow you to stand out and be discovered. This is because they can connect your work with those who are genuinely interested in it.
How To Choose The Best Hashtags
So, knowing the importance of hashtags for photographers today, how do you go about choosing the best hashtags that suit your work? On the one hand, erring on the side of using too many hashtags rather than too few is always a good idea.
On the other hand, Instagram for instance restricts you to just 30 per post. That means you do need to be at least a bit strategic with your choices. Let’s take a look at some of the smartest things you can do to get more out of your photography hashtags in 2023!
Keep Them Relevant
One best practice to stick to is to always use hashtags that have at least some connection to the topic, theme, or subject of your photos. Many make the mistake of prioritizing popular hashtags over those that are actually relevant to your work.
While this sounds smart – allowing you to reach out to the biggest possible audience – it is less effective than what intuition would imply. In actuality, it is much better to optimize your hashtag usage towards targeting a specific audience, rather than going with a “spray and pray” approach of sharing your work with as many random people online as possible.
1. Don’t Get Too Specific
Now that you learned that keeping your hashtags relevant is an absolute must, you might be tempted to take that lesson to an extreme and try to describe your photos in excruciating detail using the tags.
On the one hand, using generic, uninspiring, and overly “popular” hashtags makes it far too easy for your work to disappear among the vast digital ocean of other posts.
But the reverse is also true! If you over-specialize and use hashtags that are much too descriptive and narrow, then you might only appear to very few people. This is because people interact with hashtags in two main ways – by searching for them, and by following them.
Of course, in order to follow a hashtag you need to know that it exists, and in order to know that it exists, either your friends and followers must be following it already, or the actual tag should be an easy, self-evident phrase that describes the topic you’re interested in. If none of these conditions are met, the hashtag is very unlikely to be used by many people.
So, what is the sweet spot? There is no exact science to it, but most would argue for concentrating on hashtags that have been used in between 10,000 and 500,000 other posts. Much more than that and you enter hyper-generalization territory. Too little, and you’re unlikely to get enough reach.
As we already mentioned above, you are free to use up to 30 photography hashtags in 2023 as per the Instagram TOS. This means that there’s no point in trying to select one “perfect” hashtag, and instead, you should aim to have a diverse field of tags that all serve their purpose in relation to your photos.
For example, a hashtag that’s been shared less than 5,000 times might not cause a wildfire of traction on Instagram. However, when used in conjunction with more trending hashtags, a low-volume choice such as this might still make sense.
For example, if you photograph within a defined niche such as flower photography, then you should still include some hashtags linking to communities based on that. This holds true even if they aren’t extremely popular by the numbers.
In other words, the optimal strategy is to balance out your portfolio of high-volume and high-specialization hashtags against each other. That way, you can reach out to a large audience without losing sight of those who are the most invested in your work.
3. Learn from the Best
As the old adage goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This also applies to selecting the best photography hashtags for your Instagram presence in 2023.
If you don’t know which hashtags to use for yourself, why don’t you take a look at what the pros are doing? Scour the profiles of those you admire most in your field and pay special attention to the tags they use.
You will find that most professional photographers active on social media these days tend to be very strategic with their hashtags. They will rarely use less than a dozen per post, and each time the exact selection will be tied to the content in an explicit way.
If you haven’t exactly got a list of photogs you admire on Instagram yet, that’s not a problem either! Just browse the platform by genre, style, and important keywords such as location. Pick out the folks who seem to be doing the best – if the algorithm treats them kindly, they must be doing something right. And more often than not, it’s down to using the right photography hashtags.
How To Use Photography Hashtags In 2023 Effectively
Now that you should have a basic understanding of how to choose hashtags that suit your content, the next question is: how do you manage them once your photo business grows? How do you integrate them into your posts for maximum effectiveness? And how do you know that your hashtag strategy is working? Let’s take a look!
1. Make Templates Out of Your Best Sellers
If there is one thing that beginners especially can’t stand about using photography hashtags, it’s the nuisance of having to insert them into your posts manually. One typo, and you might lose out on potential followers without realizing it!
There’s a simple approach that can help deal with this. Once you’ve got a certain number of posts up and running, try and see which hashtags seem to be doing the best for you. More on exactly how to do that further down below!
Next up, isolate these top-selling hashtags and insert them into a note file on your phone. Format it with the proper spaces and make sure the spelling checks out. Now, all you need to do is to copy-paste this template into your future posts!
This does not just save time. It also helps you stay consistent, which can further help you isolate potential holes in your strategy. Some people also like to use their phone keyboard’s auto-fill to perform the same function.
However, I prefer the old-fashioned note method since it gives you a better overview of which hashtags you have (currently) chosen as your frontrunners.
2. Use Analytics to Collect Valuable Data
Here’s the thing: knowing how to use photography hashtags in 2023 is fine and dandy. However, at this point, it’s no more than a basic skill for most of us. What we need to do is go beyond just using hashtags and understanding why we use the ones we do.
The theoretical aspect is an important part of this. We already covered above how hashtags work, how they can help you with your photography, and what makes them so important.
With that knowledge in tow, it is equally crucial to put the theory into practice. How? By using analytics to understand what your hashtags are doing for you! Instagram thankfully ships with its own analytics tools.
If you’ve never noticed them before, that’s probably because you have your account set to personal use only. Just click on Switch to Professional Account and you will immediately see the “Insights” tab pop up!
Here, you can find detailed analytics data tracking all of your posts, their hashtags, the connected views, likes, and any other kind of engagement as well. You can use this input to track and narrow down how well your hashtags are doing.
More than that, you can even use Analytics to single out particularly high-performing tags – or those lagging behind.
Smart use of analytics is how the best of the best optimize their photography business to the limit. It takes a lot of trial and error, but with time, you can build an extremely efficient, well-oiled machine this way.
3. Aim For Exposure By Getting Featured
At face value, the process laid out above might seem a tad simplistic. Pick some hashtags, see what sticks, repeat with more posts, adapt, note down changes, rinse and repeat.
Of course, running a photography presence on Instagram is about far more than that. Fundamentally, you want to connect to those who value your work, and hashtags are one (incredibly important) part of that.
Now, what if I told you that hashtags have this sort of superpower that can help you massively increase your audience?
Say hello to Featured Accounts. Featured Accounts are one of those Instagram features that are fairly well-known, but receive little coverage online. As a result, not many people know exactly how Featured Accounts work or have certain misconceptions about them.
Put simply, a Featured Account is like any other run-of-the-mill profile you’d find on Instagram, except they don’t post their own content. Instead, they showcase – or feature – content originally posted by others. This is never random content. Instead, it is always categorized by one specific hashtag held by the Featured Account.
This means that users who are very invested in a certain niche might rather check that niche’s Featured Account as opposed to following individual creators exclusively. That way, they get a regular “Best Of” featuring the most impressive work in the community.
Most Featured Accounts have a very large presence of daily views and followers. This means that getting featured usually goes hand in hand with a huge boost in exposure and esteem on the site.
Because of this, aiming to get Featured in many Instagram photographers’ ultimate dream goal. It doesn’t have to be that unattainable either! By targeting the top-ranking Featured Accounts in your niche and utilizing their keywords in your posts, you can maximize your chances.
The Best Photography Hashtags For 2023
By now, you should have a solid understanding of photography hashtags, how they work, and how to use them for success.
What’s left is only the most fundamental question: which hashtags perform the best?
As we saw above, that question is very relative indeed. You should never strive to target only the most-followed hashtags. Smaller tags can be indispensable as well!
However, for pure information’s sake, it is important to know your market. That is why we have compiled the following roundup of some of the chart-topping photo hashtags for the current year, sorted by niche and genre.
The Best Photography Hashtags For Landscape Photographers
If you’re like me and you would do everything to get that perfect landscape shot, then connecting with the right like-minded crowds should be your top priority.
If you like exposing the beauty of your local seasons, consider seasonal tags such as #spring, #summer, #autumn, or #winter.
#discoverglobe, #discoverearth, and #discoverlandscape are suitable for nearly any kind of landscape photography. They tend to lean into those kinds of pics that have a certain “wow” factor, though.
You should also consider #splendid_earth, #natgeohub, #roamtheplanet, #naturelover, #naturephotography, #nature_seekers, #IG_Landscape, and #landscapephoto.
The Best Hashtags For Travel Photography
As a worldwide nomad myself, I know that properly tagging your travel photography can be a challenge. More so than with any other niche, you don’t just have to pay attention to global metrics. You should also consider the hashtags that are popular for your locale! Take your time to find out what ranks best in the country, region, or city where you’re shooting.
For general travel content, you can’t go wrong with any of the following travel photography hashtags for 2023!
#travelgram #wanderlust #aroundtheworld #getlost #instapassport #travelscenes #traveltheworld #worldexplorer
The Best Hashtags For Portraiture
Portraits elicit some of the strongest emotions out of all genres of photography. Unsurprisingly, the portrait photography industry is also one of the most competitive of them all! The right hashtags can help you stand out, however.
There are some extremely high-volume options like #portraits, #IGPortrait, and #portrait. You can use #selfportrait for the more self-centered variety as well. More abstract hashtags that still draw a ton of clicks include #profile_vision, #portaitfolk, #portrait_perfection, #pursuitofportrait, and #life_portraits.
Best Hashtags On Instagram For Film Photographers 2023
Countering all the cries of naysayers, skeptics, and digital elitists, film photography has been experiencing a steady and dramatic renaissance. Today, shooting film on Instagram is no longer a tiny niche, but a huge community!
#filmisnotdead is probably the most iconic hashtag associated with that community, but there are many more!
#35mmphotography, #35mm, #35mmphotography (or #mediumformat or #largeformat, depending on your medium)
#filmphotographers #filmclub #shootfilm #filmcommunity #filmforever #filmstillalive #ishootfilm #filmphoto #filmphotographic
Best Photo Hashtags For Black And White Photography
Monochrome photography has really been enjoying a renaissance over the past few years. Some just like the aesthetic, whereas others are drawn to the unique technical qualities of older BnW camera gear or film. Yet others use it to evoke feelings of nostalgia with their shots.
Whatever the case may be, in 2023 you have a ton of options to choose from when hashtagging your monochrome photography!
Take a look at these: #noir #BW_Life #blackandwhite_perfection #IGBlackandwhite #world_bnw #bnw_of_our_world #instablackandwhite #greyscale #monoart #top_bnw #monochrome
There are also tags for black-and-white photography set in certain scenes or covering certain genres, or styles.
For example, #noirstreetlife caters to street photography in the monochrome medium, though sometimes other forms also feature.
Hashtags For Fashion Photography
If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that fashion photography is not going away. Not ever.
Remember the cries of panic and gloom around mid-2020 when news outlets predicted that the pandemic would make us stop caring about what we wear? Oh, how those comments have aged.
There are countless hashtags on Instagram that you can use to maximize the reach of your fashion photography. Whether you work in the studio or on the street, I bet there’s something just for you!
#fashioninspo #fashionlovers #fashionart #fashionforward #fashionphoto #highfashion #fashiondiaries #fashionoftheday #fashionphotographer
If you’re particularly enthusiastic about street fashion, try #streetstyled, #streetfashionstyle, and similar tags.
Hashtags For Food Photography
It’s an old joke from many moons ago that what distinguished Instagram as a platform not suited for “real pros” was the incredible popularity of food photography on the site. It’s true: before Instagram, food photography was not nearly as much of a part of “serious photography” as it is now.
These days, “food porn” is both created and consumed by millions of amateur and professional photographers alike. If you want to get into this growing scene yourself, here are some great hashtags to get you started!
#foodvsco #foodphotographer #foodography #foodporn #foodfoodfood #beautifulcuisines #foodinsta #foodoftheday #thekitchen #hautecuisines #food52 #foodphotography101
The Bottom Line On Photography Hashtags In 2023
I hope that this little guide gave you clarity on how to use photography hashtags to improve your outreach in 2023 and beyond. Hashtags are maybe not the most glamorous aspect of being a photographer nowadays, but they are a crucial and simple tool that you can use to drastically grow your audience.
Of course, you should note that all the advice given in this article is for general use only. Your particular needs might differ, and you might dabble in areas of photography that I didn’t have the time to touch on fully. In that case, you can still use some of the knowledge you gained today to search for the best photography hashtags for yourself and implement them accordingly!
Remember, using hashtags doesn’t cost you anything except a bit of your time. Feel free to experiment and find out what works best for you. The hardest part always comes at the beginning!