Part of my role as publicist here at Wonderful Machine is maintaining our social media accounts, including our Instagram. Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, researching and discussing a frequently debated topic in the photography industry: how commercially viable is the app for professional photographers? I stand by my position: a well executed, thoughtful Instagram is a very powerful tool for connecting with creatives and keeping them updated with your work—and it’s totally free!
It’s always a pleasure to hear when one of our photographers has seen real results from the insanely popular photo sharing app. Hearing that they can trace commercial jobs directly back to their account? That’s even better. Noel Besuzzi, a kids and lifestyle photographer based in Aliso Viejo, CA is one of those special success stories. Not only can she trace jobs back to her Instagram account (you can follow her at @imoments), but she actually credits the app for her commercial photography career. Her feed is a delightful, playful mix of photos of her adorable children and dreamy travel shots—you can thank her home base in California for many of those. I caught up with Noel to talk more about how Instagram has steered her career, and shared some of her favorite moments below (get ready for a cute overload). Enjoy!
When did you start Instagram? What pushed you to take your photography to the app?
I started roughly a few months after the app was available. My eldest was around six years old, and we loved adventuring together. A big bulky camera was too much to bring with us on our adventures to the sea, so I just left it home, and began recording our lives on my iPhone. Instagram was a great place to share it.
It’s pretty obvious that your main source of inspiration is your family, specifically your children and your youngest son. Can you talk a little bit about putting him in front of the camera?
Whenever you use your own kids as models you face so many obstacles. They know you so well, that taking a picture has to either be fun, or discreet, or they can get sick of it really really quick. It has taught me to be more stealth, but also helps me create games to get authentic reactions out of them. My stinky two-year-old may be the cutest thing ever, but he is a challenge to chase down! Usually a trick or game is involved if you see him smiling!
Are there any specific apps/products you use to make your iPhone photos?
How do you feel about combining iPhone and DSLR images on one account?
As for mixing, that is a tough one. As an original poster, I used to be restricted to your phone, I feel like a purist. I also love the work flow of iPhone pictures, out and about, in the moment. For me, I enjoy the challenge of creating with a tool that makes you move your feet, and stretch your mind a bit. I have been mixing in a few DSLR photos, but think that won’t be my norm. Many of the people I follow are switching over to other camera types, especially when they are hired to promote. When I am doing an Instagram campaign I usually revert to the accuracy of my DSLR.
You have more than 20k followers, with a good amount of engagement in the comments. Did you make a push to get that following or did it happen organically?
The funny part is, 20k is not even a lot in terms of Instagram anymore. Great accounts have the likes of 400k! I guess we are always reaching up to grow larger influence. Early on I was lucky enough to get featured on the popular page quite a bit. From there the numbers grew quickly. When celebrities and pop culture came onto Instagram, things changed, and my account has lately grown mostly from engagement, shout outs, mentions, and connections. The app is highly social, so if you comment, you will get comments, if you like, you can get likes. It isn’t that complicated. You can grow your engagement easily, and that can help your numbers. It is also true that you need to post semi-regularly. The more quality posts, the more you will grow.
How has your use of Instagram contributed to your commercial photography career?
My Instagram account is the only reason I have pursued a commercial career! After being hired by a few companies to shoot for their campaigns I knew I wanted to work with brands and teams of people to create images. Photography is a lonely task, set out to create with you and your camera. Once I brought on other creatives to help me, and knew what it felt like to work as a team, I knew I wanted to do that again. It is such a thrill to bounce ideas off people and find ways to bring your talents together to help create an image!
Tough question: do you have a favorite Instagram image?
Isn’t the correct answer “the one I take tomorrow?” I guess every mom’s dream is to have a decent picture of her kids together, so this one will have to do:
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that, if you are reading this, and want to connect, make sure you mention Wonderful Machine in a comment, I would love to connect to more creatives on Instagram. Instagram has been a wonderful place for me to connect to creatives, and jobs have come from the unlikeliest of photos. My motto is if it is creative in anyway, and you love it, go ahead and be fearless, and post away!