Over the next few weeks, we’re focusing on showcasing some of our Instagrammers and each week we’ll be uploading a Q&A with one of them. Today, we’re featuring one of Instagram’s first users — Dan Rubin.
Dan Rubin was running his popular Instagram account long before the rest of us even knew what Instagram was. His account includes professionally crafted images of everything from buildings and car wrecks to landscapes, people and more. Read some of his tips in this Q&A:
1. How long have you had your Instagram account for?
I was one of the original beta testers of Instagram before it launched, so I’ve had my account for about two months longer than Instagram itself has been publicly available.
2.When did you start getting popular on Instagram?
It really started right away, as one of my images was featured in the iTunes Store artwork on launch day. I was also lucky to be one of the first suggested users when Instagram added that functionality, and was featured early on by many publications as one of the top users to follow. It was a crazy time (and still is), so thankfully I’ve never let it go to my head and feel incredibly fortunate to have any attention at all.
3. What advice do you have for other influencers who want to improve their Instagram profile and grow their audience?
I’m not a big fan of focusing on audience size — it helps with certain things, but I don’t believe it should be a goal. Instead, focus on creating images, videos, and stories that are compelling, interesting, unique, engaging, and that make you want to keep creating. If you do that, your audience will eventually find you. If you focus on the size of your audience, all your decisions will derive from that priority rather than from something creative. The way to cut through the noise is to find your voice, whatever that may be, and however often it may change.
4. What camera do you use to capture your images?
I use many cameras from film to digital and yes, iPhone. The first five years of my Instagram images were all shot on smartphones (99.9% of them are iPhone shots), and now it’s
a combination of iPhone, film, and digital. My primary cameras for commercial work are an iPhone 7 Plus, Plaubel Makina 67 (medium-format film), Nikon F100 (35mm film), and Sony A7RII/SII (mirrorless digital). I love them all for different reasons.
5. How often do you upload pictures on Instagram?
It varies wildly from week to week, month to month, and year to year, and always has. I’ve never been too consistent, and though there’s an argument to be made for consistent timing of posts, I think it also changes over time based on Instagram’s algorithmic adjustments and improvements, so when people say that it directly translates to how and when your audience sees your images, that’s misleading.
Since this summer, I’ve been posting in sets of nine over a few days, posting three images at a time. More than five years of posting single images rather than sets, which tell more of
a story, was enough for me, and I’m really enjoying curating the sets ahead of time, planning their order and edits the way I would prepare editorial or commercial series for clients. It’s more rewarding for me, and it’s a chance to experiment with how Instagram presents my images to my audience, as well as measure the effect on engagement.
6. Are there any apps or equipment you would recommend to other Instagram users
As has often been said by people far more intelligent than me, the most important tool is the one between your ears! I use quite a few apps for post-production (my favorites right now are Darkroom, Snapseed, TouchRetouch, Afterlight), but you can use the exact same apps, filters, equipment as someone else and that won’t help you progress much in your personal development as a photographer (or designer, or cinematographer, etc.).
Practice and experimentation are the best tools, and what’s great about them is that they’re freely available to everyone.