Top Instagram Photography Tips for Artists - This Creative Nest Blog

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Top Instagram Photography Tips for Artists


February 12, 2020

My Top Instagram Photography Tips for Artists

It’s time to talk about Instagram photography for artists! Last week I shared how to turn your Instagram feed into a shoppable feed (right in Instagram, for free, no third-party or paid platforms necessary!) And if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you head to the bottom of this post and make sure you grab the free Roadmap to Instagram Shopping! It’ll land directly in your inbox and give you the step-by-step walkthrough for turning your Insta into a feed filled with shoppable posts that your followers can click on and buy from directly in the app!

Photography Tips for Artists on Instagram - instagram photography for artists - top tips and tricks from

A Disclaimer

So, first up, let me say – my number one rule as a self-taught artist and creative business owner is don’t compare yourself to others. If you’re one of my students, you’ve heard me say it plenty of times before, and I’m gonna say it again – because it’s just that important! 

Especially in the social media game. It’s so easy to get frustrated when you start comparing your account to someone else’s who has been around for years, steadily growing, creating a consistent aesthetic, and you’re not even sure how to begin. 

Whether you’ve been at this for a while or you’re just getting started, I want to give you actionable tips and resources you can use to do well on Instagram, authentically connect, and actually enjoy the few minutes a day you make for yourself there! Because isn’t that the point of social media in the first place? To be social? To enjoy it? Don’t let the biz side of things turn this into something else on your to-do list that you’re dreading!

Instagram Photography for Artists

Ok, so now that that disclaimer is out of the way, this week we’re focusing on Instagram photography for artists.  Next week, I’ll show you how to create a profile page that grabs the right people’s attention while creating captions that turn followers into customers. So if you’re interested in that, be sure you’ve joined my free Insider’s Club on Facebook so you don’t miss a beat!

Consistency Is Key

It’s no secret that we’re a culture dominated by visuals everywhere we look. Study after study is showing that people are reading less and watching more. Visual content is on the rise! Think about how you use Instagram – you scroll through quickly, stopping on the posts by your favorite accounts that look familiar or have an interesting photo, while bypassing some of the less interesting photos. 

So how do you stand out? By being consistent with your visuals.

This applies to so much more than just Instagram [in fact, inside my course From Paint & Paper to Products & Profit: The Watercolor Artist’s Roadmap to Success on Etsy I teach how to apply this to everything from your social media feed, to your online shop, and most importantly to your brand overall.] Being consistent with your colors, aesthetic, and feel of your images is key in getting your followers to recognize that the post they’re looking at is yours.

Some key questions to determine what showing up consistently on Instagram would look like for you and your art account could be:

  • What subjects do you focus on in your painting? What colors, or even color families, show up again and again? Since you’ll obviously be frequently sharing your work, it’s a good idea to think about the ways that your work can tie together. Generally, sticking with 3-5 colors for your brand and incorporating them into your imagery on Instagram is the best way to go. But even if you don’t have a consistent color palette in every creation, try to think about grouping together images by color. So for a week or two you focus on sharing work that has a lot of blues in it, while in the weeks following, green is what stands out!
  • Let’s say you want to share photos of your day-to-day life to keep it authentic on your account. What subjects, scenes or parts of your life relate to the type of artwork you create and fit in your overall brand? Obviously, if you’re someone who primarily paints animals and pet portraits, it might be a little out of left field to share a photo of your dinner last night (that might do better over in your Stories since they’re a 24-hour commitment!) Instead, how about a photo of you and your pup at the park? Try to tie in any imagery you’re sharing, even when it’s not your artwork, into what you focus on as an artist. 
  • Are you comfortable taking your own photos or do you prefer using mockups? There are benefits to both – and most artists I know, including myself, do a little bit of both! I’ll share Instagram photography tips below, but if you’re thinking about using mockups to share your work, it can be a great way to have consistent professional imagery. Here’s a few examples of images I use in my own business and links to the amazing photographers who have created them! [PS: If you’re not sure about how to create mockups using stock photos like this, I teach all about it inside of my course!

Photography 101: Tips for Getting Your Work In The Best Light

If you decide to skip the mockups (like the ones above) and go for the total DIY photography approach, I’ve got some key tips for you to keep in mind.


You can have a fancy camera, you can have great artwork! But if you’re taking photos in crummy lighting, nothing can fix the picture you end up with. So how do you prevent that?

Head outside!

Try to avoid mid-day when the sun is directly overhead as this can blow out your images and be overexposed. Instead, try for the golden hour (the last hour or two before the sun sets in the evening or the first hour or two after it rises!) 

photography tips for artists

Or, buy a lightbox!

My husband actually has his own online business and regularly uses this one from Amazon to photograph products. It’s all white inside and ensures you get perfect lighting, every time. [Please note, this is a referral link and I may receive a small commission for purchasing, allowing me to keep sharing useful tips and tricks for you! I only recommend products I know are well worth the investment and that I personally recommend and use.]

photography tips for artists

Switch it Up with Composition and Props

This one isn’t as intuitive as some of the other tips, but think about how you’re photographing your work. Sometimes it’s great to have a shot of your painting right in the middle of the frame. However, you can often create a more interesting arrangement by placing (related) props around the portrait and creating a unique composition. 

Photography Tips for Artists on Instagram

For instance, this is a photo my lovely friend of Shelby Grace Photography took of my work! I love how she used a variety of angles, props and photo composition to create some really interesting photos that capture your attention.

Include Yourself

Ah – maybe the toughest tip to follow! It can be SO uncomfortable sharing your face with strangers on the internet – I get it. But here’s the thing, people follow people. It’s so easy for them to forget that there’s a real life human being behind the artwork and pretty pictures. We follow so many brands and companies and are bombarded with advertising day in and day out. It’s refreshing to know the person behind the screen! 

Photography Tips for Artists on Instagram
This photo from the AMAZING Tiffany L Johnson got crazy engagement rates on Instagram!

Time and time again, when I check my analytics, it blows my mind that it’s not my prettiest paintings that get the most likes and comments. It’s almost always pictures of myself! I’ll say it again for those of you in the back – people follow people. It might be a digital world, but we’re still created for human connection. Try not to forget that!

You can incorporate yourself in your feed with photos of:

  • Headshots
  • Studio scenes
  • Candid photos of you at work, taken by friends and family
  • Posed and branded photoshoots for collections  

Ready to get started? Tag your photos on Instagram with @watercolorartists_etsyacademy to be featured on my profile, encourage one another and build a community that supports growth!

While you’re at it, be sure to download the Instagram Shopping Roadmap for Artists below if you haven’t already!

    Looking for more actionable tips, resources and support?

    • Join the free Insiders Club on Facebook! You’ll find a community of likeminded artists and self-taught biz boss-ladies, plus a direct line to me anytime!
    • Explore the Learn page of my site and previous blog posts.
    • Be sure you’ve joined my mailing list below so you don’t miss the weekly freebies, educational content and encouragement.
    Instagram tips for artists

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