How to get featured on Instagram... a tutorial

I moderate over at Hiyapapayaphotoaday on Monday's. For the most part, it is a fun experience, although the new Instagram hashtag system has made it a more arduous task. But, that is a completely different discusion for another day. 

Since being a moderator, I have thought a ton about why I feature certain photos and leave others in the pile. I have also wondered why some of my photos are featured and others are left in the pile. 

1. It has to be good, no not just good; your photo has to be exceptional. By that I mean crisp, in focus (unless it's obvious you were going for that unfocused look), and have a clear prospective and focus point. I have seen so many photos that I really loved but did not feature because they were blurry. Exceptional=standout=featured.

Daisy by ©simply living photography featured atig_treasures

2. It has to stand out from all-the-other-entries. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it doesn't appear to be that clear sitting behind the moderator's screen. You'd be amazed just how many photos are entered into a hashtag that look just like all the rest of the stream. I have even been guilty of this as well when I enter photo into a contest. But, the photos that I usually click on first draw my eye form the stream by being different. Difference=standout=featured.

Fall Road by ©simply living photography featured at dhdphotoaday

3. Square pays off here. I know, I know we all have photos that just look better when they are not square. However, most challenges are looking for beautiful photos that will fill the entire screen of their gallery, or will fit nicely into a grid with other beautiful photos. When you enlarge a terrifically not square photo you loose quality, or perceptive, or you take the chance of making the photo inferior to the original. No moderator wants to do that. Square=easier to feature=featured

Lonely tree by ©simply living photography featured at Shinephotochallenge

Lonely tree by ©simply living photography featured at Shinephotochallenge

{Side note... I did a little test run just to see how important squares were on my personal Instagram feed. When I featured anything other than a square I received less likes, and less follows. As soon as I put the squares back on, the likes started rolling in and the followers. Instagram is made for squares. Your gallery looks fuller with squares, and you can actually see the photo better in a square. I really like the idea of being a rebel, and I love the #notforsquares hashtag, but honestly, squares matter here.}

Pink Blossom by ©simply living photography featured at Hiyapapayphotoaday

4. That WOW factor. You know them, the photos that stop you in your scrolling frenzy. That photo that makes you gasp, or stand their in awe. Its that photo that you audibly say "wow" no matter where you are standing. This, of course, is all in the perspective of the moderator; what may wow me is not going to wow someone else. But all the same I bet you know when you have that picture staring you back in the face, begging to be posted to your Instagram feed. If you feel that emotion surface in your stomach do not question yourself. Post it and tag it. Wow=that it factor=featured.

Winter Sunset by ©simply living photography featured at dhdphotoaday

5. Persistence. Sometimes it just takes persistence. You have met all of the other factors, it is merely being a part of the community. Because, honestly, that is what it comes down to community. There are some Instagram challenges that I post to, almost daily, because I LOVE the community there. 

(Update... the first draft of this went out without a proofread. Sorry about that... I highly recommend a note system to remind yourself to proofread your articles. And hey, a note system would help you with the new Instagram hastags as well.)