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A Huge List of Hashtags to Grow Your Instagram Community

Hashtag list to grow your InstagramHashtags are still a puzzler for most people when it comes to how they’re used. On Facebook they apparently don’t work very well so don’t bother. Some research has shown that posts on Facebook without hashtags perform those that do. Despite that, hashtags are a great way to expand your reach on Instagram. Even though Instagram has some new structure to their newsfeed that had us all upset, hashtags are still a really great way to be found.

Hashtags are clickable links on Instagram that will show you all the posts from everyone who has that hashtag on one of their posts. It’s a great way to find people you like and to be found. I put together a few categories of popular hashtags that I’ve used and see a lot of other peeps using too. So if you really want to grow your feed, pick out a few you like and start adding them to your photos on Instagram and see if it makes any changes.

Instagram-Related – #‎instagram‬ ‪#‎instagrammers‬ ‪#‎igers‬ ‪#‎instalove‬ ‪#‎instagood‬‪ #‎followme‬ ‪#‎insta‬ ‪#‎instadaily‬ ‪#‎instalovers‬ ‪#‎tagsforlikes‬ ‪#‎follow‬

Photography – #‎portrait‬ ‪#‎portraits‬ ‪#‎portraiture‬ ‪#‎feelgoodphoto‬ ‪#‎lessismore‬‪#‎negativespace‬  ‪#‎blackandwhite‬ ‪#‎bnw‬ ‪#‎monochrome‬ ‪#‎photo‬ ‪#‎photos ‬‪#‎photographer‬ ‪#‎photooftheday‬ ‪#‎color‬ ‪#‎capture‬ ‪#‎chasinglight‬ ‪#‎justgoshoot‬‪ #‎lifeofaphotographer‬ ‪#‎canon‬

General – #creative #artsy #beautiful #art #me #tbt #throwbackthursday #cute #happy #smile #lifestyle #success #passion #dreams #happiness #believe #strength #morningslikethese #mymondaymugshot #humpday #transformationtuesday #flashbackfriday #followfriday #fridayintroductions #sundayfunday #mcm #wcw

Entrepreneur and Business – #entrepreneur #business #mindset #wontstop #businessowner #smallbiz #entrepreneurlife #leadership #mentoring #onlinebusiness #coaching #inspire #ambition #wisdom #thinkbig #hardworkpaysoff #workhardplayhard #beyourownboss #smallbusiness #future #biztip #b2b #howto #innovation #marketing #solopreneur #bosslady #womeninbusiness

Creative – #calledtobecreative #creativepreneur #creativityisfound #designisinthedetails #dowhatyoulove #exploretocreate #fromwhereistand #lifeofanartist #liveauthentic #livefullyalive #makeithappen #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #pursuepretty #sayyestosuccess #thehappynow #communityovercompetition #tuesdaystogether #risingtidesociety #tablescapetuesday #flashesofdelight #ohwowyes #thatsdarling #theeverydayproject #creatives

Wedding Photography – #howheasked #thedailywedding #theknot #theknotrings #brideandgroom #weddingdress #weddingphotographer #weddingphotography #wedding #weddingphoto #weddingring #realweddings #weddinginspo #strictlyweddings #matrimonyhomies #weddingsquad #bridalbrigade #friendsofhonor – I also post my businesshashtags here.

Travel – #tasteintravel #traveltuesday #travel #wanderlust #jetsetting #dametraveler

Dogs – #weeklyfluff #delight_pets #dogsofinstagram #inspiredbypets #mydogiscutest #petfancy #petstagram #instadog #doglover #dogs_of_instagram #instagramdogs #dogoftheday #ilovemydog #dogstagram #lovedogs

If you don’t know what any of these mean, ask in the comments, search Google, or better yet – search Instagram. Here’s a couple extra tips I recommend when using hashtags.

  • They go great in the first comment instead of the actual caption. That way if your posts are shared automatically from Instagram to things like Facebook and Twitter, they translate better because the first comment doesn’t come with them.
  • You don’t need to go out and overload your posts with tons of hashtags.
  • Instagram does have a limit to how many hashtags you can use on a post, so keep that in mind.
  • Use location based hashtags as well for where you’re at. You can search Instagram for popular hashtags that are local to your areas and start using them to reach more local clients!

If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!


Four Ways to Instagram for Your Brand


Happy Monday Awesomesaucers! I’m sure you’ve all seen that Instgram is rolling out some big changes, making it harder and harder to reach your audience. While change is hard, today I’m sharing three ways to Instagram for your brand, creating consistency and reaching your audience.

1.) Mix it Up – Only showing business posts can get boring, out of all the mediums, Instagram gives your audience the easiest access to you and your awesome personality. Post pictures of -gasp- yourself every few posts. Your feed doesn’t have to be non stop styled perfect everything, a mix of personal posts showing who you are and what you like PLUS images showing what you want to shoot is a great way to curate your brand beyond your website.

2.) Be Consistent – While it’s fun to go crazy with your personal posts, remember you are still building up your brand. Consistent editing of the photos you post will keep your Instagram feed clean, you can even try to use your branding color palate as inspiration, and stick to those colors. Try to be consistent with your posting day too, so you aren’t going weeks without new content.

3.) Know Your Message – Instagram’s not only to show your recent work, but to attract future clients. Once you know your message, use that to your advantage. As yourself, does this photo portray my message? If so, post it! If not, find another one that speaks to your ideal client. If your message is lets say, bright and fun, posting dark, super moody serious images isn’t helping you attract the type of client you want down the road. Pick two or three words that define your ideal client and use those as the threshold to what work gets posted online.

4.) Interact with Your Audience – Encourage questions, and spend a little bit of time each day commenting and replying to comments on Instagram. The more interaction you have, the more likely those people are going to see your photos in your feed (yes, sometimes you have to put the social in social media). The biggest thing that has helped this not take over my life has been turning off notifications (counter intuitive right? No….totally works!). I found I’m much more motivated to interact and schedule in 5-10 minutes to comment and reply to posters if I haven’t been seeing notifications all day long. Instagram should be fun, so don’t make it a chore!

While we have no control over Instagram’s features, we do have control over what content we create which will attract an audience that can help your brand. Get out there, take a selfie, and connect to your ideal client!

12 Tools to Rock Your Photography Business This Year

12 Tools to Rock Your Photography Business This YearDisclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means Photography Awesomesauce receives commission if you make a purchase using affiliate links.

Hey hey! Today I put together a list of some of my favorite tools I use to rock my photography business daily. Everything from gear related tools to business tools. If you’re really looking for a way to level up your business this year and take something that’s a weakness for you (maybe it’s social media) having the tools available to help you make it a strength can make a huge difference in your business.

I’m not saying you need to run out and buy all these things right now. Everyone has a budget for your business, but I strongly encourage each of you to sit down and figure out what you’re strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to business and how you can use one of these tools to make a weakness into a strength. I’ve always been a believer in investing in your business and looking at these types of purchases as an investment that lets me get my life back and do a better job for my clients.

  1. Fundy Designer – Fundy is an album design software program – primarily. The cool thing is that Fundy has also come out with software to help you design wall galleries for your clients, or to help you collage blog posts and more. If you’re going to invest in some software to automate processes like album design Fundy is simply the best there is out there.
  2. Pixifi – Pixifi is my favorite tool for studio management. I run all my contracts and payments digitally through Pixifi, but it also automates my client reminders and communications as well, which means I get to take back my life and let Pixifi do the hard work for me so I can enjoy more time with family or getting out and shooting!
  3. Made in the Lab – If you haven’t heard of my new business venture with my business partners, Rachael and Jason, then you need to get over and read all about it. Made in the Lab is a web design focused company. We’re dedicated to creating affordable website templates for creative business owners like photographers. If you need a professionally designed website but typically can’t afford all the high fees associated with purchasing a template to design one, well look no further. You can grab a template for only $60.
  4. Showit5 – Showit5 is a brand new website design platform geared specifically toward photographers. It’s all about simple drag and drop website creation, no need to know how to code! Right now Showit5 is invite only based, but you can grab an invite for free from Made in the Lab over here.
  5. Lens Flipper – The Lens Flipper might be my favorite new thing I’ve found at WPPI this past year! If you’re a photographer then you probably know exactly what I’m talking about when you want to switch lenses and you just don’t have enough hands, or a place to set down a lens to do it properly. The lens flipper is a little attachment cap so you don’t have to worry about swapping lenses and having extra hands. It’s so cool. I was able to use it at weddings already and I’m in love. It’s incredibly helpful for swapping out lenses on the go.
  6. Holdfast Moneymaker – I struggle a lot with neck and back problems so the Holdfast Moneymaker harness system is the best way ever for me to hold my cameras. Whether you shoot with two cameras at once, or one (you can attach a lens bag on the other side to even out the weight), it’s perfect for keeping your back happy and healthy. Plus you look badass.
  7. Shootproof – Photo CDs and USBs are out for me and I love delivering photos through digital download with Shootproof. If digital download isn’t your thing that’s okay too, you can still use them as an online proofing gallery and sell prints! There are tons of reasons I could go on about why I love Shootproof, but instead you can read about how Shootproof’s automated email system can help you sell more prints, 9 reasons Shootproof is the best, and this review about Shootproof. You can also take 25% off any annual plan on Shootproof if you use the code SWAILS25.
  8. Lens Rentals Membership – For $79 a year you can never pay shipping fees ever again from Lens Rentals. I’ve only rented a few times and it paid for itself multiple times over already. It can cost $25-50 per rental to ship, so if you plan on renting more than once a year – you already save money. Lens Rentals is also Lens Authority, a used gear sales shop. They are seriously my favorite place to buy used gear. Everything is in pristine condition and the customer service is out of this world.
  9. Professional Graphic Designer – If you’re not into templates for web design (as mentioned earlier) and you want something a little more custom then I highly recommend hiring a professional designer. I’m terrible at design myself, and having Rachael Earl on my team to custom design two websites for me this year (among other projects) has been one of the best investments in life ever. Professional design can go such a long way to making your business look professional. After all, if it doesn’t look like you invest in your business, you can’t expect your clients to as well.
  10. Coschedule – Struggle with blogging? Writing and scheduling posts in advance is an amazing way to keep up with blogging and take advantage of all its marketing benefits. One of the best ways to help me with scheduling is Coschedule. It’s a plugin for WordPress blogs that adds an editorial schedule, but most importantly, it adds a box under each blog post that allows you to schedule social media blasts in advance for after your post is scheduled to go live. It means you can automate the blogging process, write when it works best for you, and then not have to worry about remembering to post on social media about your blogs.
  11. Edgar – Speaking of social media scheduling tools, let me tell you about Edgar. Edgar is a bit pricey in terms of scheduling, but if social media is something you majorly struggle with – Edgar can also be a lifesaver. I would say it’s definitely one of the best investments I have spent in the last year. It’s a social media scheduling tool for Facebook and Twitter. Unlike Hootsuite, where you have to go in and schedule posts, Edgar allows you to create a huge library of updates and sort them into various categories. Then you can assign the categories to post at specific times of the week to specific accounts. So Edgar actually does the scheduling for you, by cycling through your library and then making the posts go live. Even though it seems pricey in terms of a monthly investment, it’s WAY cheaper than hiring a social media assistant and it makes your social media basically hands free.
  12. Schedugram – The only thing Edgar can’t do is schedule on Instagram. In fact, a lot of Instagram scheduling programs still don’t fully automate the process. They have to send a reminder to your phone to post something. You have to drop everything you’re doing to post it at the time you wanted it to go live and then who knows…you’re probably off track chasing down weird hashtags on Instagram.  Hours later you’ve lost tons of productive work time. Am I right? That’s where Schedugram is different, it schedules and fully automates the process for you, unlike Latergram. You just schedule everything by logging into your browser on your desktop and then voila – it takes care of Instagram for you and you get your editing done. Between this and Edgar, I do often feel like I’m spending a big investment on social media, but I can’t tell you enough how much I’ve also earned back from that investment in terms of followers, leads, and actual bookings…plus happier clients and a happier husband who I can actually spend time with! Here’s a blog post I wrote about Schedugram and how to actually automate your Instagram posts.

If you want to learn more awesome behind the business stuff like this make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter below, where we’ll be giving out extra special discounts and a few free products only for subscribers this Winter. You can also join our Facebook group, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, and even follow me on Pinterest where I love to pin social media, blogging, business, and photography tips from all over the web! If you subscribe to our newsletter you’ll need to head on over to your email after you hit the submit button here to confirm your subscription. If you don’t see a confirmation check your junk/spam!


How to Create In-Camera Double Exposure Portraits

In-Camera Double Exposure
A Beginner’s Guide to making dreamy in-camera double exposure portraits using your DSLR.


Every now and then I get bored with my portraits.

Sacrilege, I know! But it’s true. My heart craves expression and creativity.  Like, I don’t know why I would even be a photographer if I couldn’t also express myself through my work. One of the ways I keep myself from getting into a rut is with creative photography techniques. I have a few tricks up my sleeve and one of my of-the-moment favorites is in-camera double exposure.

Multiple exposures are a fun trick to add a little creative edge to your portfolio. I like to throw a double exposure portrait or two in the mix during a session to keep things interesting. Plus the dreamy, whimsical look totally suits my photography style. Bonus Points: my clients dig them! This “How To” is written for beginners who either haven’t tried in-camera double exposure yet or maybe you have, but you just aren’t sure how to get the look you want. Hopefully, the background and tips here will give you a better idea of how multiple exposures work so you can get out, try it for yourself, and decide if you want to add it to your photography toolbox.

Making use of in-camera double exposure during a senior portrait session.

Begin at the Beginning

My background shooting film won’t allow me to talk about double exposure without talking about where it comes from. So bear with me for a moment. For the younger souls reading this, the whole idea of multiple exposures comes from film photography. I’m going to oversimplify this, but back in the film age you could accomplish multiple exposures in two main ways.

Double Exposure with Film Photography

  • In camera: by exposing your film to one image and then exposing that same frame of film again to a second image – the result being two overlapping images on a single frame of film.
  • In post-processing: by overlapping and exposing two different film negatives to the same piece of photographic paper during the developing process.

Before sitting down to write this I had imagined that double exposures originated as accidents – like someone forgetting to manually wind their camera between shots – but somewhere along the line it became a form of art and expression. I hadn’t given it a ton of thought, but when I started writing this post I became curious. Did the art form start somewhere around the psychedelic 60s? Earlier? A little research lead me to an interesting discovery: the art of creating multiple exposures actually goes all the way back to the 1800s! It was called “spirit photography” – the idea of creating ghostly apparitions in photographs.   If you’re a nerd like me, you can read more about this early form of multiple exposure HERE (even if you don’t feel like reading it, you should totally still skip through for the cool 1800’s photos).

This was one of my first in-camera double exposure portrait attempts using a DSLR.
This was one of my first in-camera double exposure portrait attempts using my DSLR.

Fast Forward to the Digital Age

DSLRs change the way we create multiple exposures for one obvious reason: we are no longer using film! Even though there’s no film involved, digital multiple exposure works in two surprisingly similar ways (or maybe not so surprising if you are already familiar with the technique).

Double Exposure with Digital Photography

  • In camera: Most DSLRs will have a multiple exposure setting in the menu.
  • In post-processing: By layering images in Photoshop – you can draw your own connections between that and layering film negatives in a darkroom.

How To Create In-Camera Double Exposure with Your DSLR

You were beginning to wonder if I’d ever get here, right? While I have tried all of the above methods at some point in my lifetime, at the present moment, my preferred method is in-camera double exposure on my DSLR. I just love the organic nature of doing it in-camera paired with the instant gratification of digital photography. As a tutorial, I’m going to focus on the texture overlapping a silhouette look because it’s probably the simplest method to start with.

  1. Find your multiple exposure setting.

    On my Nikon cameras, I go to the “Shooting Menu” then “Multiple Exposure” and then choose the number of exposures (images) I want to overlap. I’m pretty sure most cameras are similar, but you might need to consult your manual or Google to find your setting.

  2. Capture your first image

    • Silhouettes against a white background work really well for the first image. An overcast sky or a background without a lot of detail will work nicely.
    • Keep in mind that the more underexposed or darker places on your first image are generally where your overlapping image is most pronounced.
    • Exposure is key! Remember your settings so if you don’t get the look you want on your first try, it’s easier to get it right on the next one.
  3. Capture your overlapping image 

    • Textures like a field of flowers or a line of trees work really well for the overlapping image.
    • Remember to adjust your settings and expose for the overlapping image.
    • Live View vs. Viewfinder: I prefer to use my viewfinder, but if you want more control over the placement of your overlapping image, you can use your camera’s live view.

In-camera Double Exposure Self PortraitThat’s it! Now you have a double-exposure image created in camera!

Sounds too easy, right? The tricky part isn’t so much doing it, as it is getting the results you want. Experiment with different settings to create a look that fits your style. For me that means my double exposure images are moody, organic and raw around the edges, but if you are more of a light and airy photographer, you might experiment with a cleaner look using solid white background and a more defined silhouette.

I hope this post is helpful to those who want to try out in-camera double exposure techniques to see if it’s something you want to add to your portrait toolkit. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I am happy to answer any questions you might have. If reading this inspires you to go out and try something new, I would love to see what you came up with! Share it with me in the comments, on Facebook, or in the Awesomesauce community. <3

Seriously, I want to see!

In-camera Double Exposure Engagement Session BW


5 Tips for Getting Started with UNDERWATER Portraits


If you’re anything like me, the first time you saw an underwater portrait, you gasped out loud. There’s something about the ethereal beauty and movement captured in a well-done underwater image is something pretty magical. As an underwater photographer myself, I remember vividly the first time I nervously entertained the idea of taking my professional camera equipment under the surface. There was this lovely couple I’d worked with a few times before (both engagement and wedding by that point) and they were going to Kauai for their 1st anniversary for a sort of combination “real” honeymoon and anniversary celebration. And they wanted some epic photos.  Lucky for me, they not only called me to create these images with them (which meant flying me and my assistant-hubby out to Kauai…. #hardworkbutsomeonehastodoit….#amiright?), they wanted to cliff-dive and get IN the water. Which meant me and my camera were going to be IN the water. Which meant I better do some work.

I reached out to a few underwater photographers and paid for lessons. I bought a water bag to house my camera and I set to work scouring the internet for input on exactly how to do what I needed to do. I had no idea the can of worms I’d be opening or just how much I’d fall in love with this particular medium of photography! The images in Kauai were so much fun that I spend the next year paying for more lessons, tracking down more articles, and practicing whenever I could. I also spent a lot of time with scuba instructors and other personnel who could give me advice and training on water safety and tips that I could pass on to clients. Over a year after that first experience, I finally opened up my underwater “studio” to clients. This past weekend marked the opening of my 3rd underwater season available to clients and I can’t tell you how good it felt to be back in the water!

All of that backstory to say there are a few details you should know to get YOU started before you *ahem* dive in.

Step 1: Take a water safety course. I know that sounds sorta lame, but I’m totally serious. Before you or a a friend/client/excited-mermaid-tail-owner get in the water with electronic equipment, please do your due diligence to keep all of you safe. Things like can you all swim and don’t get in the water with a heavy dress ever because you’ll drown are all key things to know before you risk your life or anyone else’s. This is ESPECIALLY true of pregnant women! Mini-rant: do NOT risk a pregnant woman’s life or the life of her baby because you didn’t research if or how long they can safely hold their breath. Remember, this type of shooting requires one or all of you to be without oxygen (you know, a basic element required for being alive…) while shooting. Don’t take any of that lightly. Be safe. Make good choices.

Step 2: Try your first few sessions in a nice warm pool (preferably one with saline instead of chlorine). This is partly due to Step 1 above (safety first, kids!) but also because it will give you a chance to focus (literally) on all the other elements that come in to play while shooting before adding things like “I’m so cold I can’t feel my fingers” or “Where is the current taking us” to the mix. Keep everyone, especially yourself, as comfortable as possible to get used to how this crazy thing works so you can troubleshoot without the pressure of, oh you know, hypothermia because you’re in a freshwater glacier-fed lake.

Step 3: Try out water bag housing on your camera. If you’re serious about giving underwater photography a go, you’re going to want to use your “real” camera and that means putting it in a housing. Hard case housings have some advantages (and disadvantages) but they biggest issue there is that you’re likely to spend anywhere between $1500-5000 for a housing that fits exactly one very specific camera and one very specific lens. That’s a LOT to invest in if you’re not sure you’re going to really pursue this and you’re just wanting to get your feet wet (hahaha).  My personal recommendation is to go with EWA Marine bags. A single water bag can fit multiple setups and they’re pretty fool-proof to put on your camera correctly (as opposed to some other water bag companies). They’re fantastic quality and they’re not going to break the bank. Extra bonus? If for some reason the bag did leak, water bags are a very slooow leak which gives you time to catch it and fix it. With a hard case housing, if there’s a leak, your housing floods and your equipment is toast.

Step 4: Use a wide angle lens. This lets you stay as close to your subject as possible and that’s pretty key for clarity under the water. You’ll find that the water itself behaves like another lens and the further you are from your client, the harder it is to get a sharp image and the more scatter in the water will show up for you. It can create an almost painted look (which can be great if that’s what you are going for!) but for clear shots, stay close and shoot wide.

Step 5: Find a community of other photographers who you can troubleshoot with. There’s a lot of troubleshooting to do with underwater photography, trust me. The water itself has it’s own personality every time you get in and there is so much to take into account when getting under the surface (lighting, what aperture to use, getting clients to look relaxed under the water, how long to stay under, etc). Also, spoiler alert, there’s a ton of back-end post production work that is absolutely necessary with underwater imagery. It simply is a part of the equation because of what happens with light and color when it hits water. Plus, again, safety concerns mean that sometime compositing images is the only way to keep everyone safe while creating a specific type of image. The post-production is over half of the work with underwater images so get comfy with photoshop and lightroom. And join a group where you can ask questions. To have a moment of self-promotion, I run a group just like this on Facebook called Mermaid Sessions — Photographer Group. We’re friendly, we’re happy to share tips, and we like supporting this community.


Ready to take the plunge? (hahaha, I’m full of them today!) Sebastian had it right; it IS better down where it’s wetter. Join the community, post questions, contact me directly, and dive in! You can also find me on Periscope broadcasting my underwater sessions LIVE (including the underwater part!) by going to http://periscope.tv/briennemichelle or follow along on Instagram with the hashtag #MermaidSessions.