Favorite Insta Post?
In his relatively short career, Andy Mann has served as the senior photographer at Climbing Magazine and had his images appear in National Geographic and the New York Times. He cofounded Boulder-based 3 Strings Productions in 2010 and has a travel schedule that most pilots would envy. Lucky for us, we get to tag along for the ride courtesy of Instagram. We caught up with Mann for a few tips and to see what separates his shots from the rest.
@andy_mann: I’m pretty fond on this image as it represents an intense moment forever engrained into my mind. Last year, I took the plunge into underwater photography—focusing on sharks—in an effort to change the public perception of this amazing and delicate animal. This was my very first open water dive and it happened to be with over 50 bull sharks in Fiji. It was unforgettable.
Tool of Choice?
I started sharing shots only from my iPhone on Instagram, but more recently I have been posting shots I bring back from trips that I take with my my DSLR—like this portrait of Mike Gordon from the band Phish. Currently, I’m more into posting real-time shots from my Sony a7s, which connects via Wi-Fi to my phone.
Story Behind Your Biggest Hit?
I was in Kruger National Park photographing wild elephants. I had an intimate encounter with a large female who let me know I was a little too close and it was time to move on. I’m pretty good at reading social cues, so I backed off. The image has uniqueness with the body position of the elephant, the sunset rays and the bronze treatment, all of which people seemed to like. Or people just love elephants, which is more likely the case.
Be unique. Don’t just point a flashlight into the Milky Way because that’s what everyone on your feed seems to be (oddly) doing. Get creative with your images and the way they are treated and edited and tell a captivating story in the caption. Don’t be afraid to get edgy and journalistic.
People should be encouraged to post however they feel like posting it. Whether it’s treated, raw, shot with the phone or a DSLR. I used to be a phone-only purist on Instagram, but I use it differently these days. That's what makes it cool.
iPhone or DSLR?
A lot of my photography is shot on expeditions to remote parts of the world where there is no service. I like to bring those images home and trickle them out to help tell the story of my adventures. I use the phone to capture the more day-to-day stuff and post what I happen to be doing in-between trips. I think my followers like to see both the stories from my last trip (DSLR) and what I’m doing to prepare for the next one (iPhone). I’ll even use screen grabs from video when I'm on a video shoot.
Respect the Square
Instagram has become critical in how I run my business. It’s also a huge tool for clients. There are two major ways I see Instagram being crucial to professional photography.
1. If your images are popping up on the feeds and your active in posting great imagery—particularly recent stuff—clients and potential clients are going to be paying attention. You’d be surprised how often I am hired because a job came up the same day that I posted something cool and I just happened to be the first person they thought of.
2. It’s an incredibly valuable distribution format. If the client knows your going to be actively posting from a particular assignment and tagging them, they see that as unique impressions, which is an added bonus. Get those followers up use them as a selling point.
Keith Ladzinski was a big catalyst in my career. In fact, when I decided to quit my job and become a full-time photographer, I drove straight to his house in Colorado Springs and he kitted me out and even gave me a few client contacts. We’ve grown into a family since then, launching 3 Strings Productions together in 2010. His feed is ridiculous due to the fact that he has been obsessively shooting photos for 15 years, and now he has a platform to share them. It's sick, there is no bottom to his feed.