In this Instagram series we dig into the world of likes and followers. Photographers with a larger following describe their Insta beginnings, the importance of their audience and more. We kick off with Italian photographer Lorenzo Catena.
Profession: Architect / photographer
Collective: Italian Street Eyes
Awards: Sony World Photography Awards (2018) / honourable mention, London Street Photography Festival (2018) / London category
Instagram username: lorenzo_catena
Favourite hashtags: #life_is_street #ourstreets #apfmagazine #eyeshotmag
#myspc #ihsp #streetsacademy #today_street #nightwalkermagazine
First posted photo: January 2013
Last posted photo: February 2018
Most popular photo: September 2018
1. When and how did you start posting on Instagram?
I have an Instagram profile since 2013, but at that time I used it only for personal photos that probably used to be interesting only to my closest friends. In the summer of 2016, once my passion for photography began, I decided to change from a private profile to a public one and I started taking care of my Instagram page more carefully. At that time, my style was aimed at photographing situations with light and shadows in the streets without any particular thought to it. The main reason for having a public profile was to get in touch, look for ideas and compare myself to the context of street photography in that particular moment. Instagram was also a sort of an education platform and a database always at hand: I met the work of many masters of photography indirectly on this platform. Parallel to my growth as a photographer, I understood the importance of studying works of other photographers in a more serious and in-depth way, buying books and attending exhibitions in a constant euphoric and discovery mood.
2. How did you gain this amount of followers?
I gained a large number of followers certainly because of a certain consistency in sharing my photos. At the beginning I used to post many of the photos I took without thinking too much: I posted more than one picture per day as I had a lot of material to share. I was euphoric and I used to shot continuously without thinking too much about the style or the message. Obviously many photos were similar to each other, but posting so many picture helped me to be very present on the platform. Over time I have been selected several times by pages promoting street photography, all this has exposed my profile to many visitors eventually gaining new followers. I also was shortlisted as a “talented photographer to follow on Instagram” or quoted by YouTube channels that promote street photography. But all of this fortunately did not contribute to complacency, but it pushed me to investigate where I wanted to go and to develop a personal vision as a photographer.
3. How important to you is your online audience? Does the online feedback influence your artistic or editorial choices?
It’s impressive how much exchange of opinions, knowledge and visions happen in private messages: you can get in touch with other photographers and eventually go to shoot together or organise trips to meet in other cities also taking advantage of a personal “street” guide. So for me, my online audience is important in many ways, not only to find out if one can be an inspiration for other photographers, or to help generate interest in street photography per se, but also for the human connection that derives from a digital platform. However, if I had to follow the online feedback of some of my photos, especially the most recent and experimental ones, I would not post half of the photos I’ve posted. I continue with my vision and I think it is important that it is always evolving without being influenced by the number of likes one photo took in comparison to other ones. The quantity of likes do not measure the skill and the aim of a photographer.
4. What kind of images are most popular and do they align with your personal favourites?
Today the most popular photos in my feed are those that have the ability to be cross-cutting getting to more types of people: very often these are photos with a strong aesthetic impact but at the same time generate curiosity and raise questions to those who are observing them. These can be photos in which there is something more: can be the meaning, the curiosity or the aesthetics. At the moment I would say that the most popular photos are aligning with my favourites because my research as a photographer leads me to combine the simplicity and global clarity of the image mixing it with the presence of complexity in the details or in the overall composition within a single shot.
5. Do you enjoy any financial benefits from having so many followers?
I have never focused strongly on this aspect, perhaps mistakenly. Thanks to my presence on Instagram I have been contacted by clients and private companies. At the moment I take care of my page mainly as a well-kept showcase of my work and that may eventually lead to new contacts and commissioned work.
6. Do you have advice for photographers who want to grow on Instagram?
If your goal is purely to grow your audience on Instagram there are many daily rules to follow and the internet is full of suggestions. Being aware of it does not hurt. Surely one should be consistent, this means publishing at least one photo per day. Consider that those who are serious in this field can publish up to 3 photos per day, changing the hashtags used depending on the time of the post to not conflict with the Instagram algorithm. But looking at your future as a photographer, my suggestion is to maintain a high level of photographic quality and curate your contents, one should not focus on quantity. You should try to give a coherence to your language, what is your vision as a photographer? Answering this question will also help you develop your editorial and authorial sense.
Thank you Lorenzo!
© All the pictures in this post are copyrighted. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.