Photographers have already started to suggest the once unthinkable: Instagram is dead. While we all wait for the next social media platform to emerge, good Instagram alternatives already exist and they are now an important part of the conversation, as prominent Instagram users complain about the declining user experience. Even YouTube photographer Peter McKinnon, who has millions of followers on Instagram (and recently released a video on his channel to demonstrate his concerns) says he is losing thousands of Instagram followers daily because of the changes.
But why all the fuss?
Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, might have something to do with it. Recently, he shared a video explaining some big changes to the platform. The changes were clearly unpopular. The user’s biggest complaint? That Instagram was clearly pivoting away from photography and towards video to attract more advertising revenue at a cost to its loyal base.
Yes, that’s right, Instagram seems to be morphing into another hyper-algorithmic social media platform like TikTok. It’s certainly not the Instagram photographers used to know and love.
McKinnon and others are now also pushing alternative platforms. Ones more suited to sharing photos and building social relationships focused on photography. Fortunately, there are some really good Instagram alternatives out there for photographers, but first, let’s dig a little deeper into Instagram’s main problem with photographers.
What’s wrong with Instagram (and why are photographers so keen to leave)?
Before we offer some useful Instagram alternatives, here’s a few reasons why photographers are no longer using their Instagram accounts like they used to:
1. Instagram is now flooded with content you probably have no interest in and didn’t choose to include in your feed. Gone are the days when you could enjoy seeing mainly photos your friends and those you are following uploaded.
2. Everyone is now an influencer, regardless of talent or passion. If you can spin two rocks together and take a picture of it, you can now be Insta-famous for all the wrong reasons. And if that doesn’t sting enough, influencers have flooded the platform using a number of controversial social media tactics: Buying followers, purchasing, copying and creating unoriginal content and ultimately, dragging down the core value of the user experience for dedicated photographers who actually want a platform they can discover inspiration with.
3. Ads: We are seeing more and more ads and promoted material designed for commerce, not for the community.
4. Content overload: Reels and Stories have done nothing to keep those more interested in photography on the app. Scrolling your feed we are now inundated with short video clips. This type of content is detached from what once attracted photographers to Instagram.
Mosseri’s announcement that Instagram is pivoting more towards video told us nothing new. It’s been obvious for a long time this is the case. Photographers are left wondering what the alternatives are.
Why Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app
Maybe less than 30% of what you see on Instagram are photos from people you follow. The emphasis has long slipped away from presenting photography to sharing snapshots. Gone are the days of serious photographers valuing Instagram as a platform to showcase their work. It’s deteriorated into a space for celebrity gossip, cyberbullying, and showboating.
Instagram’s fall into a pit of video reels, ads, and “suggested posts” has inspired many photographers to look for alternatives. We’re tired of having what we see manipulated by money-making algorithms. I don’t want to see pretty things, funny animals, or endless selfies of people I don’t know. I’m interested in photography!
Sure, there are ways to manage your Instagram account and tailor it to your desires. You can:
- Make your account private
- Only follow photographers
- Selectively post only your best photos
- Limit discussion to photography-related subjects
But you’ll still feel like you’re not in a great place where photographers can share their work and engage in meaningful conversation about their craft. If you are feeling anything like this, it’s about time you started exploring alternatives … and there are plenty of them out there.
Photo by: Austin Distel
The best Instagram alternatives for photographers to try
We’ve spent some time putting together this list of Instagram alternatives based on a few key things:
- Community experience is photography focused
- Primarily centred around photography and sharing photos
- Well designed
- Easy and enjoyable to use
- Accessible via computer and/or mobile device
Here’s our top choices for Instagram alternatives, in no particular order.
VSCO is a robust photo editing app with an impressive spread of filters. It’s similar in ways to Instagram, but with some significant enhancements and omissions. You can:
- Take and edit photos
- Apply filters
- Share and reshare photos
- Follow photographers
One key point of interest with VSCO is follower numbers are only shown to the account holder. You are the only one who sees how many people are signed on to follow your photographic expression and sharing on the platform.
VSCO has both free and paid usage options and is available for mobile devices, and via their website (with limited functionality.)
On VERO you can post both photos and videos that will appear in chronological order. There’s no algorithm to mix things up and mess with your timeline. You can also:
- Like posts
- Follow photographers
- Comment on their posts
- Choose your audience to share content with
- Repost other’s content
VERO prides itself on pushing back on issues that Instagram has become infamous for. Things such as privacy, advertising, and algorithms. Without being forced into some profit-incentivized feed you can view and share:
- TV shows
- Go-to locations
You’re able to control privacy levels on a post-by-post level, rather than for the whole account. This makes VERO an attractive tool for posting different content to different audiences.
VERO is accessible via computer and mobile devices. It’s currently free and the app store states “Free for a limited time: join as a Founding Member now and your subscription is free for life.”
Tumblr is a well-established platform for microblogging and social networking. You can share your own content and “reblog” content that others have posted. There are few limiters or rules and the site allows for great design flexibility in how you customize your own space.
Tumblr can be seen as a cross between Instagram and Reddit. Posting images, following influencers, and becoming a part of fan and special interest groups are all part of the experience.
The flexibility of Tumblr makes it an attractive option for ecommerce entrepreneurs. It’s easy to set up and design to present your brand. The social aspects of the site means shared content can be easily followed by interested users.
Tumblr has both free and paid options and is available to use on the website or with a mobile app.
5oopx launched in 2009 and grew as an online network of millions of photographers. The platform’s focus is more on photos than social networking. The algorithm encourages users to connect with like-minded photographers. You won’t feel that what you’re seeing is engagement and profit driven.
On 500px you can:
- Post and share photos
- Gain exposure
- Enter photo contests
- Show that you’re available for hire
- License and sell your photos
Your images get immediate exposure when you upload as the algorithm is designed to push your photos to like-minded users. The focus of the social community is photography. Feedback on photos is encouraged and can be a valuable tool when you’re learning photography or when you’re already more experienced.
500px has both free and paid options. You can use 500px with their app on Android and iPhone as well as on the website.
Photo by: Adem AY
Flickr is quite similar to 500px. t’s a great online location to share a portfolio of your work, whether you’re a professional or casual photographer. You can upload, organize and share your photos and videos. By creating Albums you can organize your images easily and creatively.
Curating your own photos and those of others is facilitated using Galleries. You can collect up to 500 photos and videos in a Gallery. This is a great way to network with other photographers on the platform and show them you appreciate their creativity.
Flickr’s old! It’s been around since 2004. It is certainly more focused on quality photography than social networking but does not discount it. You’re more likely to talk about photography on Flickr. Sharing specs and settings, and engaging in conversations about photography.
Flickr has both free and paid options. You can use Flickr with their app on Android and iPhone as well as on the website.
Glass promotes itself as a photo-sharing platform and photography community. It’s designed to keep you interested in photography rather than be addicted to social media. Its sole focus is photography. It makes creating and sharing a portfolio of your work very easy.
There’s no showing off how many likes or followers you have. Social networking focuses on building relationships with other photographers. Not on driving engagement. You get to see when others appreciate your work, but there are no public counts or data mining that powers the advertising as on Instagram.
Its design and features are well thought out with special attention given to security and privacy.
Behance is a popular sharing platform for:
- Graphic designers
- And crafters
It’s a great place to share your own work and be inspired by others. Many photographers prefer Behance as a portfolio sharing site. This is because of its functionality that is well designed and easily searchable.
Behance is part of the Adobe empire. It is a great place to showcase your work, especially if you’re seeking job opportunities. You can arrange your work into projects. Each with its own URL making it easy to share with potential clients or existing ones. There’s even an onsite Jobs Link connecting creatives and new work opportunities.
Behance offers both free and paid options and is available as an app or via the website.
DeviantArt is another one of the older options on our list. Launched back in the year 2000 they promote themselves as a platform for emerging and established artists. You can exhibit, promote, and share your photography with a large, enthusiastic community of creatives.
On the site you can:
- Showcase your photography
- Comment on what others share
- Join discussion forums
- Engage in real-time chat
Despite the site’s long life, it has held firmly focused on sharing art and building a strong community. It’s free to join as well as having paid options. If you become a paying member this opens up the opportunity to participate in DEVmeets. These are real-life, offline gatherings for artists to meet together for networking and brainstorming.
DeviantArt offers both free and paid options and is available as an app or via the website.
The final word: Which Instagram alternative is best for you as a photographer?
Are you a photographer looking for somewhere you can share your photos and interact with other photographers? Then we think you’ll definitely find these Instagram alternatives attractive.
There are many other options for photo sharing online. These on our list are just the tip of the iceberg. Spend a little time to research, keeping in mind what aspects of your online photography experience you value the most. We’re sure you’ll discover there are more vibrant and focused alternatives that have their users’ interests prioritized.