A photo posted by Jiri Siftar (@jeera) on

A photo posted by Jiri Siftar (@jeera) on

A photo posted by Jiri Siftar (@jeera) on

A photo posted by Jiri Siftar (@jeera) on

A photo posted by Jiri Siftar (@jeera) on

A photo posted by Jiri Siftar (@jeera) on

 

I'm an interaction designer in finance; I’m Czech, originally, but I’ve been living in the UK for eight years. I started using Instagram on the very first day it was published, five years ago. My ID is 2840 and as far as I know, 25k users registered on that first day.

In the first two years, Instagram was all about the photography. Now, it’s more about sharing moments and thoughts. It’s closer to how people share images on Facebook, but perhaps that’s what Facebook intended.

I’ve been posting photos every day for years. You don’t want to repeat yourself or play a safe card all the time, but being original and creative is the fun of it, so it isn’t hard. It’s simply challenging. I could never pick a personal favourite from all of my pictures. It would be like picking your favourite child!


 

TOP TIP

It’s quite a complex thing, Instagram, and it requires you to be fairly strategic. You need to closely watch what works for you, using tools like iconosquare.com or socialblade.com to get quantified feedback on your actions. But obviously, the most important thing is to only post great images.

 

There have been some jumps in my follower count due to changes Instagram made – adding Android, for instance, or when it was in the headlines after the sale to Facebook. But other than that, my growth was always very steady. I’ve never been on the suggested list, which is curated by the Instagram staff and their friends, which means that most of my followers have found me because of my pictures. My followers are from all around the world. If you haven’t yet, you should go on Instagram and just follow people from any place you can think of. It might feel like you’re there with them.

What I love about Instagram is the focused community of common folks who simply love to see nice pictures and are happy to appreciate them. Flickr or 500px, for example, are inhabited by pros and competitive folks who only appreciate pro work. Facebook is for everyone, so people appreciating pictures are in the minority. That’s why Instagram is so unique. Users are there for the pictures.

Facebook is making changes to Instagram in order to offer better content to users, allegedly, but in reality, all they want is to get the brand’s money. I’ve written an article about it, here. It frustrates me that core users like me were building up their portfolios and engagement with followers, and now Facebook is simply closing those organic channels. But I guess we expected this to happen at some point.


 

BEST LONDON INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS

  • @london because this account will always show you other great London based instagrammers
  • @alanisko because he picked up where I left off
  • @ecolephoto because he always sees thing differently
 

Instagram has allowed me to meet many great and interesting people. I don’t post any selfies, so it’s a rare occurrence but sometimes people do recognise me on the street. It’s usually very nice when it does happen. Some people simply ask me for a meeting because they’re following me, or we’ve been following each other for a long time. Sometimes I meet other Instagrammers on meetups or on sponsored trips, where we work together. I have several great friendships that have started that way. It’s definitely a very social network, in the true sense.

I’ve had some incredible experiences thanks to Instagram: I had an exhibition in Moscow, my pictures were displayed on every tube car for six months, I photographed Tom Jones, I’ve been invited to conferences and TV shows, I’ve been offered countless trips to places like Australia and the Isle of Jura. But mostly, I’ve met plenty of great people along the way.


 

MY BEST POST

My most successful photo, in terms of likes, was this one:

A photo posted by Jiri Siftar (@jeera) on

It has all the iconic elements that people love about London, plus snow – it’s kind of like a fairytale image.