The Power of the Hashtag and Instagram

The Power of the Hashtag and Instagram

It’s now been well over a year since I finished teaching my last online Finding Photo Flow class.  So much has changed since that time and yet so much has remained the same.  I still take photos just about everyday.  My daily routine continues to evolve, with a common theme of having less time than ever before. It’s not that my days are any shorter, I’ve just changed how I spend my time. I’ve made a conscience choice to immerse myself in my family, work and personal growth, leaving me with little time to organize and process photos like I used to… enter the power of the hashtag and Instagram.
Travel 1Travel 2 MontrealTravel 4 Costa RicaTravel 5 CA TorontoTravel 6 Boston Nebraska

My Main Camera? iPhone 5s

True confession for my FPF peeps – I rarely pick up my Canon 6D camera anymore unless it is a very special occasion or a planned shoot… These days I spend most of my time using the my mobile phone camera (iPhone 5s).

Technology has come so far, I now have in my pocket a camera with as much power as my first SLR.  I used to think taking photos with my iPhone was second rate, but I’ve learned those limitations are more about my abilities than the phone. If you have any quibble with that, check out this gallery of photos taken by iPhone Photographers.

In the past eighteen months, I’ve traveled all over the United States, Canada and Central America and my iPhone photos haven’t disappointed. It’s also made it so much easier to travel light.

My Main Photo Gallery? Instagram

I haven’t printed a photo in over a year. I don’t anticipate printing any this year outside of a gallery wall I’m working on for my home. I’m really happy about this! These days I don’t even bother with uploading photos to my TV or digital photo frames. I share everything on Instagram, with an occasional share of an important moment on Facebook. The great thing about this is my husband, children and extended family are all on Instagram and/or Facebook, making it our living and breathing photo album.

Technology is allowing us to collaborate and share memories in ways that frankly weren’t possible before.  Everyday I have a feed of photos from my children, spouse, siblings, parents, extended family and friends, making it possible to share in their daily memories.  This also extends to my community and work.

My Photo Organization?  The Hashtag

It may seem blasphemous to my Finding Photo Flow followers, but I haven’t organized a photo in Lightroom since basketball season. I spend time there when I’m processing a photo shoot from my 6D, but other than that I rarely use Lightroom anymore.

These days I’m backing up my photos without thinking about it, directly from my mobile phone to Dropbox, which then syncs with Time Machine and Backblaze, securely backing up all my photos, hard drives, and computers both off-site and on-site.

Yes, I realize I have triple backup copies of my mobile phone photos which exist on Time Machine, Dropbox AND Backblaze. However, knowing they are in multiple places on and off-site gives me total peace of mind.

Which brings me to the power of the hashtag. These days I add all sorts of fun hashtags to my posts on Instagram… this allows me to have mini photo albums of things I love on the go…  which is great when one is traveling and missing home. Some of my favorite “albums” via hashtag are:

  • #kjlsaturday2014: I created this hashtag album to document our Saturdays. It’s usually a day of errands, projects and family fun. It’s also a living album full of all the things I do with my free time – this hashtag reminds me of what’s most important in my life and also is a living reminder of keeping balance in my life. If I open this hashtag album and see too many cleaning, errand or computer pics, it’s a cue to delegate things out and plan more fun with my family!
  • #katelamro: I have hashtags for each of my kids and a sibling hashtag for quick little albums of each of their latest photos and their time together.
  • #alphabetthecat: I’d have a dog hashtag, but I’m allergic! Seriously who doesn’t need a hashtag for their pet?

KJL Saturday 2014 Album

KateLamro Album

Alphabet The Cat 2014

I also love that hashtags can be used by groups, communities and families to gather photos together by multiple contributors. For example, our community has a trend of using a many different hashtags for photos of everyday living there, one of which is #daybreakliving.  This can also be applied to families, friends, school groups, teams, giving everyone in the group the chance to share photos of their view of that subject.

A Few Final Tips

Hashtags are a really cool way to organize your Instagram photos into meaningful albums, but remember there are millions of other users doing the same thing. This can be great and also challenging. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful:

  • Create a Unique Hashtag: For example, I originally had a hashtag of #ZachtheCat. It turns out that there are a LOT of other cats named Zach. Change the hashtag to #ZacharyTheCat and you get my cat. I’m sure that will change over time, but for now it works.  I originally started #KJLSaturday2014 with #Saturday2014, be agile and willing to adapt.
  • SHARE the Hashtag: This is important for group albums – create a hashtag unique to your community or group and post away. Part of what makes the hashtag so fun is getting so many perspectives involved. I’ve loved seeing my kids’ choices of what to put in our family album Instagram hashtag. I also love our community Instagram hashtags, seeing what other people are doing for fun and what they love about where we live.
  • Hashtag Outside of the Moment: Don’t be afraid to add hashtags after the fact. It’s a little like organizing your photos. You can add hashtags to your photos at any time. So if you want to go back and tag travel photos with the city name and your initials to create a mini-album, do it! The thing that makes this fun is you can organize things in your own time and however you want.



  1. I greatly appreciate the use of technology used by the younger generation to take and store their photos. i think photographers can take gorgeous photos with iPhones, etc. My husband is a photographer but mostly uses a camera instead of his phone. However, without the story, the photos are just a series of pretty pictures that everyone can share but really know nothing about. This is all fine within the context of the CURRENT, LIVING family. But what about generations to come? Unless you also tell the stories behind your beautiful photos, the image is only half of it. I think all of this technology does allow us to live “in the moment” but the moment is soon lost to talk about the things that were so important to us that we felt the need to take a photograph of it in the first place.

    • Jean you bring a great point to the discussion. I take comfort in the fact that my captions are in Instagram, which tell the story of the photo. I think facial recognition and GPS technology will help with a lot of the rest. I think the obstacle we all face is time, and I am hopeful in a later season in life I will have time to tell the stories in captions of my favorite photos. You are right, for longevity your best bet is good digital captions and keywords. What we really need is an app that will pull all the captions, gps, along with facial recognition and put that in a photo organization software… time will tell. :)

  2. Great insight, Kayla, as always. I’ve been using my iPhone as my only camera for several years, and I LOVE Instagram and hashtag, but hadn’t thought to personalize them to create albums. Thanks!

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