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how to use hashtags on instagram to attract dream clients

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram To Attract Dream Clients

June 22, 2017

Over and over again, we see the same question popping up for photographers on webinars, in forums, and in our inbox:

How do you use hashtags?

And more importantly: how to use hashtags on Instagram to find ideal clients?

how to use hashtags on instagram to attract dream clients

The truth is you have to know exactly who you’re trying to reach – otherwise it’s all for nothing. So, today I’m gonna share 5 Truth Bombs about hashtags and Instagram!

Truth Bomb #1

What works for me won’t necessarily work for you!

Now I’m not an Instagram genius, but, it goes without saying: with ANY marketing plan of action that you HAVE to consider your target audience.

Let’s say you’re a photographer in Florida who wants to book weddings in Miami Beach – using the same hashtags I use will not work. Why? Because your target client is not looking at #MountainBride and #DenverWeddings. The hashtags that Jenna Kutcher uses won’t work for you, because your bride is not looking at #GirlBoss and #HandLettering (at least not if she’s looking for a wedding photographer); likewise, the hashtags Natalie Franke uses won’t work for you either, because your bride is not looking for #CommunityOverCompetition and #RisingTideSociety.

Use hashtags that are geared specifically to your target audience!! Examples of this for a wedding photographer would be:

#City #CityPhotographer #CityWedding #CityWeddingPhotographer #CityBride #StateBride #StateWedding #StatePhotographer #Venue #VenueWedding #Region #RegionWedding #RegionWeddingPhotographer

How does this translate? Let’s say you’re sharing a photo of a bride at her wedding at Della Terra in Estes Park. Here are some specific hashtags you could use:

#EstesPark #EstesParkPhotographer #EstesParkWedding #EstesParkWeddingPhotographer #EstesParkBride #ColoradoBride #ColoradoWedding #ColoradoPhotographer #DellaTerra #DellaTerraWedding #RockyMountain #RockyMountainWedding #RockyMountainWeddingPhotographer

I strongly recommend geographical hashtags like these to reach local clients (or those looking to hire local vendors).


I did a poll in our private Facebook group for our brides and grooms, and they all told me the same thing: they use geographical hashtags to search for photos of where they’re getting married!

Truth Bomb #2

Engagement has direct correlation to how successful your hashtags are!

It’s no guarantee that you’re going to make the coveted Top 9 position on a hashtag, just because you use it. For example, there are nearly 22,000 photos for #ColoradoWeddings on Instagram – so just because you use that hashtag, doesn’t mean you’re going to get in the Top 9. You need people to engage with your posts for the Instagram algorithm to pick up what you’re puttin’ down – ya feel me?

The most successful hashtags speak directly to your ideal client and honestly, the caption is as important as the hashtags you use. Posting a beautiful picture without a caption and just a list of 30 hashtags is a missed opportunity to speak to your target audience and make a connection! So be sure you’re writing captions that encourages people to engage (liking and commenting)!

Truth Bomb #3

Hashtags are a good way to build vendor relationships + brands

If you don’t have a hashtag for your business brand: create one! We use #RADweddings on all of our wedding and engagement related posts (and a few people have caught on and piggyback on it, but I digress … lol), and even better: so do our couples and the vendors we work with! It’s awesome being able to search through it, and see the expanse of our business on social media – and it gives potential couples an opportunity to see our work, and read the words of the people and businesses sharing photos.

Likewise, if you work with a wedding planner or a venue (or any other vendor) who has a brand hashtag – do them the courtesy of using their hashtags on your photos when applicable. Just as you want to be seen: they do, too!

Support your community of vendors, guys!

Truth Bomb #4

Hashtags help build your audience by getting featured!

Anyone who has spent any amount of time around us knows how much we love getting published and having our couples featured in blogs and magazines. It’s just so cool! And really validating, if I can be quite honest.

However: submitting photos to major publications isn’t the only way to get seen. Major brands, blogs + industry accounts are always on the lookout on Instagram for featuring content! Some of our favorite hashtags for getting featured as wedding photographers are:

#HuffPostIdo #HPRealWeddings #dreamweddingshots #SMPShareMyStory #everydayIBT #adventurebrides #loveandwildhearts #postthepeople #firstandlasts #loveanddevotion

But maybe you don’t necessarily want your photo to be featured, but you want to have your photo seen on trending hashtags? Well, then you’ll want to be a small fish in a big (ginormous) pond by using hashtags like:

#StyleMePretty #GreenWeddingShoes #JuneBugWeddings #Wedding #WeddingPhoto #WeddingPhotography #WeddingPhotographer #Photographer #Photography #Bride #Groom #WeddingDay #RealWedding

Or maybe you’re trying to attract other creatives in the wedding industry, because you’re working on becoming an educator or you want to support concepts like the Rising Tide Society. Well, then you’ll want to use hashtags like:

#RisingTideSociety #CommunityOverCompetition #CreativeAtHeart #CalledtobeCreative #entrepreneur #solopreneur #creativepreneur #girlboss #theeverygirl #creativelifehappylife #savvybusinessowner #creativeminds#makersmovement #MakeWavesMonday

The possibilities are basically endless … but the key is figuring out WHO you’re trying to attract to your brand, and then speaking to them directly through your hashtags!

RAD TIP: You can see a whole bunch more tips on picking the perfect hashtag for your business on this blog by Brian Venth or this blog by FStoppers.

And last but not least …

Truth Bomb #5

If your couple has a wedding hashtag: use it!

This is a golden opportunity to build brand awareness with the friends and family of your couple! We always recommend that our couples have their own hashtag for their wedding, so that they can see photos from their friends and family in one easily searchable way … and when you use their hashtag, you show up in that search, too!

Our typical couple uses Instagram regularly and uses hashtags – and whenever they share something related to their wedding (dress shopping, cake tasting, site visits, addressing envelopes, engagement party, etc.) – they’ll use their wedding hashtag. Then their friends and family see our photos of them while exploring the wedding hashtag … and bam!

Instant + FREE marketing and brand awareness!

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had guests at weddings come up and tell us how much they loved seeing our photos of the couple – and most of the time they found us using the couple’s hashtag!

So basically … the gist here is this:

  • Figure out who you want to attract
  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your ideal client
  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your brand
  • Use hashtags that are revenant to the direction you want your business to go in


Don’t just be a user … go explore the hashtags you’re using, and like/comment on 5-10 images you see in those posts every time you post something. The whole point of social media is to be SOCIAL and not just sell-sell-sell.

Be part of the community, friends!

>>> Have a question about Instagram, marketing or targeting your ideal client? Share a comment below or feel free to reach out to me (Ashley) at!

Leave a Reply

  1. Susan says:

    These are such great tips thank you so much for the help! I love using hashtags on Instagram. The reach seems so much better than on Facebook.

Heyyyy ... I'm Ashley Durham and I'm a luxury wedding photographer in Phoenix, but I travel all over Arizona and the desert southwest to hang out with the most incredible people. I am obsessed with puppies, extra hot coffee, sunrise and firmly believe that love conquers all.

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