Instagram toy photogs share their growth


Toy photography is big. Especially on instagram. From those finding new ways to explore their collections, those de-stressing, playing around, or even those using toys to make art (or maybe a combination of all of these).

There’s a new hashtag that’s now been posted to 243 times and counting.




This trend seems to have been started by user @backyard_battlesΒ on November 11th of this year and asks others to share their first 9 toy photos, and their most recent 9 to show the progression they’ve made over the months or years they’ve been participating in the hobby.

β€œYour first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” 

Henri Cartier-Bresson



I truly love seeing the progression of others’ craft and think it’s important to look back on your work if you intend to keep improving, so I’ve loved seeing this hashtag be passed around.Β 

β€œWhich of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” 

Imogen Cunningham



I tried to get the tag #toyphotoglowup going – a take on the traditional glow up photos where people share images of themselves before and after puberty, but instead focused on the remaking of old toy photos, but it didn’t catch on lol. I’ll keep using the tag regardless.

Exclu Collective also has a similar project #exclurewind where they’ve asked toy photographers to remake old images to show how far they’ve come. 

Has your photography, toy photo or otherwise, improved over the years? I encourage you to take a look back and see how far you’ve come.

Instagram Promotions. Are they worth it?

On October 28th I paid $10 to promote the following post for 2 days.

This isn’t the most scientific experimentation. I literally promoted a single post with a small $10 budget. But maybe, just maybe it will give you some insight before you drop any of your own cash.

Before the promotion, the post had 157 likes and 0 comments and my account had 843 followers.

When you select to promote an Instagram post you have some options. First, your budget, then your objective, where clicking the ad takes the visitor, who you want your audience to be and how many days you want the promotion to last. As you’ll see in the screenshot below, for $10 Instagram estimated my promotion would reach 3600 – 9600 people.

11:59 PM on 10/28 here’s where my post stats stood:

+7 likes (164 total)
+7 followers (850 total)

11:59 PM 10/29 with 10 hours left on the promotion:

+10 likes (174)
-1 followers (849)

By the end of the promotion:

+18 likes (175)
+5 followers (848)


Above is a side by side comparison of the original stats vs the promoted ones. The $10 did get 632 views (and 635 engagement as you’ll see below), where without I was at 349. That said, Instagram estimated 3600-9600 and I’d say 632/635 is a very far cry from that estimate.
Below is more info as to who actually saw the promotion.
So, in conclusion, would I use Instagram ads? Personally no. With a large budget, multiple promoted posts and a very specific objective I think Instagram promotions could prove useful and worthwhile, but for miscellaneous images on personal accounts they seem to be far from worth it. Better instead to refine hashtags, produce more content and participate in Instagram pods if you have the opportunity.
Have you ever paid for a promotion on Instagram? What was your experience?

Instagram in the Era of the Shadow Ban

Raise your hand if you’re on instagram.

Have you heard the rumors about the ominous shadow ban?

If not, while instagram has simply only admitted there’s a hashtag glitch, it seems that they are purposefully hiding content from showing up in certain tags. This appears to be an effort to stop spamming and increase ad revenue.

This ban is then termed with the word ‘shadow’ because instagram doesn’t notify you that it’s hiding your content. Your images will show up to you in any tag you’ve placed them in. Your followers will also see your images. But to any non followers your content does not exist.

Why would your images get banned?

  1. Your account is linked to 3rd part apps that post, like or comment for you. Or you’ve paid for followers.
  2. The hashtags you post to have been reported for inappropriate content.
  3. Your posts have been reported multiple times.
  4. You have a business account and aren’t paying for ads.
  5. You post a ton of images a day.

Are your images banned?

  • Go to Instagram and copy the share URL for one of your images.
  • Go to this site and enter in that URL.

The site linked here checks through all your listed hashtags on your image to see if that image is showing up in those hashtag listings. It will then tell you where your image is seen and where it’s been banned.

If you enter your Instagram user name it will only check your most recently posted image. I recommend checking the URLs of a handful of your images instead.

If you’re banned, what can you do?

First note that there is no way or use in reporting this to instagram. They have not admitted that they are banning people only that there is an unsolved glitch. Instead, take steps to attempt to keep your images from being banned in the first place.

  1. Unlink any 3rd party apps.
  2. Switch back to a personal account if yours is set as business – some users have reported this decreasing their traffic for a couple days, but it should be back to normal after.
  3. Take a 48 hour instagram break – this supposedly resets your account.
  4. Check through all your hashtags. If the images posted in one look fishy, stop using that hashtag.
  5. Slow down on posting if you often post more than a few times a day.

These aren’t official fixes, just ones people have found work for them. Change what you’re willing to change and monitor how those changes effect your account.

What I’ve done since discovering my ban

My second account @felanzine does not have any images that come up as banned when using the above link. However my engagement has been way down recently. I switched this account back to ‘personal’ and within 12 hours my engagement was back up. I also noticed through this account that while instagram’s official per post hashtag limit is 30, I can now not use more than 22.

My primary account @jennifernicholewells does have many images banned, as you saw in the screenshots above. I don’t use any 3rd party apps at the moment and in checking through my hashtags everything looks normal. I’ve also only been posting 1 to 2 times per day. I’ve switched this account back to personal. I also noticed in the banned posts, the hashtags I used in my main caption were fine, but the one’s I used in a follow up comment, my images were banned from. So now I’ve paired down what hashtags I will be posting to, and I’m only posting those hashtags in the actual caption of the image. So far this method is working.

Check out the above link and let me know if you’ve been shadow banned and what you’re doing to combat it.

Toy Photography Communities


AKA – finding online spaces in which to share your work and exchange ideas.

Click the logo above for a list of all the current My Mini Monday posts.

Do you create photographs of toys and miniatures? If so, this guide is for you.

*Note that outside of the Toy Photographers Google + community, none of these online spaces are set up for constructive criticism. If that is what you’re seeking you have to ask for it. And know that peer criticism and art critique are entirely separate things. All in all, you need to strive on your own to better your work. These spaces will not do that for you. They are simply ways to get your work seen.


Instagram is by far the best place to begin and hone your craft. Various accounts host hashtag competitions daily where you can get over 100 likes per image entered. The more likes, the more likely others are to see your work which means the higher possibility of people following.

Hashtag Competitions

  • Check out @toypops2 for hashtag competitions at 8:30 AM EST and 10:00 PM EST (they convert the time to other time zones for you on their announcement posts).
  • Check out the Toy Group Alliance (consisting of accounts @toptoyphotos, @toyboners, @thetoysyndicate, @btstp_id, @toyunion, @toyartistry, @wheretoysdwell_photofeatures, @rebeltoysclub) for hashtag competitions posting at 10:00 PM EST (they also convert the time to other time zones for you on their announcement posts).
  • Follow @exclucollective for monthly hashtag competitions that sometimes even come with prizes!
  • Follow @toyoutsiders if you photograph your toys outdoors and want to enter into monthly hashtag competitions.
  • @toyartistry_elite has occasional 24 hour challenges where you can hashtag up to 10 images for their consideration.
  • Outside of being a part of the Toy Group Alliance daily hashtags, @btstp_id also occasionally hosts their own challenges.

General Hashtags

Always tag your posts. Always. You can put up to 30 total on each post whether directly in the caption or in a comment below, or split between the 2.

The hashtags I’m currently using:

  • #conceptualphotography #toyphotography #artisoninstagram#pixel_ig #visualcreators#fineartphptography #jnwmini #toyunion#igersjax #toygroup_alliance#wheretoysdwell #rlu_pickedbypaul#toptoyphotos #womenintoyphotography#toydiscovery #stuckinplastic#toycrewbuddies #toyslagram #toyboners#epictoyart #epictoyart #toyartistry#toycommunity #tgif_toys #toysyn #ata_dreadnoughts #toyspotcollector
    • #jnwmini is my own that I tag my work with and #igersjax is a local tag for photographers who live in my city. The first ones you see listed are fine art photography based, and the latter are toy photography based. Some of the toy photography ones help accounts find your work for possible features. I also tag, per image based on subject matter and miniature scale.
  • Other good tags for toy photography (some of these are subject based):
    • #acidrainworld #diorama #toysaremydrug #toyrevolution #toyartistry #toptoyphotos #toyplanet #igfotoys #epictoyart #toyartistry #toycommunity #tgif_toys #toysyn #toyplanet #acba #wherehorrordwells #articulatedcomicbookart #starwarstoycrew #toyslagram_starwars #toyoutsiders #legostagram #toyslagram_lego #bricknetwork #brickleague #brickcentral #legophotography #toys4life #toycollector #toyrevolution
  • More instagram hashtag suggestions based on your subject matter can be found here.

The best thing to do with any hashtag on instagram is to find a handful you like, used by someone who posts similar images, then tap one of the tags and look through the others instagram suggests on the top of the screen. Select the best for your work until you have 30 total and save all those out to a phone note. Then, each time you post copy and paste those tags over.

Google +


The main thing on Facebook is to find a community specific for the type of toys you photograph.

Some options are:


There are many photo sharing groups you can join if you have a Flickr account.. Find a group that pertains to the subject you photograph. Below, while a long list is simply a fraction of those available. I personally have not had a lot of luck with forming communities through Flickr groups, but it’s great they exist. And if you are more active on Flickr than I am, you may have great luck with these communities.


Want to learn more about toy photography and the people working within it? Check out these blogs!

Do you create photos of toys or miniatures? How do you get your work seen? Leave a comment below with your tips and I may add them to the above.

Balloon Boy

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Around the Web – Toy Photographers

The Toy Photographers blog graciously asked me to write a post about why I do what I do, and that post is now live! If you’re interested, I’d love for you to check it out!


P.S. Exclu is announcing their issue 3 artists, and I’m one of them! Make sure to keep up with them on instagram for more announcements as the issue comes closer to release!


Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer <3


Around the Web – Passporte & Instagram

A bit of me from around the web :)

–Passporte Gallery Built Environment Salon

I’ve had the honor of having one of my pieces chosen for an online gallery on the theme of Built Environment! Check out the gallery here.



–Instagram features

As I’ve delved in further to the world of instagram, I’m happy to say I’ve been featured by a few wonderful accounts. If you photograph miniatures or toys, I’d highly suggest you check out the bottom 3 accounts below. If you photograph in general and want to get featured by fstoppers (the first account below) learn more here.

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β€’KEEP TOYSLAGRAM ALIVEβ€’ 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 @TheToySyndicate is proud to bring you these amazing photos via @Toyslagram ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ↖️ @mybrickandbutter ↗️ @hwang_21 ↙️ @jennifernicholewells β†˜οΈ @thecollector_artoy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Be sure to give these amazing artists some love & check out their galleries for more awesome photos. πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’« For more photos from #Toyslagram check out: @ToyGroup_Alliance @TopToyPhotos @ToyUnion 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 & Don't forget #toycommunity, use ▢️ #ToySyn ◀️ on all your #toyphotography for a chance to be showcased here, on @TheToySyndicate. πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’«πŸ’« (some of the photos may have been cropped to fit the grid. To see the photo as the artist intended please go over to their gallery)

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Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer <3



I’ve been having fun with a little silly series on my instagram account where I post a miniature along with it’s real life, full size counter part. Thought I’d share what I’ve posted so far, here with you.

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#mac #littlemac #miniature #apple #bigstufflittlestuff

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#toothpaste #littletoothpaste #bigstufflittlestuff

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#key #littlekey #bigstufflittlestuff

A post shared by Tourmaline . (@tourmalinenow) on

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#scale #littlescale #miniature #bigstufflittlestuff

A post shared by Tourmaline . (@tourmalinenow) on


Keep up with all my future photos in this little series by checking out #bigstufflittlestuff. You should share your own too!


Have you ever participated in a hashtag competition on instagram?

I’m sure I take them more seriously than I should, but I honestly really enjoy them.

F-Stop magazine hosts one for each of their new issues. i.e. their latest issue is on the theme of humans v. nature, so they’re currently sharing images tagged #fstopmagazine #humansvsnature.

Back when the theme was #blackandwhite they even shared one of my pictures!


Safari Ltd., a company that makes toy animals, doesn’t host a competition, but they do share images their customers have taken of their products.


My newest obsession is the Edward Hopper House’s weekly competitions. The idea is to postΒ an Edward Hopper inspired image that also meets that week’s theme. So far they’ve had #hopperhomes, #hoppersummer and #hopperred. I haven’t won any, and I don’t expect to, but it’s still fun to find an image that fits or to create something new. My Bates House and Windy images were partially inspired by these themes.


With my new publication, fΔ“lan, I’m going to try to get one going for the theme of each issue. Right now it’s #felanlove.


So what instagram hashtag competitions do you know of/participate in?