Instagram Scam – Fake Your Way To Fame

This morning, while enjoying a coffee and doing my social media routine, a message popped up in my Instagram inbox. All that the message said was “Hey!”

If only more people were so succinct!

Intrigued, I responded “Hey to you too!”

Now, I have been using Instagram for a few years and have made 577 photo posts to date. So maybe I’m just being cynical, paranoid or suspicious but when someone introduces themselves with “Hey!” and then follows it up with “You have a nice photo!” my Spidey Sense tingles.

Which nice photo of the 577 are we talking about? The one I posted this morning? The one I posted yesterday morning? The 500 and some that I posted last year? Which photo exactly are you talking about?

In any case, a kind offer was provided next. An offer, which I’m sure is highly exclusive and one that I should regard as a profound compliment to my many years of work as a photographer.

“We can post your photo (post + story) for $20”

Wow! I was seriously flattered. Though I don’t usually sell my photos for so little, I will sometimes go low for someone who is clearly a true fan of what I do. Which, this person clearly was. I mean, they said “Hey!” and hadn’t liked any of my photos or talked to me previously but I could tell.

My response: “Sure! Which photo would you like to use? I accept payments with Paypal. Once I receive the $20, I can send you the high resolution copy of the image via email and a basic licensing agreement. Thanks for your interest!”

While I was sitting there thinking about how nice it is to connect with people who appreciate all the mind, body and soul that I put into my photography, I got another response.

“We don’t pay”

“We propose you advertising”

I was emotionally devastated. (sarcasm)

Look folks, I am far from the guy to educate anyone on the specific mechanics required to gain Instagram followers. I might just be a cynical old man who doesn’t feel like giving up a $20 tax write-off and some personal information to line the pockets of people who don’t give a fuck about my work.

I’m not going to provide the name of the IG page but I am going to go ahead and call it a scam. And the reason is that, while the page has well over 100,000 IG followers, the admin appears to be anonymous and the name of their page is used on other social media pages and websites but none seem to bear any association to one another, nor are any valid credentials provided on the IG account. I’m more than happy to do business/swap content with an IG account that has only a few thousand followers if the account is run by someone who cares about what I’m doing and is potentially also doing something that I care about. In this way, we are truly supporting one another.

I had a look through some of the images posted to this scammer page and found that the majority were tagged to film photographers like myself with fewer than 4k followers, some just a few hundred, and not very many likes/comments per image than I can get on my own. In short, the page consisted mostly of a bunch of hopefuls who lost $20.

$20 doesn’t seem like much but it translates into a couple rolls of cheap film. With film prices as they are right now, why spend $20 to fake promote your old photos when you could spend $20 on supporting film retailers and your personal experience by creating great new content to be liked and commented on?

There were a few posts from IG accounts (notice that I use the word “accounts” and not photographers) with a serious number of followers but I would wager that these folks did not pay their way onto the feed and may even be the ones who own or operate the page in question.

I don’t know. Maybe if I just gave this anonymous party my $20, I would have been immediately launched to internet stardom, replacing years of earning my keep. But somehow I doubt it.

For anyone who is looking to get a leg up with recognition of their photography, I would advise doing your own leg work. Submit images to your favorite magazines and websites. Seek out people whose work you appreciate and who appreciate yours. Don’t give them money and then also give them your photos. Legit supporters and patrons pay for use of our work, not the other way around. Sure, you may have to grease the wheels once in a while, pay Instagram for an ad, for example, but your true allies and the ones who will bring you real followers and real friends, not empty bots and therefore, empty success, are those who truly appreciate what you contribute to the world. Focus on those people.

I certainly can’t promise that any of us will find great numerical success by surrounding ourselves with genuine people. But personally, I greatly prefer that to being a fraud; the company is much nicer!

Happy social media’ing and thanks for reading

PS- Follow me on Instagram at 😉

Follow, Favorite, Like, Add, Insult, Contact Johnny Martyr 



2 thoughts on “Instagram Scam – Fake Your Way To Fame

Add yours

  1. This is the only email address I can find for you at the moment. Maybe you already know this, but Tri-X is “only” $10.85/roll at Midwest Photo (, which is a buck cheaper than the Film PHotography Store, and two bucks cheaper than B&H. I bought 400 rolls of expired (2013) Tri-X a couple of years ago and still have plenty of that, but I’m buying and freezing a few rolls at a time from Midwest. Same for TMax 400 in 120. Love your stuff, as always. Tim


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there – my email is, sorry it wasn’t easier to find. I’ll have to fix that. I appreciate the tip. Never heard of/ordered from them before. I see that Tri-X is on backorder and their prices on other stocks look competitive. Do you buy fresh film from them at all? Thanks for your support!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: