Student photographer hits it big on Instagram

“I checked Instagram and then I went into an elevator,” said Casey Coulter ’16. “Then I got out of the elevator, and I had 57 new followers.”

After creating an Instagram account (@casey_coulter) the fall of his freshman year, Coulter said he never imagined he would one day have a following of over 39,000 people.

When making his account, Coulter said he was not yet interested in photography; he used the application to document different moments of his life as a student at Colby. In the spring of his sophomore year, Coulter moved to New York City for a semester to take classes at the Tisch School of Arts for his major, film and media studies. Before moving to New York, Coulter had envisioned his Instagram to be a tool to share photography as an art, but did not have the opportunity to act on this. “When I moved to New York, it was the perfect opportunity to just take [Instagram] seriously,” said Coulter. “I slowly started to get my style and then by the end of my time in [the city] is when I ‘blew up’.”

According to Coulter, his “self-curation” wasn’t as strong while he was in New York as it is now. “I was posting more often than I do now … which was really good in terms of getting myself out there because people were noticing my photos more,” Coulter said.

About a month before he left New York, Coulter said he began to meet more Instagram users and was invited to do an Instagram photo-shoot with Vogue. During the photo-shoot, Coulter, along with other Instagram photographers, walked around New York City and took pictures of four models interacting with the city.

“It’s hard to explain, but there is this community within Instagram of photographers that we interact with each other’s photos,” said Coulter. “I had interacted with a lot of people but I never really met up with anyone and taken photos.…This Vogue [photo-shoot] was when I had first done that, and the rest is history.” About two weeks after this opportunity, Coulter’s account began to rapidly acquire followers.

Due to the quality of his photos and his community involvement within the app, Instagram promoted his account as a suggested user for a three-week period. The suggested users on Instagram include a select few accounts that the application recommends to both new and old users.

It wasn’t until around June of this year that Coulter transitioned from using his iPhone camera to using an actual camera for his Instagram photography. “I had gotten to a point where…I wanted to do more and I couldn’t with my phone and so I got myself a [Fuji x100s],” Coulter said. Even though Coulter has transitioned to using a camera instead of his phone, he still likes to send his pictures to his phone in order to use various editing applications.

Despite his success, Coulter has never taken a photography class, but plans to do so in the future. Through playing around with different features on his phone, Coulter said he has been able to teach himself the do’s and don’ts of photography. Coulter said that through the comments on his Instagram posts, he has been able to guage what he was doing right. “I guess the learning experience has been mostly through Instagram,” said Coulter. “I’ve never taken a class, which I don’t mind. I don’t really need it.”

According to Coulter, Instagram is the reason that he takes photos. Coulter not only wants to continue to focus on his photography, but also wants to incorporate this talent with his other interests such as film production. Coulter said that one of the best opportunities  Instagram has offered is being able to meet people and make new friends while simultaneously networking in creative worlds beyond photography.

This upcoming spring semester, Coulter plans to study abroad in Prague to take more classes on film production. While abroad, Coulter said he may want to get more creative in terms of his Instagram posts. “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and see what happens,” said Coulter. “But right now, it’s just about posting photos.”

While at Colby, Coulter will be managing the Instagram account for the Colby College Museum of Art, in addition to his primary Instagram account.

Follow Casey on Instagram   @casey_coulter and the Colby Museum of Art @colbymuseum

Casey Website Casey Insta Website

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