Updated: Apr 23
Instagram has become an essential platform for businesses looking to expand their reach and connect with potential customers, but for boudoir photographers, growing an Instagram account can be an incredibly challenging task. Instagram's restrictions on accounts posting boudoir photography content can make it difficult, if not impossible, to promote your work on the platform. Boudoir photography is a genre that captures intimate, sensual images of individuals or couples, typically in lingerie or nude. Instagram's community guidelines prohibit the posting of sexually suggestive content, which can make it challenging for boudoir photographers to share their work.
Instagram Account Restriction:
If you're a boudoir photographer-- it's happened to you, although you may not have even realized it. If you're a new boudoir photographer... it's just a matter of time.
Instagram's algorithm is designed to detect and remove content that violates the platform's "community guidelines." The algorithm uses a combination of machine learning and human moderators to identify and remove inappropriate content. The machine learning component is essential because it can quickly identify potentially problematic content before it is seen by human moderators.
Instagram's AI (Artificial Intelligence) works by scanning images for various characteristics that may indicate whether the image is within the platform's guidelines. These characteristics include nudity, sexually suggestive poses, and provocative clothing. If an image contains one or more of these elements, it may be flagged as potentially violating the platform's guidelines.
Instagram's AI can also detect text in images, including captions, hashtags, and comments. If the text contains inappropriate language or promotes harmful behavior, the image may be flagged and removed.
One of the challenges for boudoir photographers is that Instagram's AI can have difficulty differentiating between artistic nudity and sexually suggestive content. This is why it is important for boudoir photographers to be strategic with the content they post and to ensure that their images are suggestive but not explicit. By being creative with angles, lighting, and wardrobe, boudoir photographers can create images that are beautiful and artistic, without being too revealing.
It's important to note that while Instagram's AI is designed to identify and remove inappropriate content, it is not perfect. The algorithm can sometimes flag content that does not violate the platform's guidelines, and it can miss content that does. This is why human moderators are also involved in the process of identifying and removing inappropriate content.
Instagram's AI works by comparing images to a database of previously flagged content. If an image is similar to content that has been flagged in the past, it may be flagged and removed. This can be a challenge for boudoir photographers, as images that are suggestive but not explicit may be flagged if they are similar to previously flagged content.
In addition to the challenges posed by Instagram's AI, boudoir photographers also face challenges posed by the platform's shadowban or "restriction" feature. A shadowban is when Instagram restricts the visibility of an account's content, making it less likely to appear in search results or on the Explore page. While the reasons for a shadowban can be unclear, it is believed that Instagram may be more likely to shadowban accounts that post boudoir photography content.
How can you check if your Instagram account is restricted?
Fortunately, now it's easy. Go to the main page on your account. Hit the hamburger menu in the upper right hand corner. Go to Settings. Go to Account. Go to Account Status. If you have two green checks there, you're good. If there is a red warning sign... you're restricted.
What happens when your boudoir photographer Instagram account is restricted?
Well, back in the ole' days of Instagram you'd probably never even know you were restricted... I'm not sure when the Account Status section was added to the settings... but I think it's a recent in the past year or two.
Before the Account Status feature was added you may not have even know your account was restricted. What it means is the your content is not visible to anyone outside of your followers. It will not be shown to anyone else, therefore you will not grow any new subscribers. Your reels, stories, etc. will only be visible to your followers (or the percentage of followers that IG feels like sharing your content with...)
How can you un-restrict, or restore, your Instagram account?
Well, it's simple...and not so simple. They will point you to the offending posts and ask you to remove them. It will look like this...
Theoretically, if you removed those posts, within 24 hours you'll be good to go! The bad news is... typically 2 or 3 more posts will pop in your warning list a day or so later. ...And so it goes. It's like a game of pop-a-mole. There's no end to it! 🤣 Such is the life of a boudoir photographer on Instagram.
The thing is-- your posts that are flagged will not be any different from the tens of thousands of others posts that are freely flying around Instagram with no objection. I always joke that 25% of Instagram is just women taking photos of their boobs and butts. If you take a peek at your Explore tab, it will be filled with photos and reels of women in lingerie, swimsuits, undressing... and even content that actually IS sexually explicit... but there it is... right in your Explore! That means the accounts of the people posting these photos/reels have not been restricted for posting this content. Meanwhile, your content is restricted. Doesn't make much sense, does it? Welcome to the world of Instagram!
If you read the details of why a post of yours was flagged, you'll see Instagram makes of point of stating they judge all content equally, but as you can see, that is hardly the case.
...And although I have no direct proof of this, I suspect they go after certain text and hashtags, as well. My suspicion is the word "boudoir" immediately gets you and your posts flagged. (To their AI... you may as well be using the word f*ck to describe your post/content.) Perhaps even noting yourself as a "boudoir photographer" on your account is a death trap. I've recently taken that out of my header, and replaced it with "womens photographer." I'll see if that bring me any better luck.
At this point I would recommend not using any hashtags, or even text that contains the word "boudoir" or even anything related on your account. You're probably better off not using any hashtags, at all, except generic "photography" hash tags.
On a related note: I've been messing around with AI image generation tools, such as DALL E2, and DreamStudio, among others, to create images to be used in blog posts. One example I was trying to create was "a boudoir photographer standing in a room near a bed," or "a boudoir photographer working with a client," and IMMEDIATELY your image query gets jacked and you'll receive a stern warning message that your content request is inappropriate and violates every term of service possible and your account will be threatened with removal. Requesting a photo of a boudoir photographer is a violation? Well, in the minds of all these AI services or bots, yes, the association with the word boudoir may be akin to some of worst offenses known to mankind!
If it's any reassurance, my account probably has been pretty much on restriction since 2012...
So, what can boudoir photographers do to overcome these challenges and grow their Instagram account?
Here are a few tips:
1. Be strategic with your content
Boudoir photographers can overcome Instagram's restrictions by being strategic with the content they post. While it may be tempting to post provocative images, it is essential to remember that Instagram is a family-friendly platform, and boudoir photographers may need to tone down their content to comply with the community guidelines. Consider posting images that are suggestive but not explicit, such as images that feature lingerie or a partially covered body.
2. Engage with your followers
Engaging with your followers is an essential part of growing your Instagram account, and it can be especially important for boudoir photographers. By responding to comments, direct messages, and engaging with other accounts in your niche, you can build a community of loyal followers who are interested in your work. You can also encourage your followers to share your content by using relevant hashtags and creating a branded hashtag that your followers can use when posting their own images.
3. Utilize other marketing channels
While Instagram may be a challenging platform for boudoir photographers, it's not the only marketing channel available. Consider using other social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, to promote your work and connect with potential clients. You can also create a website or blog that showcases your work and provides more information about your services. By creating a strong online presence, you can build your brand and attract new clients, even if Instagram is not the most effective platform for your niche.
4. Collaborate with other photographers
Collaborating with other boudoir photographers can be a great way to grow your Instagram account and expand your reach. By partnering with photographers who have a similar aesthetic or target audience, you can share each other's work and tap into each other's networks. You can also collaborate with models, makeup artists, and other professionals in the industry to create stunning images that showcase your skills and build your brand.
5. Stay up-to-date on Instagram's guidelines
It's essential for boudoir photographers to stay up-to-date on Instagram's guidelines and best practices. Instagram's guidelines are constantly evolving, and it's essential to understand what is and isn't allowed on the platform. This can help you avoid having your content flagged or removed and can help you maintain a positive relationship with the platform.
6. Appeal a decision
This works! Trust me, I know! If you feel that Instagram has wrongly flagged or removed your content, you can appeal the decision. Instagram allows users to appeal content removals, and if your appeal is successful, your content will be reinstated. However, it's important to note that appealing a decision can be a time-consuming process, and it may not always be successful.
In conclusion, growing an Instagram account for your boudoir photography business can be challenging due to Instagram's restrictions on accounts posting boudoir photography content. However, by being strategic with the content you post, engaging with your followers, utilizing other marketing channels, collaborating with other photographers, staying up-to-date on Instagram's guidelines, and appealing decisions when necessary, you can overcome these challenges and build a strong online presence.
Instagram's AI plays a critical role in identifying and removing inappropriate content from the platform. While boudoir photographers may face challenges posed by Instagram's AI, it's important to remember that the algorithm is not perfect, and human moderators are also involved in the process of identifying and removing inappropriate content. By being creative with angles, lighting, and wardrobe, boudoir photographers can create images that are beautiful and artistic, without being too revealing. With patience, persistence, and a solid strategy, boudoir photographers can achieve success on Instagram and beyond.