The Other London Eye
Bal Bhatla, A.K.A. Mr. Whisper, first started using Instagram in December of 2010 for fun, capturing Londoner’s intimate moments and the city’s ephemeral moods, while he worked as a creative director in Advertising. His sleek and sometimes gritty aesthetic @MrWhisper on Instagram has attracted over 61K followers (and growing) and last year earned him a Shiny Shiny Award for Instagrammer of the year 2014. Now he’s realizing his dream of becoming a full time photographer and takes pictures for the biggest campaigns out there. Here he reveals how he integrates Instagram into his life, how he keeps it fresh, and answers the frequently asked question; how do you get more followers?!
How quickly did you gain followers?
Slow and steady, which is the way I like it. It keeps the following/engagement more genuine.
What are your top tips for running a successful Instagram account?
– Own a genre.
– Followers don’t like change, so be consistent in your approach.
– Be part of the community, comment on people’s photos.
– Try to a meet up.
– Post at the same time of days 8-11 is primetime in the UK.
– Join groups that interest you and use their hashtags to generate awareness of your work.
What other London Instragrams do you like?
@Rich__ I particularly love his cinematic Black and whites.
@theboygeniuz His work just gets better and better.
How often do you post? What are your criteria for posting?
I try to post once a day, but it really depends on how busy I am, and will only post when I have something that feels right.
Which of your photos has been the most successful? Why do you think that is?
This photo was my most successful. The sky was just right, and with St Pauls and the Millennium Bridge in view (landmarks go down very well on IG, and this one has two!!), and then the icing on the cake was when the guy strolled into frame and just held that position, giving me enough time to quickly realign and get him into the composition.
Which is your personal favorite?
I love this photo, because its just such a wonderful moment in time. I can’t thank that jolly couple enough.
What do you love about Instagram that other social media devices can’t offer?
The community, It’s definitely the friendliest Social network out there. The positive feedback and encouragement from the community is second to none. Also the fact that this app lives in the real world is a huge point of differentiation. Instameets, they really put the ‘Social’ back into ‘Social networking’, which is much needed in today’s screen based generation.
Also, I know when travelling anywhere in the world there will be a friendly community waiting to greet and show me around their city. For example, I was on business trips in Madrid, Malaysia, Brazil, Korea, L.A. and in all of these cities I was made to feel most welcome.
What’s the most over-posted Instagram spot in London?
Definitely Big Ben or Tower bridge.
Has your success on Instagram led to any situations you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered?
Seriously, too many to mention, I have to pinch myself everyday with the opportunities that arrive in my inbox. I do gest with my wife, saying it feels like having the key to this city.
Have you made friends/relationships from it?
I’ve made plenty of people I’d call friends from all over the world.
Do you have to deal with any abuse on the site? Do you moderate comments?
I don’t think abuse is very common on IG, however I do moderate comments and don’t tolerate swearing; I run a family channel… for now.
What are the funniest/most interesting comments that you have received?
Here’s a couple of examples (Photo 1, Photo 2), which I find really interesting. Its when people find themselves on my feed, I’m always intrigued to hear their thoughts. I have a policy whereby I’ll happily take down the photo or send them a copy, the choice decision is theirs.
How far around the globe do you get likes/comments/fans from?
I have a pretty global following, simply being based in London has that effect, plus I have been featured in many international magazines, exhibitions and blogs.
What were your primary motivations for your page originally? Have they changed?
It always been about London and its people. It still is, my challenge is about trying to frame them new and unique ways.
How hard is it to keep it up the work?
It’s a great challenge and all part of growing as a photographer to continually challenge yourself and your work.