You may have seen your fellow photographers on Instagram taking part in "loops" and wondered what exactly that means, how it can benefit you and how to get involved in one. Read on to find out all of these answers...
A loop on Instagram is basically a group of people who get together to support one another by linking up through their images at a certain time, each one linking to the next person in the list, creating a loop for others to follow. For example, you might happen to follow one of these people and see their post which will refer to the loop theme and mention the next person so you click to go to their image and see who they have linked to and so on until you make it back where you started, thus finishing the loop.
Loops usually have some kind of theme, be it a general "we love photography" or a special food loop for example, sometimes they're just a one-off for a specific event like Easter or Pancake Day or for a joint project with others. I (Bex) am involved in a few loops including one I set up for twin mums who met via the ClickPro community, one all about details, one for food photography, another for Click Pro Masters and one just for ClickPros in Europe, I am also part of a brand new loop for collaborative diptychs starting soon. Some loops are weekly, others once a month. I've also been involved in seasonal ones before for summer or Christmas and there's an upcoming "mass post" for Black History Month this Thursday (similar to a loop but without linking up - sharing a hashtag for us all to find and support one another's posts).
The way a loop works involves an Instagram chat group where everyone involved joins and can add their name to the posting list (roll call) for that week/month. A few other chats often take place in these groups too, it's a great way to connect with other photographers who like the same things as you! A "script" is agreed on in advance for the loop which usually stays the same each week and you can add your own caption in front. The script tells people about the loop, whatever the theme is and often includes a relevant quote and a specific loop hashtag, e.g. #twinmamaloop or #ourfoodphotographyloop. The order of the loop changes every time with the roll call, you don't have to take part every week, just add your name to the current list by copying and pasting (adding your name at the bottom) and so on. When it's time to post you also go back to let the group know that you've posted.
Everyone posts at exactly the same time, the reason for this is so that the loop works, if someone doesn't post the loop is "broken" and anyone following it will get stuck and not know where to go next to see the rest of the posts. It also means you're all online at the same time ready to like and comment on all the posts in the loop. This has the added advantage of boosting your post in the old Instagram algorithm (apparently, it's always changing so we can't be sure). The quicker people like and comment on your post, the more valuable Instagram thinks your content is so will show it more, thus boosting your views and potentially introducing your work to more people who might like it. Some loops also like to "save" each others' images as this might boost it even more. (See the flag on the right to save an image.)
This mutual commenting at the same time is also a nice way to connect with your fellow loopers! I've made some wonderful friends and found a real sense of community through my loops. I've become involved in various loops in different ways, sometimes being invited to take part by friends in the loop, sometimes asking to become part of one I've seen and wanted to join (there are limits to the numbers allowed in group chats on Instagram though so don't be disheartened if they say there's no room), sometimes I've created my own and posted in a Facebook group to ask others to join or even just directly choosing those I wanted to loop with and I've also spotted loops being started in groups and added my handle to the list to be included. Some of these got so large, multiple chat groups were set up with many taking part and we can all link up even further through the loop hashtag to comment on all the posts. You can also choose to follow a loop hashtag if you're interested in the particular topic, you don't have to join in to follow along.
The other benefit is you're basically introducing a potentially new group of photographers to your followers so they can find new artists they might want to follow. It's all about community, supporting one another and enjoying the art we all create. It's great fun to be part of, I urge you to think about joining one if you fancy it, or why not start your own? If you're new to photography and want to learn, partner up with some other newbies and work on your growth together, it's amazing to look back through the hashtags and see how far you've all come! My twin loop has been going for a year now and I've just written about it on my Bexphoto blog sharing my favourites from the past year!
I hope this was useful for anyone who didn't already know about Instagram loops. Are you already in a loop or fancy starting a new one? Let us know in the comments!