the hack into hashtags | by Amanda Myers

 

Well hey there, Storytellers! I'm so honored and thrilled to be able to share a little bit about myself with you. Our crazy crew lives in a suburb of Atlanta. I'm a mom of three summer babes, so once July wraps, I'll have 8 and 7 year old daughters and a 5 year old son. Gosh, that sounds crazy to say - not long ago I was trying to manage feeding and diapering three babies! (And I didn't manage all that well...) My husband and I met over sushi 15 years ago. I was an edamame virgin and during our dinner with friends, I accidentally put one in my mouth...from the wrong bowl. Ew.

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A couple quick fun facts: I grew up in Milwaukee and moved to Atlanta to play volleyball at Georgia Tech. I have no idea what an engineer does or is, besides driving the train, right? I'm a CFP (certified financial planner) and worked for ten years trading stocks at investment firms. I
go back and forth on returning to that life someday. And I love all the things! My whims and interests span absolutely everything. If I had to list all my hobbies and interests, we'd be here forever. There is so much I want to learn and do and read and see and experience. I love everything about life.

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My photography journey is pretty cliche... Had a baby. Had a point & shoot and couldn't figure out why my pictures were so crappy. Took a photography class and ended up buying the instructor's old Nikon D40 for $100 after class. (Turns out, that camera had a storied history,
previously owned by two incredible wedding photographers - it was their first camera and they definitely left a little magic in it for me.) Then, all my friends were pregnant and wanted pictures, then they had babies and wanted pictures, had more babies and wanted family pictures... Similar story to so many of us.

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I had the whole shebang - beanbag, backdrop stand, wraps, bonnets, the works. Then, a good friend had a baby and I went to visit her in the hospital. I brought my camera and was able to capture her family meeting the baby for the first time. Those images moved me. They changed everything. I did a few more newborn sessions, but then sold and gave away all the props. To this day, my favorite thing to capture is a Fresh 48. Last year I documented a birth and it was completely incredible. I also got to photograph a wedding a couple years ago, and I just adore those images. While I'm not a birth or wedding photographer, I'm so drawn to the high emotions of those moments in the pictures. I also shoot events for the city where I live, which is so much fun. It's very street photography/documentary, and I always end up loving those images.

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In 2016, I started a 365 Project. I decided I'd mostly post my pictures to Instagram, a platform that I liked pretty well. I didn't love the idea of posting every day to Facebook. I saw that a few photographers I was following used hashtags, like #childhoodunplugged and #candidchildhood. So I did, too. I had no clue why or what it meant, but that's just what you did. I figured out those hashtags were related to hub accounts that feature a variety of photographers' work. I was even featured a few times and started to get the hang of it, when I realized that some hubs had special themes. I would randomly screen shoot the announcements when I saw them, but mostly forgot about them. Eventually, when I remembered to use a theme tag, I noticed that my likelihood of getting featured went way up. After becoming a mod myself, I learned what mods are looking for and how hard it was to find a great theme image to feature.

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I committed to figuring out a system to organize all my hashtags. I noticed so many of my Insta-friends had no idea what they were doing, using random hashtags and not using theme tags. I thought that if I had this problem and figured out a better way, maybe other
people needed a better way too. So, in November 2016, I launched HubHack, a hashtag service that provides members with daily, weekly and monthly themes. Since I knew how much time it took me to compile these stats every week, I knew I could save my friends a ton of time.
Today, HubHack has about 250 members and I can say anecdotally that when I scroll through the hub feeds, the majority of features are theirs. I love it when a previously unknown photographer joins, starts to implement the hashtag strategy, and then I see their work featured all over the place.

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HubHack has been such a blessing to me, in so many ways. Many ladies have informed me that they finally felt like they had met Insta-friends through engagement groups or posts, when they had few connections previously. It's just another forum-type environment to share and ask questions, which is something I didn't expect, but really love. As far as my photography goes, I've endeavored another 365 this year. I've actually kept up amazingly well with shooting every day. It's the uploading, editing and posting that I can't seem to find the time for.

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But I can echo all the great photographers out there: a 365 is the very best thing you'll ever do for your photography. There's nothing like it to really learn about your camera and what matters to you.

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My "style" can be summed up just like me: Kind of a quirky hot mess. It's taken me a few years to really accept and embrace that. I feel bombarded with everyone saying you need to have a consistent style, find your voice and make sure your Instagram gallery represents your
"brand." But why? For who? After years of deep introspection on this, particularly in the last year as I transitioned into my 40's, I kind of don't care about my style and voice. What I do care about is that I'm honest with myself. If I want to edit one image light and airy because it just feels right, then I'll do that. And another image dark and cool and moody, then I'll do that. I see no reason, for me, to try to fit within a particular style.

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I fall into the trap of wanting my work to be better and different than what it is. But here's the thing: I put my kids to bed before golden hour 95% of the time. I don't have much control over what my kids have in their closet and even less control of what they'll be willing to wear. I don't
live near a beach or on a farm or in the mountains. Strawberry picking sounds amazing, but during the month of May, I'm just barely surviving, much less able to do a sunset session at a farm an hour away from me. I don't have cool yoga outfits. My house is ugly and I don't have
much control over that either. (Every time I see a sink bath pic, I think "wow, her sink must be a lot cleaner than mine...") And y'all, I love rain boots, but goodness gracious they are too expensive for how quickly they'll be too tight! I try to make sure I'm honest and document my life as it is. 

love, Amanda