Instagram success stories: Transforming a desk job into an adventure photography business

adventure photographry

(© Yann – stock.adobe.com)

In 2009 adventure photographer Gregg Jaden had two near-death experiences that led to many years of healing. One in 2009 when a car turned in front of him almost causing the crash and another in 2015, which was aftermath related to the original crash. Prior to this, he was a Marketing Exec that took photos for fun. He started taking photos and posting them in Instagram which led to creating a photography business from this life changing event. “After posting my travels on Instagram, my following started to grow significantly and became very engaged globally” says Jaden.

All this tragedy led him to create Gregg Jaden Studios.

One location on Jaden’s radar was Hang Son Doong Vietnam, the largest cave in the world. He saw a NatGeo feature of some photos from a rare find and new discovery of the largest cave in the world, Hang Son Doong (mountain river cave). It was newly explored in 2013. The cave is depth max. 150 metres (490 ft) length approx. 9 kilometres (5.6 mi).

“It was one of those things I just had to do it,” says Jaden.

“After some traction on Instagram, the next logical step was to turn this into a business. I then started pursuing Brand partnerships for the expedition trip to Vietnam” says Jaden.

After extensive research on which Brands might be a good fit, he started to reach out to see if they would like to work with him on this project. He had six months to prepare for the five-day off the grid expedition.

“I prepared a pitch deck to present my project concepts and ideas for this trip. I managed to secure some deals with some major Brands to help fund this adventure. This was a game changer for me. After I returned home, utilizing Instagram, I posted some images from that trip. The response was great. It led to more sponsorship and new projects with Fortune Brands,” says Jaden.

Jaden attributes most of his success to Instagram. “It was key for any Brand trust my work and take a chance on my vision for proposed projects. It was so much more powerful than showcasing my work on a website,” says Jaden.

Strategy and Tips For Starting a Business using Instagram

Anyone can do this. All it takes is passion and determination to succeed. Successful people’s lives are transformed by taking bad experiences and finding some good in it.

Here are some tips anyone can use to fuel their own Instagram growth for any industry.

Keep It Simple Always!

When approaching Brands or even local businesses for getting hired, have a concept for them but simplify it so they understand the vision. Its a bigger advantage to offer a team with more skillset as an overall solution for the prospect this. When approaching a Brand, showcase your trustworthy company to help solve their visual content problems. Have a professional company website to help with your own reputation.

Post your work on Instagram regularly. Keep things fresh and exciting posting new content like workflow, BTS, how to vids, workspace, travel vids, tips and tricks, latest apps, people that inspire you or even ask a question to help with engagement and growth. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an expedition like Gregg Jaden’s experience. These tips are for any business you are approaching. Anyone can easily start with street shots, bokeh portraits or even practicing taking product photos, using natural window light or even a latte at a local coffee shop.

Always Deliver on Time and Be Punctual

Never avoid client communication. If they reject your idea they aren’t rejecting you. Don’t get discouraged. It is part of business. The goal is to learn from it and offer a solution to their objections. Some deals take a lot of back and forth to get the concept right.

“I made sure I proposed a project to Brands that was a massive benefit to them. I focused on Brands and their current marketing initiatives and answered the question on how I could enhance their current goals for them. says Jaden.

Be an Extension of Their Marketing Team

When approaching Brands remember they will have marketing teams in place. Offer skills and concept ideas that will be a natural extension of their marketing efforts but give them big results. This is where your strategy can shine. Offering concepts that their current marketing folks have not explored yet by selling them on the niche skillset.

Life Is All About Relationships

Building any Brand relationship is key. Happy clients are notorious for repeat business. Develop a win/win business relationship and always learn more about the brand and any upcoming opportunities.

Solve an Existing Problem

When approaching Brands always have a solution to an existing problems you uncover during the discovery phase. Research the Brand as much as possible. Learn what their quarterly projections are, marketing goals and what products/market segments they will be focusing on. Once you acquire more knowledge then approach them with a new, fresh idea that they can’t refuse.


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