Photographer Michael O’Neal skyrocketed to Instagram fame with his 2013 Vogue photoshoot, their first ever on the photo and video sharing platform. The tech savvy photographer, who has a page of his site dedicated to pictures taken with his iPhone, now boasts 690,000 followers, and the account for his dogs has 5,171.
Instagram is often thought of as a place for amateur photographers, and many successfully use it as a way to make dilettante work look more professional. However, O’Neal recognized the flourishing potential for a seasoned photographer as well, and took advantage. O’Neal’s work for the renown fashion publication put him on the professional map, and in the public eye. By creating content specific to a social platform, the young photographer gained a large following, and added to Vogue’s then only budding Instagram fanbase.
Vogue boasted that the “three fashion stories” that made up their first Instagram photo series, #wednesdaybreakmyheart, #onestopshopnyc, and #sleepwalksnewyork, were taken using “nothing but an iPhone.”
O’Neal now has his own studio in San Francisco, and primarily uses his Instagram to document his travels, in gorgeous fashion. However, he also remains a go-to for shoots geared towards social media platforms, Instagram in particular. He recently did a photoshoot for DSW’s #powerofshoes campaign, which the footwear retailer kicked off on their Instagram account and their Twitter page, by posting professional photos of their shoes and encouraging others to post their own with the #powerofshoes tag.
— Rachel Martino (@rachel_martino) September 22, 2015
Michael O’Neal managed to make a niche for himself as a professional social media photographer at a time when social media was booming, but brands were only just starting to catch on that it could be used for professionals as well as amateurs. By leading the way there, he opened the door to other opportunities as well, such as the ability to have his own studio and create his own work, while still maintaining his social media photography presence.