This Aerial Photographer Took Her Hobby to New Heights With Instagram

Natalie Amrossi worked in finance for three years before realizing how social media could help an artist like her make a living. How did you get your start with Instagram? So that's how that started, in terms of starting my own brand and working with other brands as well. I think it's a great way to show different things on your account without adding them to your feed. A lot of the work that I do, I don’t post on Instagram. With different brand work that I do, depending on the brand, or if I really do love a shot, I post it. It could either be just an average person with 1,000 followers that were their friends, or a photography account page with more followers featuring different photographers. When I post a photo, I can use Instagram stories to say what happened in that photo or whether it's in the caption, kind of describe how I was feeling in that photo, as well as, when people comment, replying back and asking questions. If I like the photo enough, then yes. Stay true to that, and keep posting and engaging and interacting with as many people as possible.

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Natalie Amrossi worked in finance for three years before realizing how social media could help an artist like her make a living.

In this series, Instagram Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular Instagram accounts to find out the secrets of their success.

Natalie Amrossi was exhausted. She’d been up all night shooting photos of luxury cars, and in the morning, she was struggling to brush off her sleepiness — and her thoughts of the photos of Jaguars on her computer, waiting for her to edit them.

She’d been building a following with her Instagram account, @misshattan, for a year at that point. It was then, at age 25, that she decided to resign from her finance job at J.P. Morgan and pour all of her energy into freelance photography. Her lifelong hobby had become her side gig, thanks to exposure via Instagram. But juggling both was becoming overwhelming.

The native New Yorker’s ultimate passion was taking aerial photos: She started on rooftops, which led to an offer to take her first helicopter ride. Breathtaking shots featuring her legs dangling above skyscrapers became a staple of her brand, but she also lent her skills to companies such as Jaguar, Cadillac, Nike and more. As inquiries piled up in her inbox, she became increasingly confident that she could make a living taking photos full time.

Three years later, @misshattan is Amrossi’s brand across a variety of social platforms including Facebook and YouTube, but her largest community is on Instagram, where she has 427,000 followers. Her feed is still mostly comprised of Manhattan cityscapes, but she occasionally posts photos of other destinations, such as Hong Kong or Morocco. When relevant, she features her brand collaborations on her account. Her roster of clients includes tech companies such as Google and Apple, alcohol beverage companies such as Heineken and Absolut Vodka and even travel and tourism organizations such as the city of Las Vegas. She views her photography as a way to chase her own dreams while inspiring others to chase theirs.

Amrossi spoke with Entrepreneur about the opportunities for not just photographers, but artists of all types to broaden the reach of their talents using social media.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
A friend of mine recommended that I download the app and check it out. I immediately really enjoyed the interaction from people all over the world. I never knew that I could touch people from different parts of the Earth with my photographs. I kept on posting, because the more I would post, the more engagement I would get.

I was working at J.P. Morgan, straight from college, and it was just a side project, just for posting for fun. Then slowly but surely, my following started to grow, and grow rapidly. I guess a year into it, I hit tens of thousands. Different companies would ask me to take photos for them for their social media. So that’s how that started, in terms of starting my own brand and working with other brands as well.

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
I definitely spend half of my time on Instagram and the other half of my time on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat — YouTube, even, I’m starting to dabble in.

I think YouTube just tells a story differently. The fans on YouTube, also, if they like travel photography, they’re going to really dive deep and really follow up with everything. A lot of people like to watch TV, and now with smart TVs, there’s an app for YouTube where you can easily watch different YouTube channels. It’s adding on to your platform on Instagram to have this full YouTube channel.

I love Instagram stories. I think it’s a great way to show different things on your account without adding them to your feed. I think it’s great for behind the scenes and stuff like that that your fans are really interested in. When I travel or have a photoshoot, I’ll try to get in a few things on my story to give a different perspective of what I’m doing.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
I’m first and foremost a photographer, so just being able to see different photos and different artists inspires me. Just scrolling through my feed or looking at the explore page gets me excited. And I have my own community on Instagram. When I post, I like to interact with my fans from all over the world.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
When I wake up in the morning, I tend to just scroll on Instagram, probably for like … (laughs) you know, you get carried away. Like a good 15 or 30 minutes, just scrolling, and then you look at the time and you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t even realize how fast time went.” So, I’d say maybe two hours a day, so 14 hours a week, if I had to make an educated guess.

A lot of the work that I do, I don’t post on Instagram. My followers enjoy the travel aspects of my photos. So if I posted portraits and stuff like that, I don’t think as many people would be as interested than if I posted something of like, an aerial shot of Morocco, or wherever else I’ve been. It’s definitely tricky, because sometimes I’ll post portraits, but the majority of the time, I will post different aerial shots or cityscapes.

With different brand work that I do, depending on the brand, or if I really do love a shot, I post it.

I resigned from my job about three years ago, and at first I was on Instagram heavily. But I think in order to survive as a freelancer, I’m more on the back-end side of things, so I’d say that my time on Instagram has been maybe less than what it used to be. But it varies. It really depends on how busy my week is and what I have going on.

5. How do you promote your account? What’s your number-one way to gain followers?
One is doing Instagram meetups, which are called Instameets, where people who have the same interest in photography go shoot around in different locations. Also, a lot of people on Instagram tend to repost your photos. Their followers see your work, and if they like what they see, they follow you, too. I would post photos of New York from perspectives that not a lot of people would otherwise see, especially my aerial perspectives, and a lot of reposting action is how my followers grew. It could either be just an average person with 1,000 followers that were their friends, or a…

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