Become Insta-famous #nofilter: Interview with Cincygram


Whether it is an early bird shot of glitter covered cookies, sleeping kittens glowing in the juno effect, or majestic sunsets with #nofilter, we all have a keen eye for what elicits a double tap. The hearted show of interest is no easy task these days. With the approximate 400 million Instagram profiles that are scrolled through on a daily basis, standing out in an explosive digital environment can be a challenge.

One profile that has Cincinnati locals everywhere double tapping is the stand out Cincygram account. Created by Dave Schmidt with an audience of over 25k followers, Cincygram is a collection of some of the best city landscape images that exist.

Begun out of a photography hobby turned passion, Cincygram has earned itself a global following while connecting Cincinnati natives through the charming culture of the Queen City.

Oodle had the opportunity to chat with Dave on the early days, biggest moments, and overall creative best practices in growing and sharing your passions with the world.

A little background on yourself and how Cincygram came to be?

started Cincygram with my friend Brandon Wiley mainly as a way to get out of the house. I personally needed a hobby and I couldn’t run anymore and wanted something to do. So I started with my iPhone walking around the different areas of town and it just kind of took off.

In what ways does Cincygram contribute to the overall branding of Cincinnati?

Cincygram is well followed globally so I think sharing Cincinnati and what it has to offer is unique. I have many followers that enjoy the city from afar.

What is most rewarding for you to see in the success of Cincygram?

The most rewarding aspect of Cincygram is seeing people everyday enjoying my photography and my unique view of the city. I never take a single comment for granted or a new follower to my feed. I am very appreciative to all that follow and all that like my photos.

How does Cincygram break the mold from traditional Instagraming?

Providing unique content/style, interaction with my followers is probably the biggest. I always try to comment back and thank everyone who left a comment. Like i said previously I try to show my followers that I care about what they say, good or bad comments I will respond in a polite way.

Do you plan for the elements, or does a shot come out better when you keep things organic?

Definitely organic. You never know what will be out to shoot at any given moment. There is a moment to capture all the time. It just depends on if you are out for that moment and are prepared.           

What is the secret to creating an engaging Instagram platform?

Always respond. Good, bad, ugly comments, you have to respond. I am always either showing appreciation, taking criticism and replying to it, or sticking up for myself. There is some jealousy on Instagram and sometimes you get hit with ugly comments, but you need to respond. There is no room for negativity in my eye.

Beyond urban landscapes what other subjects most interest you any why?

Street photography is one area I would like to get more comfortable. Candid or uncandid, street photography is a grey area in my photography. You have to be comfortable with photography or it will not turn out good.

Another area I shoot, but would love to shoot more, is landscape photography. Country roads and farms are some landscape photography I would love to shoot more. The reason I don’t is my time is limited. I want to be in an area where I can get more photographs in a short amount of time rather than driving around for 3 hours and get a small amount of photos. I need more photographs to keep a constant flow of photography on my feed.

What is your primary value that you aim to convey through your images?

I try to share a story with my photography. I try to show the beauty in a city that has a lot of negatives. Crimes in the city always wind up on the news and I want to showcase the beauty that Cincinnati has to offer. It is a special city and it is up to me to show case it worldwide.

What is the craziest thing you have ever seen on the Cincygram page?

The hate and jealousy of some users encountered in the past. 

What makes for a dud of an Instagram account?

Selfies. But in all reality Instagram is built for all users. 

How do your photos get in touch on a personal level with Cincinnati lovers? Is there a secret to motivating users to literally heart your creations?

Just by showing quality photographs. I have honestly motivated many photographers in the area to go out and showcase Cincinnati from their point of view. But what matters to me is bring great content to Cincygram that continues to motivate others to get out there and do the same.

Best gadget out there for photography right now?

Camera of any kind, tripod if you are going to shoot night photography and a good eye. Having the eye is the key to photography. You can have the best equipment money can buy but not having the eye, the equipment won’t matter.

What and/or who inspires you in life and in your photography?

I have 25K followers and I follow about 800. The reason why I follow them is they motivate me. There are many local perspectives that motivate me and many national and worldwide. Being the best I can be motivates me.

Do you have any Instagram “best practices” that you’d like to share?

Every moment is a moment to be captured, out in the world. Capturing that rare moment depends on if you are out there to see it or let it slip by. Get out and capture every moment you can.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would be your dream destination to photograph?

West. The mountains, the roads and the desert would be wonderful.

What has been your favorite project or assignment to date?

Shooting an All-Star product launch for Adidas Baseball.

What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment?

Capturing the city well enough to earn a partnership opportunity with WCPO. I provide them photos for their Insider feed and it has been an opportunity I cherish. I enjoy working with them and enjoy the support they give me in return. It has been a great accomplishment. I thank them for that partnership.