Instagram hack wiped out business in a flash
GOLD COAST photographer Jules Ingall spent years building up her business - and then lost it in a flash.
Ms Ingall, who is renowned for her spectacular travel and wildlife photos, was a victim of a worldwide hacking incident that saw her Instagram account abruptly shut down.
It was a rude awakening for someone who had based her business on the popular app.
"To rely on an app that you have no control over is very risky," she said.
"I've had a long think abut my business structure over the past week.
"They (Instagram) have so many rules, they can take your account off you and there's nothing you can do about it."
Ms Ingall, who specialises in tourism photography, said her career "really took off" last year after winning a prestigious competition.
"I entered a competition run by Choice Hotels to find the next top Instagrammer," she said.
"It was a national competition and I won.
"Since then I've done a lot of work for tourism boards like Noosa Tourism and Queensland Tourism where I will go to the destination and take photographs.
"I've also done paid posts where people pay me to post on Instagram ... I did one for Hawaii recently and it's all conditional on having that social media following."
Ms Ingall's Instagram account disappeared for nearly a week, but she wasn't the only person affected.
More than six million accounts were caught up in the drama when hackers created a dark web database of personal information, revealing private phone numbers and email addresses.
The scale of the hack on the popular app emerged after the Instagram account of pop star Selena Gomez was compromised and naked pictures of her ex Justin Bieber were leaked online.
Ingall, who has more than 21,000 followers, is among the scores of 'Insta famous' Gold Coasters who rely on the app for income.
"My whole photography business started out of my Instagram following," she said.
"I've spent hours every day for the past three years working on the account and building up my following, it would be impossible to build up a following again organically."
Ingall said her friends rallied around her to get the Instagram account back.
"I attacked it from every angle: I sent them Facebook messages, tweeted them and I had other people reporting the problem on the Instagram app," she said.
"I wasn't really worried about the privacy side of things, the only information I had on there was my email address, it probably would've been a different story if I had my bank details there."
Ms Ingall has now put the incident behind her and is looking forwards to her next projects, taking photographs in Noumea, Tangalooma and Whistler over Christmas.
"It really is the dream job," she said.
"I'm headed to Noumea in a few weeks ... and over Christmas we're going on a family holiday to Whistler where I will also be doing some work with their tourism body."