…the age of Photography corresponds precisely to the explosion of the private into the public, or rather into the creation of a new social value, which is the publicity of the private. - Roland Barthes
Social media has opened up infinite opportunities for every kind of professional out there, but probably most so for the Photographers. People with talent, or independent, freelance photographers wanting to spread the word about their work, who could not earlier afford to promote their work due to lack of money and connections, can now do so for free, or for a trifle. At the same time, they can also connect with a large, potentially a global audience. And all that can happen sitting at your attic studio and editing your latest snaps.
Just with the help of a laptop and an internet connection. How does that sound?
So how can you tap the great power of social media?
As a serious snapper, you need to be a bit discrete about how you want to leverage the possibilities of social media in order to promote your work. Here is the catch. Do you want to connect with a purely professional, peer-to-peer network, or do you want to exhibit your works to as many people as possible? This post looks into various social media channels that can potentially let you connect with both the mass and the class.
One rule of thumb
Before we take a plunge into various social media channels, let’s remember one rule of thumb, the issue of copyright. Use some type of copyright on your images before putting them up online. May be a neatly done watermark. Or something else. In cyberspace, you never know when someone can hack into your account and steal your work. In fact, we would also suggest, use a low res version of the actual image.
Alright, with that being taken care of, here are a few social media tips for photographers to showcase and hopefully sell your snaps via various social media channels.
Using social media to establish and exhibit your work to the world:
This seems to be the obvious choice. However, you need to keep in mind a few things.
Creating thematic albums. One technical nit of Facebook is that it only supports 200 snaps per album. So be judicious. Our suggestion would be to create thematic albums. The reason? Such albums remain live and thus get more eyeballs. Let’s say your niche is Himalayan photography. Now instead of creating an album on say “Biking in Ladakh” create one with the title “Wondering in the Himalayas” so that you can keep adding on to this album for a while.
Timing your uploads. You must have come across some people who post in Facebook at the speed of knots and invariably clog up your feed. Be very careful about it, almost nobody wants to see this happening. Choose your image posting frequency with utmost care so that the people in your network would wait for your uploads. No matter how brilliant you are, we suggest, stick to this method.
Another thing while we are on the same page is, upload your photographs when most people are online. This way you would get the most number of eyeballs on your albums. Late evenings on weekdays are good times for this. Posting at sometime around 3’0 clock in the afternoon on weekdays also seem to be doing the trick.
Engage the people in your network: Use a catchy caption or a short and intriguing description with your photograph. Or just plain ask for feedback from your audience.
Tagging can be nagging. Every time you open your Facebook account there is high chance that you have found yourself tagged into posts and photographs by others. Word of caution. Don’t use this method as a means for call for action. Tagging only works when it’s about personal stuff shared with a small circle. You don’t want nag your audience away!
Google+: Using the power of the circles
Google’s social network ain’t any Facebook killer. But if you are photographically oriented it’s a great space. To start with, it offers better resolution and layout to display your works and then, as a social network, Google+ is preliminarily inhabited by nerds and photographers. Now you know why…
While using Google+, you can really make your images jump off with some smart use of the circles. Let’s say you have a collection of works and you want suggestions about some of them. In this case, you can choose only the circles you wish. At the same time, there are some real works of art in the same collection and you want people to find these. Create a separate section for these and share them via the “Public Circles.” Doing this can really make your photographs jump right into the first page of Google search when a related keyword based search query is entered.
Blogging: Creating a narrative for your images
An image is worth a thousand words. Still, if you want to weave a story around your image, the blog can probably be your best friend. Imagine this. A compelling image of a place or event. A short and intriguing story around it. That’s it. This way your images do not only get enhanced, they also become the crux of an engaging narrative.
Just a few tips before you get started in the blogosphere:
- Choosing the platform. Just for the sheer variety of themes to enhance the design of your blog. Blogger can also be a good place to get started for its ease of use.
- Keep them short. There ain’t any hard and fast rules for this. However, we suggest that for a photo blog, keep your textual content short (and sweet). It should enhance the image, not vice-versa.
- Social integration. Keep the sharing options open, but be judicious. Use Facebook and Twitter buttons (obviously). But beyond that, pick and choose only a few channels like Stumbleupon or Delicious. And of course, use Google+.
- Engage: Stay alert about the comments that come your way here. Engagement is a crucial aspect on any social media channel.
- “Project 365”: If you can afford the time and content this could be a great way to keep your blog alive and abuzz and attract a lot of traffic to it. What can you do here? Put up a new photograph on your blog everyday (with or without accompanying text). You may check out Bangalore based Neeta Shankar’s project along similar lines here for reference.
Using social media to establish a peer to peer network
Flipping through Flickr:
If you ever had anything to do with online image sharing you must have used Flickr at least once. In the good old days of the pre Facebook era, Flickr was the de-facto go to online image sharing space. It still is, for many of us. But, with the advent of the almighty Facebook, not to mention myriad other social media channels, Flickr has lost some of its sheen. Even some professional photographers have migrated to Facebook and other places off late. Still though, if you take photography seriously, you should have a Flickr account. Why? Because since it was the largest image sharing network it had a thriving community of photographers – amateurs, aspiring ones, professionals and till date that community is retained.
Some smart tips to get around in Flickr:
- Join the communities that interest you. For instance join groups like “Black and White,” “Travel Photography” etc.
- Be regular in posting. Staying active matters in any social network.
- Geo-tag your snaps. This will help in getting higher ranks in searches.
How can this 140 characters messaging network help you in promoting your images? Well you can use plug-ins like Tweetpic, but more than that Twitter is for promoting your main social photography channel hosted somewhere else. The usual tips for this, tweet your works, follow a network of photographers, use photography related hashtags, retweet others’ works and the rule of the thumb, be regular on Twitter. Otherwise you risk the chance of being submerged under the digital deluge of zillions of tweets.
Optimizing the Twiteratti: A couple of examples:
Naina Redhu: First Indian on Twitter
One of the earliest examples of this kind of usage of Twitter comes from Delhi –based wedding, lifestyle, and portrait photographer Naina Redhu. The first Indian on Twitter, Naina’s Twitter handle has 10,522+ followers. A quick look at Naina’s Twitter profile reveals that she tweets about a wide range of topics that is not just about her own works.
Roycin Dsouza: #TAD365
Another instance of using Twitter innovatively comes from photographer Roycin Dsouza, Roycin initiated the “One picture of One Person from Twitter, a day”project with the aim to “put a face on those handles I’ve been following for the last 1 year, and of course, a free portrait with a unique Identity.” For this he used hashtag #TAD365 which went viral.
This is the space to build your credibility. Use its community space, participate in the discussion threads here, and optimize the events section. If you are organizing an exhibition, the events section in LinkedIn can be a great way to promote it. And off course, sync all your other social media channels with the LinkedIn account.
A few other options:
These aside, there are quite a few other places on the social web to promote your photography. For instance, Pinterest can be a great space to keep all your images in one place. You can even use SlideShare or YouTube or Vimeo to certain extents. For instance, a video would help if you want to provide some how-to tips about a new DSLR, or a cool new gadgetry.
It’s a wired world
The greatest challenge in social media is not the lack of options, but to concentrate all those de-centralized channels to the place where the crux of all things are, i.e. your precious photographs. We suggest, create your niche. It can either be a portfolio, a blog, or a Facebook page, or anything for that matter. Then ensure that you optimize that particular space. Whatever else you are doing in the social media space, all your channels should converge onto your master site, the site where you host your work.
So what are you waiting for? Click and then click to share and sell ‘em!
Featured Image Courtesy : Bien Stephenson