When you think about it, the very idea of social media is beautiful. People who would have otherwise met one another can now seamlessly network and share ideas like never before. For photographers, social media has fostered an extremely complex relationship. We can share our images with enormous audiences. Our work is perpetuated globally over the internet in a cloud of connectivity brimming over with ‘likes’, shares, and hashtags.
But what does it all mean? All those likes and shares…what are they good for anyway? The truth is…they are meaningless. That’s right. No one has ever advanced their photography career or made a single cent from the likes or shares their images garnered on Instagram or Facebook. That’s not to say that all those likes and shares are useless…far from it. While it may be true that the mechanisms(likes, shares, reposts) themselves mean nothing, what they represent carries an enormous amount of weight. Social media can literally take your work from “zero to hero” in ways you would never have imagined.
Social Media is a Connection
Photography is a visual medium. Photographs we’re made to be viewed and generally, the more people who view them the better. The power of social media is how it brings people together and allows you to put your work in front of the eyes of potentially millions of people. That’s what makes social media just an indispensable tool for us photographers. No more than forty or even thirty years ago in order for a photographers work to be seen by the masses meant that a physical print must be placed right in front of the peoples faces. The photos had to be in a book, a magazine, a gallery…somewhere publicly displayed. This meant that in order to “make it” the photographer would have to, in most cases, be at the right place at the right time to have their work published.
What you have to remember about social media is that all those likes represent people…people who view and judge your photographs. It’s always been the opinion of the viewer that makes or breaks the success of the photographer. The perfect photograph loses all meaning if it’s kept away from human eyes.
Using Social Media More Effectively
Depending on your goals, there are lots of things you can do to increase your social media presence which translates to your photos being viewed by more and more people. If you’re serious about getting your work out there using social media, here are a few general guidelines that will help you out…
- Understand your audience Google, Facebook, and Instagram offer analytics and demographic monitoring tools to help you get to know your audience better. This means gaining an understanding of the best times to post and which of your photos gets the most attention. For me here in America, my ideal posting times are mid mornings and late afternoons. Tailor the way you present your images based on the people who view them.
- Separate business and pleasure While it’s true that some photographers mix in their personal photos with their professional images it’s usually not a good practice.Keep your cell phone pictures from the bar last Saturday night off your business Instagram or Facebook account. If you simply have to post photos from your life(like me) then consider opening a second account to keep your person pics from distracting your audience.
- Only post your best I know it’s hard to do, but only post the photos you feel represent you at your best. Your viewers should never read things like “I know it’s not the best photo but…” or “Excuse the crappy quality…” Have images that are good but you don’t consider great? Sorry, don’t post them or if you do, post them to that personal account we talked about earlier.
- Keep things current We all change as we grow. The pictures we were making three years ago are likely not as refined as the ones we are making now and the photos we make now won’t be as good as the ones we’ll produce next year. Occasionally cull your social media photos so that, yet again, only the work you feel is your best will be on display.
Final Thoughts on Social Media…
The goal for virtually any photo maker is to present our images to the world. We work hard to make photos. We want them to be seen and bring joy to those who view them. Using social media more intelligently can pay huge dividends both commercially and creatively. Understand that the way you wield the power of social media can bring you to next chapter of your photographic journey…whatever that might be.