What Every Photographer Needs to Know about Social Media

What Every Photographer Needs to Know about Social Media

An introduction to social media for photographers by Australian Freelance Photographer Gemma Carr (@GemTweetAlot).

How critical is social media/marketing to your photography business?

Photographers are busy people. So too are our clients. More so than ever before we have an abundance of information available to us at the click of a mouse. It’s always evolving; full of opportunity and at times, a little overwhelming.

social media photographers

As you can see, the modern day photographer is a busy one indeed. Running a successful photography business has always been about much more than just taking great photos.

As shown in the diagram above, the skills we need as a photographer in 2010 are much more diverse. The list could go on, but, I think you will see the most notable change in skills is the web?based tools such as website/Blogs/Facebook/Twitter.

And with all the new ways to promote your business the range of options is both exciting and challenging. Wouldn’t you agree?

Which social media/marketing tools are right for you?

This is a very personal decision; it’s about finding the right fit for you, your brand and your clients. Often a combination of your preferred tools works really well.

About one year ago, I euthanised my Facebook account. A bold act at the time when I was so heavily entrenched in it, but certainly a move I have not regretted.

About one year ago I set up my twitter account. This, I can report has been the most inspirational move I have made in years.

Instead of being in touch with old high school friends (lovely as they are, we lost touch for a reason) I was now immersed in a world that spread outwards to photographers from all over the world. From my home office in Melbourne I am getting creative inspiration, ideas, technical advice and feedback from my photography and industry colleagues that I never once had.

From using Twitter and linking in to dozens of photographers Blogs, I have realized the potential power of the Blog. If utilized right, a Blog is a current, living document of your photography business. In some cases the Blog can supersede a website.

Why Blog?

Simply so that my current and future clients can get to know me… FAST! My Blog is a behind the scenes look into what I do, it’s more personable and friendly than a website. This is key for my wedding & portrait business clients.

For my commercial clients my website is a more formal introduction to me and my photography. In the short time I have had my Blog online, my enquiries have increased significantly.

Acclaimed Perth wedding photographer, Samm Blake, is testament to how well web based marketing can work:

“My entire business was built on my website, Blog, facebook and twitter!”

“My Blog is definitely the most important marketing tool for my business. It allows me to share my most current work and allows me to connect with current, prospective and past clients as well as many other photographers around the world”

Website Vs Blog

In your business, one web tool may outshine the other. Yet, what is so powerful about these available tools is how amazingly well they can compliment each other. I use my website and Blog to differentiate the services I offer. For me is all about

making it easy for people to find and to connect with me.

“Website and Blog are the most important in our business. The websites works as a medium for art directors, designers etc to look you up and see your work so it’s an important overview of your work. The Blog keeps them informed about what your doing and hopefully on their minds when a suitable job comes up. Obviously you need to promote in other ways which direct people to your website otherwise it can sit there being very idle.”

Adair Lander from Adrian Lander, Commercial Photographer, Sydney.

Shouldn’t I just be taking photos?

Whilst all this stuff sounds easy and exciting, most of it equates to a lot of time and personal input from you. All of the time spent at the computer, is time away from your camera. So, if you consider it a chore to participate in social media, then I suggest you don’t.

The inspiration I have gained from being able to connect with fellow creative people has truly taken me by surprise, yet it all falls into step behind me actually shooting.

Top tips for Blogging

  • Content is king – add regular posts that create interest for your viewers
  • Use Twitter & Facebook to attract visitors to your Blog
  • Match your Blog to your branding

Top Social Media Tips

  • Be yourself, share share share! (but not the nitty gritty details)
  • Respond to others; let people know you are alive and kicking (and interested in what’s happening)
  • Don’t try to do too much, just pick the programs that you enjoy using

At the end of the day, regardless of what decade we are in, nothing is has been or will ever be more important than taking really good photographs.

I am excited about my photography career, I hope you are too!

Gemma Carr is a Freelance Photographer from Melbourne. See more from her at her site GemmaCarr.com.au. Follow her on Twitter at @GemTweetAlot. This post was previously published in the members area of ACMP.

Helpful Links:

  • ProPhotoBlogs – add on software especially made for photographers
  • WordPress.com – free software to build your Blog
  • ProBlogger Blog Tips – a usefull resource with everything you need to know about blogging from starting up to maximizing your BLOG’s potential (also a sister site to dPS).

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Some Older Comments

  • Wedding Photographer Perth February 14, 2012 09:30 pm

    I find it helpful to upload my wedding photos to facebook as it gives me extra exposure

  • Helios Monocular January 23, 2012 06:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information .I’m glad you point out that if you don’t like to do the social media thing, you shouldn’t do it. Marketing yourself is very important for anyone with a business, but we’re photographers (presumably) b/c we wanted a career doing something we love. If you hate spending so much time with social media, it kinda defeats that purpose.I think it is very powerful to friend all your clients on Facebook then tag them in their photos on your Facebook photography business page. When I see a friend of the client complement the photo, I thank them then friend them as well.I hope networking helps me develop into an established photographer…Thanks for the post.

  • Amelia July 14, 2011 05:19 am

    Great tips. I have only recently gotten into the whole social media world and blogging. It has been a bit overwhelming with shoots and post production as well, but I'm getting there. The tips are great. Reassurance that I'm on the right track is better.

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  • Martin W. August 18, 2010 12:55 am

    Wish I'd found this article years ago. I've found facebook especially helpful to connect with my wedding photography clients, along with a blog website. It's fun and its all FREE! Thanks again for sharing!

  • Alistair Scott August 17, 2010 05:54 pm

    A very useful article. I agree that a photographer needs both a website and a blog. They serve different purposes:

    - website more static, presenting your services
    - blog active in order to attract people and keep them coming back (which is why it's got to be active)

    With regard to Facebook - as well as posting there, don't forget that they also have a lot of very active photographers' groups. Why not join a few?

    One social media facility that you left out is LinkedIn. This is a professionals' contact and networking site and also has a number of very active groups for photographers. As well as getting yourself known, you can pick up lots of good advice from these groups.

    (P.S. If anyone wants to become a contact of mine on LinkedIn, I'm, 'Alistair Scott' in Switzerland. Happy to accept.)

  • Martin soler photography August 17, 2010 08:23 am

    Great article. I dont use twitter yet but seeing from this post i should. How to use it for photographers would be a nice follow up article.

  • Gemma Carr August 16, 2010 10:00 am

    Thank you Janine for your lovely comment :) (blush)

    The bulk of your comments (in summary) confirm that there is no "one size fits all" mould for a photographer's online presence.
    I say test the waters, monitor your traffic results regularly to figure out what generates the best results, and focus on the practices that you actually enjoy doing.

    What works best for you?

  • Hagen August 15, 2010 06:27 am

    You're missing a massive amount in the "photographer's skill set": marketing, finance, business planning, disaster planning, sales, file and asset management, shoot planning, equipment maintenance, proposal writing, client expectation management, strength/weakness assessment to develop your training plan, industry monitoring (so you can see the trend that will require you to evolve your business before you loose it to "volunteers" or hobbyist.

    My calculations put shooting at 10-15%, image management (photoshop, metadata etc) at 10%. The rest is business. If you are small, you do it yourself because you can't afford to outsource it.

    The other photogs I've talked to all pretty much agree.

  • Chris August 14, 2010 09:49 am

    I have been doing what the author has suggested here. However, I am finding my results are not quite as successful using Twitter.

    I am actually getting more hits on my Blog/Web Page from posting on other people's blogs such as this one. But again this does not get the results I want either as which photographer want to buy another photographers services?

    When I signed up for twitter over a year ago I found the community much more welcoming. Now, it seems to be people who want to help you make it big on the internet. I guess it is the new spam and I find I don't read Tweets from people I follow as much as I used to.

    I agree 100% on the author's view on the facebook thing. Family and Friends tend to want discounts (Or even Free). But I think it is still important to have a facebook presence as Jason Collin points out.

    I will keep trying. After all Facebook and Twitter is still free. As the author states it just takes up your time. I always believe hard work pays off.

  • [Op] August 14, 2010 08:13 am

    Can't help but agree with Gemma Carr's graphical guide.

    [eimg url='http://posterous.com/getfile/files.posterous.com/ongchuaphotography/ugI5cPVDVny2LfblngF8YzIrVLOPDsGsTDAxw5W1kfkrq7qZZZpSriKhCJ6R/_DSC0024.jpg.scaled.500.jpg' title='_DSC0024.jpg.scaled.500.jpg']

    Hayayay... too many photos, so little time! :D

  • OrganizePix August 14, 2010 02:52 am

    The website + blog combination is great for a photography business. The blog structure is perfect for search engines and it allows you to quickly add/edit content. This way one can add fresh content which search engines love and also your readers will love...well hopefully they will love the content if it is well thought out and clear.

    I think Gemma's distinction between a website (a more static collection of information/pictures) and a blog is the most important point of the website. Social media may help (if used rightly as Gemma indicates) but it can also be a waste of time if your clients are not into it. My experience has been that it's important to study your customers and invest your time where it counts.

  • Karen Stuebing August 13, 2010 10:14 pm

    I have a Facebook page I hardly ever even visit let alone update. I use twitter just to post my daily shoot so it shows up in the daily shoot pool. I have 13 followers. :) I have a blog for my Daily Shoot and I try to update it twice a week. It seems to do okay.

    I am not a professional although I have sold prints from people who have found me through googling something.

    To be quite honest, I think social media used by businesses has become a for of spamming. It turns me completely off. If I want to see your latest photo shoot, I'll visit your site without 6 posts on my FB news feed. In fact, I've starting hiding all those people so I don't even have to read it.

    JMHO.

  • Janine Hanlon August 13, 2010 09:56 pm

    Terrific article! Thanks for sharing the information love the photographers' work too - gorgeous and talented!

  • Katja Nina August 13, 2010 08:01 pm

    Great article, thanks for sharing. It is so true that not many photographers can make their money purely from taking photos, now they need to know photoshop, marketing, twitters and what nots.
    I quite enjoy having twitter which I just started - twitter.com/katjanina, and have FB account as well. So guess next step is to have a blog but maybe later.

  • Marko Simic August 13, 2010 05:49 pm

    At least, photographers still need to know how to take (really good) photos :))

  • Danny Delgado August 13, 2010 04:31 pm

    Great post! Very insightful. I'm in the infancy of my photography career. I have started a blog a Twitter account and a PictureSocial account. I hope networking helps me develop into an established photographer...Thanks for the post.

  • krishna August 13, 2010 01:40 pm

    Very good article. I use facebook and flickr currently. I would start my own blog with twitter asap.

  • Eileen Ludwig August 13, 2010 12:24 pm

    Good tips and I am not following the author - will go back and reread to add marketing more. Developing my blog further and the website is key. Finishing the 31 days to Build a better blog is on my list and partially done.

    Eileen

  • Tyler August 13, 2010 11:43 am

    facebook is for friends, not to sell your business, people who solicit their art on facebook get unfriended or blocked by me pretty quickly. i do not need to be your fan, if I want to see what's up, i can find your site.

  • Gemma Carr August 13, 2010 11:13 am

    Hello guys & gals,
    it's Gemma here, author of this article. All your comments are fantastic and again I am reminded of how influential our online presence is. In follow up to my article and your comments:
    1. Kim my twitter name is @gemtweetalot :)
    2. Always seek prior permission from the subject before posting their images on your blogs or website. I make this a firm business practice of mine.
    3. Whilst I don't use facebook at this point of time, Jason makes some great points about utilizing this program. I see it working for LOTS of photographers around me, particularly with the "Fan Page" set up.
    4. For me Twitter is not just about linking to my blog and self promotion, it's a source of ongoing INSPIRATION! It's also a lovely way to have a more casual dialog with fellow creatives.

    Keep your feedback coming, it's really interesting to hear your experiences.

  • Teresa boardman August 13, 2010 10:14 am

    I would think that a blog and web site would be a must have for a photographer. I am often surprised by the photography web sites see. They are poorly designed with tiny photos that are nard to scroll through. The Internet is a perfect place to show off photos.

  • Tim August 13, 2010 08:23 am

    Karen is right on the money. It's always a good idea to have clients sign a model release before your shoot - especially if you're taking pictures of minors. There are lots of great templates out there that can be adapted for use.

    It's also a good idea to avoid using clients' names in blog posts and to minimize metadata before posting pictures. You may have private details embedded in the file that you forgot about...

    San Diego Newborn Photographer

  • karen@fidelisartprints.com August 13, 2010 06:56 am

    Commenting to summerbl4ck. I see your point about privacy for our clients. You make a good point. Portrait photographers have been using traditional portfolios and making them public at trade shows, art fairs and chamber of commerce events for years. The same rules apply with social media. Always ask your clients if you can use their images for self promotion (maybe even have them sign a waiver and specify what marketing channels you will be using). Maintaining relationships with your clients is paramount, any amount of advertising is not worth losing goodwill. Thanks,K.

  • summerbl4ck August 13, 2010 06:24 am

    All that social media is great for spreading the word but I don't think we spend enough time considering privacy issues from the clients' perspective. I've been considering a pro photographer for a session with my family and, in addition to the difficulty in finding someone who will share digital images instead of prints which I have no use for, I'm not entirely comfortable with my kids being turned into ads with their images potentially all over websites, blogs, FB, etc. I follow quite a few photographers on FB and now that it's senior season, I have been amazed at how much information I'm able to learn about kids I have absolutely no connection to just by what's being posted about them. Now obviously I share enough images of my kids online from my own glass house, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is a lot of trust in the photographer/client relationship and to think about that when developing your marketing strategy.

  • Dominic Allkins August 13, 2010 06:05 am

    @john schlosser @andreas & @felipe balbi

    You'd be amazed at how easy that is to do. I do it all the time at work - so much so that I have it set up as an autocorrect in MS Word.

    I just did a quick check and there are 156K results on Google for the search term 'wesbite'.

    Someone has even set up a site www.wesbite.org - hehehe.

  • Jason Collin Photography August 13, 2010 05:51 am

    I think it is very powerful to friend all your clients on Facebook then tag them in their photos on your Facebook photography business page. When I see a friend of the client complement the photo, I thank them then friend them as well.

    Twitter I feel is not something my usual clients are going to find me on as I doubt they have a hashtag search column for #photog, etc in Tweetdeck like I do. For me, Twitter is a way to connect with other photographers and share and learn with them:

    http://twitter.com/jasoncollin

    I think it is not surprising as someone mentioned above about a blog getting more views than the website itself as no doubt the blog will contain many times as many pages as the website will. My website is about 6 pages total, but my blog has hundreds of posts. However, I use Squarespace as my content management system so my blog is completely integrated into my website, thus branding stays consistent.

  • karen@fidelisartprints.com August 13, 2010 05:49 am

    This is a great post! So relevant to the way art professionals need to market themselves today. I'm linking this asap to my Facebook Group and to our blog at Fidelis Art. It can be overwhelming to a newbie. I agree with an earlier comment, that combining your website and blog is the way to go. Finding a way to connect social media into one place, seems to be the next biggest challenge. Using TweetDeck at the moment, it seems to be helpful at managing all my accounts! Would love to hear what you are using to manage all your social media Darren?

  • Dominic Allkins August 13, 2010 05:40 am

    Great post.

    As someone who works in a social media agency I agree with what's here. It covers the basics and is a great starting point.

    Will link to it from my (fledgling) blog and add a few more comments there.

    Cheers

    Dominic

  • Felipe Balbi August 13, 2010 05:26 am

    Good post, but there's a typo on the image: where it should read WEBSITE it's spelled WESBITE.

  • Edgar August 13, 2010 03:06 am

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35617363@N04/4581481724/#/photos/35617363@N04/4581481724/lightbox/

  • kim August 13, 2010 03:03 am

    My favorite thing about this article? That GemmaCarr's twitter wasnt linked. Ha! Oh I also liked the content. But its the irony that gets me. =^)

  • Jimmy Slonina August 13, 2010 03:03 am

    The Linked Photographers' Guide to Online Marketing and Social Media by Lindsay Alder and Rosh Sillars is an amazing resource. I'm starting a photography/visual artist business from scratch after leaviing my job, and I feel like I'm going to be one step ahead of the game because of this book. The thing to remember too is that social media is constantly changing and evolving. There could be something new on the horizon that's bigger than Twitter or Facebook that would be invaluable to photographers and freelancers. The key is to stay informed.

  • Keith August 13, 2010 02:24 am

    A helpful article to those like myself who are creative, but dwell in the quaint old world of solely capture is good enough.
    To be satisfied within you need to step out into the stream but do it with care and develop parameters to meet your goals.
    Shot gun approach will end in missed and an unfavorable experience... do the research and learning curve to get the results you hope for.

    This is one of the many steps!
    Thanks
    K

  • captain kimo August 13, 2010 02:21 am

    Make it easy on yourself and combine website and blog together. This way your website is updated constantly with every new blog post. Set it up so your site automatically post to your Twitter and Facebook account when your website has fresh content.

  • Kat Landreth August 13, 2010 02:11 am

    There are ways to make this stuff a little more convenient. You can use tools like su.pr (by stumble upon) to batch your tweets. I use su.pr to schedule my tweets to be posted to both twitter and facebook throughout the next day. It also collects stats on my tweets, and shortens url's. I like to do it at the end of the day so I can tweet about any cool things I learned, wrote, or discovered during the day.

    I'm glad you point out that if you don't like to do the social media thing, you shouldn't do it. Marketing yourself is very important for anyone with a business, but we're photographers (presumably) b/c we wanted a career doing something we love. If you hate spending so much time with social media, it kinda defeats that purpose.

    I'm excited too! Great post!

  • Alan 'Brand' Williamson August 13, 2010 02:05 am

    and there's more to do ... in 2010 & beyond...

    - Mobile apps
    - flickr
    - picnik
    - YouTube http://tinyurl.com/35vfzxz

  • lizabeta August 13, 2010 01:27 am

    @Simon: Tagging your blog posts with relevant key words helps a lot. Other people who are interested in those key words end up stumbling on your blog. Frequent plugging is another good way. "Out of sight, out of mind" is certainly true. Mentioning a new blog post/posting a link to it on Facebook brings your friends and family members to go look at it. From there, they might know someone interested in your topic or photo and send *them* a link. Make sure your blog has a 'subscribe' button on it somewhere so folks who liked a previous blog post enough to subscribe can get an email update when you post something new.
    Update it frequently, but use good solid content, and good key words.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever August 13, 2010 01:11 am

    Sometimes I find that my blog(s) draws in more than my actual website, but I suspect because I update it frequently and its much more interactive. To be frank, though, when you are a fledgling photographer that can't make a living off your work, but wants to start it is down right exhausting. Completely. Utterly. Exhausting. I am a full time student, full time EMT, and trying ever so hard to turn my passion for photography into something more. Its daunting, to sat the least.


    NEK Photography Blog

  • Jay McIntyre August 13, 2010 12:59 am

    yeah those wes bites can be nasty at this time of year. This is a great post, I recently turned my website into a landing for my blog, all of my work and pertinent information is on my blog along with my portfolio, so the website was a bit redundant. The blog also gets much better google representation.

  • simon August 13, 2010 12:58 am

    Hi

    an interesting article ... persnally I find my website gets plenty of views but my blog is hardly visited

    How does one use twitter to attract interest in the blog ? is there some sort of linkage or is it just a case of blatant and frequent plugging

    thanks simon

    ~www.shadowshow.co.uk

  • Andreas August 13, 2010 12:33 am

    Good post, telling how important it is to promote yourself online

    #John Schlosser so does the text under it "web?based tools such as wesbite/Blogs/Facebook/twitter"

  • John Schlosser August 13, 2010 12:14 am

    Good story, thanks.

    NOTE: the chart at the top, red circle, says "WESBITE".