As a photographer, one of the most important things you need to learn is how to get the right exposure. Double entendres aside, the exposure I’m referring to has nothing to do with light, but rather with the amount of people who see your work on a consistent basis.
Unlike decades past, where people would have to visit galleries or meet in person with the photographer to view his or her portfolio, nowadays most things are digital. First impressions are made over the Internet, but they still come with all the usual pressure. A bad first impression will keep a potential visitor clicking right past your work.
What to do
Let’s safely assume that you already have a website. If you don’t, get one. Without a website or online portfolio, you are missing out on potential clients. You are not going to be able to network properly without one. Also, you need a blog. Once people become interested in what you’re doing, they’ll want to know what you’ve been doing and what you plan to do.
Now, the next thing you have to do is drive traffic to your website. How do you do this? Social media and SEO. In this article, we’re focusing on social media for photographers.
Social media platforms
There are countless social media platforms—some dedicated to photography, others more general. Your best bet is to choose three and invest proper time in them. Here are some good places to start.
Some people make the mistake of not taking Facebook seriously. I say this slightly tongue-in-cheek, but for a rising photographer, having a Facebook page is step one toward building an accessible client base with social media.
500px sprung up in 2004 as a small community of photographers before exploding into something tremendous. It was created by photographers for photographers, and as can be expected, possesses a brilliant interface dedicated entirely to photo sharing.
Although less popular than Facebook, 500px is quickly becoming an invaluable tool for rising photographers, both in terms of promoting new work and finding inspiration. The site allows users to upload photos and categorize them with ease, as the site gathers data from the image and makes it accessible.
Also, unlike Facebook, 500px locks your photos with a copyright stamp, so no one can download them without your permission.
Flickr did not begin as a photography site, but rather as a platform for gamers. Since its origins, however, it has evolved into one of the most popular photo-sharing websites on the planet. Users can upload up to 100MB of photos per month, with no limit on storage. Plus, and this has a one-up on 500px, the social aspect of Flickr is much easier to navigate, despite it having a slightly more cluttered interface.
Like Facebook, Instagram has received a deal of criticism for its lack of seriousness, but when used correctly, the platform can be a handy tool. Avoid the typical pitfall of taking pictures of your food or cocktails and uploading in large quantities; people won’t want to see that. Be selective in what you post, and use strategic hashtags.
Like Instagram, Twitter is meant to be short and sweet. Although you can post pictures on the platform, I recommend using twitter to build connections with clients, and to keep your followers updated on events and promotions.
Image by Jason Howie via Flickr
How to use them properly
1. Separate personal and public profiles. You are a businessperson; you need a business face to show potential clients. Visitors won’t want to filter through albums of personal family photos to find your professional work.
2. Post a professional headshot of yourself, an image of you with your camera, or one of your best shots as your profile picture—something that will help people make that first connection to you and your work.
3. Add the URL to your website to the about or description section of whatever platform you use. The point is to encourage people to visit your website. Social media is the arms and legs of your business, and your website is the core.
4. Next, upload photos. Your best photos. If something is decent or just OK, don’t put it up. As in real life, when you’re trying to make a solid first impression, put your best foot forward.
5. Once you’ve done all this, in addition to inviting friends and family to “like” your page, find other photography pagesta with similar styles and goals, and network with them. With patience and persistence, your business will start to grow.