The TruLife® Building Your Photography Business Series was designed to help photographers form the foundation for their online marketing activities. A guide that could help get your business off the ground or streamline what’s already there.
The last installment discussed social media for photographers. The ubiquitous online/social activities that everyone seems to participate in, but have difficulty harnessing for business.
As we were working on the social media for photographers article, we spoke to a number of past (and future) TruLife® featured photographers to get their take on photography and social media. Their responses revealed something very interesting: such as any strategy and subsequent tactics that bring it to life, there is a difference between theory and practice.
We can talk about how photography and social media should be used, but the channels are constantly evolving, and there are exceptions to every rule.
Photography and Social Media: Aaron Goulding
Aaron Goulding is an ocean, landscape, and portrait photographer who loves freezing motion and showing action in his imagery, but when it comes to social media, he says you have to sell yourself.
With Instagram, I feel people really are more focused on the imagery versus text. My general philosophy is that self promotion is key because you can’t rely on others to promote you the way you can or want.
I would say, thanks to social media, business owners can reach a vast audience. My strategy is to post in real time so that people are more likely to relate.
But, I also like to mix it up a bit to show some past travels.
Photography and Social Media: Jason D. Little
Jason D. Little says social media shouldn’t be a popularity contest:
I think you really have to know what your goal is with social media.
I like Instagram in principle, but I just have no interest in playing the “game” the way you’re expected to play. I see photographers who post repetitive or uninspiring stuff and they have ten thousand of followers (maybe they’ve paid for those followers), and then I see photographers who post one incredible shot after another and they have 400 followers.
It’s upside down. I think it’s wise to not get caught up in the popularity contest, though. Make Instagram (or any other social media outlet) work for you. Stay focused on posting strong content. The people who follow you will do so because they actually like your work.
More on Jason: “TruLife® Acrylic Featured Photographer: Jason D. Little.”
Photography and Social Media: Benjamin Von Wong
Benjamin Von Wong, admits that a lot of his social media success has to do with luck, but he stresses consistency and regularity can help win the day:
When you meet someone for the first time, more often than not they say: What’s your Instagram, I’ll follow you.
This means that for me, my Instagram has to always look presentable and ready to go and since I only release a new project every couple months, organizing it in groups of three makes the most sense. As a photographer, Instagram makes more sense than Twitter for obvious reasons.
Honestly, I think I’m really lucky. I managed to build my following through posting regular content, to the point where now I do not NEED to post on a schedule. Of course, it would help my social growth if I posted regularly, but I’m more interested in creating more meaningful projects even if it means getting less followers. I personally focus on quality over quantity… but that’s just me.
I do not think there’s a right answer on what to do. But, if you want to grow fast, the key words, regardless of platform, are consistency and regularity.
Don’t forget to read: “TruLife® Acrylic Features: Hyper-Realistic Photographer Benjamin Von Wong.”
Photography and Social Media: Lewis Marroquin
Lewis Marroquin says the marriage of photography and social media just takes time. You have to figure each platform out, and determine how it works for you, and then embrace that:
Instagram has been my primary choice of social media platforms because of its simplicity.
I love the fact that it not only showcases our artwork in a beautiful, straightforward layout, but it allows for simple, direct personal communication between our followers and us, rather than dealing with the unnecessary drama I find with, say, Facebook.
I call it drama, because platforms like Facebook always seem to be trying to gain access to my personal information. Information that has nothing to do with how and why I am using the platform. Ultimately, I find each platform can serve a purpose. One may or may not be the right choice that goes in hand with our goals, but it’s up to each of us to spend the time and discern how we can and should use it.
I also have accounts on other platforms, but I find Instagram the most productive. The universal source for my purpose. If I were to list a second, I would say YouTube. I have learned a lot from that channel, through the likes of Chris Mclennan, Moose Peterson and even Trulife® Acrylic. However, at least for the moment, Instagram is my go-to social network.
It has taken me time to reach this conclusion. Several years, which is what I would tell anyone interested when starting out: It takes time to establish oneself in social media.
My rules: be consistent. Be social. And, as you learn, make gradual changes. Don’t be hasty. My recommendation for photographers getting traction when starting out is DON’T GIVE UP. It takes time. Take baby steps, and then push it to the limit as you get more experienced and develop a reputation. This will be frustrating and challenging, but as long as you focus on your goals, and not on distractions (such as the results other photographers are getting), and as long as you persevere, you will make it.
Another recommendation is to remember the golden rule: In order to receive, one must give. It’s called “social” for a reason, and we should feel comfortable interacting with our followers. Don’t be the type that follows for follows, only to quietly unfollow after a few days, just to keep a large amount of followers versus the amount of followers we have. True, you won’t want to “follow back” everyone. You may choose to follow only those who share our passion.
You’d be amazed how many people will be willing to follow simply because they find a connection with our art with no need to follow back. This should be humbling and should encourage us to keep going and make sure we show appreciation to loyal followers as well as visitors such as by making sure we express it throughout our posts.
Also, learn to use hashtags. Rather than just posting common hashtags like #picoftheday, find accounts and organizations that share your art and contribute by using their account hashtags. I love including hashtags with organizations that benefit animal conservation as well as accounts that have to do with the beauty of what I cherish.
My hashtag strategy has introduced me to wonderful photographers whom I have so much in common, along with our shared passion in photography and wildlife. It makes the social media experience so much valuable.
My final recommendation is not to be overly sensitive or too time consumed on social media. I choose one day of the week to work on the images I plan on posting, and I post on a daily basis. I plan and organize my time and work based on efficiency. We should be focused on becoming better artists and reaching our business goals, than worrying about likes or how many followers we have.
I took a brief break from Instagram recently, and during that time I focused on preparing and working hard to set the plans in place to make it possible to travel to destinations to capture images of what I’m after. Many destinations take time to plan and I love to start early. Time to research, time to plan, and time to meditate on how to improve and to open up towards other possibilities. During that break, I was given the privilege of photographing a marriage proposal, something I don’t usually do.
But pursuing new challenges makes me a better, more experienced photographer in many categories and venues. We need to focus on what we love about what we do, and not be derailed on what others think. The moment we worry too much on what others think, especially on social media, we become people pleasers and stop being creative artists.
Photography and Social Media: Stacy William Head
Stacy William Head is about consistency and responsiveness when it comes to his social media tactics.
I mostly work through Instagram and I have found it best to try to post once a day especially in the peak seasons (summer/fall).
One tip is to respond to each comment within a reasonable time (especially in the first hour after posting). I also try to stay active whenever I can throughout the day by commenting with genuine expressions/observations on the picture/post. Doing this can lead to networking with many different people from different parts of the world (establishing a private conversation with people of the same interests etc.).
Being active will give your page the best chance of being featured on the explore page, and for your images to be featured by hub sites, which can lead to great exposure and an increase in followers/traffic. Probably the most important tip is to just post your best work. This can, unfortunately, be affected by the pressure to post once a day.
Note: Instagram has been a little different lately with its new algorithms, so these techniques don’t always work. I feel like it’s leaning more towards quantity over quality but it’s still a great way to connect and spread your business.
Photography and Social Media: Rob Knight
Rob Knight is best known for his travel and landscape photography.
My social media philosophy is to get personal. There are millions of photos and photographers online every second. The only thing that differentiates us from one another is our personality and our unique point of view. I try to let that shine through in my posts, and not just post photos I think will get the most “likes”.
Stacy William Head and Rob Knight are both forthcoming TruLife featured photographers! Stay tuned for their interviews.
Check out our Featured Photographers to read all the nice things they have to say about TruLife® Acrylic, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter so we can deliver recent blog posts, along with any TruLife product and program updates, right to your inbox.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.