Photographers’ Use Of The Social Media
by William Lulow
I think everyone would agree that if you’re in business these days, you need to be on the social media. It’s really the way that people communicate most often and the most quickly. It’s sometimes difficult to figure out how the various algorithms work in terms of posting and re-posting articles, but I believe it’s necessary to post valuable and interesting content in whatever field you happen to be. Not only does it let people know who and where you are, but it adds information to the ever-growing fund of knowledge on the internet.
Also, photography is one of those services that people will only buy when they need it. It’s not like a product that’s bought on “impulse” or something someone decides they have to have! Commercial photographs are purchased to serve a particular purpose, mostly in selling something or someone. But, when someone needs a commercial photograph, they will be searching for a photographer who can best fill the need, whatever it may be. That’s what the internet and the social media help photographers to do. They keep your name “out there” so that people can find you when they need you. And these days, they probably use one of the major search engines, Google being the most well-known of them.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Instagram all work somewhat differently but they provide the ability to link the same post to each other’s feeds, so it’s really easy to make sure that your post gets seen by the largest possible audience. This has been a plus for me as it has for other photographers as well.
It has really become a “do-it-yourself” world out there and that’s one of the main reasons I like to post my brand of instructional articles on a regular basis. I have been doing so for over four years now, every week, twice per week and the lessons are free for the reading. One reason I work so hard at it is because I feel it’s necessary for me to pay back a bit for the success I’ve had. In addition, photography has been made easier, somewhat, by the invention of digital cameras and the digital process generally. Today, anyone with a decent digital camera can claim to be a photographer!
However, taking good pictures and doing it as a profession are two very different things. So, I feel it’s my duty, as a photography teacher, to give as much information as I can to future photographers so that they can raise their skills to the level they desire for whatever their interests in picture making may be.
I think there is a good deal of information that many people who want to be photographers (or to express themselves through the medium), simply don’t have. For instance, many younger practitioners today, haven’t really bothered to study anything about photography’s history. Many of these people have never heard of Irving Penn, Richard Avedon or Philippe Halsman. They’ve never seen the original prints of W.Eugene Smith or Ansel Adams. They don’t know what the FSA was or that people like Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans actually had jobs as photographers during the Great Depression! And, they might have heard of Matthew Brady, but probably don’t know when he lived or how influential he was! Nor are they aware of the kinds of equipment used in photography’s infancy and how it all led up to today’s “digital revolution.” Understanding the history of any medium is important to learning about its future as well.
The social media is simply the best way of publishing articles and photographs that have relevancy today. But because you are, in essence, your own editor, you don’t need to have your article approved by anyone but yourself, so it is therefore, incumbent on you as a writer, to make your content as interesting and well-written as possible.
Everyone today devours content immediately and quickly moves on to the next bit of information out there. As photographers, we need to strive to make our images the best they can be, not publish them just because we made them. We all take pictures with our camera phones these days, but why not learn some elements of composition so that they can all be better? Since there are so many more images, taking the time to think about yours will go a long way to making them stand out.
Content is still king! So making sure you have something of value to say on social media is more important than ever these days because sites like Facebook are really no better than the National Enquirer when it comes to news. Having no editors means that anyone can publish anything! That’s why I always encourage everyone who reads my posts to check my information for themselves or to ask me any questions they like about anything I write.
Here is one of my own iPhone images:
(An image made with my camera phone)
I post photographs with explanations of how they were made! Most of my blog articles contain detailed information about cameras, lenses, lighting and teaching techniques that help today’s digital shooters improve their photographic efforts. I sometimes offer “behind the scenes” images of particular photo shoots so that others can see what went into making the pictures.
(This is the lighting setup for a cover shoot at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York City back in February of 2016).
So, the social media can help spread your name and images but you need to try hard to make your posts informational and not trivial!