Photographers & Social Media


William Lulow

I wrote a piece a couple of days ago about how photographers don’t have to wait to be published in a magazine. They can post articles and photographs whenever they please using their own blogs or other social media. There has recently been a question about whether those photographers who publish high quality images on certain photo blogs are being used or taken advantage of.

Keith Axline of VANTAGE says:

I also think that it’s not clear to photographers, or most people for that matter, how to turn traffic and viewers into a plus for their business. Hopefully in the future Vantage and Medium can get closer to facilitating that, and I’m happy to have a “best practices” discussion with contributors (I’ve been meaning to even write a few posts about it).

He was responding to a question from Photo District News as to how much benefit photographers can reap from social media and self-publishing. I’m sure that some photographers are being taken advantage of in terms of their content, but I still believe that it’s necessary to be “out there” and be seen or discussed in the media, whatever form it may take. I agree with Mr. Axline that it’s very hard to know how people (clients) get to you as a photographer. Most of my business from the internet comes from the search engines (Google, Bing, etc.). I have spent quite a bit of time and effort on SEO and have managed to climb the ladder to success in which I come up on page one in most search engines in my area.

But you can’t really sell photography on the individual level. Yes, agents can “sell” a photographer to their contacts, but the sole proprietor can’t really do much by herself. Someone has to be “in the market” for the type of photography you provide, then they have to be able to “find” you quickly when they search. So, in this sense, being “out there” (publishing blogs, photographs or other articles about the business of photography) may be the answer. Being “out there” in my mind, means one or more advertising or self-promotion campaigns. This can consist of regular email blasts, printed mailings, social media campaigns or a combination of all these things. My take is that clients will want to find a good photographer when they have a need for one. My focus, as a business person, is to try to be there when the need is there. The more “known” you are, the better the chances of converting a search to a money-making job. Will you be taken advantage of? Perhaps, but the number of times I have been quoted or some information from one of my blog articles has been used is still minimal. And, I have been writing them for over three years now.

On the other hand, I have received very few job offers from my blog articles alone. Most come, as I have said, from my SEO work on the various search engines. Everything I have spent on improving my rankings have been documented and well worth the time, money and energy. Before the internet, I used to advertise in the New York City Yellow Pages. Cost was around $1,600 per year for a small ad. The return on this investment each year was well over $10,000. Does it pay to be “out there?” Even if someone uses your content without paying, the answer is still a resounding “yes.”