Social Media avenues – the Facebooks, Twitters, Flickrs and their siblings – has become a part of photography in recent years. So much so that I believe many who don’t take advantage will be left behind. Many don’t believe social media has much benefit. Pros with several years under their belt don’t see a purpose in embracing social media – assuming the philosophy “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And while many are quite comfortable with how things are, they may not be able to project into the future. More and more people are picking up work through social media – because even if someone doesn’t truly know you, they still know you better than someone they’ve never twittered with or never saw on facebook.
But that’s the professional side of the business…what about for us emerging photographers? How does social media help those of us who are hobbyists, or those of us who would like to one day go pro, or semi-pro? I would go so far as to say that social media helps accelerate your learning and your plans. Here are just a few benefits social media has for you as an Emerging photographer:
- Critiques – I’ve been on twitter less than a year, and I must say that I think I’ve gotten more opinions – good or bad – just by sharing my works through twitter. Flickr is even more-so a source of good critique – especially if you offer critiques yourself. Sure, some are useless…some are just the “good job” pats on the back. But there have been a lot more useful critiques than not through the social media channels. It’s helped me grow.
- Crowd Sourcing – If you’re working on a photo, social media is a great resource to tweak things just right. Upload a preliminary shot, get some feedback, tweak accordingly. People like to be a part of something, and they like to share their opinions (especially negative opinions, but you can use that to your advantage as well). Why not take advantage to get your shot just right?
- Inspiration – On Flickr, I follow a number of artists I’ve stumbled upon. I am inspired by their works, and I have gotten great ideas from the works of others. On Twitter, I follow certain searches and hash tags like #Project365 and #togs. When people post their photos or their ideas, I am equally as inspired. There’s a lot of photographers I follow that I wouldn’t know about if it weren’t for social media.
- Sales – I will always remember the sale of one of my photos and how it came to be. A person was looking for a specific photograph of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at night. They asked their twitter followers if anyone knew of such a photograph. One of the people who follows the #togs hash tag happened to remember a post about it, and mentioned my name. Note – neither the buyer nor his follower actually followed me. It was just circumstance. But it’s a sale I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
- Getting Your Name Out – Whether you’re trying to earn money or not, it’s never a bad thing to have fans. And there’s no better way to acquire fans than to have fans. And social media is the best way to get your first fans. People like to know that someone else is familiar with your work. If they know someone that knows your work, they’ll be more likely to spend the time to get to know your work. We’re all looking for someone to like, and social media is a great resource for that.
I’m sure there are a number of other benefits. If you have experience in social media and I’ve missed something, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I will amend this article accordingly. I just feel that social media is that important to a photographer.