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One Photographer’s Guide to The World of Social Media- Part1

Techniques/ Tips

One Photographer’s Guide to The World of Social Media- Part1

I want to start by introducing myself. My name is Josh and I am an editorial and commercial portrait photographer. I haven’t always been a photographer though. For the first 10 years of my career I was a graphic designer. I went to school for print design and spent many years doing primarily print design with some web work from time to time and a good bit of print production and retouching along the way. My last design job was as the in-house art director for an organization of around 150 people. It was during this time that I realized it was time for me to shift my career. I went out on my own as a photographer around the end of 2009 and it’s from this perspective which I am lucky enough to be able to share some of what I have learned in the last year or so.

I have been aware of Duggal for a long time because of their wonderful articles in digital photo pro as well as their reputation of quality and over the last year or so I have come to know them better through twitter. It’s this connection that actually brings us to the first thing I would like to talk about. I want to talk about social media but I am going to talk about it in a more nuts and bolts, how to, type of framework. I have spent a lot of time working social media, been to many of the conferences, and although there is a lot of information about it this is, hopefully, going to be much more relevant and concise for the photographer who wants to use it to further their business.

The very first thing I want to say on the subject of social media marketing is that it’s not free. It takes a serious time commitment and unless your time is free that means there is a monetary cost involved. So be prepared for that. What I usually do is set aside some time every morning, an hour or two depending on workload, and make that my time to handle social media. In the beginning it takes more time and as time goes on it will take less but there will always be a time commitment.

So you made some time, now what? The second thing I want to say before really getting down to it is that social media marketing is not a substitute for phone calls and in person meetings. It’s not even really a substitute for email marketing. It’s just a piece of the puzzle and on it’s own it’s not going to work for you. You have to work all the avenues together to get anything out of it.

Okay so now that I have prepared you a little lets get down to the how. Remember that I am speaking from my own perspective and you may need to adjust somewhat but here it is. I decided a long time ago that I was my own personal brand so I always use my name, or some variation, and I don’t generally speak in the third person or setup business accounts. I believe that everything I do is part of me, my brand, and from that brand my work is born. I expect that someone important is watching everything I do online and that the better they get to know me the more successful our working relationship will be. It’s okay to make some small mistakes because not everyone is perfect but remember, someone is watching so don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see. Be kind, be genuine, and be interested and people will respond in kind.

I have 4 main avenues and I am always trying new things and adding new pieces. Those 4 main avenues are twitter, facebook, flickr, and linked in. I use them all slightly different and you may want to emphasize one piece over another depending on your business. They are all very intertwined so it will be tough but I am going to try and break them down by service. The first one I am going to talk about is twitter. I am starting there because for me it’s the driver of the others. I have my twitter account connected to facebook and linked in and I use flickr as a tool on twitter. So lets start a new twitter account.

First you need a picture. Your a photographer so make it interesting. Keep in mind how it’s viewed though. Most people don’t use the twitter website, they use a variety of apps and the constant in those apps is that each persons image is a tiny little square. I recommend something bright and something that lets people really connect with you. I typically suggest using a tight crop with big eyes, because people connect with the eyes, but your all creative so go ahead and be different. Just remember that it’s going to be small and it’s how people will recognize you among hundreds, or thousands, of other people in their stream.

Next up is the profile text. You don’t have a lot of space and it has a big impact on people following you when they don’t know you. So don’t be too witty. Concisely say what it is you do and make sure you link to your website in the appropriate space. When someone follows me I read their profile, I look at their picture, I go to their website, and I look at their follower counts when deciding to follow back. Occasionally I look at their actual tweets but only if I have time or I am not quite sure based on the other information. I am not that unique so I would guess this is pretty important stuff.

The last thing is the color scheme and background. I don’t have a ton to say on this subject. Make sure you change it from the defaults and don’t use one of the other twitter designs. You have to show that you made an effort. Personally I chose all solid colors and just made it pretty simple. That’s my brand though so you may want to use images for your background. Just remember to keep it tasteful and to check it at lots of different resolutions so that you know what it looks like.

It’s here that I am going to wrap this first post. I was asked to share an image with each post and for this post I am going to share my own twitter profile image. It’s an image a good friend took as a test shot when I was assisting on a shoot. It breaks my own rule of showing eyes but I think it gives some real insight into who I am so I use it anyway. In the next post I am going to expand on the twitter discussion. We will will talk about what to do with twitter, how to build a following, and some of the apps I use to make life easier.

This article was written by Josh Ross,, if you are also interested in sharing your experiences, trials, tribulations, and information please contact for more information on how to do so.