What’s the best way to set yourself apart from the crowds and get your work noticed? The Internet and social networking now offer thousands of channels you can use to connect with people who might appreciate your images, and your photography-related expertise. Here are some steps that have helped me build a customer base and gain greater exposure for my photography.
Participate in print competitions and portfolio critiques. Why not make sure your work is as good as you think it is? Bluntly, what really matters is how your work is perceived by the people to whom you’d like to sell your work. Enter your work in categories that fit best with your personal style, and follow the advice from the competition organizers.
Share your expertise. About five years ago, I started writing articles on inkjet photo printing for a new, unknown magazine on digital printing for professional photographers. Along with each of these articles, I included some of my best images. Once I started publishing useful content and my images, opportunities started coming my way for consulting, seminars, and book publishing. All of these activities have continued to provide opportunities to show my work. Another way to generate interest in your work is to consistently provide good answers to questions posed on the forums.
TIP: Instead of targeting only big-name publications look for opportunities to help start-up publications, both in print and on the web. Also, go to some conferences or trade shows and try to develop contacts with companies that interest you.
Develop a personal style. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, find a photography niche in which you can excel. One friend of mine focused on infrared digital photography; another on photojournalism. Create images that fit the niche and write accompanying articles that readers can use in their daily work.
Use a blog to attract visitors to your website. You must have a well-designed, attractive website that showcases your best work and conveys a sense of who you are as a person. A blog that provides value-added content gives people new reasons to visit your site.
I use a Wordpress blog separate from my main website. It is free, easy to use, and provides reasonably detailed reporting on blog traffic. Customizable features in Wordpress make it easier for readers to find the content they want. It is also quite easy to include images in a Wordpress blog.
Use feedback from current and potential readers to help you determine what to cover in your blog posts. Whenever you attend (or teach) a photography workshop, pay close attention to people’s questions. I teach frequently and workshop attendees always ask interesting questions. I receive quite a few emails on a variety of subjects. I monitor questions posted on photography and digital-printing forums. Do this, and you’ll soon see a pattern that you can use to focus your thinking.
As I compile each list of FAQs, I rank the questions based on timeliness, interest shown in specific subjects, and whether or not I know something about the topic.I also conduct an online survey about every three months.
Write for other blogs. Once you demonstrate your abilities, you will likely be offered opportunities to write and/or provide images for other blogs. For example, after I’d written a number of articles and begun leading seminars, I was invited to join the team of photographers who contribute to this blog!
Invite other people to write for your blog. Broaden the appeal of your blog by inviting other experts to contribute articles on topics of interest. On my blog, posts written by guest authors Robert Ash and Ted Dayton were widely read.
Publicize your posts. There are a number of ways to publicize your work. One of the most useful social-networking tools is LinkedIn, which includes many special-interest photography and printmaking groups. In fact, I started a group myself. So far, the Fine Art Reproduction for Professionals group has drawn over 150 members. Whenever I post new content, I make an announcement about it with a direct link to the post on the LinkedIn groups that are most active. I also make posts on Facebook, and Twitter. I also make sure that Google is informed about new content on my website in a timely fashion. The best way to find out about this is to create a user account on Google (free), and look up Google Analytics. Google provides detailed instructions for use.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. It may take many months of focused effort before you start connecting with the people who value and appreciate your offerings.
Since I started focusing on improving my online publishing workflow, the monthly traffic to my website has tripled. For me, combining multiple promotional tools has been most effective. A somewhat unexpected benefit is that traffic to my portfolio and gallery pages has increased as overall traffic has increased. Put another way, galleries that weren’t viewed all that often in the past are now being visited.
Keep in mind that a key part of all this is to help others become better photographers. If you can communicate your willingness to help, the rest will fall into place.
A growing number of online photography magazines and websites publish images from emerging photographers (both amateur and professional). Sites are often themed toward a particular vision and welcome unexpected or unconventional images. Here are a few sites that have caught my eye.
The Flak Photo site features diverse work from a worldwide community of contributors and promotes a distinctive visual approach to seeing the world through photography. The site is produced by Andy Adams and features work from new photo essays, book projects and gallery exhibitions from both established and emerging photographers. Flak is updated frequently and open to submissions from the general public.
File describes its site as "A Collection of Unexpected Photography." According to the website "The purpose of FILE is to collect and display photographs that treat subjects in unexpected ways. Alternate takes, odd angles, unconventional observations—these are some of the ways photographs collected in FILE reinterpret traditional genres. We leave the Kodak Moments to the family album, the glossy fashion spreads to Vogue, and the photo finishes to ESPN. Rather than taking the well-trod paths, we veer off to get a different perspective. Confused? Browse The Collection. The photos say it better than we can." All amateur and professional photographers are encouraged to submit and can submit as often as they like.
F-STOP magazine is "an online photography magazine featuring contemporary photography from established and emerging photographers from around the world. Each issue has a theme or an idea that unites the photographs to create a dynamic dialog among the artists." F-Stop is published bi-monthly.
Lens Culture is an online magazine celebrating international contemporary photography, art, media, and world cultures. At Lens Culture you can read essays, analysis and criticism about photography and culture and listen to audio interviews with photographers. There are also reviews of exhibitions and photo books as well a way to buy very cool 21st Century photography via an online store. They also update via twitter @lensculture
Established in 2004, SeeSaw is an "online photography magazine dedicated to work that successfully captures, represents, and encourages acute observation, via the photographic medium." SeeSaw is unique in that it presents found photographs of anonymous photographers.
Foam Magazine is an international photography magazine published quarterly by Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam and Vandejong Communications. It is a distinctive and highly appreciated publication. Foam Magazine serves as an exhibition space that embraces every aspect of photography: from documentary to fashion, from contemporary to historical, from world-famous photographers to young talent. Each issue features a specific theme that unites six diverse 16-page portfolios.
There are many more than six sites to which you can submit your images but these sites are my favorites. If you have any favorite online magazines you’d like to share, please let us know.
The point really is to just submit your best images and see what happens. The pool of work is quite amazing and growing every day.
However, since this blog is about photography I started thinking how photographers could use Twitter and which users were the best to "follow." My list is short right now, but as Twitter continues to grow as a social media site, more and more photographers and photo-related companies will undoubtedly start using this technology.
If you have heard that all people "tweet" about is what they ate for dinner and if they are drinking too much coffee that morning you are mistaken. Sure, those tweets still populate but not everyone uses Twitter for their daily digestible activity.
Industry trade shows such as PMA and Photo Plus Expo are using Twitter to let attendees know about product announcements as well as information regarding the show. Manufacturers such as HP and Kodak have substantial Twitter followings and communicate directly to their followers in the form of announcements and "meetups."
Lesser known but growing Twitter updates from Photojojo and DP Review are also very popular. Here is a list of a few I have taken notice and am currently following.
Photo Marketing Association: @pma2009
Photo Plus Expo: @photoplusexpo.
HP Imaging and Printing Group: @hp_ipg. Anyone who uses HP print technology like we do at encompus will get up-to-date news and information regarding all things HP imaging and print.
Kodak: @kodakCB. This is run by Kodak's Chief Blogger Jennifer Cisney. At the time of this post she had 3,400 followers and 1,600 updates. Her updates range from announcing "tweetups" at industry events to updates on the latest products. She also tweets about other users who influence the imaging industry.
Photojojo: @photojojo. This is run by employees of the very popular photo newsletter service (250,000+ subscribers) based in San Francisco. Photojojo is worth following because it gives you conventional photography ideas and reminders of where to find the best deals on equipment. It has over 6,800 followers and 656 updates.
Digital Photography Review: @dpreview. This is updated by the popular website of the same name. Its tweets usually consist of announcements of product reviews. I like it because it keeps me updated as new reviews are written and I can search tweets via Twitter Search for relevant keywords.
Mac Group: @macgroup. This is a source for photographic tools such as Toyo, Tenba, Sekonic, Mamiya, Profoto, PocketWizard, Iduro, Eizo, and X-Rite. Tweets consists of links to blog posts on equipment and training as well as industry reviews.
Magnum Photos: @magnumphotos. This cooperative photography agency with offices in London, Paris, Tokyo and New York was founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson. Mangum provides photographs to the press, publishers, advertising, television, galleries and museums across the world.
Photocritic: @photocritic. This is all about learning more about photography, from the incredibly insightful to the mundane via just about everything in between.
JPG Magazine: @jpgmag. This leads you where 202,475 photo enthusiasts share their photos and stories and vote for the best in various themes. The best work could be published in JPG Magazine!
phototweets: @phototweets. This is run by Darren Rowse and is associated with the Digital Photography School which provides useful tips for photographers of all levels.
photonews: @photonews. Here you’ll find links to news articles from all over the web relating to photography.
If you know of any other interesting photography-related Twitter users please share. Photographers like to be in the loop on everything related to photography and technology and the use of Twitter is growing daily. And if you want to follow me, I’m @colorcritical.