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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Social Networking For Photographers


Are you on Facebook? Do you 'tweet'? Make use of the web to find new fans

Labels: On LandscapeColumn
Yellow aspen and Mt. Moran, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Outdoor Photographer has one. My little sister has one. Now I have one. I mean a Facebook page, of course! Many photographers, amateur and pro alike, are using various social-networking websites such as Facebook to share, promote, teach and learn from those to whom they’re connected. Others can quickly learn about your photo sessions, see your images and learn about publication or workshop offerings. The sense of community, especially in a relatively small field like outdoor photography, is hard to maintain when the members are so far flung. Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and others are now a big part of the new “landscape” for nature photographers and offer an easier way to connect to those who share your interests. I see these networking options as opportunities to reach friends, fellow photographers and potential clients. In the face of “this economy,” there’s a need to reach out, stay connected and be visible.

Publishing your own blog is very popular now and is a great way to share thoughts and photos. For those photographers who write a lot about their travels, photo sessions or techniques, the blog provides the best foundation for such content. I’ve been writing my Light on the Landscape photoblog for a few years now. I’ve found it fun, educational and motivational in terms of getting me out to photograph more often. Sometimes, I just post a new photo to see what feedback I get. When I’ve published a new ebook, I’ve used my blog to announce it. I post links to other sites with great photography or interesting blogs. I try to offer helpful information, sources of inspiration and a small glimpse into my life as an artist. In the process, I’ve “met” some interesting folks and received valuable comments.

I’ve added Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to my social networking. They offer an easy and even more expedient way to expand the interest in my website and blog. It’s a two-way street. I follow photographers whose photographs and content I enjoy. Every day, I see new photographs and learn of new photographers whom I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. These connections make me a better photographer.

One obvious caveat: What’s the best use of my time? The process of “following” and being followed is time-consuming, almost too much so. Realizing that I’m no expert on social media, I researched further for this column to see what pitfalls others have found and how to “network” efficiently. In some ways, it feels like I’m starting my career all over again since many approaches and pathways to exposure and income have changed. Keep up or get left behind!

Programs, such as TweetDeck, allow you to broadcast the same basic comment to Facebook and Twitter. You also can set up your system so that your blog posts show up in Facebook, too. These programs also consolidate the posts of those I follow from Twitter and Facebook in one place. This option helps, but doesn’t quite solve the problem of effective use of time.

For many of us using these “social” web services, the main purpose is just that, social interaction. It may be helpful to differentiate your communications with close friends or family and your photo business with a “fan” page or another business-related account. In any case, I suggest that you join in, follow your favorite photographers and learn more about how to take great photographs. The new “landscape” of social media gives us yet another way of sharing our vision and the beauty of nature. See you online!

One important note: Posting your images to these sites isn’t without risks, especially the potential for misuse of your photos. One way to protect your images is to watermark them. Another option is to link the images in your post directly to your own website instead of uploading photos to the Facebook or Twitter site.

To learn about William Neill’s private workshops in the Yosemite area and his e-books, Meditations in Monochrome, Impressions of Light and Landscapes of the Spirit, plus his photoblog and online courses with BetterPhoto.com, visit www.williamneill.com.

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