Whether you’re a professional photographer or just share your photos for fun, social media can be the greatest way to get your work out there. Sharing on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook means you can tap into a global network of more than a billion people. While that means a lot of extra eyes on your photos, it’s also the chance to connect with a community of fellow photographers and fans who appreciate your talent and aesthetic and can help you advance your skills and career.
But having more than a billion active users means a lot of other content competing for attention, and standing out from the crowd can be a major challenge. Fortunately, you don’t have to tackle it alone. Many photographers will happily share their tips and tricks for creating a successful social brand. Here is some of their advice for turning your photos into a social media gold.
1. Tell a narrative.
We are born storytellers, and that is a major reason why human beings have so quickly taken to social media; we love being transported to another person’s reality, and experiencing their story. Fortunately, since platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook thrive off visual content, that means photographers are in the best position to tell the most-popular stories.
“People engage with what they haven’t seen and appreciate what they haven’t heard,” said Gareth Pon, who’s been named Africa’s Top Instagrammer for three consecutive years. He uses series of posts to take audiences deep into his experiences and travels. He’s a big advocate of social media to tell a story, as you can see from his recent series from Chicago, and often includes multiple, related images in a single post to create a visual narrative.
A perfect example of Pon’s social media success by creating a visual narrative is his recent series from Chicago. Knowing how hard it is to share longer form pieces on the usual social media platforms, Gareth turned to Spark Page to build-out a page that had a compelling visual narrative with few words. It showcased a man’s journey of falling in love with Chicago. “Spark allows you to explore your own individual creativity more and customize to suit your brand,” said Pon.
Pro Tip: Shoot a series of photos that tell your or another person’s story, then present them as a collection on social media by posting multiple images at once, or creating a Spark Page.
2. Take your audience behind the scenes.
Pon is also very successful in creating ‘behind-the-scenes’ posts, which make viewers feel like they’re getting to know the photographer, and making them feel a part of the process itself.
Johany Jutras has also seen big success by creating ‘behind-the-scenes’ posts. The photographer spends her time capturing the culture of the CFL from local game-day rituals to deeply rooted rivalries. To promote her work, she uses Twitter and Instagram to allow her audience to experience the thrill of photographing a professional football game (she also uses Spark Page to give followers a more in-depth look at all the action.)
Working the @cfl Grey Cup game, pretending I didn’t know @gregkolz was taking my portrait! 🤷♀️ #failwithasmile • Thanks Greg for this photo. You are the best. 👌🏼 Memories that I will remember for the rest of my life. • #lifeofaphotog #lifeofaphotographer #greycup #nikond850 #NikonCA #teamlozeau #nikonphotography #nikonphotographer #sportsphotographer #sportsphotography #main_vision #justgoshoot #johanyjutras #photographysouls #photographerlife #photography #nikonD5 #winterphotoshoot #winterphotography #snowphotography #dreamjob #livingthedream #officeoftheday #passionpassport
The end result has considerably boosted her career as a professional photographer and her social media following, while acting as a subtle, story-based advertisement for her book, Our League, Our Country.
Pro Tip: Instagram Stories is the best place to pull back the curtain for your audience.
3. Hashtag your work.
Hashtags have proliferated across the social media landscape, and that means photographers who know how to use the right ones, at the right times, can get their work in front of whole new audiences and connect with groups of people they may have otherwise missed. In general, social media tools like Instagram will tell you which hashtags are generating the most chatter at the current moment.
When you’re attending an event, pick hashtags that are most relevant in that moment or location. Find the event’s prefered hashtag, and see which hashtags other photographers are using too. When travelling, hashtags linked to your destination can be the best way to pick up new fans and connect with an audience you could otherwise miss. General travel-related hashtags are great, and will get capture the interest of those with the travel bug, but national, regional, and city/neighborhood hashtags can have a big impact, both with locals and those interested in travelling there.
Another great way to use hashtags is to create your own, and shape a photo series around it. That’s what Evelyn Martinez, aka Xicanayork, did with the hashtag #100womxnofcolor. She has committed herself to 100 free photo shoots for women of color with the goal of honoring those that inspire her. The hashtag series has attracted both likes and followers and has helped Evelyn brand herself on social.
Mi segunda musa de hoy ✨✨Felicia✨in Queens with a Queen • • • • • #adobespark #sparkpost #xicanayork #xicanadaily #xicana #xicanaphotographer #latinaphotographer #blackgirlmagic #jamaicanmodel #beauty #blackbeauty #instalove #instagood #nyc #nyclife #queens #brooklyn #thebronx #bronxcreatives #blackqueen #100womxnofcolor
The hashtag has also generated a community. Many of the women Martinez has shot have proudly shared their portraits and the portraits of others, and are able to connect with other women in the series. She says it would not have been doable without Spark’s easy-to-use photo editing and sharing features.
“Spark has fit in with my #100womxnofcolor project so well because it makes things duplicable. I can easily make posts that highlight women I’ve taken pictures of and it doesn’t require hours of editing. It can all be done on-the-go,” she said.
Pro Tip: When you’re attending an event or visiting a destination, consult the event or tourism authority’s account page to see what hashtags they’re using. It can make the difference between major engagement and a missed opportunity.
4. Lean into your unique style or brand.
According to strategist David Brier, ranked #3 worldwide on Klout for branding,“branding is the art of differentiation.“ Social media presents a great opportunity for photographers to differentiate themselves in ways beyond their individual photos. Your social media feed can be every much an opportunity to attract new followers as your work itself.
Whether your goal is to make money with your social media presence or just connect with others, branding yourself effectively is the key to making the most out of your sharing. Ben Matthews, Director of Design at Adobe Spark, recommends first identifying your goal and your audience. Ask yourself what your trying to accomplish with your photography and who you’re trying to reach.
The next step is to set yourself apart from others by picking a unique visual style or adding personal details to your social posts. This can be a unique color palette, style of photography, or even an individual detail. Evelyn Martinez, a budding photographer out of New York adds her signature watermark ‘XY’ to photos she posts. While it never appears in the same spot, the watermark (created with Spark) subtly helps her brand her stories.
We’re always looking for new works to feature ⚡️ #FashionEditorial ✨ #BeautyEditorial ✨ #FineArtPhotography ✨ 🎥 This video is made using @adobespark #adobesparkvideo 🔹Feat. all of the editorials VGXW has published so far 🔸 . . . . We are not allowed to tag more than 20 people per post; so, for more photos and full team + wardrobe credits, please visit http://virtuogenix.online
“I never thought I could make videos on my phone in 10 minutes or less. Adobe Spark Video Editor makes the content creation process faster and easier,” said Joyce Katuari, who often uses Spark to mix up her social media posts and add video content for her own account and for VIRTUOGENIX, the magazine she works on.
Pro Tip: Use Spark’s text design tools to add captions to your video, helping you tell a story by weaving it all together in one project.
7. Don’t forget the social part of social media.
It’s easy to get in the habit of consuming content passively or just sharing your work as if you’re sending out photos into a void. But doing so robs you of what makes social media so unique: the opportunity to connect with like-minded artists or people who will open you up to new opportunities. Many photographers share and support each other’s work on social media as a way of cross-promoting and building community. As Evelyn Martinez puts it, it all goes down in the DM; she’s made countless project recruits, forged collaborations, and even been promoted as result, and you can too. Take time to comment on work that you admire, ask fellow artists to view your work, and let your feeds occasionally become a place you honor people who inspire you–an ounce of community building will pay back in dividends and ultimately help you become a better artist.
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