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Social Networking and Photography

Hi Everyone! My name is Nataly and I’m one of the new additions to the Zenfolio family. While I’m not a professional photographer (I don’t own a DSLR and I mostly use my iPhone camera), I do know a thing or two about marketing (after all, it’s in my job title); so that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

A few months ago, I was browsing through my Facebook Newsfeed and saw that one of my friends had commented on a beautiful photo. I clicked on it and saw that it was part of an engagement shoot of a young lady I’ve never met or even heard of. My curiosity was piqued, however, so I couldn’t help but look through the rest of the album. Every photo looked like a postcard. And though none of the photos had been branded with a logo, the work was very evidently professional. Not wanting for the bride-to-be to know that some stranger was snooping through her engagement album, I contacted the friend that had commented on the photos to see who the photographer was. It turned out to be Choco Studio, and now if and when I am in need of an event photographer, they will be the first on my list to contact.

Many of you know that Zenfolio believes in the power of social networking for promoting awareness and driving traffic, as evident on our twitter and facebook pages. And we think photographers can and should utilize these media in order to promote themselves and their work. Many photographers already keep a blog, so it may seem that adding more places to update and keep track of will be tedious and repetitive. But history proves that consumer habits will change and evolve, and all we can do is make sure we have a presence wherever people are.

I think it is a great practice to let clients post low-res photos of their event on Facebook, especially if the low-res images have been branded with the studio logo. This way not just the photo, but the name of the photographer gets quite a bit of exposure through viral marketing – the ultimate word-of-mouth. On their own fan page, Choco Studio has all their work branded. But if they had provided their clients with branded images, all the people that saw and/or commented on the photos would have known their name, rather than relying on the client to mention the photographer in conversation. Imagine how much traffic a good senior portrait shoot would get on a popular teenager’s Facebook page. Imagine how many referrals the photographer would receive if every one of those photos had the studio’s branding.

Photographers who don’t do events or portraits needn’t feel left out from the social networking craze. You can leverage these sites to build a buzz about your work, introduce your photographs to new fans, and let existing fans spread the word. Contests are a great way to generate traffic and participation. For example: give your fans or followers a special code to use when visiting you at a fair or trade show to get a free item or discount; or hold a drawing for a prize, and to enter have your followers retweet a certain phrase with a link. These sites are all about building new connections to people.

Often times people tend to forget about networking part of social networking. Even if you don’t get a single sale or book a single event from it, take the time to see what other photographers are doing, talk to them, learn from them and see if you can pass the knowledge along. These connections can be invaluable in reaching your goals.

The biggest objection I hear with Facebook and Twitter is the safety of displaying photos online. Photographers worry about their work being used or reproduced without their knowledge or permission. Unfortunately, that risk is always present regardless of what kind of passwords or restrictions are imposed. Here is my recommendation (controversial as it may be): You should be thankful to people who go the extra mile to promote and display your work. I completely understand the concern of someone ruining the photograph you worked so hard to create, but people will find a way to steal images if they are determined. So rather than hiding your work under a lock and key, add a logo to your photos and enable the new “share this” feature and the “option to save” on your Zenfolio account. I would feel flattered if someone liked my work enough to want to show it, so I’d make it easier and thank them for the free promotion.