TikTok marketing for photographers–a starter guide.

May 10th, 2024
TikTok logo cube on dark background

Imagine your photography journey evolving from simply capturing moments to arresting the attention of a global audience on TikTok. How would that change your photography business?

Harnessing TikTok as photographers can revolutionize traditional photography marketing, offering artists a creative method for reaching and connecting with clients. 

The platform’s vibrant community and creative tools enable you to experiment with different styles of creating content and establish a unique brand identity that resonates with clients that want what you offer. Rather than feeling scared about mastering a new platform, allow your creative imagination to come to life on this “stage.” 

But what if you don’t know the first thing about TikTok? 

Luckily, this article explores the platform’s unique features, how to advertise on TikTok, and ways to master marketing with TikTok for photographers. Let’s get started!

Differentiating factors: TikTok vs. other social channels.

First, it’s important to recognize what distinguishes TikTok from other social media platforms before you begin creating content on it. TikTok thrives on the creation of interactive videos, providing a canvas for unparalleled creative expression. 

However, what truly sets it apart are the short, bite-sized video formats that turn static photography into dynamic, attention-grabbing visual stories. TikTok, unlike many other social media platforms, is not just about scrolling through plain images; it’s about immersing viewers in short, engaging videos that spark creativity and interest.

Furthermore, the platform’s focus on content brevity doesn’t limit expression. Rather, it challenges photographers to convey their messages swiftly and creatively. This different approach means you can use your photography to tell stories in a way that grabs attention right away. As a photographer, it’s a cool way for you to step into a new world of visual storytelling, breaking away from the usual social media scene. 

Jeramie Lu, a wedding and portrait photographer based in Reno, Nevada, shared the way he shifted his approach for TikTok: “I used to think it was a lazy thing for me to use duets, stitches, and these little features within the TikTok realm because I was like, ‘I need to create original content.’ But there can be a photographer talking about photography; there can be a bride talking about her experience with a wedding photographer. And what I can do is I can go on and duet or even stitch those and put my two cents into it. Is somebody wrong? Is somebody right? How would I react to this situation? Ultimately, the algorithm just wants you talking about what you know, and what you know will bring people towards you.”

If you’ve been looking for ways to connect with clients who value your artistic voice and style, TikTok is an ideal social platform for you.

Happy girl taking selfie with tan and white dog using smartphone camera on couch

Showcasing your photography style.

Picture your audience experiencing your personality and connecting with you, or watching your creative process through a behind the scenes video starring you and your work that grabs their attention–and makes them want to explore your portfolio further. TikTok allows you to showcase your photography style by leveraging the platform’s unique features to present viewers with a stimulating experience. 

Whether you specialize in portraits, landscapes, or experimental styles, TikTok provides a lively medium to exhibit your photography beyond still images. It brings your work to life through short, engaging videos.

As a photographer, you can take advantage of the platform’s various cinematic techniques to market your photography business on TikTok. Through quick cuts, background music, and engaging captions, your visual stories not only display the final shot, but also convey your passion, artistic journey, and expertise.

For example, Jordi Koalitic takes his audience through the ideation phase to the execution stage. This allows his viewers to experience the process of his art coming to life. He also uses his posts to explore various TikTok ideas for photographers.

Bohdan Lee is another popular photographer and TikTokker who experiments with different photography styles and uses engaging captions to draw in his audience. Take inspiration from these (and other) photographers!

Storytelling through short videos.

TikTok’s short video format offers a unique medium for storytelling, encouraging creativity in a limited timeframe. Its emphasis on brevity encourages creators to condense narratives into dramatic moments that capture attention quickly.

The short video format allows creative storytelling techniques that combine visual and audio aspects. This distinguishes TikTok as an online platform where storylines develop quickly, allowing creators to experiment with timing, surprise, and emotional resonance within seconds.

For photographers, TikTok’s narrative capabilities offer a powerful avenue for self-promotion. With TikTok, you can elevate your storytelling game by creating content that resonates with viewers and establishing a distinctive online presence.

The concise nature of TikTok’s storytelling aligns perfectly with the modern viewer’s short attention span. This makes it an ideal platform for photographers to showcase their narrative skills and attract a broader audience.

Marina Williams‘ posts offer a glimpse into the world of photography, revealing the magic behind a photoshoot. By sharing authentic and unfiltered moments during the creative process, Marina establishes a connection with their audience and fosters a sense of community. 

happy man leaning against wall and taking selfie video while making the peace sign

Engaging TikTok’s challenges and trends is a strategic step for photographers looking to increase awareness in the ever-evolving world of social media. By engaging with these trends, photographers can tap into the expansive TikTok community, thereby exposing their work to a broader audience.

The interactive aspect of challenges promotes engagement, which fosters a sense of community and potential collaborations with other photographers. Take, for instance, #photography has been used in 21.3 million posts, amassing a total of 111.3 billion views across all videos.

Moreover, creators like Keegan Evans harness the power of TikTok trends in their photography content. By aligning his work with trending sounds and effects, he captures the essence of the trends and personalizes them to suit his unique style. 

This strategic approach not only increased his profile engagement, but also established Keegan as a trendsetter within the TikTok photography community.

Lastly, engaging in these trends connects you to a diverse audience. It also establishes your presence as a relevant and innovative contributor to the TikTok community—building trust and a reputation for being competent and friendly to potential clients.

Educational content and tips.

TikTok enables photographers to break down complex photography techniques into easily understandable snippets, making educational content both accessible and enjoyable. In other words, the platform’s brief video format doesn’t diminish its capacity for conveying valuable information. 

Photographers can leverage the platform’s unique format to deliver quick, insightful tips that resonate with viewers. This approach caters to an audience eager to enhance their photography skills without the commitment of longer-form content.

Now, educational content includes quick editing hacks, where photographers can showcase techniques like color enhancement and contrast adjustment. In addition, creators can demonstrate fundamental elements like the rule of thirds and leading lines, allowing viewers to quickly grasp key compositional concepts. 

It also extends to gear insights, where photographers can provide quick reviews and recommendations. From cameras to lenses, photographers can offer valuable insights into preferred equipment, aiding viewers in making informed choices.

Luke Finn captivates his audience with an in-depth exploration of the art of composition. Through TikTok’s short videos, he breaks down the complexities of framing, balance, and editing. Every post becomes a mini-masterclass, demonstrating how to succeed as a beginner photographer and how to use photo management software applications.  

Moving beyond the basics, Holly McCandless-Desmond unveils the magic of lighting. From natural sunlight to intricate artificial setups, Holly’s TikTok series provides illuminating insights. Holly’s viewers witness firsthand how light manipulation can evoke specific moods and elevate the overall impact of a photograph—elevating their own photography skills, but also making them curious about Holly’s work.

three women laughing and talking outside near golden hour

Building a community.

At the heart of TikTok’s community-building success lies its array of interactive features. The duet function allows photographers to collaborate easily with other creators. Also, the Stitches feature enable the incorporation of existing videos, fostering a chain of creative responses.

Unlike conventional comment sections, TikTok’s comment section transforms into a conversation hub. Here, viewers ask questions, share insights, and engage in meaningful discussions, elevating the overall storytelling experience to a more interactive level.

Likewise, TikTok Live takes community engagement to new heights. Photographers can host live sessions, answer questions, provide real-time insights into their creative process, and even collaborate with viewers. This live interaction allows creators to forge a deeper connection with the audience, turning them from passive observers to valued contributors.

TikTok’s trends and challenges are also community-building tools. Participating in or initiating challenges brings photographers together under a common theme or hashtag. This collective participation strengthens the sense of community, allowing creators to showcase their creativity within a wider, unified context.

When you compare TikTok with other social media platforms, it’s like night and day. On TikTok, it’s beyond pressing a like button; it’s more like joining a group project. Everyone’s involved, making the whole TikTok community active.

Cross-promotion with other platforms.

Cross-promoting your TikTok content on other social media platforms offers a holistic approach to building your online presence. By strategically sharing your TikTok content on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or X (Twitter), you’re opening doors to a fresh audience.

TikTok’s distinct features, like its vibrant short videos and interactive challenges, are perfect for capturing viewers’ attention in a scrolling feed. Sharing engaging snippets on platforms with diverse demographics ensures your photography reaches a broader spectrum of viewers.

The social media platforms available all have their unique user base, and cross-promotion serves as a bridge that connects your visual narrative to varying audiences. In essence, knowing how to advertise photography on TikTok gives you an advantage on other social media platforms.

Strategies for cross-promotion involve sharing teaser videos, behind-the-scenes footage, or intriguing moments from your TikTok content. The goal is to create a symbiotic relationship between your TikTok account and other social media accounts.

Jeramie Lu uses this strategy to make the most of his content creation. He stated: “Instagram can do really well, TikTok can do really well–but not well at the same time. So what I do is I cross promote everywhere. I make videos on CapCut, and then I end up saving it to different platforms, but all the same video. What I do in all my descriptions is push back to my website. I want to have a place where I can send them: ‘Hey, if you have questions, go to my website and check it out.'”

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Hashtag strategies for visibility.

TikTok relies heavily on trending hashtags, and staying on top of these trends is pivotal for visibility. By aligning your photography content with trending hashtags, you can increase your work’s visibility. 

However, it’s not just about adding hashtags to your posts; it’s about actively exploring and participating in ongoing hashtag challenges. TikTok’s algorithm thrives on a sense of community engagement driven by hashtags.

While Instagram and X (Twitter) embrace longer, descriptive hashtags, TikTok’s charm lies in concise, catchy tags that describe trending topics. Let’s discuss effective hashtag tips to boost your TikTok engagement:

  • Opt for a mix of popular and niche hashtags relevant to your photography specialties. Utilize broad categories like #photograph, but don’t shy away from adding more specific tags such as #streetphotography or #weddingphotography. This ensures your content reaches both the broader TikTok community and enthusiasts passionate about your unique photography niche.
  • Dive into trending hashtags when they align with your content, as timing is crucial. This not only boosts your content’s visibility but also taps into the vibrancy of TikTok’s ever-evolving trends. 
  • Engage with community hashtags related to photography challenges or collaborations. This not only enhances your content’s reach but also connects you with like-minded creators and potential collaborators. #photographyhack and #potraits are popular community hashtags on TikTok.  
  • Moderation is key. Overloading your captions with hashtags might reduce the impact of your content. Strive for a balance that elevates your visibility without overwhelming your viewers. 

Measuring success and iterating strategies.

Starting your TikTok journey without direction is akin to using a camera without a lens. The key to unlocking the full potential of your content lies in understanding and harnessing TikTok’s analytics.

Why delve into analytics? Picture it as a treasure map, guiding you to the goldmine of insights that can elevate your content game. TikTok’s analytics unveil the mysteries behind your content’s performance, offering a glimpse into the minds of your audience.

You can access your analytics by going to your profile and clicking on the three dots located at the top right-hand corner. Select “Creator tools” and then “Analytics.” To access creator tools, you must have at least one public post. 

  • Start by exploring the “Overview” section, which will help you understand the overall impact of your content. Also, explore metrics like views, likes, shares, and comments to gauge your content’s reach.
  • The “Followers” tab reveals the demographics of your TikTok tribe. We recommend taking note of their locations, age groups, and active hours. This knowledge helps you to tailor your content to resonate with your specific audience.
  • The “Content” section helps you identify patterns in the content that strike a chord with your audience. Whether it’s a specific photography style or storytelling through photography, this section’s analytics act as your content’s critique.

Again, the “Content” section allows you access to how viewers discovered your content, whether through the For You page, your profile, or external shares. This insight informs your promotional strategies and helps you tap into the right avenues to boost your visibility.

TikTok’s analytics aren’t just numbers on a screen; they’re your personalized roadmap to visibility. If a specific style or theme resonates, leverage it. You can also experiment with different content formats, storytelling techniques, and even posting schedules to continuously improve your approach.

Step up your photography game with TikTok marketing.

Transitioning from capturing moments to promoting your work on TikTok is a massive stride in your photography journey. Exploring TikTok as a photographer opens up a world of creative possibilities and has the power to transform the way you connect with your audience. 

From experimenting with educational content to building a thriving community and cross-promoting across various platforms, the opportunities are boundless. Moreover, TikTok can enable photographers to convey fascinating visual tales, participate in trends, and establish a thriving community.

So, it’s time to turn your inspiration into action. Create a TikTok account, experiment with content, and invite viewers into the captivating world of your photography!

Contributor

  • Amanda W

    Amanda is the Content Marketing Specialist at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer of Wild Orchard Studios photography. A BFA graduate from Maine College of Art and Design and professional Portrait, Family, and Branding photographer for nearly 20 years, she thoroughly enjoys drawing from her experiences to guide new photographers as they are starting out. Amanda lives in the wilds of Maine with her husband and two imaginative daughters. If there’s such a thing as too much dark chocolate, she hasn’t heard about it.

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