Archivi categoria: socialmedia

4 Lessons for Photographers from the Story of Desiree Genera

On Wednesday night, a developing story kept popping up on my feed featuring Katrina Ortiz (a photo client) and Desiree Genera (a photographer). Initially, Katrina posted positive feedback regarding her hired photographer after receiving an edited image in digital format.

Like most clients excited about their most recent professional photography session, she made it her profile picture and couldn’t wait to see the rest.

Desiree had posted on Facebook that the rest of Katrina’s maternity session would be complete and available for viewing on Tuesday (3/14/17), 2 weeks ahead of the photographer’s initially-stated timeline.

At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Katrina checked in via Facebook messenger to see if her photos were complete.

Clearly, from the exchange, Desiree was not happy to be interrupted while trying to do the editing. For her, this meant Katrina would now have to wait the full 4 week turnaround time instead of receiving them 2 weeks early.

Despite this news, Katrina politely backed off and apologized for the interruption. Katrina thought it was over until just a short while later she noticed she was a topic of discussion on Desiree’s personal Facebook page.

Desiree was openly discussing the altercation with her audience and even went live on Facebook, expressing her annoyance with the interruption. In these live videos, Desiree described the need to fix her client’s wig, stretch marks, fat, cellulite, etc. You can view the videos below (warning: there is plenty of foul language):

After seeing this happen right on her own news feed, Katrina’s opinion of the quality of service offered by Desiree changed. She began recording the live videos and sharing them on her page, as well as explaining to her friends what took place.

The story then quickly spread across Facebook. Some people expressed sympathy and suggestions to Katrina given the rudeness she had to endure, others began attacking Desiree’s photography business.

Desiree seemed to welcome the traffic, spending the day uploading new videos, as well as sharing old ones related to her business. Perhaps she was holding on to the adage, “all press is good press” because, despite the incoming negativity, her videos and posts were racking up views and interactions.

She went as far as to suggest that she would soon be “cashing in” on all the viral attention.

Katrina then requested on her Facebook for those following the story to report the images on Desiree’s page to get them taken down.

Many went a step further, leaving nasty messages, comments, and negative reviews on her brand’s marketing accounts. Others were tagging local and national news outlets in an attempt to bring an even bigger spotlight on the story.

Now, I didn’t bring this story up to tell you that it’s not a good idea to conduct business in this manner — if you were considering doing so there probably isn’t much hope for your business’s future. However, I found so many things in this story that have huge implications on our industry.

#1. Mixing Business and Personal Life is Dangerous

Whether you are deciding to go live on Facebook, or determining if you need 2 separate Instagram accounts for the various aspects of your life, it’s always worth considering your audience.

Most importantly, who you choose to discuss the quirky and infuriating intimacies of our industry with can always come back to bite you in the butt. This is most dangerous on social media, where…

#2. More than Just Your Friends are Watching

Curated feeds are designed to promote posts that get the most interaction. All of Katrina’s phone videos on this altercation now have tens of thousands of views. Even Desiree’s videos completely unrelated to the exchange have had a dramatic increase in traffic.

If it’s interesting enough, your message (positive or negative) can quickly spread around the world. Despite the fact that all the live videos Desiree shared are now deleted, along with many of the associated posts, screenshots and other people’s recordings live on. Remember, every time you post you are starting a fire that you may not be able to put out.

#3. Beware the Tribe Mentality

Katrina has every right to leave a negative review if she is dissatisfied with the photography service she paid for. Like all of us, Desiree has to accept the possibility of negative feedback with every image she delivers. This is all part of a single transaction.

However, as soon as the story spread the tribe mentality took over. When people are acting as part of a large group, they are far more likely to exhibit hatred. One commentor even offered to push this story to her Facebook group of over 20,000 mothers to help punish Desiree’s business.

While I find Desiree’s response and videos unprofessional, I do not think she should be at the mercy of a massive group that was uninvolved in the transaction.

At the same time, her continued defiance and traffic-relishing tells me she’s not very upset by the negative attention. After all, our society has been known to catapult people to fame simply by hating them enough. How bout dah?

#4. What’s Obvious, Isn’t.

In this instance, Katrina felt she had every right to stop Desiree from using the images to promote her work. Some commenting even suggested that “if you already paid for these (photos), they don’t belong to her anymore”.

While the photographer here may have made some questionable decisions, she does still retain the right to the images she captured.

When our entire day-to-day is based around a specific industry, we tend to assume that the standards of our industry are glowingly apparent to the public. Back when I waited tables at Chili’s, I scoffed when a guest was unaware that the salad garnish in the Quesadilla Explosion Salad had onions in it. Those guests were not chefs.

Your clients are not professional photographers. It is our job to educate clients on all aspects of the photography service, as well as outline it within contracts. Failure to do so leads to incorrect assumptions by those hiring us, as well as the general public.

Conclusion

It’s never a good idea to go off on the struggles of our industry on a social media platform, regardless of how infuriated you are. Be wise to any message that you put out to the world, even if you think just your friends are listening. Educate your clients on the specifics of both the industry as well as your brand.

As photographers, we are trusted with people’s memories, personalities, and passions. We also carry the weight of their imperfections. It’s best to treat them all delicately.


About the author: Robert Hall is a wedding, portrait, and commercial photographer based in Michigan. You can find more of his work on his website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Instagram for Photographers: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Instagram has become one of the most powerful tools for modern photographers.

The platform empowers photographers across the world to have their work viewed thousands, if not millions, of times over. The community behind the social network cannot be underestimated either, openly sharing a wealth of knowledge and inspiring their like-minded peers to take their passion to the next level.

Yet, as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben once said, with great power, comes great responsibility.

The Good

For me, personally, Instagram has been the driving force behind my interest in photography.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passing interest in capturing images. However, it wasn’t until after downloading the Instagram app mid-2013 my casual hobby really took off.

Exposure to the abundant amount of stunning imagery on the platform inspired—and continues to inspire—me to go out in pursuit of capturing just as beautiful photos myself.

It’s what drives me to set my alarm in the wee hours of the morning to check on the cloud conditions. It’s what sends me halfway across the world to explore and photograph new lands so different from my own. And it’s what opened my eyes to entire new fields of photography (such as astrophotography and underwater photography), encouraging me to try my hand at them myself.

The supporting community cannot be understated either.

The shared appreciation for photography brings millions together across the globe on a daily basis. People of different race, creed and class together, sharing their common interest. It brings down cultural barriers and unites people in mutual encouragement and constructive feedback on their work.

Yet—as much as we may prefer to remain ignorant—the platform isn’t all sunsets and rainbows for photographers.

The Bad

While Instagram initially fuelled my passion for photography, at times it did—and still does—do so for all the wrong reasons. Too often I find myself chasing likes, rather than being inspired through the art of photography itself.

It’s a fundamental aspect of human nature to revel in others’ appreciation of us and our work. The little hit of dopamine straight into our bloodstream when a red heart appears on the screen is highly addictive. So much so that I—and, I’d wager, many of my peers—pursue it in the absence of a genuine love for the field.

We begin to pursue a digital metric, one seemingly always out of reach. After receiving our first 100 likes on a post, we’re then chasing 200. After attracting 5,000 followers, we move the goal line to 10,000 followers. We pursue short term hits of success at the expense of long term fulfillment. It’s like constantly chasing your tail up a mountain, and never quite stopping to appreciate view up there.

There’s also the wealth of stunning photos which can provide inspiration for some, but has the opposite effect for many others.

When we compare our work to that of lifelong professionals, quite often we can feel deflated—as if their extremely high quality of work devalues our own. Yet this approach can lead down a dangerous path driven by fear. We fear producing and sharing sub-par work, and so it’s safer to take the easy route: do nothing. Don’t shoot and don’t share.

Yet this approach is obviously a self-defeating one. My advice? Don’t let the fear paralyze you. Be bold. Be courageous with your photography.

The Ugly

Then there’s the ugly. It’s one thing to value digital metrics of success, but it’s something else to achieve them artificially.

How many has-been reality stars or Instagram famous models have you seen claim impossibly high follower numbers? Those with highly suspect low levels of actual engagement on their posts. There’s no sense of community with their followers. No respect. Just an artificially inflated follower count so they can sell influencer reach onto gullible brands who don’t—or choose not to—know any better.

And then there’s the fake accounts which drop completely out of context gibberish comments on your photos.

Now, I’m all for hashtags. They’re a fantastic way to have your photos seen and (hopefully) shared by larger content hubs on Instagram. They’re also a great tool to collate photos from certain locations when you’re planning your next shoot. But unfortunately, these ghost accounts prey on certain tags, unceremoniously splurging out offers of want more followers?, check my page!

Finally, there’s the accounts which steal others’ photos without attribution or consent. The worst thing is, because there’s no attribution or link, it’s impossible for us photographers to track when the theft (and it is theft) actually occurs. It could have happened to me every day this week and I would have no way of knowing.

Final Thoughts

Looking back on the above, you’d be forgiven for running scared from the platform in fear of what it’s doing to you and your photography. But please, don’t. Instagram is a wonderful (the best?) platform for photographers to share their work, inspire others and form genuine communities and friendships.

Sticking our head in the sand on the unpleasant issues isn’t doing us, and the photography community, any favors.

While we can’t directly control the fundamental nature of social media and Instagram, we can actively choose to minimize its negative influence on us. To not let it define our worth as photographers and to leverage its power as we continue sharing our passions with the world.


About the author: Mitch Green is a Sydney based Travel and Landscape Photographer. He can be found via his website, through Instagram, or down by the beach at 5am waiting for sunrise.

Study Finds People Like Taking Selfies but Not Looking at Them

A small study out of Europe is confirming what many of us probably knew intuitively already: while plenty of people love taking their own selfies, most people have no interest in looking at anybody else’s.

The findings were published in a paper titled The Selfie Paradox: Nobody Seems to Like Them Yet Everyone Has Reasons to Take Them by Sarah Diefenbach and Lara Christoforakos of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, and they’re based on a study of 238 people from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. 238 people from three countries is hardly a representative sample, which is why we’re calling this a “small” study and taking the results with a grain of salt, but their findings seem to corroborate common sense.

People enjoy taking and sharing selfies, but they don’t like looking at them.

77% of respondents said they took a selfie at least once a month, 27% once per week or more. But 90% of the same group said they viewed other peoples selfies as “self-promotion” (only 46% said the same of their own selfies) and even those who took selfies most often said they preferred to view non-selfie photos on social media.

“People taking many selfies themselves tend not to like viewing others’ selfie-pictures, and rather wish for a higher number of usual photos,” write the authors of the paper. “This expresses a somewhat paradox[ical] situation, where many people are engaged in selfies, but at the same time wish for a reduction of selfies in social media.”

Admittedly, this is a small, very cursory study limited in culture and region. But it lends some credence to something you’ve probably thought (and maybe even said) for a while now: nobody cares about your selfies.

(via DPReview)


Image credits: Selfie by Paško Tomić.

A Social Media Cheat Sheet for 2017

Want to win at social media in 2017? The folks over at On Blast Blog did some research on tips, tricks, and best practices, and they’ve created a helpful cheat sheet infographic with all kinds of helpful nuggets of wisdom.

In addition to an image sizing guide for best photo resolutions you should be uploading (we shared a dedicated infographic on that recently), this guide also contains sections for keyboard shortcuts, best times to post, tools you can look into using, new features that have been announced, tricks for writing headlines, and more.

If you use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, or LinkedIn for your photography or photo business, you might find the following infographic helpful:

You can also find and download this cheat sheet over at On Blast Blog.

I’m a Full-Time Photographer Because of Instagram: Here’s How I Did It

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My name is Sam Vox. I am a freelance photographer from Tanzania. I became a full-time photographer because of my Instagram account. In this post, I’ll share how I grew my Instagram account without using any online services.

Before I dive in, this is purely my workflow and there is no secret app that will make you gain thousands of followers overnight, nor is this going to be about buying followers/likes. So if this is not for you, just ignore this post.

A little about myself (this is important, I promise): I spent most of my teenage years abroad (in South East Asia) for studies. Whenever I introduced myself to people, I’d get 3 main questions:

“Where is Tanzania?”

“Is it safe?”

“What do you guys eat?”

This really got to me and I wanted to show them what Tanzania looks like and what life is like in the country. That was early 2007. Fast forward to 2014. I’m back in Tanzania and that’s when I started using Instagram, with the sole purpose of showing my friends in Asia what Tanzania looks likes. The reason why I said this is important is because I found my main focus for my account, which is documenting everyday life in Tanzania.

The location of Tanzania in Africa.
The location of Tanzania in Africa.

Today my account is a channel where I am able to share a small fraction of Tanzania’s heart and her people. Ultimately my aim is to show the ordinary everyday life in an African country, by sharing stories of people, places and their different cultures and traditions.

So that’s the first step: you need decide on what kind of account you want to run depending on what you are interested in, whether it’s landscapes, street photography, weddings, food, etc..


A photo posted by Sam (@sam.vox) on

Once you have that locked down and ready to go! Here are a few tips that will help you grow organically.

Consistency

To be fair everyone throws this word around like it’s a Frisbee. But what do they actually mean? You need to find your style, this goes way further than just applying a preset. When I say consistency I mean, everything… from your shooting style to editing. For example, when shooting portraits, to have a consistent feed you have to shoot all of them in the same style. Here’s how you can do it:

Light

This is important, you need to shoot in the same type of light for all your images. For me, I like to shoot portraits in the shade or backlit during sunset. The reason why I say it has to be the same type of light is because when you are editing your photos, they will all have the same look and feel when you apply your style/preset to it. A portrait shot during mid-day and the same one shot during sunset won’t look the same if you apply the exact same editing settings to them. So this is why you have to shoot in the same light for all your portraits.


A photo posted by Sam (@sam.vox) on

Editing

This is another thing you need to nail down. I do all my edits on Lightroom. When I first started instagram, to a point where I got recognized all I did was use VSCO. I saved up and bought the very first pack. Film pack 01, and that’s the only one I own till today. I don’t use it anymore because I made my own. But VSCO has really helped me get to where I want my images to look like. Out of all the presets in that pack, I only used 2 for all my images. I used Kodak Portra 160 and Kodak Portra 400. Those are the two films that I liked the most and I would apply those to my images and tune them to my liking later on. This really simplified my work flow and cut down editing time. Again, why pick only two? because you want your feed to look consistent throughout with the same light and colors.


A photo posted by Sam (@sam.vox) on

Note: when I say you need to stick with a distinct look and style, I don’t mean you should do this religiously. You are all artists, you shouldn’t be limiting yourselves. This is when personal projects come in play. Experiment with whatever that you are curious about, that’s not a problem at all, in fact it helps to keep your creative juices flowing. But, because it’s an experiment, you keep that out of your main Instagram account (This is purely for people who want to eventually start getting jobs out of Instagram. If it’s your personal account, do whatever you want).

If you look at big accounts — way bigger than mine, we are talking about 100k followers and more — all these guys have a distinct look and style that they are famously known for. Not only does it attract clients, it attracts followers too. A lot of these big Instagrammers have a separate Instagram account to post their personal stuff/experiments.

Quality Over Quantity

This is your next step. You will have the urge to upload random shots that do not match with your feed completely, just because you have nothing better to post. Don’t do this! It’s all about the quality, wait until you have THE shot. Treat your instagram feed like a mini portfolio. Imagine if you had to present that to a room full of people and there is a random selfie of your cat in the middle of all your beautiful landscape work. If it doesn’t belong there, don’t put it there. Ideally you want your feed to always look at its best even when you have nothing to post.


A photo posted by Sam (@sam.vox) on

Curating Your Feed

This is a very important part of my work flow. I normally know what my feed is going to look like a week from now and this is how I do it. I started of using VSCO app’s Library to curate my instagram feed. If you are lost I will explain that again. VSCO app had a library identical to Instagram’s feed, the three squares in a row. I used it as a way to preview what my images would look like next to each other before posting on my account. Here is a screen shot of what VSCO library looks like. At that point of time, my VSCO library was identical to my Instgram feed, I would arrange and re-arrange my pictures on VSCO library and have a sense of what everything looks like before posting on Instagram. This is what it looked like:

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Why did I do this? Because I like a neat looking feed that’s easy to the eyes. Some pictures I post look very busy, Ideally I wouldn’t want busy pictures next to busy pictures. This doesn’t give your feed some breathing room. I also want my next post to kind of compliment the previous post, there are things to look at, for example, horizon lines. It’s difficult to match horizon lines on two different pictures taken on different days. I would normally separate them and post something without a horizon line in-between. Otherwise they just look odd and out of place next to each other.

Unfortunately VSCO updated their app and now it’s not squares anymore. Luckily this is around the same time Instagram rolled out its new multiple accounts feature. I made a separate account just to curate my feed. I like doing it because it just give you that extra control on how your Instagram looks like.

So that covers work flow. Now we move on to how I got 40K followers.

Engagement

I can’t stress this enough. If you want to grow, find people who are into the same thing as you and connect with them. Always leave a good original comment. You are more likely going to get a response when you leave a good comment, something like “Hey, this is amazing! I like how you always capture light and shadows so perfectly, and the woman with the red hat just makes this shot for me! well done.” Now that’s engagement, the person will most likely go through your account and do the same. It’s much more effective than just saying “nice” or “cool”.

Keep in mind this won’t be so effective if you do it to people with big accounts. People who get 100+ comments a post, they most likely reply to one or two people. Find accounts that are not too big with less comments and connect with them. Don’t be afraid to ask for collaborations.

It’s simple, all you need to do is pick a picture you like from the person you are collaborating with, ask him/her to send your the unedited version. You will later edit his/her photograph with your unique style and post it on your account. On the captions you have to mention that this is a collaboration with your talented friend [insert Instagram name] and this is his/her picture with your edit. Your friend will do the same with your picture. This way you will be directing your followers to the persons account and his/her followers to your account.

I did a few of these when starting out, and it all started because I would leave good comments on pictures I liked. Make sure you follow them too, even if they don’t follow back. They will eventually notice that you are active and always supportive of their work so they will follow back.


A photo posted by Sam (@sam.vox) on

Hashtags

I won’t lie, I am not good at hashtags. But I’ll tell you what I know. If you are just starting out and want to grow organically, find hashtags that are not so popular. I see everyone falling for this idea that if you tag popular hashtags you will get noticed. To me It makes more sense to find smaller/active hashtags if you are just starting out. The main idea here is to get your picture the most exposure as possible, you won’t get that exposure tagging popular hashtags with about a million submissions. Your photo will be buried and so far out of the oblivion before you can blink. Find tags that are small and have an active community.

I have all my tags in my notes and I copy paste them to my comments. Not on my captions. It’s just my preference, I like a neat feed without a cluster of tags. You get 30 hashtags to use. Find a good balance of tags. My suggestion is the first 10 should be relevant to your image, If it’s a portrait then have 10 tags associated with portraiture, such as; #portraitphotography #portraits #makeportraits #portraitmood #portrait_perfection. Some of these are from feature pages which really helps because these pages are always active and looking for content to share. The rest of the tags should be a balance of small active communities and also your city/country. Here are some of my current favorites; #WalkWithLocals 21 thousand submissions. #Verilymoment 360k submissions. #Seekthesimplicity 500k submissions. The smaller the tag is the better, this way your image gets to stay on top longer than it would on a popular tag.


A photo posted by Sam (@sam.vox) on

Weekend Hashtag Projects

The reason why this is in caps is because this was eventually the thing that got be on the map! Every Friday Instagram posts a challenge, they are known as Weekend hashtag projects #WHP. They give you a theme/subject with examples, and you have the whole weekend to come up with a creative way to capture it. Instagram will select the best ones and feature them on their account. I have been featured 3 times on their account. Here’s my latest photo that got selected in one of the Weekend Hashtag Projects:


Here’s a tip, the competition runs through the weekend, Ideally you would want your photo to be seen, so post it on a Sunday. They get a lot of submissions and I don’t think Instagram staff has the time to go through everyone’s submission, so you have a better chance of your photo being seen if it’s near the top. Also, this is also down to luck. You can have the best picture fitting the theme but might not get selected because of the amount of submissions. When I was starting out I would always participate. When I got selected for the first time I got about 500 new followers and a lot of likes. The good thing about getting featured on Instagram’s account, apart from getting exposure to 200 million people, you also get instagram staff following your account. My second feature wasn’t because I participated in the weekend project but just because my picture stood out to an instagram community manager. I got featured and also added to the Suggested User list for about a month. That alone sky rocketed my account from 4k followers to 36k, and my last feature took me to 40k. So you see how effective that can be.

My advice, If you don’t know what Weekend Hashtag Projects are, have a look at previous projects and the people who got selected. Sometimes it’s the simplest of things, you don’t have to go crazy with ideas, just look at what you have around you and use it.


A photo posted by Sam (@sam.vox) on

InstaMeets/Instawalks

Be part of the community around your area. Look out for your city on instagram, they normally have Instagram meet ups every weekend or so. This is a great way to meet other people who are just as much enthusiastic about photography as you are! build relationships and you will all eventually be going out to shoot more often. Which means more content for you and also more collaborations.

I hope this helps, I apologize for all the grammar mistakes, I’m horrible when it comes to writing. Let me know if you have any questions. I will be happy to answer them all, we are all here to learn and I strongly believe that sharing knowledge is a good way to grow.


About the author: Sam Vox is a freelance photographer based in Tanzania. His aim is to show the ordinary everyday life in an African country by sharing stories of people, places, cultures, and traditions. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.