All images by Nicholas Goodden. Used with permission.
Most of my paid photography jobs have come through social media and more precisely: Twitter. I’ve always loved photography, but then who doesn’t. After all we are all photographers. Find me one person who will say “nah…I don’t like photography, I don’t take photos”.
When I started shooting urban /street photography a little more seriously around 2008, all I thought about was, well, shooting. Looking back at the photos I took back then, I often cringe–yet it’s a valuable reminder of how far I’ve gone.
In 2010, when I realized that I was progressing and receiving encouraging feedback on Flickr, I thought to myself: “Right, it’s time to set up a home for my London photography” (a bit like going from having a market stall to owning a shop), and so my photography website was born.
Immediately then I opened a Twitter account and Facebook page to promote it.
I guess I understood early the power of social media as the company I worked with at the time was quite focused on it. What’s strange is that I actually really didn’t like the idea of Twitter, probably because my (limited) understanding of it back then was that people write 140 characters like ”I’m having a coffee and it’s good, I like coffee!”. It’s a bit boring isn’t it?
I’m sure that just like looking at my old photos, if I looked back at my old tweets I’d want to hide under a desk. But again, that’s just an evolution, I’ve developed.
Gradually, as I worked hard on improving my portfolio and technique, I grew a following and an understanding that people, although they may like my work, may not want me to only talk about myself. It’s a mistake a lot of people, and worse, major brands do when it comes to social media. They’re self-centred.
So I started interacting with people. Sharing their work to my followers, sharing my followers’ work, lending a helping hand when I could and generally posting interesting snippets of information regularly (and that’s key if you want people to keep coming back) and with a focus: Photography and/or London.
Because as a London urban photographer, this is my niche (something we all need to identify).
I believe in what I like to call “social media karma”, you get as much as what you give.
I then focused on following and interacting mostly with people within my niche to make my efforts more relevant and rewarding. I thought to myself “who are the people/companies most likely to hire me for a photography job?”
So there I went chatting away on Twitter with PR companies, creative agencies, restaurants (I am a trained chef and photographer…see where I’m going?), interior designers, architects, etc.
Bear in mind I didn’t approach them saying “Hey check my photos and give me jobs”. No, I looked at their tweeting patterns, and tried to respond, retweet, engaging in the best possible way. This led to some of them checking out my work, liking it and hiring me. It’s hard work but it pays off–eventually.
Twitter also led me to become an Olympus ambassador which has been extremely beneficial in terms of exposure. I shoot with an Olympus camera. After a while Olympus, who I engaged with for about a year, decided to involve me and promote me as I was in turn indirectly promoting their cameras through my photographs shot with an OM-D.
What I am getting at here is that Twitter has an immense power which can only be harnessed by being used wisely. We are all time short and Twitter is ideal for making quick “to the point” contact. You have 140 characters, use them wisely. It’s the Internet’s equivalent of the Elevator Pitch.
My Top 10 Twitter Tips for Photographers
Aside from what I’ve covered above, here are 10 additional tips I recommend you follow to make Twitter more rewarding:
1 – If you decide to share photography news, tips and info, you don’t want to search for it for hours. Lists are the answer. That way you can have a feed populated only with the right tweets and links, easy to share.
2 – Don’t give people a hard time, it’s not cool and it can severely backfire. Be nice even when you’re having a bad day (good life advice in any case).
3 – If you shoot Nikon, let them know by sharing your best photos, if you print on a Canon printer, let them know by showing off your prints, etc… Getting in touch with people who’s product you believe in may possibly open doors. It works for me anyway.
4 – Add (relevant) photos of yours to your tweets. A tweet with a photo gets retweeted a lot more than one without.
5 – Figure out the best times to tweet. I find early mornings and late afternoon often to be a commute time so people are on their phone. Sunday mornings around 11am, people having a coffee… again on their phones, tablets, laptops. Lunchtime is also a good one. Avoid Friday and Saturday night for obvious reasons…
6 – Twitter allows you to follow up to 1000 people a day, make good use of it. Don’t just follow anyone of course. Follow camera companies, creative agencies, PR companies, etc… Anyone likely to be interested in your work.
7 – To counter-balance the people you follow, find apps to help you manage your Twitter account. Some for example allow you to unfollow any user who’s been inactive for say… 6 months. There’s nothing wrong with doing that since they are clearly not active.
8 – If you post something on Twitter, you can only delete it if it hasn’t been retweeted. That should stress the importance of never posting something you’ll regret. Once someone retweets it, delete it if you wish but it will always be around to haunt you (not that I would know!)
9 – Don’t be a pest. If you see someone doesn’t interact, give it a rest and move on, don’t harass them.
10 – Finally, and possibly the most important: Be yourself and let your personality shine through. It’s the only way people will buy into you (alongside having a quality portfolio).
I hope that’ll help some of you get the exposure you deserve and please get in touch on Twitter!