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This is an article written by photographer Susan Furber, contact details can be found at the end of this post.

For a while now, I have watched emerging and established photographers tentatively dip their toes into the world of social media. Do I need a blog, a Facebook page or should I really have a twitter account? The list of connections and networks really can be quite daunting and of course, potentially unmanageable. Then there are the statistics, the number of likes, friends, tweets, comments…well you get the picture.

I have spent the last few months on a mission, reading and finding resources about the use of social media, very specifically keeping in mind its use for photographers. I have also been watching how existing photographers use the mediums and tools that are currently available to see what works and what doesn’t for me. As soon as I write this article, the popular opinion on this is likely to shift and a new social media site will likely launch, such is the speed that things are changing and evolving in this space at the moment, but like any business, I believe that as a photographer  it pays to know your market and in a tough but honest way, know where your competition is and what they are doing.

In this article I am going to discuss the ‘Big 3’ social media tools and the potential that I see for them making a difference to photographers.

Social media kit bag

Blogs

I personally discovered blogging over seven years ago now, when my brother first introduced me to the RSS feeds. I have been an avid fan ever since. I have used blogs in my personal and work life, used them to document an 18 month working holiday and currently to document and connect on my own photographic  journey. Blogs let the world have a sense of who we are as photographers, but also as a person which comes out often in our words and writing style. If not a writer, they can still provide an opportunity to feature images, discuss images and very importantly to link to and learn from our influences and inspirations, as discussed in my previous post.

The kicker with blogs is always infrequent posting. I recently read a blog with had been consistently updated up until August ’11. Why..what happened then?  The reader has to be able to stay engaged and want to come back for more, and therefore content has to be kept fresh and recent and relevant when blogging. The use of images to engaged readers and receive comments and feedback is a powerful tool in my opinion.

I blog, therefore I am…every photographer should have one in their social media kit bag.

Facebook

We all use or know about it, but can it actually help our photography business. I would suggest that if you have resisted Facebook on a personal level, don’t necessarily rule it out as a great business tool. The key to Facebook is what you post. As a photographer, and as a business you have access to a phenomenal network, that you just need to tap into the right part of. Consider creating a page to talk about your events, workshops, interests, specialities, and even locations. If I can’t find a photographer on Facebook nowadays, I tend to wonder why not.  The new Facebook subscriptions feature is an excellent way to follow public posts without having to form imaginary, long lost friends and it is therefore a great feature with lots of potential for photographers.

Posting photographs on Facebook does need some thought. Who owns them, do you risk them being ripped off and will they actually be de-valued in amongst all the photos of parties, holidays and profile pics. My suggestion is to always link to a website or a blog rather then direct photograph posting. This creates seamless links between your social media kit streams and keeps the photographs under your control. Once again, frequency is the key here, even more so than blogs. The beauty is that a quick link or interesting article or location update can suffice to keep the readers happy. So, given this one a try and put it in the kit bag.

Twitter

Of the ‘Big 3’, this tool took me the longest time to warm to, but it really is the simplest to set-up and manage. Use links, re-tweet and keep it short, sharp and shiny. Connect Twitter to your blog and Facebook page and half of your job is already done with regular updates. The beauty of Twitter is it has been designed for audience targeting so this is inbuilt to a degree. People will follow you based on who you follow and your interests and posts. It is often referred to as ‘micro blogging’ which is quick and simple.  Photographers cannot really be promoted by Twitter alone, but it makes a quick and simple internet presence and so it really does have to go into the kit bag, even if you just use the basics.

As someone who has recently worked in the corporate communications world, I believe that there is still much to learn about the effectiveness of social media channels and it will be exciting to see how they evolve. I believe the key to all social media is to keep it focussed and have a clear idea in mind of what message, brand/connection you want to create. Keep this in mind throughout all your chosen social media kit items and keep them consistent and frequent.

So, go ahead, blog, tweet, like and network away and as a photographer, let the internet work for you instead of it being a fearful unknown.

**As part of my blog Photo web connect, I am happy to research, review and critique social media sites for photographers If you have any comments or thoughts on this article, feel free to let me know.

http://photowebconnect.wordpress.com

Journeys and Inspiration

We are following the blog of photographer Martin Middlebrook, currently based in Kabul. Martin has upped sticks from his regular life, including friends and family in the UK, to experience, document and raise awareness of life in Afghanistan. I can’t even imagine visiting this country much less photographing there, but reading Martin’s blog I am entranced and captivated and already have experienced a sense of the country and the people, and importantly, Martin’s journey, through his writing and photography.

As a developing photographer, my key priority at the moment is taking better pictures. However, to get there, technically, emotionally and physically, these needs all tussle with each other on a daily basis. My journey doesn’t involve guns and overhead Black Hawk helicopters, but it does get impacted by the weather, bureaucracy and money. It is fundamentally underpinned by that one source of driving inspiration and that end goal that keeps us all moving forward, whatever it may be for us.

The journeys of other photographers fascinate me. I attended three short lectures the other day at a camera event in London and while all in a similar photographic genre, the paths taken and the inspirations for each photographer couldn’t have been more different. I overheard some people discussing one of the lectures in the café afterwards…’But he didn’t tell us how he took the shot, what aperture and shutter speed he used’. I felt like looking up and saying ‘Lady you have missed the point…’ but I didn’t…

Each of these photographers was sharing a part of their lives, and their past experiences. Their journey had something for everyone to learn from that wasn’t necessarily what you thought it would be.

I have my own story of course. Aussie born and bred, threw it all in for an initial 18 months working holiday in the UK much later in life and rediscovered a love of travel and particularly photography. 3 ½ years later, currently hooked, moving to the locations of choice to learn and practice photography and living on the edge financially to try and develop a decent portfolio of work. But to me, my journey isn’t nearly as interesting as those of others that I have met and will meet along the way.

Social media, and blogs particularly are effective tools to find out about journeys of others and either become a part of them through the internet, or just actively read, learn and be inspired by them. It is true, there is always someone that we can learn from, someone who has a similar or even polar opposite set of experiences to help us be informed, inspired and motivated. Just today, I have discovered two more journeys that I will be following. Two more twitter accounts and a Facebook page!

So, as I sit here watching the rain pour down, and waiting for the Met office to decide whether it will be possible to take out the cameral today, I can’t help but think…what will be the next part of my journey.

What will be the next part of your journey and who will you meet and be inspired by along the way?

FSC wood canvas frames

Here at Fotoviva Art Prints we are keen to help save the environment as much as we can. We are consuming the Earth’s resources 20% faster than they can be sustained, so we all have to do what we can – and as soon as we can. With this in mind, we now have our canvases made from wood which comes from sustainable forests (FSC), which means the trees are replaced by new ones and the forests, and their wildlife, are preserved as much as possible. We also use low vapour emitting sealant for the canvases which is better for the environment and your health. This sealant is used to protect the canvas surface and enhance the colour fidelity of the print.

The next stage would be to use vegetable based inks but at present we have not found any that provide the colour range and longevity to match the normal inks. If you have any ideas of how we can reduce our carbon footprint and become even greener please let us know. We recycle as much waste as possible, from our paper and packaging to our yoghurt pots and toilet rolls! We even compost our tea bags!

We know printing in general is not good for the environment but we feel it is important we do what we can for the planet. Our stretcher bar frames for the canvases cost us more to be sourced from FSC wood but it’s actually not as much of a leap as you may think. We absorb the cost, not add it to the cost of the printed canvas. We are also always looking for new and greener packaging options. If you are a packaging company who has an environmentally friendly solution please contact us.

Fotoviva on Tumblr

So we decided to open an official Tumblr account for the Fotoviva brand. Have you heard of it? More to the point, do you have a Tumblr account? It’s one of the largest social sites on the internet right now and one of the reasons we decided to begin using it is because Tumblr is a very image oriented blogging platform. And who has an amazing range of great looking images on their site? Yep, right first time – Fotoviva!

Take a look at our Fotoviva Tumblr blog here and follow us if you have an account. We’ll mainly be posting awesome images (and not just ours!) so it’s well worth a look if you like funny pictures, creative designs or scenes of natural beauty. 

We’ll also be writing a few interesting articles about art, prints and design so if that kind of thing interests you it will be well worth it. Our first blog was discussing large wall art so if your home is in need of some big wall prints then this guide will give you some great tips for choosing the right kind of picture. 

If you have a tumblr account let us know in the comments and we’ll take a look at it. Let’s get Tumbling!

office art prints

Inspire your office space with beautiful wall art

Office environments have come a long way from the bland and boring styles of a few years ago. Staff and businesses now understand that a nice working environment is going to have a positive effect on the workflow and of course the atmosphere of the company. Office wall decor plays an important role in bringing a business into the world of today. View full article »

bright wall art design

Have you walked in your living room or bedroom and felt that something just is not right?  That maybe something is missing?  You look around and then you realize that you are standing in a room looking at random things hanging on the walls or worse, you are staring at just bare walls.  A guaranteed solution to this problem is to accessorize your walls by putting up the right art pieces.  This will surely eliminate the boring neutral mood that missing art pieces give or the awkward feeling because of the wrong art pieces.  Not only does this add life to the room, it also gives it a story and essentially changes the environment of the room thus changing your mood or disposition.  Something so simple and often overlooked is the key to much, much more. View full article »

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