Photo tip of the week: Better social media for photographers
Double tapping, swiping up and scrolling is something we all do daily (unless I’m just an addict!?) as we make our way through a visual library of talent from all corners of the world. When you’re transfixed within the bubble of content though, what is it that makes you stop and stare a little longer? Which images or profiles stand out immediately and have that initial wow factor? Instagram claims to have an average of 3.5 billion likes generated every day, so why not delve into why these likes are handed out so you can get a piece of the action for your photography!
Analysing these factors is just the tip of forming a plan to curate your own work. Once you’ve assessed what makes you like a photo when scrolling randomly, it’s time to turn the tables and look at which photographs you share, what’s working and what may need a little tweaking.
Social media for photographers can feel like a game of Tetris. A jostle of trying to line everything up so you can gain followers, recognition or simply just get your work seen by people other than close family and friends. Before getting frustrated, let’s take a peek at how you can curate your work to give yourself the best chance of standing out.
Firstly, it’s not all about the jackpot of followers and likes. Forget numbers and get back to what the world of social media is really about: sharing. There’s one thing that needs to remain consistent within your social media channels, your work. Your work is what defines you as a photographer, it’s what attracts people to your accounts and it’s what helps you stand out from the billions of images circulating online.
It’s also one of the main elements that everyone struggles with at one time or another. If you’re a photographer who has never had a doubtful thought enter their mind, please let me know your secret. Most creatives will second guess which image to share, how to caption them, whether people will like them or whether or not they’re good enough to even bother editing.
But that’s all part of the creative process, and one of the best ways to stay focused is to get curating and develop a gallery that’s evidently unique to you and your style of photography.
It’s this concept that will be explored in this article, with tips on how to create a cohesive body of work, how to make colours work together, how to edit consistently and how to decide what it is you want to photograph and share via social media.
What do YOU want to photograph?
Before we get into the creative aspects of curating let’s take things back a step. Forget what you just saw on social media and take a moment to think about what it is that first attracted YOU to photography? Were you drawn to photographing nature, exploring different cultures or the underwater world? What is it that you love to see through your lens, that subject or scene that inspires you to test out new techniques and angles?
Discovering or even remembering what is was that first attracted you to photography will help you begin to develop a style that can grow into a cohesive body of work. You will no doubt naturally choose images to share that you personally love so in order to take a step towards curating a social media gallery, get started by deciding what that is you want to share and how you can capture more of the same images in order to develop a style and consistent gallery.
To kick start this process try browsing back through your old images and try and look for any repetition. You may already be capturing similar images and once you start recognising this, it’ll be easier to select which fit together nicely for your social feeds.
Creating Visual Consistency
Social media is sometimes (let’s be honest, most of the time) all about the initial impact. Have you ever clicked on an Instagram account, had a quick glance at their gallery and decided immediately whether or not you want to follow them? I’m assuming the answer is yes and it’s not a bad thing, it’s simply because photography and visual art in general is subjective.
The key elements helping to form your decision are visual cohesion and subject matter.
A social feed that’s a bit scattered with subjects, has no real colour scheme and may as well be an insight into someone’s phone photo library won’t attract as many willing followers as a well curated feed would. You want someone to look at your social media account and know exactly what it is that you specialise in and what they’ll likely see if they do click that golden (or blue!?) follow button.
If you shoot mountains and landscapes, have it seen that this is your bread and butter. Don’t post a snow-covered alpine landscape beside a photo of the hamburger you ate for lunch unless of course your theme is food vs mountains. They need to fit together and if they can’t fit in subject matter, it’s about matching tones, editing styles or finding another way to create a sense of consistency.
As an example, take a peek at the following Instagram accounts. Each unique in their version of cohesion but intriguing upon the initial glance because their style stands out – @ante, @helloemilie, @bejamin, @vickiee_yo, @bestjobers.
Editing Your Images
Post processing is a great way to create a social media gallery that works to show off your unique style, especially if your subject matter differs. Most photographers will shoot more than one type of genre so image editing can be that joining element that helps connect a portrait image to a street scene.
You may have noticed a bunch of photographers selling presets on Instagram lately and the reason for this is everyone wants their photos to look the same! It’s not however that it’s their way of editing that’s making them popular, it’s their constant use of the same filters, colour palette and poses that helps foster and grow their audience to trust they’ll continue to see the same style.
While presets can be a quick way to get started, it’s important as a photographer to also carve your own path when it comes to formulating an editing style. If you’re looking at purchasing some presets, aim to use them as a base to see how they’re constructed then tweak them to produce your own equally striking results.
When editing with Photoshop or Lightroom in particular, you can adjust an image, play around with the toggles and then save the process as an action or preset so next time you edit, you simply click a button and the effects will magically appear. This not only saves time while editing, but helps to develop a style that can be seen as uniquely yours on social media.
Curate by Culling
Wedding and portrait photographers will know the process of culling all too well. It can be mentally draining to click through hundreds, if not thousands of images to select that perfect collection of files to showcase a scene or subject but once you get the hang of it, it can be quite therapeutic!
You’ll typically find some images tend to stand out more obviously than others. You may remember taking a shot you knew was a keeper or via the thumbnails one jumps out at you screaming ‘select ME!’.
By taking the time to browse through your images you’ll start to see which shots work together and it’s these you want to select as potential shots to share on social media later.
Search through your collection of images for those WOW photographs. The shots that sum up a destination, convey the message you want to achieve or stand out in some other beautiful way. It’s these images that will make people stop on your social account and linger a little longer.
Using Colours and Tones
As mentioned previously, a cohesive look is a huge part of the appeal when people decide to follow you on social media. When working as a professional photographer or even if you’re just hoping to produce a beautiful portfolio of work, curating your feed to showcase your talents will go a long way towards attracting the right kind of audience to your social accounts.
Before uploading a new photo, check that it fits well with what was posted previously, and once it’s sitting on your feed, does it look okay with the other images? Check for things like colour matching, tones, brightness/darkness, editing style. Subject matter is a lot harder to pair up especially if you’re travelling a lot because every scene will be different. Instead, use colours and editing style to sync your work together like mentioned previously.
When playing with colours you can also get creative in the overall layout of your account. Taking Instagram as an example, rather than just looking at the previous image you posted, open up your account and see what your feed looks like as a whole. Are your talents obvious and do the images all work together? Free mobile phone apps like Later and UNUM help you to upload images and test the layout appearance, pretty handy for the perfectionists among us who can’t bear to look at blue beside green or a sunset next to a black and white image.
You can start to play around with horizontal colour matching too. When viewing your Instagram feed pair soft sunset tones horizontally and intertwine them with blues to create a striking colour palette. Alternatively, you can post a portrait shot followed by a minimalist landscape then repeat this pattern until your account looks like an art gallery. Find a pattern that fits your style of photography and stick with it for a few weeks to see what a difference it makes.
Captions and Hashtags
While this isn’t directly related to curating images, captions and hashtags do sit side by side in helping your work become visible. Sure, you can use the old ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ phrase, but social media enables you to tell even more of the story.
Creating not only a cohesive gallery but also a personality will again help to differentiate yourself from the masses. You may be quite the comedian and be able to knock out killer captions that sit well alongside your images, or you could be a lingual wizard that uses the dictionary to find exorbitant descriptions that only require a single word.
The point I’m attempting to make is that you can make your social media whatever you want it to be, so try developing the habit of also putting effort into your captions.
When it comes to using hashtags it’s actually less for practical purposes and more for the discovery element.
Images that include at least one hashtag in their caption are said to gain an additional 13% more engagement on Instagram. People searching for ‘#bondibeachsunset’ may stumble upon your image and become a follower. Having a set of relevant hashtags should become routine for every image you post on social media!