NOTE: This is a Guest Blog post written by Timothy Lunn exclusively for www.streethunters.net.
You’ve just taken a fantastic photograph.
Great composition. Dramatic lighting. Bold tones.
But how do you share it?
We’ve all made mistakes with social media. Whether it was chasing a trend, posting ‘like for like’ or plastering a photo with more hashtags than an Instagram sunset, it’s not easy to draw the line between self-promotion and self-importance!
So how do we share a photograph responsibly?
To help answer this question, StreetHunters talked to a leading London Street Photographer and Director of Marketing, Nicholas Goodden.
Nicholas Goodden, Street Photographer
Nicholas Goodden heads one of the most successful street photography websites in London and has over 230,000 unique visitors to his website – https://www.nicholasgooddenphotography.co.uk/ – each year. He has been an Olympus ambassador, featured in numerous London street photography exhibitions, and was named one of the Top 100 Most Socially Influential Photographers by Eye-Fi. He even carries business cards in his photography bag!
But Nico is also really, really nice.
He has published articles on the ethics of street photography, prefers a 50mm prime to keep a respectful distance from his subject, and emphasizes the most important thing about social media is being friendly.
Read our interview with Nico below and let him solve your problems with social media!
Street photography is about the photography, not the promotion, sales or marketing. Many Streethunters will be thinking this as they read the interview. How can you change their minds?
It’s correct. Street photography is indeed about the photography, nothing else.
However the need or wish to promote your work is a different thing altogether, some people want that, others don’t and we have to respect it.
Trust me if I could skip the marketing of my work and make a living simply by taking photos and people finding my photos by magic it’d be great, but that’s just not how it works in 2018.
If you want to make a living as a professional photographer, chances are that your time will need to be split at least 50/50 between shooting and marketing/promoting your work.
How else would people find you?
Social media can be selfish sometimes. Likes for likes and walls of hashtags. How do we build a community that is engaged in helping others, not chasing trends?
Indeed, if I can be honest I’m not a fan of social media at all, I’ve been off my personal Facebook now since October … I’m old school too you know, I like to call friends, meet with friends for a beer.
But it’s a necessary evil, for me anyway. I don’t chase likes as I know after years on social media that it can be for some people quite soul destroying. They mean very little if anything at all.
What’s the point of a like for like? I want real potential clients to like my work, it’s thanks to them I can pay my rent.
In terms of helping each other… I’m the first to offer a helping hand to people on a regular basis. It’s always been important for me and it’s good karma too.
But people also need to use common sense when requesting help. I have total strangers emailing me an impersonal one-liner “Hi, how do I make money from Street Photography”.
I kind of want to say “Pull your finger out and work on your social skills …”. Harsh but true.
I was lucky to work in client facing roles a big part of my life so I learnt how to send polite requests and well written emails at least.
You wouldn’t believe how emails can be the most powerful marketing tool if done well.
Communities grow organically, you cannot hurry things up too much. Relationships and friendships aren’t built overnight.
You’ve claimed street photographers aren’t very good at sharing their work. What mistakes do beginners make with social media? Why is this a particular problem for street photographers?
I think most street photographers over-share. They dilute the quality of their work by sharing way too many photos. Their handful of masterpieces get lost in the noise.
It all depends what you are trying to achieve. If you want to have your work seen by the community, liked by other photographers etc.
My time is precious and I have to make a living so I’m focusing first on clients which requires a totally different approach. A targeted one.
What advantages do platforms like Twitter and Instagram have? Should our readers build a following on one of these platforms or many of them?
I don’t rate Instagram very high. Facebook has ruined it. I speak to many top influencers on the platform and all are pulling their hair as their engagement … dropped for no reason just because they have messed with the algorithm.
I still put some effort in it but I’m not putting all my eggs in that basket.
I prefer Twitter, I always have the ability to share links to my website (Instagram only allows link in bio). I also find the exchange with people to be better, more meaningful. On Instagram most people can’t be bothered to write a sentence anymore in a comment too lazy to use more than a smiley emoji. It’s the Instagram culture.
As for using many platforms, I always advise people to choose wisely as after 10 years it’ll have potentially wasted a lot of their time if the platform is the wrong one.
Choose wisely and don’t take on too much, better do less but well than too much quite badly.
When we see other Streethunters’ work, we might be tempted to follow the photographer, but leave it at that. How can fellow Streethunters engage with each other more genuinely?
It’s no different from the real world really. You can’t force someone to be interested in you.
For someone to be interested you have to show genuine interest too. I would put an emphasis on genuine.
I’d say… try to meet in real life. I did it many times, if you have the time it’s a better way to engage with people.
I also write a lot and make sure it’s found on Google. I feel this way if people read my articles they may relate and want to read future articles I write.
We all have difficulties posting photos of our own. Should we include a short or a long description? Should we include hashtags in the comments or in the description? What tips do you have for writing content?
I’d say keep it short and to the point, use relevant and researched hashtags, mention people/accounts who could be interested, always link to your own work/website.
But more importantly post only your very best work, not all of the rest please!
There is such a thing as spam on social media. Don’t be a spammer.
Many Streethunters would claim we’re photographers, not marketers! How often should we be sharing our work? How often is too often; how often is too little?
Those who say this maybe should look at how successful they are in getting their work seen. Do they get jobs (if that’s what they want), do they sell prints, do they exhibit their work, are their articles published in top publications?
I’m not saying this is a requirement, but I can only speak for myself, my aim is to have my work seen so I can live a life doing what I love …
That requires A LOT of work. I seriously work long hours but it’s my passion, plus I do have a strong marketing background.
There isn’t a rule on how much to post, again it’s common sense but keep the quality of your posts high, that’s the priority.
Some of our followers have nothing to do with street photography. What tips and advice do you have for building up a target audience that we can relate to, that share the same passions and interests as us?
I have myself a lot of weird followers, some porn actresses, some people whose political views I don’t agree with, etc …
Generally speaking you can’t decide or control who will be your followers. Also it sometimes is better if people outside your usual niche enjoy and share your work, that allows you to reach a larger audience and not stay in that same bubble every day.
But, as I’m sure most do, if you like the work of a certain community and engage with them it should pay-off by reflecting in your followers being from that exact community.
Many of us have a website where we like to exhibit our best work. How can we use social media to guide our friends to the website without pestering them?
I would say the best way is to ensure the content on the website is curated to the highest level. Always remember the saying that your work is only as good as your worst photo. So be sure to always ask yourself “Is this photo really good enough for my website or does it risk bringing down the overall quality of my work?”.
You have to be harsh on yourself a little to get better.
I also have a blog on my website so people who think know all my work can always read about my reasoning and approach to photography.
Elsewhere, you’ve summarised your approach to social media by saying ‘be nice’! Is this the key to social media?
Of course and I stick to it. Same goes for in real life.
I’m a straight talker, it saves time but ruffles some feathers but I’m also a very kind and caring person.
There are so many negative people out there using social media or any excuse to complain. Just get on with it, work hard and be a good person.
Even if often I am tempted to rant online, I’m also professional and if I want to attract clients who will see my feed, I can’t be seen as someone difficult to work with.
I call it social media karma. Be good and good things will come to you.
Thank you, Nico!
Remember what we told you about Nico in the opening of the article?
Social media isn’t about you. It isn’t about your channel. It isn’t even about your photography…
It’s about engaging with people, forming lasting relationships and building a meaningful photographic community.
Indeed, much like Nico himself, social media is simply about being nice.
Nico’s work can be seen at: https://www.nicholasgooddenphotography.co.uk/
You can also follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NicholasGoodden
Alternatively, you can view his films at: https://www.youtube.com/c/greatthingstodobynicholasgoodden