Thoughts on social media and photography businesses

As I mentioned in my comments on podcasting, I think that video can be a useful tool in photography businesses that are selling training either as the primary product or as a product to attract potential customers for other products such as photography services.

Having said that, if the photography business does not include training, how might video be used to attract customers to buy a photographer’s services or product?    One method that might be used by a wildlife or travel photographer might be to shoot and narrate a video of the place she is taking photos and create a video that shows the area and then a number of the best shots taken there.  The video and the narrative might attract potential customers, and if it catches their interest, convert them into actual customers for the still photos.

A travel photographer might also collaborate with a tour operator or a tourism board to promote a travel destination and her photographs at the same time.  It would have to be done very carefully, so that both parties received equal promotion, but that could be a reasonable business opportunity.

As I think about the different social media tools in relation to a photography business, I keep coming back to the question of audience.  Different types of photography businesses will have different audiences that have specific needs.  It seems that many of the photography businesses that are using social media are offering several kinds of products: training, photography tours and actual photography services.  The type of social media that is the most suitable may be different for each product line, so that it is necessary to use several forms of social media and find ways to link them together.

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What a variety of videos!

I have been going through a list of other people’s videos, and I am really impressed by the variety and the quality of them.  Each one is so different, from the animated discussion of Christmas, to the tricks of Jackson the Dog and the runner’s rant, to the serious and beautiful essays on grief and adopting a child from an impoverished country.  I struggled just to get a simple slide show-type video up, I can’t imagine the time that must have gone into the productions of some of my classmates.

What is even more fascinating for me in watching these different videos is the opportunity to find out about each other in a way we might not in another kind of course.  Through these videos, I’ve had the opportunity to see how different people have been able to creatively express what is important to them, whether it is by combining schoolwork with giving time to one’s children, or offering expertise on ways of dealing with stress and grieving, or talking about a defining life experience.

I have also appreciated the humour that has come out not only in these videos, but in the earlier podcasts.  All of this watching and listening is time-consuming, but it does have its rewards!

Youtube – how painful can it be?

I have to say that once the video was finished, getting it onto Youtube was pretty straightforward.  It was getting the thing made that caused blood pressure issues.  I was able to download Camtasia but found that with the exception of the “Getting Started” video, I could not access any of the video tutorials.  I got a big white screen and no content.  So I turned to the print instructions, which were, I’m afraid, somewhat less than helpful.   It turned into a long, repetitive cycle of trying, deleting, trying again, deleting, trying another way, saving that one just in case it didn’t get any better.  Oh dear!

Well, it’s done now.  In keeping with my photography theme for the course, I have gathered photos from different years of our annual family cat calendar and created a video list of lessons we can learn from cats.   In case you are wondering, not all of the cats in the video live in my house.  There are three cat households in the family with a combined total of 12 cats at this time.  An additional bittersweet aspect to this video for me is that some of the photos are a little old, and so some of the faces you will see belong to friends who have moved on to life number 10.

I hope you enjoy it.  Find my video at http://youtu.be/PzqbcvCqQFg

 

Good grooming is an asset

Youtube Videos on Photography

Here are three Youtube video photography tutorials that I think are very well-done.  For the purpose of providing instruction, I think all of these are effective because of the presentation skills of the individuals as well as the production quality.  The length of the videos varies from under five to over 13 minutes.  As long as the quality is good, I do not find the length to be an issue.

All of these presenters seem to be using social media to promote their businesses in training photographers rather than as a way to sell their photographs or services as photographers.  It may be that the training business is more lucrative than the photography business itself.

Tony Northrup – Stunning Digital Photography

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCWxn2nSIOs&list=PLBE338967F8DB7F2A&index=12&feature=plpp_video

This is one exampleof his traiing videos, he has several out there.  The best thing about his videos is that they are brief, addressing just one topic and his delivery is relaxed, well-paced and clear.  He uses this as a way of attracting potential customers and giving them a sample of the kind of information that is in his book.  Obviously, the hope is that based on this sample of his instruction, potential customers will become actual customers by purchasing the book.  You will see that he uses the last seconds of his video to promote his Facebook page, encourage people to subscribe to get more video tutorials and to say where his book is sold.

Karl Taylor

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkqeGV6r_gY

Again, this is just one of Karl Taylor’s Youtube video tutorials.  The production quality is very good, so good that it is more like a television show than a Youtube video.  He is interesting because he goes on location and shows how he sets up his shots and some of the results. The name of his website karltaylorphotography.com shows on the screen frequently, so he is using these tutorials to try to drive potential customers to his business.

Gavin Hoey

http://www.youtube.com/user/PhotoGavin

Gavin Hoey’s videos are produced by Adorama TV.  The link will take you to Hoey’s actual website, but I found the video on Youtube first. The videos are part of a series called “Take and Make Great Photography”.  The interesting thing about this particular video is that he not only takes you through getting the shot, he also goes through the production phase in Photoshop, so you see how he does his whole process.  For himself, Hoey uses these videos to attract customers and invite them to follow his other social media sites:  his blog, http://www.gavtrain.com, his Twitter, @gavin_hoey and his Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gavtrain.  He also promotes the producer of his videos, Adorama and its learning site at one point in the video.  The video concludes with an advertisement for Adorama.

Podcasting for me

I think that for a photographer, there might be two ways to use podcasting to attract business.  The first is the one that is demonstrated by the “Killer Lightroom Tips” podcasts and ones like it.  This kind of instructional podcast helps to build name recognition and credibility by helping people to learn something about the discipline of photography.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, this kind of service, whether delivered through a blog, podcast, Youtube video or online article litters the Internet.  The challenge is the quality.  The content has to be significant enough to be interesting and delivered clearly both by the speaker and if using a visual component, visually to be understandable.  I am sure that some of the people behind instructional sites I have visited and promptly exited knew their topic, but they failed to communicate it well, and I was gone!

The other possibility comes to mind in connection with one of the websites I mentioned in an earlier blog, where the photographer displayed photos from a certain country he had visited with a written narrative.  This could easily be done as a podcast, telling stories about how a given shot was achieved and the difficulties/entertaining experiences along the way.  Of course, this would be applicable primarily to photography that involves travel, but it needn’t be exotic travel.  After all, the Rocky Mountains are considered to be exotic by people in many other parts of the world.  As with the instructional podcasts, the key would be in the quality.  If the photos are good and the stories well told, a following of potential customers could be built up and in time, some of them transformed into actual customers.

Thoughts on Creating and Publishing Podcasts

As always, the first challenge with creating the podcast was coming up with something to say.  Once that was done, the 600 or so words came fairly quickly.  I have the sense that a podcast should be somewhat informal in delivery, but the need to stick to (or in my first case, reach) a certain length of time, made that impossible for me.  I had to have a script and I had to test my script at least a couple of times to make sure I was running on time.

 

One of the problems with reading a script for me is that all of those speech lessons kick in and I can hear myself enunciating the heck out of those consonants.  Not that enunciation is a bad thing, but I know that it can make the delivery sound far less relaxed.  I expect that it would become easier to go off script with practice and with a clear idea of the audience and the product I wanted to deliver to it.

 

I appreciate that there are other tools available to create podcast.  I think that I would be very inclined to use a device such as a digital recorder to make the podcast first and then upload the file once I was happy with it.  If the podcast were going to involve the voices of more than one person, I think that would be essential.

 

I notice that some of my colleagues have included music in their podcasts which can be very effective as well.  Probably this is best done by recording offline and then uploading the finished product.

 

One issue I ran into is the difference in sound level for my recordings.  I recorded using a headset and could see the sound bar going up and down as I spoke, and heard the playback very clearly through my headphones.  When it played back through the computer’s internal speakers, though, I could barely hear it.  I tried re-recording the first podcast a few times, before deciding that it might be my equipment.  I hope it is audible to you.

Both podcast are up!

I’m not sure whether it was enough to post to Twitter, or whether I need to put the information here.

Learning to see as a photographer  podOmatic.com/r/Pf24L

It’s been said that learning to take photographs is really about learning to see. That makes sense to me in a number of ways.  Learning to see how the light changes the way something looks, learning to see what the camera lens will see, learning to see lines and proportions, patterns and space but most of all, learning to see creatively.

Canadian Photographers     podOmatic.com/r/sOvzx

I have spent a lot of time studying photography, but it occurred to me yesterday that I really don’t know much about major photographers in Canada.  So I decided to do some research.  No doubt there have been and are many, many excellent photographers in Canada, but there are a few names that keep coming up. In this podcast, I will talk about three:  Yousuf Karsh, Edward Burtynsky, and George Hunter.

I find the sound loud and clear in my headset, but pretty faint from my computer speakers.  Let me know if you find the same thing.