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Social media and photography: How it's changed the way we snap

Emily Stewart | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 29th, 2016

Photography is a favourite pastime that has changed over generations. We've gone from disposable cameras, to digital point and shoots, to social media apps like Instagram. However, some people decide to turn their photography passion into a career.

Social media has changed the way most of us take pictures and the photography industry entirely.

Shannon Constantine has switched from portrait and band photography to wedding and engagement within the past three years. She said the changes are constant.

“It seems like there is always a new social site to join, and the basic ones like Facebook [are] always updating and changing,” she said.

Heather MacEachern-Tarasick, owner of HRM Photography, has specialized in wedding photography, along with family, kids and newborn portraits since 2003.

“Society as a whole has always been pretty obsessed with images, but with social media it's just gotten even more so,” she said.

MacEachern-Tarasick added social media lets anyone become their own “mini celebrity” along with pressure to maintain a certain image, whether on Facebook or LinkedIn.

“Because images are so important to people now, photography really comes into play as a business,” she explained.

Fanshawe College professor Irania Navarro works as a graphic designer, but teaches photography students. She said there's more interest in photography based on pictures she's seen on Instagram, that include a watermark from the photographer.

“It makes you much more aware of what type of photography is being placed, and whether you decide as a client or as a person whether you want to use that or not,” she explained.

“It definitely has showcased their creativity a lot more than print or web, so it's more out there, they can tweet it and bring more focus to it.”

Graduating Media, Theory and Production and TV Broadcasting student at Western University and Fanshawe College, Nicole De Khors does fashion and events photography, but is best known for her bar photography with CDN Entertainment and the Ceeps. She said social media is the reason why she worked as a bar photographer.

“I bought my camera for school and I see all these photos online of the bars, and my friends at the bar and I thought ‘oh, that looks interesting, that would be a great way to make use of the equipment as much as I can'.”

Timing is everything

De Khors said bar photography has taught her to work quickly and share her results as soon as possible.

“When I shoot an album, my boss expects that up the next day because there's so much going on at a fast pace. No one cares about photos from last week.”

MacEachern-Tarasick also said, “People very much want an instant product now. They want things very, very quickly.”

Navarro said that the photography industry is more competitive than ever, thanks to social media. She said that writing blog posts can help develop a connection between photographers and their clients.

“What I tell them is try to talk about your recent photoshoot,” she said. “How you went through the process of taking this photo and so forth. Being a lot more personable with other people I think really attracts potential clients, because it's your reputation. If you keep them up to date with what you are doing, then you definitely keep them interested in what you're doing.”

Social media and self-promotion

Part of operating a small, independent business is doing your own advertising and promotion. Navarro teaches a presentation and portfolio development class. Students learn how to create an advertisement to promote themselves on Facebook, how to target a specific market and different self-marketing strategies.

“The majority of us are already connected to social media in some aspect, but more so in our personal lives,” she explained.

MacEachern-Tarasick said she's able to reach more people on social media.

“In the past, I could just put up an ad in the Yellow Pages or the directory, whereas now I've got to be constantly updating my Facebook, my Twitter, my Google +,” she explained, adding staying relevant to potential clients is key.

“They're being bombarded so frequently by so many different businesses and competitors that if you don't stay fresh and relevant, you're old news.”

MacEachern-Tarasick said she recently hired a social media manager for HRM photography because she has a hard time constantly updating her online profile.

She said that there are different techniques to promote your business, depending on the social media platform you are using. However, having a hashtag for newlyweds during the wedding ceremony is common.

She has Wi-Fi on her camera, and will post a picture with a small edit on Instagram with the appropriate hashtag, if her clients have one for their big day. Then she posts on Facebook, before writing a blog post and sharing it on other social networks.

What are the best social media apps for photographers?

All photographers interviewed felt Facebook and Instagram are the best for those who want to show off their pictures. Navarro also encourages her students to promote themselves on Groupon, and added that Pinterest and Google+ are useful for Google Analytics.

De Khors said Instagram is also good for connecting photographers to models, stylists, celebrities and other photographers. She added the VSCO film group has a free iPhone app with “light room pre-sets” for quick edits, and that she uses Flickr for storing pictures when she doesn't have enough room on her hard drive.

However, she said that having real life connections is also important, so people can make your social media following grow.

MacEachern-Tarasick said that many clients use LinkedIn, but that she doesn't have one because she is self-employed. While she's on Twitter and Google+, she doesn't use them as much. However, she acknowledged Google+ is necessary if you want to be found on Google instantly.

She added that when it comes to knowing your audience, it's about quality versus quantity.

“I'd rather have 100 fans who comment and like every picture, than a thousand fans who don't really care. I think a lot of people get caught up in the numbers with social media, but it's not about the numbers. It's more about the quality and the engagement of the people.”

De Khors said that while social media has made people more aware of photography and its techniques, it has also given the impression that anyone can do it.

“I like to tell people anyone can take a photograph, but not everyone can take a good photograph.”
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