Photography and Facebook

November 08, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

As with many other art forms, photography involves a learning process that doesn't end. If you think that you know all there is to know, it's probably time to quit. After the technical basics, there is a never ending list of lessons to be learned. Some use books and others take classes, while I prefer field experience (though each has its place).

Facebook seems like an obvious choice for a photographer wishing to reach a wide audience. It's free to use, and is a form of social media that is based around image sharing. It sounds perfect, but is it?

The typical image display size on a Facebook feed is quite small. Image quality comes a poor second to bright colors. It's very difficult to be able to appreciate the fine detail or composition of a well-planned shot when the image is perhaps 3" long. This is great for the hobbyist with an iPhone, but the professional is only able to show a few of the qualities of an image, much like a racehorse in a training ring.

Perhaps Facebook is not the best place to reach potential buyers of quality images. That's hard to believe, simply because of the number of users. Those buyers are out there, but they are becoming harder to reach. On a good day I can probably reach half of my page fans, and maybe 20% of those will actually click the 'like' button. Facebook offers me the opportunity to pay them in order to boost my chances of reaching my own fans, but I'm not wealthy enough to pay $20+ for every post I make.

I have to rely on fans to reach other fans. For each like and share I get, the more likely it is that I'll reach other fans. That's just the way that Facebook is run. I would never ask fans to 'like' a post that they don't actually like, but that one little click from impressed fans is quite powerful, especially when multiplied by 200 or more. Without those likes, I have no idea if a post worked, and no reason to believe a similar one will work in the future.

Perhaps there are better photographers out there. Undoubtedly there are. I'm better than I was last year, but not as good as I will be next year. That's not to say that being a good photographer is all about age, but there is always room for improvement. Over time, each photographer should develop his or her own style. That style will appeal to certain people in a way that no other photographer's work will. An artist should never try to be someone else.

On the flip side, anyone with a smartphone and internet access can call themselves a photographer these days. That's only a source of frustration in that news feeds everywhere are cluttered to the point where it becomes increasingly difficult to grab a reader's attention. It's the equivalent of being a market trader on a crowded city street. Your stand may have shots that would make Ansel Adams envious, but if you don't reach potential buyers you'll never make that sale.

Since Facebook is free to use, maybe there is an expectation of something for nothing from readers. A Facebook page is a marketing effort. I'm trying to reach potential buyers. I recognize that a small percentage are actually interested in buying any work that I produce, and that many others either can't afford my work (although it is intended to be affordable) or genuinely have no space or use for it. That's fine, but if I can't reach enough buyers to justify the hours spent on Facebook each week then I should review the way I spend my office time. I don't want to be rich; I would still be in a city office somewhere if I did. However, I do need to make enough to live on and keep my camera gear up to date.

Unfortunately, this culminates in a simple business decision. Is Facebook worth my time? The only metrics I have to analyze are sales and likes. If I have enough of one, I can get the other. If not, then I need to invest my time elsewhere.

 

 

 


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