I have had a camera in my hand as far back as I can remember. As a photographer, I am passionate about my images and enjoy creating a story from a photojournalistic perspective. I have a deep love of nature and the natural world and endeavor to portray that love through my images.
In our rapidly changing world, social media is playing a major role in every aspect of our lives, including photography. The digital world is upon us and there are certain things that are necessary to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
What is social media and why is it important to you as a photographer? Social media is a way of networking and interacting with people using technology. Our photographic world is changing so fast that it is important we climb aboard or be left behind. If we are to keep up with the fast pace of the world, it is vital that we, as photographers, learn to market our products in the technological global marketplace. As in all art forms, there is the business side to contend with. We, as photographers, love to shoot images, but what we do with them in the marketplace is important.
Until a few months ago, I had no idea what social media was or how it would impact my life. My photographic life changed drastically one day when two whales entered the Klamath River and stayed for nearly eight weeks. I went from total obscurity to world-wide attention in 34 days by utilizing social media.
This jump did not just happen. There was much behind the scenes planning that created the catapult from total obscurity to the massive attention my images received. Without social media this would not have been possible.
It all began with passion. I had a passion for the two whales, a mother and calf, and a desire to tell their story. I felt they were there for a higher purpose than any of us really knew, and I was mesmerized by them. I shot every day for hours on end, day in and day out, for nearly eight weeks.
When I saw that I had amassed literally thousands of images, I contacted Andee Allen of Turtle Cove Marketing. Together she and I put together a marketing plan which included, but was not limited to, a website, a blog, Facebook, Linked In, Flickr, and traditional media.
In short, the marketing plan included the following steps:
- Set up a blog
- Set up a Facebook business, Linked In account, and website
- Write a blog
- Post on other sites (Facebook, Linked In, Flickr, emails)
- Call local and national media and notify them of a possible story
- Follow and comment on other similar blogs
- Hand out flyers to potential followers
- Take more images and post
- Print and sell pre-order photos
- Upload images for media requests.
The key to success is each piece was a part of the whole, and each piece interacts with every other piece. One piece cannot be successful without the other as they work in conjunction with each other.
Before the whale saga became national news, I contacted major newspapers letting them know that there were two whales "stranded" in the river, and that it was becoming a big story, and I had images. Some media I called had heard of the story and some had not. But with each of them I contacted the editor and left my name, number, and website link. The local newspapers had been printing my images since the whales arrived – many were front page – with a credit and link to the website as they followed the whale story. At this point, major newspapers had not yet used my images, but they did see my images and web links from the local newspaper photos and my blog.
I started my blog at Ashala Tylor Images and created my website at Ashala Tylor. Blogging turned out to be quite an easy task and not as daunting as it initially appeared. I built up a following on my daily whale blog. Each day I posted images of the whales and wrote what they were doing in the river that particular day. Readers would ask questions and I would respond.
Other bloggers found me by searching Google and contacted me wanting images and interviews for their own blogs. Some images I gave away and many I sold, but always with the caveat that they had to credit me and/or my website. Outside Online did a blog using my images. Sierra Club called and wrote an online article using my images. The blogs and articles reached hundreds of thousands of their readers, many of whom became my blog readers.
Outside Online's blog was the #1 Google story the day it was uploaded. Along with the story, were my images and links to my website and blog. Because of this, one day alone there were 52,000 hits on my website. Ah, the power of social networking was becoming very apparent.
As a result of working with this marketing system, TV stations began to request my images for their nightly broadcasts. On their websites, the TV stations would post my images and, of course, a link to my website and blog, on their online galleries. I received emails from Europe requesting use of my images.
It really blossomed when Associated Press called to purchase images. The AP images appeared in major newspapers and magazines worldwide. At this point, my images had gone viral and appeared on thousands of sites worldwide. The most popular image was one image of the paddle boarder and the whale. There are more than 20 pages of links worldwide that came up for that particular image when it is Google searched.
Shortly thereafter, National Geographic called and wanted to use one of the paddle boarder images in their "Pictures We Love, Best of August" on-line issue. That one image made it to Sports Illustrated's "Picture of the Week," No. 1 on Yahoo! News Philippines, Forbes, and Huffington Post, just to name a few. Each time an image was used, credit was given to me as the photographer and a link back to my website.
Many of you may have read the front page article the SLO Tribune did on my work as a local photographer. There again, it was a phone call to the newspaper to let them know about a possible story for their newspaper. They printed the story and put my images on their on-line gallery. Again, the images linked back to my website. Newspapers and magazines are always looking for something to write about. This is a great opportunity to get your images out there.
The lesson to learn is to figure out where your images will fill a need for a story and make the contact. Get your social media in place and then you will not have to scramble because you will be prepared when the calls start coming in.
Social media plays a major role in our world as we know it now. Business relationships are forged on line and much of our communication is now done through a computer screen. Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. Using social media, you will be able to build a following from which to market your images. The bottom line is: how are people going to find you if you are not out there in the cyber world?
To learn more about social media and its use in your business, Andee Allen and Ashala Tylor will be giving an in-depth class on how to utilize social media in your photo business on April 1, 2011 at the Morro Photo Expo from 9-11:00 a.m. entitled "Go Viral – From Unknown to National Geographic in 34 Days."