Friday Happy Hour: National Geographic Interviews Their Photographers & Asks What Drives Their Passion
As we transition into fall here on the U.S. East…
Confession. We love Twitter. That’s why we use it everyday to chat with photographers and stay up-to-date with industry news. For many photographers looking to expand their network, Twitter has been the key to breaking into their marketplace, connecting with photography fans and potential clients, meeting experts in their field of interest, and staying on top of headlines. And, with the addition of Twitter cards, the platform has become more visual — yet another reason to amp up your presence.
So with the launch of our latest guide in partnership with ASMP, The Photographer’s Guide to Twitter, we decided to put together a handful of photographers we love following. This is a short list — and by no means comprehensive — but if you are on Twitter, we recommend that you follow these folks who are all using the platform in creative and engaging ways to build awareness for their work. Let’s go through them.
To increase awareness about her fine art photography, Brooke Shaden takes to Twitter to connect with fans and share news on her upcoming events. Her own secret to engagement? Her tweets are sincere, wholehearted, and borderline poetic. She also has no qualms about sharing her feelings, which her followers take to. “I have a philosophy that if I put what I do out there with passion, someone else will feel that passion, too,” she said.
“You need to be sincere and put your best foot forward. Understand your unique voice, because everyone has one, and present it. Whether you have one follower or one million, the best thing to do is to train yourself to be grateful for each individual supporter and never let your ego interfere.”
Award-winning editorial and commercial photographer Zack Arias is a Twitter wizard. With over 85,000 followers, he’s so darn good at it that he speaks at photo events to share his social media strategy, offering up great tips for photographers to grow an audience.
What’s Zack’s secret sauce? For him, it’s simple: talk less about yourself and engage more. And if you scroll through Zack’s Twitter feed, you see he walks the walk. It’s filled with one-on-one conversations with photographers, fans, and industry leaders. As he said, “Remember that Twitter is a social media platform. Social media is—you sit down, you interact, you talk to people, you find out their name, you get to share your story—it’s a way to have a real conversation.”
Based in Los Angeles, Eric Kim is an international street photographer who turns to Twitter to share inspiration, connect with photo enthusiasts, plus spread the word about his photography and blog posts.
If you read through Eric’s feed, you see he’s perfected a great balance between the content he shares – including interacting with photographers and fans (even a short ‘Thanks!’ or ‘I agree!’), responding to questions, asking questions, sharing news and headlines from others, plus marketing his own work and content.
Eric’s blog posts, for example, are engaging and cover topics including gear reviews and lessons he’s learned from pros like David Alan Harvey, so sharing these links on Twitter is a great way to drive people back to his website to read each post in full. Eric also uses Twitter to link out to his other channels, including his website, Instagram feed, and Tumblr account, to help increase his online brand awareness.
Maryland-based wedding & lifestyle photographer Eunique Jones Gibson is the creator of Because of Them, We Can, a campaign which features images of children posing as historic and diverse icons. Eunique, who created the campaign to educate and connect a new generation of minorities to those who have paved the way, was recognized recently by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work.
Although a working photographer herself, Eunique specifically uses Twitter as a hub for all things related to this project, which helps grow a following of those who are passionate about the cause or interested in learning more.With momentum building for the movement, Eunique uses Twitter as a platform to share photos (the heart of the campaign), inspirational quotes from African American and women leaders, plus engage one-on-one with those tweeting their support.
Recently named one of PDN’s New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2014, Mosa’ab Elshamy is a 23-year-old freelance photojournalist based in Cairo who’s covered major stories in the region including the Egyptian revolution, the 2012 Gaza War, and violence in Rabaa.
Mosa’ab uses Twitter to share photos that shed light on developing news, plus link out to credible sources to help educate people about the constant turmoil occurring in the region. As a photojournalist often in the middle of tense and dangerous situations, he also uses Twitter to voice support for other photojournalists in a similar position – both those working on the ground and those killed in the past.
Award-winning adventure and travel photographer Lucas Gilman has over 9,000 followers on Twitter and does an excellent job giving his audience a sneak peek of the day-to-day life of a photographer on the road. Often sharing photos with insight into his day – including a view from the plane on a trip to San Francisco, surrounding palm trees during his lunch break in the Florida Keys, or driving a LandRover throughout Iceland, Lucas uses Twitter to take you with him on his journeys. He also loves to share inspirational quotes alongside his images, which prompts a great deal of engagement. This is a tactic that can be used to help any photographer grow their own following.
Photojournalist Melissa Lyttle is also a staff photographer at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. She actively uses Twitter to engage one-on-one with others in the industry, plus show her support for photographers by spreading news about their upcoming gallery openings or links to their online portfolios – and always sure to include the photographer’s Twitter handle. As a champion for the industry, she also uses Twitter to get the word out about various job openings and internships for photographers, which prompt retweets, replies, and favorites from her followers.
Twitter has also become a hub for Melissa to focus in on an important aspect of her brand: Florida. She likes to retweet TampaBay Times Photo, for example, as that source is directly linked to her own work, but also uses the platform to report on Florida happenings including baseball and football games, weather-worthy news, and more – all which help make her a credible source for things occurring in her area.
Nikon Ambassador, adventure photographer and filmmaker Corey Rich has mastered behind-the-scenes content sharing so much so that he’s created an entire blog series called “Story Behind the Image.” Corey turns to Twitter to share these blogs, which he does by posting the link alongside the hashtag #StoryBehindTheImage and a photo, which he uploads directly to Twitter. Using the same hashtag for each behind-the-scenes tweet also helps organize these posts so his followers could potentially interact with older content and visit his website.
As an adventure photographer and filmmaker, Corey’s photos come with a certain wow-factor, so sharing the story behind the image on Twitter helps reinforce his brand as an innovative storyteller.
Based in Wyoming, fine art photographer Jason B. Whitman is one of the most consistent Tweeters we’ve come across recently, tweeting frequently throughout each day. Tweeting consistency is a great strategy because your network is expecting to hear from you so if you deliver, there’s a good chance your followers will engage.
Arguably more so than any other platform, in order to be effective, Twitter requires volume. A single tweet of yours may be seen only for seconds by other users, so the more regularly you tweet, the better chances your posts will get noticed. (Remember, you don’t want to tweet too often, there’s a balance). So once you’ve set up a frequency strategy that works—meaning people are engaging with you—stick to it. Like Jason does, your tweets should include responses to tweets at you, retweets from others in the industry, inspirational articles you find or quotes you like, plus links to your own photos, blog posts or videos.
Want more tips to help rev up your Twitter skills and broaden your photography network? Be sure to download The Photographer’s Guide to Twitter.