Is Private Photo Sharing the Next Big Trend in Photography?

Gerard Murphy - January 08, 2014 | Lightroom, Online Photo Backup, Photographers, Photography Business, Social Media, Software Development

Is Private Photo Sharing the Next Big Trend in Photography?

(Hint: in my interview with @photojack, Jack Hollingsworth talks about the trend toward filtering work)

By Cindy A Stephens

People now share over 500 million photos each day worldwide, according to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2013 report.  It’s a staggeringly high number.  There’s no question that mobile technology has contributed to this phenomena by making it amazingly simple and immediate for people to share photos taken with their Smartphones (see: How mobile technology is changing photography).

In fact, the coming together from a mobile device of shooting, processing and sharing is what Jack Hollingsworth attributes iPhoneography’s popularity to.  So it may surprise you to learn that Jack believes there will be a trend toward filtering content [i.e., a photo], not creating it.  “We have too much already,” Jack says.  “Instagram Direct is something to keep your eye on,” he adds.

In the past month while most of us have been busy with holiday plans, Instagram and Twitter have rolled out new direct messaging features for photo sharing: Instagram Direct and Twitter direct messages.  This functionality will allow you to share your images one-on-one in a more targeted way versus “one-to-many”.  As a marketer I can say unequivocally that being able to control who you share content with is very powerful. Imagine if you could selectively send new work only to your best corporate clients that you think would be interested in it!

Equally powerful is selecting what social media channels you use for sharing.  “I think that a lot of big players, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, will develop filtering mechanisms to manage social sharing as part of your work,” Jack believes.

It appears that the answer to the question I asked up-front is probably YES: one of the photography trends to watch is a move toward more targeted, relevant photo sharing.

Managing your photo sharing and social media channels

Social media and photo sharing seem to be inextricably linked.  One helps facilitate the other.  According to Jack, it is better to “master one or two social channels versus to be mediocre in many.”  “The social media map will be different for each photographer.  Think in terms of a primary one, a secondary one and a tertiary one.”

For Jack, Twitter and Instagram are his primary social media channels.  He’ll spend one hour per day in those.  Jack will spend one hour per week in secondary channels such as Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest.  Lastly he’ll be on Flickr or Behance on an as-needed basis.

It seems to me that the $64,000 question, as it were, about managing social channels and photo sharing is how to balance our commercial interests as photographers with our social interests.  It’s very easy to spend hours tweeting and posting photos. It’s harder to identify and focus on the right combination of activities to create our artistic presence and sell work!

“Sadly, photographers spend too much time in the social environment without monetizing their interests,” Jack says.  “It’s a big problem.”  The constant need to go to LinkedIn or Twitter can discourage he adds.

Jack shared with me that when he participates in any social media platform his primary goal is, and always will be, how to turn followers and friends into customers and advocates for his business.  Obviously that is easier said than done.

His approach for 2014 is to focus on owned media – a marketing term for a channel that you own (see Your content strategy: defining paid, earned and owned media).  His advice for photographers is to “Own your blog – it is the central focus that every photographer should be doing”, he says.  (See more blogging tips in Building your online presence)

Tips to make your blog stand out  

  • Think of your photos and yourself as a brand.  “It is the brand called you.”  Jack tells me that many people share unconnected, unrelated images.  He advocates that everything photographers share is part of their brand and should be used to build a cohesive narrative about themselves.
   
  • Reduce the shoot-to-share ratio.  Jack’s advice is to showcase a lot less than what you shoot.  (Notice the theme here?  Filtering content is the key).  “We’re at a stage where you don’t have to convince people to share you have to convince them to filter their work and not share.  Reduce the noise and clutter.  Shoot a lot but share very selectively, and only share what supports your brand, mission and passion.”
   
  • Have a conversation not a presentation.  “Most people push their work out there to Instagram, Flickr or Facebook.  If you want to engage an audience in your brand then that presentation has to become a conversation, a dialogue.”  To do that he says you have to ask questions, answer questions, etc.  Unquestionably, Jack believes that mobile helps create a conversation with your customers and followers.  “It is the perfect medium for a hybrid cross-content universal conversation.  There are millions of listeners to your conversation in the mobile space.  The audience is bigger, and broader and more global.”
 

Other photography trends to watch in 2014

Obviously coming out of my discussion with Jack, filtering what you share, who you share it with and over what social media channels is the number one trend to watch for both mobile and dSLR photographers alike.  Below are two others. (You might also want to read about a trend in architectural photo pricing that photographer Scott Indermaur told me about a few months ago.)  

  • The rise of discriminating mobile photographers who are “less bling and more bang” who use small adjustments versus filters to tell their stories.  Leading the pack are communities such as CameraPlus.
   
  • Further growth in hybrid content, stills, video, sound, and illustration.  Thinking in terms of narratives and stories instead of individual images.  Jack believes the photographer of the future will go between shooting stills and video as fluently as a traditional photographer operates a Nikon or a Cannon.
 

I’ll take it one step farther.  The very definition of a photograph and photographer may be changing, made possible by the enormous changes in digital, mobile and other technology.

Whether you find these photography trends scary or liberating they nevertheless have an unstoppable momentum and will impact your photography business.  In my opinion it is best to stay on top of them and make up your own mind on where you stand than to try and ignore them.  Innovators like Mosaic can help us all by providing a platform for discussing these trends.

Trademarks or registered trademarks mentioned in this post are the property of their respective owners.    

Jack Hollingsworth is easily one of our industry’s most well-known names in World Lifestyle, Travel, Portrait and Stock Photography. With production networks and contacts in every corner of the world – from Beijing to Bombay to Mexico City – Hollingsworth is one of the few American shooters set up to meet the growing demand for World Photography.  Known as @photojack on Twitter, he has over 30,000 followers and that number grows daily. WeFollow.com has Jack listed as the 11th most influential photographer on Twitter.

Cindy A Stephens is a marketing professional and fine art photographer.  She has more than 20 years of hands-on experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, and now teaches creative professionals how to create artistic presence in a changing art world.  Her series on Boston Photography Focus, Marketing Conversations for Photographers, presents constructive concepts and tips on how to improve success and visibility as a photographer working in the world of art, commerce, or both.  Regular guest contributions for Mosaic offer suggestions on building influence using mobile photography.