Original Post By Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder writer
Though a picture of your Caesar salad with a filter added may not be art to everybody, photo-editing on smartphones and social media websites has led to an explosion of interest in photography and sharing pictures. But if your job is to professionally photograph people, places and events, are you left to compete with every smartphone-wielding amateur out there?
Not necessarily. We spoke to a number of professional photographers to gauge how social media and smartphones have affected their work. “As a photographer, you have to adapt to technology as it comes,” says Richard Storm, a photographer in New York. “We basically push a button for a living, so why not apply that to social media, social sites, apps and anything else over the horizon? I use social media and Instagram on a daily basis to promote my work and even find people I would like to work with.”
Check out what industry experts had to say about working as a photographer in the age of social media, and how amateur photographers can get in the game.
Q: How have social media sites such as Instagram changed working as a photographer?
Mandy Fierens, wedding photographer: Social media sites have been absolutely amazing for my business! I try to take one Instagram image for each wedding I shoot. Not only do my clients love the shout-out but it helps me get more clients by tagging the location I was at, which can bring them to my website to see the blog post on that location.
Nico Marques, architectural photographer: Social media platforms like Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest have been criticized by some in the industry for “cheapening” the profession. I don’t see it that way at all. I believe these outlets to be another set of tools in the hands of the professional that should be embraced to the fullest, as they are a sign of our times and an absolutely amazing outlet for our photographs.
Jenna Bechtholt, wedding and lifestyle photographer: Instagram is a great tool, not only for photographers, but for the public to experiment with photography. This social media platform has allowed essentially anyone to become a photographer in their daily lives. With multiple filters, blurring effects and a great way to share images, Instagram has really opened up the world of creative, amateur photography. As a professional photographer, I love that people are taking the time to capture moments in their lives, but this platform has also allowed people to often undervalue real pro photographers because they now think they have a real understanding of what it means to be a photographer.
Q: How can social media and smartphones help your career as a photographer?
Bechtholt: Social media is completely necessary in the photography industry in order to market a business and attract new clients. Although word of mouth is a priceless way of gaining new business, social media allows a photographer to share their work, maybe include a little bit of their personality with select text and grow a following. Sites like Pinterest and Facebook are such visual sites; a photographer can really share who they are and what their work looks like and allow the world to view it as well. With only a website you aren’t guaranteed anyone will stop by, but with certain social media sites if people see something they like, they want to know where it is coming from and will follow the image back to the home website.
Marques: I am reachable and can communicate with clients or anyone else whenever I am in the field. I can send updates, I can find places, I have a sun angle calculator app for my shoots, I can shoot quick scouts and find the best restaurant for lunch, and I can even receive a deposit via credit card on-site if the client prefers this over a check.
Q: What advice do you have for those interested in becoming professional photographers?
Dan Cumberland, professional photographer: Follow your passion. Being a professional photographer is difficult today. The entry level is lower than ever (everyone has a camera and considers themselves a photographer) and the competition is higher. Though it may feel like an easy field to jump into, it’s a difficult field to stay in long term. You have to be passionate about it. You have to be willing to work hard and be a business woman/man. If photography is your passion and you’re willing to work for it and stick with it when it’s rough, then go for it. If not, then do something else.
A couple helpful steps along the way: Be helpful to everyone you can. Take lots and lots and lots of photos. Process and edit lots and lots and lots of photos. Meet everyone you can in-person (social media is great, but face-to-face relationships and connections can help you build a network of referrals). Set a routine and schedule for yourself (treat it like a job if you want it to be a job). Always continue to learn and stretch yourself