By Lara Salomon
Winning the Internet as a photographer is no easy feat. It is, in fact, a feat that I am still struggling with on a day to day basis. But I like to think that in the 3 years since picking up my first DSLR camera, I have learned a few things and I would like to share them with you.
First of all, the best advice that I can give is to get your photography out there. I have a number of friends who love taking photos and take amazing pictures, and call themselves photographers (though they only do it as a hobby), and yet refuse to show people their pictures. I remember a conversation that I had with a friend of mine when he was going through some of my photos and comparing them to his.
“I’d love to see them,” I announced enthusiastically, and I really was enthusiastic. You can talk as much as you like about a picture, but there is nothing quite like seeing it. What you see from a photo is not what anyone else will see.
“Ummm… uh… sure.”
It never happened, and the fact that he considers himself a photographer in his spare time slips the mind of everyone around him, because they never end up seeing the end result.
In order to become a photographer, you need to get your photographs out there. And you need to be prepared for criticism, because not everyone is going to see your pictures in the same way that you do. Where I look at a photograph of a beautiful sunset that I captured, someone else may look at it and say that it is over saturated or that there is too much empty space or that the horizon and sky are not proportional. It could be my intention, but it could be something that I had just never thought about. Constructive criticism will help you grow as a photographer. With each “mistake” you will learn how to create photographs that you are happy with, that will be received well and that will last the test of time.
One of the best ways to get your photographs out there is through social networking, through blogging and, in an effort to combine all of them, through a website.
Publish your photographs on the social networking platform of your choice, whether it is Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or anything else. Bring it to people’s attention. Write blog posts about your photography shoots and link those posts on every social media account that you have! Make yourself a Facebook page and get your friends and family to like it in the same way that everyone else gets you to like their kickboxing/writing/general advertising pages, and make sure that you post your own work regularly to make sure that it is out there and being noticed.
Build yourself a website that revolves around your photography and one that suits your style. Build it through a site creator (like the one that Imaginet offers), build it through a Content Management System, hire a designer to build it or bribe a friend or significant other with chocolate and coffee, but get one built and make sure that it shows your photographs in the way that you want them to be shown. This will almost definitely involve putting forward a little cash, whether for the design itself or for the hosting to keep the website up and running, but a small website can be built with a site creator for as little as R9.00 per month, and if you really are serious about becoming a photographer, that is a small investment to make for a long-term, ever changing advertising platform.
In the digital world that we live in, printed portfolios are giving way to websites like 500px and other online portfolios that allow for great display with little effort. Don’t get me wrong. I still intend to print myself a portfolio one of these days, but there is no rush to it, and when I do it will be a leather bound tribute to the best I have to offer. But whether you want it to be digital or printed, put together a collection of your best work to show to potential customers.
And, the last piece of advice that I have to give is to keep learning. There are so many resources out there for you to learn with, and photography is an ever changing occupation. Whether it is your hobby, your profession or just something that you dabble in every now and then, read tutorials, look for constructive criticism, and shoot shoot shoot!
Never stop clicking that shutter.
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