This is going to sound like a bit of a rant but I really don’t get the logic behind the modern rule that tourists must all take photos of themselves standing in front of tourist locations. Now when I stand on a cliff, or in front of monument, I like to shoot just that. I don’t need a mugshot of myself to prove that I was there. In fact in some locations I prefer to avoid having people in the shot if I can avoid it.
It started a number of years ago with the Japanese and we laughed when we saw them do it. But now it seems to have spread to all nationalities.
I am sure the rise of Facebook and the desire to get profile images is partly to blame.
There appear to be two very different groups.
There are those will cellphones who are not quite so disruptive, as they tend to hold the phone at arm’s length so they don’t take up much space.
It is those with proper cameras that are most annoying when they position someone on one side of a path and then stand on the other and completely block it. On our recent trip to Australia we even had people arranging whole families with complete disregard to the chaos it was causing around them.
So my plea is simple. Think of others while on holiday.
At the same time as running Ministry of Swimming my client also has created a second website called “Swimmall” where he is selling both his brand and other brands. As some of his suppliers already supply him with images the shots taken for this site had to fit with a strict standard. Basically each suit had to be shot on a white background with the model in facing in such a way that you saw the front, side and back of the suits. I joked with the models that these were essentially mannequin shots for them as you could easily replace a model with a mannequin and get the same result.
The shoot did not present any real challenges however after I had shot my first model I realised that a little forward thinking would have saved me a lot of processing time. You see Emma was shot in my usual style of hand holding the camera and I was also adjusting the focal length to get what I considered the best shot. This was a big mistake because it meant that I had three images shot from slightly different angles and sizes that I then had to compensate for in post. Not difficult but all adding extra time.
For the rest of the models I shot with the camera mounted on a tripod and left the focal length alone. This meant that no images needed any tweaking in this regard.
As it had been over a year since I did the original shoot for the Ministry of Swimming website I contacted the owner to see if he needed any new images. This was indeed the case and this time they were all swimsuits.
I ran a casting call and selected fours models to assist as the suits ranged in size with a number being only prototypes rather than the full size. One model failed to show so my daughter ended up stepping in at the last minute.
The client wanted the same urban style theme as we had come up for the original which was a little challenging when there were 23 different suits and unlike the goggles they did not have names, so there was nothing to guide me on. Still we managed to do it and over a week we shot all four girls in the studio as well as finding new graffiti art to composite in.
The images were delivered tonight and the client was very happy with them which is the result that I was after. Next year we are going to get some male models to complement to series.
There is little doubt that Social Media is a valuable tool in any business marketing arsenal. Unfortunately the message that it is part of a suite of delivery methods seems to be lost on some people. I am amazed at the number of photographers who set themselves up in business using nothing more than a camera and a Facebook page and then wonder why they struggle to attract the clients they want. Maybe the answers lies in my comments below, which I will admit have very little scientific research behind them, but are my own opinions, and I may offend some people with them.
- Not all your clients use it.
I know that this will come as a shock to young people who seem to be glued to social media in all forms, but not everyone uses Facebook. In fact with scares over privacy there is quite a portion of the population who take delight in being the ones that don’t have an account. While you can look at a Facebook page without an account they don’t make easy for you.
- Your clients may not be able to use it
Now if you are shooting newborns and your market is new mums then this may not be an issue (because the odds are they will use the home computer). But if you are shooting weddings, portraits, models or commercial work then you may run into the issue that many businesses, having realised how much time is wasted on Facebook, have set up their systems to not allow people to view it from their work computers. And let’s face it lots of stuff that occurs outside of work hours is actually organised in it.
- It looks cheap & nasty
I may be old fashion but I do equate quality with what I am expected to pay for something and when I see someone using something free yet expecting people to pay then I see an instant mismatch.To me it says that you are too cheap or lazy to bother designing something better or getting someone else to do it for you. It does not show me that you have any creative thoughts in anything other than the images taken. It says nothing about your style other than you like to get things for free.
You have no control over it
Let be clear about this. As you have not paid to be on Facebook the page is owned by them and they set the rules. If you breach one you can end up being banned or you can have your page completely taken down. Sometimes it is easy to break their rules, because you think that you are doing something that everyone else is doing (like asking for the most “likes” on an image).
The design of a Facebook page suits Facebook and not you. If you apply a rule to the newsfeed page the actual content is actually led than 50% of the width of the page. The timeline page is marginally better. The compression routines on images quite often cause distortions.In the two years that I have been on Facebook they have changed the look of the site at least 3 times as well as the way that items are fed to the page. In recent months Facebook changed the routine that determined what people saw in their newsfeeds and sites saw their reach drop to around 15% of what they were previously achieving.
Other people can wreck your efforts very quickly
Finally this is a really important one. When you have your own website you can pretty much control the fact that other people (apart from hackers) can have an influence on it. Facebook pages on the other hand are easily sabotaged. This can be done a number of ways.
- Someone reporting the pages or an image and you getting banned or the image removed
- People posting malicious comments on your posts
I know two photographers who had this happen to them in the last 12 months.
So should you abandon Facebook?
Absolutely not! Just use it for what it was designed for and that was posting quick status updates that keep your name out there but link it back to a website when you really want to show what you can do, who you are, and what you have achieved.