Recently, clothing giant Nordstrom handpicked 12 popular shooters to showcase the upcoming fall line of accessories. The photographers were selected not for their portfolios, but instead for their rather large Instagram followings. Titled as "social influencers" by Nordstrom, the group of bloggers, marketers and editors certainly were capable of turning out eye-catching imagery but, uniquely for a commercial campaign, not a single one of them was an actual professional photographer. The group was given total creative freedom and a dedicated web portal showcasing the "Instalog" photography of goods, which then were shared with multiple audiences through other outlets like the Instagrammers’ own accounts.
Myth: There’s Only One Business Plan For Success
Many imaging experts might bemoan this as another case study in the demise of photography as a way to make a reliable living, but instead what they should be looking at are the myriad opportunities that have arisen from an industry experiencing growing pains. Social media is largely responsible for an age of constant distraction and intense competition, but that’s because these sites offer simple (and free) ways to keep audiences updated on your work while teasing new work or ongoing projects, as well as providing a venue for gaining new fans. The importance of engaging with social media is more than just the notion of selling celebrity, however.
Clients are now looking for talent on both the local and the national levels. Properly tagging your work and yourself as a representative of a locale or a specific area can bring in not only nearby clients, but also worldwide business from companies or editors looking to work in an area without having to incur the costs of shipping in a photographer and crew. Social media makes it simple for search engine optimization queries to find you. Not only are these websites trusted implicitly by search engines like Google, but they also help you to build trusted web traffic and links between social media and your own website so it will show up in searches far more often and with a better search ranking that can be based both on your physical location and the type of work you do.
Thanks to social media, there has also been a correlative paradigm shift in the way in which we do business, as well. These services have given photographers and filmmakers total creative control, and with that comes a lot of the tasks and responsibilities that were once afforded to publishers and editors. Historically, income was generated from front-end sales through publication and editorial bookings while secondhand profits were then culled through prints or stock and publication sales. Now social media is a direct way to unlock print sales with your audience while also drumming up further sales and commissions from editors and clients seeing the new work. While you’ll definitely have to put in the work to engage your audience and to track sales, analytics and promotions, social media is even better than traditional publication because there are also secondhand benefits that come from having a built-in audience, like crowdsourcing of funds for new projects where fans can provide assistance, location scouting and even help with travel accommodations.