Photographer, Steve Wewerka, shares his images with some Belizian boys. www.wewerkaphoto.com
This story will appear in Traveler, the Society of American Travel Writer’s Association.
As a professional editorial photographer, Steve Wewerka, had hit a creative slump. It was the low season for his work and was he wasn’t being challenging creatively. Then he got the idea to push himself to go out for a walk everyday with his camera, to possess new eyes to see his world, his neighborhood, with freshness, for he knew that if he could not make great pictures in his backyard, he could not make them in the far-flung corners of the world. This award-winning Life Magazine photographer, decided to publish a photo a day and he would use Facebook as his way to share.
Steve went out in the early and late part of the day, seeking low, quiet, subtle light. He also looked for a broad range of tonalities, strong compositional/design elements and simplicity. This daily Facebook project forced him to be creative and it revolutionized his life as a photographer.
His daily image is posted on both his business and personal pages. He encourages Friends to “Like” his page. He keeps everything on the “Public” setting. Just on his two Facebook pages alone, (his personal & his business) his images get in front of 2,000 people every day. Using Facebook Insights on his business page, he learned he was potentially reaching another 190,000. If you encourage people to communicate/“like” your image, it then appears on their newsfeed and then their friends get to see the image too. The more times your images are in front of people, the more your work is being advertised. You work, you as a photographer, will become a daily part of people’s lives. Steve offers these suggestions for using Facebook as a photographer.
Think about “brand awareness”, as if Steve Wewerka is the “brand” in which you are trying to sell. Think of Facebook as not only your social network, as a means of communicating and sharing your images, but a means of strengthening your “brand identity.” People will talk and comment about your images. They provide valuable feedback as a critique session. You can begin to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses of “your brand” based upon their feedback, which can help you learn what a more successful image is. You can get a sense of what works and what doesn’t work, at least for the popular opinion.
Use Facebook as an information forum, as a place to learn and grow as a photographer. By monitoring how many people “Like” an image, this information becomes very valuable, in addition to the comments that they make. If an image generates very little feedback, it may be that that particular image was not as successful.
Change your Banner (photo across the top) on a weekly basis. It gives people a reason to go directly to your page. Use it as an advertisement- where you have traveled to lately, for example. Have a place on your banner where people can click on and buy the photo. Do this in a photo shop program. When they click on the picture, on the “purchase” word, the next page should come up with photo caption information that goes with the picture. It can then say “visit website” to direct people to your personal website and shows how to buy prints. Since Facebook does not allow you to put ads on the banner, this is how to get around that, to use it as reminder for Facebook viewers that you can purchase prints.
Connect to other photo pages/groups and look at others’ work as they come up in your Newsfeed to see what others have uploaded. This helps you learn what other people are shooting, techniques that they use. You can also learn about other options, other aps for photography.
Use your Iphone as a camera as well as your regular camera as a source for photos, especially when you are traveling. You can upload your Iphone images directly no matter where you are in the world and share your travels. You can publish immediately, not disrupt your daily flow, nor need to return home in order to access the necessary technology and hardware. An iphone also stretches you creatively. With its limits, it forces you to be a more creative thinker/composer. Download aps such as Hipstimatic (Steve uses for his B&W shots), as well as Photoshop Express & Phototoaster.
Subscribe to other Facebook photo pages such as Worldwide iPhonegraphy Art Movement and Ipho Nature. These are open groups which only requires “liking” to join. Steve also publishes on Tumbler and Twitter. It’s also important to publish with local Facebook groups, i.e. “365 Things to do in the Twin Cities,” which places Steve’s images in front of 70,000 more people. And neighborhood pages, such as “I Love Highland Park,” as an outlet for your work.
Steve gets a Facebook message every week for a purchase inquiry. This adds up in sales. And although sales are sweet, as a creative, artistic person, it is more about your work. The huge communication tool that Facebook is, coupled with the creative incentive to share photographs makes Facebook invaluable as a business tool to the photographer. The only thing it costs is your time.