2014 has been a very good year for me and my urban photography and I am sure you can benefit from learning what worked for me.
I have achieved what I set out to do which was to re-launch my photography website, increase my exposure as a photographer, convert more business and have a bigger and better solo exhibition than ever before.
So what are these 5 top lessons I've learnt and how can they help you too?
Focusing on a new photography project and developing a consistent body of work matters
If you want to be published or attract people to your latest exhibition, your body of work has to make sense. It should also surprise and excite people. By focusing for a period of time in a series of photos which all link to each other, you can fine tune your technique and attract more exposure to your work. Recent examples are my “Great Londoners” and “Minimal Urban Photography” series, both very different but both part of my London Urban Photography focus.
However painful it may seem, when required, switching website platform can be invaluable
For 4 years I used a platform which did not allow my work to shine the way it should. I made a rookie mistake but that's the only way to learn and back in 2010, tools that were available were different. On my previous website photos could only be displayed in small size, no customisable urls (important for search engines), there was no integrated blog (read further down the need for it) and it pretty much sucked, at least compared to my current one. I pretty much lost a year wondering if I should or not, what if I lost my photography website's Google ranking…
Well it was all worth it, just a shame I waited a year. I now have a much stronger website with full screen photographs, clear links to my social media accounts and a lot more flexibility and possibilities in the aesthetic of it all.
But you know what? A great website is never complete, never finished. There is always room for improvement.
An integrated blog will be the heart of your photography website
Why the heart? It keeps your photography website alive!
I know, we're photographers, so why focus on a blog when we should be out taking photos, right?
I agree and please do not stop taking photos!
However, Google doesn't really rank photography websites based on the photos, rather more based on the text content. As I mentioned above, get a blog going and get one integrated within your website. That way your website is a lot less static, it’s constantly enriched with fresh (quality) content and Google will rank you better since it loves new and interesting stuff. I work on my blog as much as I can, it’s not easy but it really pays off.
Social media for photographers matters today more than ever
2014 did not teach me how important social media is. This has for a long time been one of, if not the biggest marketing tool for my photography business. But more than ever, 2014 would in no way have been such a successful year for me without social media and Twitter in particular. I was included in the Top 100 Most Socially Influential Photographers as a result of the time I spend developing my network and engaging with my audience. I’m also working hard on Google+, Instagram, my FB page and a bit of Pinterest. There is no point in taking on more than you can chew so choose carefully and stick to it. I discuss this extensively from page 20 of Photoshelter’s Ultimate Guide To Starting Your Photography Business.
A quality photography exhibition at no cost is possible
Enough with having your photos only displayed online! Your photos need to be printed, framed and seen by people who appreciate your work.
However I personally aim to have no more than one solo exhibition per year maximum. I feel exhibiting too often makes it less exciting for people who enjoy my work.
This year my solo show did not cost me a penny (none of the previous ones did either).
Even better, I’m able to donate 100% of the sales to charity and this does not compromise the exposure the exhibition provides.
This does not mean I’m exhibiting at my local fish and chips shop! No, if you raise your profile within your area, for me it’s London, top venues will want to show your work since it will benefit them as much as it benefits you. In my case I engaged with the very cool Hoxton Hotels and eventually secured a show, The Great Londoners, from 31/10/14 to 31/01/15 coinciding with their latest opening in Holborn.
I then reached out to Olympus who agreed to take care of my printing and framing costs. Then with a little magic, I got publications to talk about my show, including the Evening Standard.
I have many more tips to share but let's do this one bit at a time.
Work on these and I guarantee you will see some positive results in 2015, just like I have in 2014.