When I got back into street photography three years ago I could only find the same articles, the same interviews, on the same photographers (majority were famous). After meeting and networking with a few street photographers at this past year’s Streetfoto, I wanted to know more about who they were, how did they come away with awesome images, what’s their mindset when hitting the streets, and give them a outlet to share their experiences on my blog. I thought to myself, a lot of these photographers were taking great pictures and only were showcasing them on instagram (most did not have a personal website), and being accepted into competitions…which I would say is the best type of marketing because as a photographer you should let your photos do most of the talking. However, in this day and age I believe in self promoting, self marketing, it’s not gloating or showing off, it’s just a friendlier way of telling everyone what you’re up to! But most importantly to be recognized for your hard work, and distinctive and unique approach to street photography.
I believe it is a crime if you don’t share your work, your knowledge to others, as you may inspire others and show the beauty of life through your own eyes. I see a lot of great modern street photographers who could easily get more eyes and attention (good attention) if they just built a website. Especially those that already have a social media following.
My story, I am not the best modern street photographer, nor am I the most well known. I have not won any awards, yet alone placed in any competitions. However since building my website two and a half years ago (but being most active in 2017) I have come a long ways. I have been hired for a few commercial gigs because a client came across my website and my photo series Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym have also exhibited in Paris, France. Opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had if I had not created my website and market myself. It may take a while to have the confidence and patience to build a website, write a blog, record and edit a vlog but you must think…no one is going to promote you. My advice, don’t wait for things to happen….instead make it happen!
What Do You Want Out of Street Photography?
If you ultimately want to make money, I would say keep that as a long term goal. I myself have not been able to make a honest living, however this is not my goal with street photography. I believe it is very difficult to make a dime with street photography unless you teach workshops like everyone else or you use your street photos to pick up commercial gigs…that in itself is very difficult because street style is such a niche unless photographs are consistent and are consistently good that the client is blown away.
Selling prints and books would not be a way to make a living. I would say selling prints is a waste of time and ultimately devalues your art and photograph. Selling books are hard but may be a great way to market and promote oneself…”Brand Awareness”
For me, I just enjoy creating content and being creative everyday. With work and daily stresses it’s important to make some time for yourself whether that’s during lunch, before work, or after the kids go to bed. Being suffocated in the day to day grind is not a way to live your life. So for me I use street photography to express myself, be creative, and share my thoughts and experiences to help others by generating content.
Build Your Platform
If you’ve been shooting and have been persistent with street photography for a good two years with an instagram account at the very least I would say take your game up a notch and build a website starting with your first and last name and end it with “photography” or “photos”…or I have seen “fotos” a hip way of spelling photos. Show your best work on your website and on your social media accounts. Link your website to your social media accounts and keep your website clean and easy to navigate. Once someone stops on your page and they can’t find the tabs or if it’s too busy they’ll most likely exit out. So in other words make it look professional as possible.
Having a unique style helps but that’s easier said then done. Also personally I’m conflicted of “having a style”…why limit yourself in being known as the guy that takes amazing street portraits or the guy that great at finding humor on the streets.
Get on the Social Platforms
In this digital age, this is the best way to get your work out there at the snap of your fingers. I have an instagram account, my website, and youtube channel. I share my blogs photos on my personal facebook page. I don’t have a twitter account, nor a facebook fan page, nor do I utilize my flickr account…It’s just too much apps and time and I only keep what I really use and what’s most convenient. But basically the more social networks you have and you keep working, the more opportunities you’ll be recognized for your work.
If you have a pretty big Facebook or instagram following I would say take advantage of facebook live. The great thing about facebook live is that majority of your followers or friends will get notified once you go live. Even if many don’t watch your live or stick around the entire length of the video, the fact they received a notification about you going live is a good touch point and possibly a great reminder for your followers who may have forgotten they were even following you in the first place to go see what you’ve been up to.
I part-time blogged in 2016 and bumped it up in 2017. I share most of my blogs on my personal facebook account and have had some friends reshared my blogs. Facebook is only one part of the avenue to share your work or re-purpose your work. Writing blogs, interviewing other photographers have helped boost my stats and have led readers to find my other blogs or even get to know who I am as well. The idea is to generate content and the more you generate the better. It took me a while to blog more because I am not a very good or confident writer but the minute I was honest with myself I got over that hump. Try not to be someone that you’re not and just speak or in this case write with your heart.
Creating video content or vlogs through a youtube channel are great ways to be recognized. Google which owns youtube will rank videos higher than blogs on their algorithm. Whichever is easier for you! I just recently started my youtube channel after getting over my fear and insecurities of speaking into the camera. But I somehow got over it, and just go with the Nike mentality…”JUST DO IT”…enough of the excuses…if you keep worrying about something not being perfect or something is out of your control, then you will never move forward. Do the work, make mistakes, and learn from it.
Reach out to Local Papers
I reached out to Honolulu Civil Beat last year to see if they would be interested in using my street photos for publication. I met with them and pitched them the idea and in the end they had me do four photo series regarding life in Honolulu. Reaching out to your local magazines, papers, affiliates, and presenting them your strongest body of work is a great way to market and network within your community.
Again…let your photos do the talking! I’m not the biggest supporter of contest or photo festivals (only a few I support)…Most contest will suck your wallet dry and the chances of you getting in are slim…I always think of photo contest as the lottery…it’s a hit or miss, take your chances, roll the dice and see what happens. The exposure from them are very little unless you place first, second, or third.
Get Exhibit/Have a Show
Have your photos exhibited. Showcase your work. Rent a space. Have a showing and invite your friends. This is a great way to showcase your work and network with other people. I have exhibited in a local cafe a few years ago by simply asking the owner. Ask a restaurant, most places especially brand new ones will want some kind of art or space fillers to cover up their boring blank walls. Plus, no one will really know the prestiage of restaurant/cafe, the fact that your art is up on someone else’s property is already a big deal.
So these are just some ways to market yourself and to help get your work recognized. Of course you should ask yourself what it is that you want from street photography. And always let your photographs do the talking, look for ways to improve your work by looking at other people’s work that inspires you, take workshops, and study the greats. If possible try to be creative everyday (read, write, photograph, play music). Be hungry and proactive, don’t wait for someone to find you, just keep pushing and things will fall into place. Don’t quit your day job just yet and also try to find balance in life.