Posting on social media can be tough. Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing new to share at all. Maybe the problem is you’re not using all the opportunities out there. You might be missing some ways to squeeze more juice out of the content orange.
Recently I’ve been trying to think of photoshoots in terms of content machines. They’re where I’m getting all of my content. I’m not a personality where if I’m not shooting I’m recording videos. I’m not doing lighting reviews and talking about the exposure triangle. All I have are the final images. I’m not going to show proofs, but there has to be something else in there, right? What can I do to squeeze the most juice out of the orange? Here’s some things I’ve started to do or see others do that I think are great ways of adding content without diminishing quality.
Behind the Scenes
This was the first thing I added to my Instagram that wasn’t final images. At first, I was afraid to add the personal element to my work because I always saw that as a deterrent. Eventually I came around and it was a super smart decision. People want to see how the sausage was made. They want to see you having fun. They want to see the sets and what was done to create the shots. Whether it’s me on a ladder, getting a model to laugh, or just showing the lighting concept with the final image, they consistently engage better than when I post my actual work. Which yes, for those wondering, I am consistently insulted by.
It’s simple though. At the shoot, just stick a wide angle on the camera and take a photo of the model showing the lighting setup. Or have the makeup artist take a short video of you while shooting. It’s that simple and gives you extra content to promote your photoshoot. Do none of these things apply to you? Are you a landscape photographer? Take a photo of the landscape you’re shooting with your camera on your tripod in the frame to show how you work. Or take a video of the landscape you’re shooting and post that with the process and how great the location is. It’s something people want to see.
Along With This.
During a shoot my Instagram Story sees its most engagement. So I try to post 3-5 things in there to show some behind the scenes during the day. I make sure to save those photos and I refer back to them after the edits for BTS content.
With this, sometimes the makeup artist and model will share your story posts to their own stories. You now have linkbacks where the followers of the model and makeup artist are now seeing you.
Sharing Posts to Your Story
We all have those off days. Nothing to post. Nothing to share. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay relevant. Use other people’s work as an ability to share, inspire, and possibly network with other photographers, MUAs, and whoever.
Chances are you’re already scrolling through Instagram and if you’re like me, your Saved area has 1000 poorly curated photos in it. Just post a couple from there. Maybe keep it to a theme. Tag the person in it and gush about how great the photo is. You’re just creating an open dialogue with someone who might feel the same way about you and you’re making sure your name is still out there.
I’ve been flirting with Instagram Live recently. Trying to find ways to just set it and forget it. I think this is always great for a fly on the wall type situation. It doesn’t have to be in talking distance, you don’t have to answer questions from people while shooting, but putting it up somewhere that can be interesting to the viewer is a great way to show yourself off.
When I do this, I try to frame it with the laptop tethering in the frame so they can somehow see what’s going on. It’s tough because of glare and exposure differences between the laptop screen and what’s going on. But if you can find a way to balance it, people love it.
Another way to do it is security cam style. Putting the phone to the side like a b-roll camera still gives people insight to what’s going on. Bring it over to the screen between looks and show what you’ve been working on. It’s just like when the model brings a friend to the shoot. You don’t have to really acknowledge them too much and they just watch over your shoulder. But now that friend can be anyone. It can be a makeup artist interested in updating their portfolio, a cosmetics company that likes your work, even a dog account. Who knows, that’s the fun part.
Here's William Clark live retouching a photo. He's just doing work he'd normally be doing, but he invited you to see his process and ask questions as he works.
Post in New Places
Okay so technically this is doing something new. But it’s basically just downloading a new app. Chances are you’re posting on Instagram. But are you on Pinterest? Did you give up on Facebook? Is LinkedIn something you’ve never tried for your work? By broadening your horizons you’re diversifying your potential attention. Maybe you put up a pin board that’s must-see photography locations in New England using your landscape photos from different places.
There’s other sites out there besides Instagram for photographers. They all have dedicated user bases trying to accomplish different things. By trying different sites you’re giving yourself the opportunity to find a new audience that never would’ve known about you.
But just posting isn’t enough. You need to pull The Flyer Theory on these sites as well. You can’t just post on sites and expect to be the most popular person. You must interact with the sites and be an actual part of the community. That’s how you grow.
Some More Work-Heavy Methods
These are much more investment-heavy, but if you have the free time then it’s just adding to the content loop. And you don’t need to go out shooting more. These can be done at your desk. You don’t need to spend a day and pay a model for these. Just take what you’ve already done and spin it into new content.
Writing Blog Posts
Blogging in 2019 might seem… A little late... Maybe in 2025 I’ll recommend starting a podcast… But for real it’s still one of the most consumed media sources. The only thing is a lot of work goes into it. Coming up with original ideas can be tough, but finding ways to connect new work you want to share to a new blog post can be beneficial for extending the life cycle of it.
And the cool thing is the work travels. Before Fstoppers, I was writing on my own site and sharing them on my Instagram. Then other writers would reach out and place my work on their site. Most of what I wrote was reposted with credit back to me. Petapixel, DPreview, and DIYPhotography are some of the more notable ones. They’ve all shared what I’ve written and each post contains my portfolio pieces which is basically free promotion for me. Not that the demographic reading PetaPixel is my current target market, it creates linkbacks which are important for having your website appear higher on the Google charts. Which to be honest, is very important to me. Because in 2019 I’m still not even first page results for the Google search “David Justice” and that needs to change. He retired in 2002. It’s my time now.
But Dave, I’m not a YouTuber.
I get it, it's not for everyone. But it is a community with an audience. I did 1 video, posted it to Reddit’s /r/Photography community, then Digital Trends shared it, and my website had a bunch of eyes on it because of this. And that was 3 years ago. That’s obviously not the case for how every video is going to do, but there is always the potential for something like that.
Every creative can benefit from sharing things through video. Headshot photographer? Make videos to help prep your clients who may be nervous with shooting with you. Food stylist? Do BTS of you styling food for a shoot.
Makeup artists do this the best. You know what they do? They show themselves doing makeup! Every makeup artist has videos of them showing their process on their Instagram. What more can you ask for? No client is going to say, well can she do makeup? There are videos of them doing it. Photos, for you, might be the end result. But photos lie. Photos are the cake, videos are the Rachel Ray show. That cake photo could be made of cardboard, you need to show them you can actually mix the flour and eggs.
If you check out Fstoppers' Making Real Money: The Business of Commercial Photography, Monte talks about how he started getting clients because of the behind the scenes videos he was creating. You can actually hear him tell this story on the Fstoppers YouTube channel.
Here’s What to Take Away…
Imagine doing a really fun beauty shoot and live-streaming it the day of. Then the day you release the final photos on Instagram, you pin it to a Pinterest board with similar style photos, then you put a video on YouTube of you retouching one of the photos and you’re talking about some of the interesting challenges you faced with it. Or you write a blog post that connects the behind the scenes you took to the post you just put up on Instagram that also connects to the video you put on YouTube and IGTV.
When it comes to marketing you’re leaving a whole lot on the table by just posting final photos to Instagram and making that your only interaction with the platform.. To build up an audience and find new clients you need to go where they are and you need to always be looking for ways you can do more to reach them. Whether it’s by just having new content to post or posting old content in new places, chances are there’s more you can do.