Ever Wanted to Start a Photography Youtube Channel?

Ever Wanted to Start a Photography Youtube Channel?

If you have ever wanted to start a YouTube channel, here is my experience of setting up a new channel and giving it a real go for 30 days. 

YouTube is something that I have wanted to have a play with for many years. I spend more time on YouTube than any other platform. In the 2000s, I learned photography from the site, as there was a wealth of useful information on there. Sadly, it is now pretty diluted with a million and one hacks offering poor advice that is now taken as gospel, but I still think with enough digging and a good research background that you can find almost any photography information out there on YouTube. I have had a YouTube account for ages, but I didn’t ever really upload anything bar a few BTS time-lapses with original file names and no tags. So, I quickly found some useful videos on how to build and grow a channel, and I got cracking.

Getting Started

The first thing to work out was the name of the channel and the perspective that the channel would take. Obviously, it had to be a photography channel, but I needed more than that. So, I decided to go from the perspective of a working commercial photographer. This allowed me to cover advanced license fees as well as some introductory information for those looking to pursue a career in photography. I chose to use the name of my studio over my working and website name so as to not dilute my professional work with a YouTube channel. With this in mind, I set up the channel Tin House Studio.

How Hard Is It?

It turns out that filming yourself is incredibly hard from a photographer's standpoint. My first video had lousy audio, I managed to mess up the exposure even though I have been a professional photographer for over a decade, and my delivery was pretty poor. However, thanks to Fstoppers and a few other big websites sharing my video, it managed to get 15,000 hits, which I was very impressed with.

So, I set about making some more videos. Firstly, you have to have the idea, and this is certainly the most time-consuming aspect of my videos. It is also the reason that I haven’t been posting original content to Fstoppers for a month. It turns out that I only have a finite amount of ideas that I can produce before my brain gives up. And one a day certainly hit that limit.

The Fear

I am vain. We all are to a certain extent. I really didn’t want to have to hear people saying rude things about me. Reading the comments about how I look homeless (“he looks like you might find him sleeping rough outside a bank”), that people can’t understand the language I speak (I am from the very center of England), and that I don’t know what I am talking about were all present on forums and YouTube. The thing is, I actually found it funny, especially finding that people had to turn subtitles on so that they could understand what I was saying. I had previously had elocution lessons when younger to try and correct my slightly ghetto lingo, and it seems to have made me even less comprehensible. Finding that my biggest fear coming true didn't bother me at all was a massive boost. Once I had this out of the way, I really started to find my groove. 

The Trolls

There seems to be slightly different trolls on every platform. The comments I get here differ from when my works is shared on other photography sites, and then the types of trolls on different social media platforms change as well. On YouTube, it was predominantly people quoting other articles that they say are correct against what you are suggesting, even when in many cases the article and my video had very little in common and certainly weren’t looking at the same issues, or accounts generally saying you sound mental, stupid, no idea what you are talking about and the like. The other thing I noted was that a minority expect to have a video tailored to exactly what they want, and if it doesn’t meet this, then they will be pretty rude.

My main lesson from this is that every troll that I have encountered so far on any platform doesn’t really have anything to show for themselves. They are either blank profiles or photographers who are angry that they didn’t manage to adapt to the profession. If these trolls are putting you off from doing something, just remember that no one of merit is ever a troll. I just let them get on with it and I don’t engage.

What Went Well?

In a short period of time, I managed to build a really nice community on YouTube. The people who were watching my daily videos were highly engaged and really pleasant to talk to. I was shocked at how appreciative people were.

The speed at which my account built up was also very interesting. It took me a month to create a bigger and more engaged audience than what I built in my first two years on Instagram. I have also managed to rank a few videos on Google, which will hopefully help my name somewhat over the years.

What Went Wrong?

Daily uploads are hard. Although I stuck to the block working schedule, inevitably, by the end of the month, shoot commitments, personal stuff, and writing started to back up, and I had to accept that I would fail my video a day challenge, although this was pretty liberating realizing that it really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. So, starting Monday I will be doing two to three videos a week and looking to record several months of content on a slow week before scheduling them. This is certainly the best way to go. It really wasn’t worth filming one video in a day due to setup and pack-down time, but doing eight in a day was pretty viable.

How Did It Go?

It went a lot better than I expected. I think 10 of my videos were posted here, and after that, a few were shared via other photography sites and social media pages. In the month, I managed to get the 4,000 hours of view time and over 1,000 subscribers that mean you can monetize your channel. I think that I am sitting around 1,600 subscribers without around 1,000-2,000 views per day, which for someone who doesn’t do video, presenting, or video editing is pretty respectable. Without monetizing my channel, from content surrounding it and affiliate links, I made about $500 for the month, which isn't bad for a bit of fun.

Tips for Fellow Newbies

If you are thinking about starting a YouTube channel, just do it. Get a camera, a phone, whatever you have, and start making videos. Don’t worry about the production value at this stage. Your inability to present, tag, format, and generally work out the YouTube algorithm will far surpass any equipment inadequacies. I ended up using an old full frame DSLR with no AF in video mode and a cheap mic that I purchased from a friend and a couple of light bulbs inside some paper lanterns for lighting. It seemed to do a good enough job for what most people were looking for.

Have you thought about starting a YouTube channel? If so, what is holding you back?

Log in or register to post comments

32 Comments

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks for the kind words William.

Rashad Hurani's picture

Thanks for the tips, and encouragement. I hereby subscribe to your channel :)

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks Rashad. Do you use Youtube as well?

Rashad Hurani's picture

Not yet, but I'm thinking about one

Curtis Noir's picture

This gives me some great insight. I’ve been following you since you started posting links to your YouTube channel and I really appreciate the effort you have been putting into it. I’ve slowly been working on my channel and trying to figure out what I want to do with it. Keep it up! Looking forward to your future work

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks.

I hope your channel goes well :)

Tyler Schwab's picture

The timing of this article is perfect. I’m actually getting ready to start recording content for a channel myself. I plan on getting about 10-15 videos ready before I launch so I don’t have to worry about not having content to share frequently. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

Bavarian DNA's picture

Honestly ive been wanting to open, in fact ive opened one with a trial post, but still didnt dare to go through it. Honestly seeing the other channels and how good their post processing are, lighting made me feel little down. Nice article and soon will start my first post

Scott Choucino's picture

Everyone starts somewhere, I tried to improve one thing each time I filmed. If I waited for it to be right I still wouldn’t have a video up!

Michael Comeau's picture

You just need to say 2 things in every video:

1) This video was brought to you by SquareSpace
2) I'm totally unbiased!

Jamie Windsor's picture

Actually it's "This video is sponsored by Squarespace. If you need a domain, website or online store, make it with Squarespace". God damn all these YouTubers wanting to be paid for work. They should just work for free.

Scott Choucino's picture

Haha, that and a coffee montage

The coffee montage is what has prevented me from starting a channel, that and I hate coffee. And I dont know how to make amazing foods either, so there is another slow motion montage out the window. That said, great stuff! I will get a channel done some day, and I love your stuff and I love Jamie Windsor's channel too!

Larry Wynkoop's picture

Great advice, thanks! I'll definitely be checking out your channel tonight. My channel growth has not been nearly as rapid as yours, but I'm learning a lot about video, and with each upload I get a little more comfortable in front of the camera. The hardest part so far for me was just getting over my fear and getting started.

Scott Choucino's picture

Hey,

It helps that I post here, have a reasonable Insta following and also a good network of people who share. Keep plugging away at it.

It's not as easy as it looks. I will tell you it's not a 30 day or bust proposition. It takes months and years to work this out. It's awesome you got videos posted on here because that helps you get some quick hits. Without that it def is super hard.

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks Jared. Yeah so posting on here takes my views from 6-800 to 1.5-3 k and also puts it in the view of other blogs etc.

I learnt most of my photography from your early videos, especially the one about music photography as that was what I thought I wanted to do when starting out.

I don’t think anyone should give you tubers shit until they have had a crack themselves.

From my point of view, the most important thing about it is a psychological factor. People are afraid of making videos and downloading them on the net because they are fearful to be criticized. Gaining popularity is not very difficult with reading this source https://y.tools/news/ but to overcome your fears is a huge job!

Scott Choucino's picture

Yeah the fear is very much a real thing! But it goes so quickly once you are out there

Chase Wilson's picture

I'm glad you're making stuff.

Dana Goldstein's picture

I’ve been enjoying your videos (I’m a subscriber) and FWIW I’ve had no trouble understanding you! Kudos for doing this when you’re clearly successful in the industry already and don’t have a ego-need to become a YouTube influencer. Clear, honest & informed wins the day for me every time. 😊

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks for that. Yeah it’s certainly not a career path for me, nor will it help my photography, but it’s certainly something I’ve started to enjoy and will pursue

Thank you for sharing. I've just started watching. Good stuff... and no problem at all with your accent!

Thomas Villadsen's picture

Yes I have. It would be about photography as well, but my knowledge about it, is limited even though I have a couple of years experience so far. So if I had to do anything, it would be a vlog. I already have a blog where i write a little. But great article, and advice, everytime I read one of these, I get a little closer to starting experimenting with more video.

I don’t understand how anyone can think that $500 for this amount of content is acceptable. You basically are creating free content for a TV Channel (Youtube), who takes the lions’ share of advertising revenue, yet doesn’t pay for the original ideas, doesn’t pay your equipment, your writing, your editing, and so on. I’ve seen many photographers doing these videos and except the “equipment reviewers” end up running out of ideas for original content... which Youtube paid you peanuts for

Yesh I know social, I know we’re not in the 80ies... still! It makes no sense. If Youtube only provides the tech and a bit of server space then surely that could be covered in a subscription a la Adobe ($70 a month)? Why then do they charge advertisers thousands for every Dollar the content creator gets when they aren’t contributing anything to the process?

Larry Wynkoop's picture

Personally I just like making videos. The practice is a great way to learn a new skill. Uploading and sharing the videos on YouTube is just a matter of personal satisfaction, especially when I find that I've helped a beginner.

It is true that the ad revenue YT shares is pathetic, but most bigger creators get the majority of their income from other sources like affiliate links to retailers, merchandising, brand deals, and yes sometimes paid "reviews."

I definitely see your point though, and it makes sense. Just sharing my perspective.

Scott Choucino's picture

I think any amount of money in the first few years of starting something is better than expected. From 0 video and presenting skills to £500 is pretty darn good. It took me a decade of honing my craft to make real money from stills.

I’m not sure how good or bad the ad revenue is as I’ve not enabled it yet, but for someone with a free platform and no following, I don’t think expecting more is fair or realistic.

Jak Spedding's picture

Interesting post Scott, i've followed you on here for a while and think you're producing the best content on Fstoppers at the moment (i'm not a stalker, I just like that bush outside your house).

How do you think you would have gone about promoting it if you didn't have the opportunity to promote it through Fstoppers, as i'm guessing that is where most of the eyeballs came from?

Scott Choucino's picture

Thanks Jak.

I have about 7000 followers on instagram, a pretty big mailing list and also a private facebook group. So I think they will have helped a lot. I have recently worked out that half of the views are from fstoppers. So for every 1500 hits half are from my network and half from here. So the videos I haven't shared end up getting around 7-800 views.

I think the bigger question would be how do you start if you have no mailing list and no social media following. And I wouldn't have a clue about how to go about that. I guess starting small, sharing with close friends and hoping that they share with their friends. It would probably take 3-4 years to gain traction like this I think.

Hope that helps

More comments