Why I Share Trade Secrets on Instagram

Why I Share Trade Secrets on Instagram

Photography is a very secretive industry at times, but a few years ago I decided to share everything and answer any questions via instagram.

There isn’t much new in photography. Cameras work in very much the same way as they always have and although a few new trends pop up here and there, for the most part, the knobs and gears remain the same. For the first 8 years of my career I was very secretive about how much I charged, how I got to get the clients I have, how I managed to create certain shoots and which other professionals I was working with. But after a while I realized that this was just daft.

I am also a firm believer that you can pretty much work out how any photograph was taken, so giving this information away doesn’t really stop people from copying your work. And if it can help a few people enjoy their photography a bit more, then everyone is a winner.

Here are a few reasons why I share everything on instagram;

Point of Authority

A lot of my clients and potential clients follow my instagram account. It is the only social media the I use and I steer it solely in the direction of my profession. Sharing how I achieve certain shots, the trouble I go to in order to source props, backgrounds, and food creates a value in my service and also proves that I know what I am doing. There are a lot of photographers who can take a pretty photograph, it isn’t that hard. But taking a photograph that matches the clients brief perfectly requires a lot more of a skill. Clients are not concerned about the physics of light, they just want to get there image exactly how they drew their scamp for the client. So showing that you know what you are doing, that you will go the extra mile and that you know so much that you can share it with other photographers puts you into a great position of authority in the industry.

No One Will Steal Your Clients

If I show you how I shot my latest ad campaign and you didn’t already know how to do it, you are probably 3-4 years away from being in a position to shoot it. If I need to ask someone how to do a certain type of work, they will probably tell me because I am also years behind where they are. No one is going to steal your client if they have to ask how to create the shot. There is so much that goes into a photograph that if they haven't got this part worked out, they wont be a threat.

It Isn’t a Competition

If you manage to give another photographer that extra 1% of information that they are missing to create some truly amazing work that is far beyond your capabilities, that is great. It isn’t a race nor is it a competition. Sharing information to help others achieve their goals is a good thing to do both professionally and as a human. I am never going to be a famous photographer, but I might give some young kid that one bit of info they are missing which helps them make a break for the big time. So keep sharing your tips and tricks in the hope that it might help someone else create something great.

There Isn’t Anything New out There

We can mix up the ingredients, but I don’t remember the last time I saw a truly original photograph. Have a look through the Fstoppers galleries and you will see the same photograph repeated by numerous photographers thousands of times. Most magazines only have 3 or 4 different shots in them, they just organize them slightly differently. I doubt that there is anything that I know that isn’t available else where. The only difference is the context that each of us will give it. For me, I come from a commercial food background so I am sharing my view on how it works in my very narrow wold. Sometimes I will hear something I already know from a different context or perspective and it makes something just switch in my brain and allows me to see if from a different angle. So sharing old views is as important as anything else. Context is always key.

You Are Your Brand

You are the brand. If you are a professional photographer then the client is booking you. Yes, your skills are a major part of it, but you need to be likable. Photoshoots are often stressful environments and being able to keep the shoot going and make sure that everyone is happy is a key part of this. Showing your personality can really help here and instagram is a great platform for you to do this on. Don’t try to project what you think people want to buy, be yourself and I guarantee the right clients will find you. I use to be so stuck up and guarded in my online presence. Now days, if I do something great or utterly stupid, I will be sharing it on instagram. This allows my clients and future clients to know exactly who i am and if I am going to be a good fit for them.

Networking

People love vulnerability. Share your knowledge and be yourself and you will attract other like minded people. If I need an assistant, studio, camera, rental company in another city or country I am almost certain that with my network on instagram that I will have it sorted within a few hours. By being so open and sharing everything, you become friends with so many new people around the world. I have also received a lot of work from other photographers. A lot of the time we get asked to shoot things outside of our niche or comfort zone, so we end up passing on the work to other photographers who would do a much better job for the client. I have both received and passed on loads of work in this way. For me, the thought of shooting an event terrifies me and for some of my Instagram friends, shooting a flatly of food doesn’t even remotely interest them. Having this network built on honesty and vulnerability is an amazing asset to have.

What makes you share or hold back your photographic and lifestyle from the world of social media?

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5 Comments

michaeljin's picture

I hold back because I don't like people.

Julian Ray's picture

How cool to read your article Scott. Every one of your points is RIGHT ON. Alas there is so much fear in our industry that more and more photographers are sharing less and less. I sad fact that diminishes us all.
Thanks!

Stuart Carver's picture

Well said, as a fairly new photographer I have learnt so much from knowing the settings, technique and logic behind a shot. Plus I’ve found quite often the people not disclosing info on request are hiding something in the shot (eg edited sun rays, sky replacement)

Rob Swackhamer's picture

I share a lot of info about our shoots on our website primarily, mostly due to length.

Jeff Colburn's picture

Good article, thanks. I see no problem with sharing information and put information on my site and blog on shooting techniques. We're all in this together.