A lot of people think TikTok is juvenile, or have not even heard of it. Yet, after 1 billion downloads and upwards of 500 million monthly users, the app is on the map.
TikTok is a mobile app designed around displaying video set to music, voiceover, and loops. It allows you to take clips and string them together, essentially making an edit. But when you dig deeper, it is a lot more than that. TikTok’s videos are a whole new type of content that spans comedy, culture, and education. Their mission is to "inspire creativity and bring joy," I think that's something we can and should all get behind. Unlike Instagram, TikTok is primarily a video platform. But they do have a slide show feature that can be added to video clips or posted by itself.
Instead of continuing to tell you why TikTok is an essential app for you to get to know as a creative, I'm going to show you ten photographers and cinematographers that are laying the groundwork for the rest of the creatives who are yet to join the platform. Hopefully, their content will educate and inspire you to create your TikTok content. This list is in no particular order.
For those who are unfamiliar with Zach (AKA Finalcutking), he was a stand out star on Vine. Now that Vine dead, it makes perfect sense for him to jump on to TikTok. Zack is a filmmaker that creates video magic, literally. His videos are magic tricks created through editing. His style is elegant and straightforward. Zach's account usually is one of the top 10 most viewed accounts on the platform.
Landscape photographer and YouTube filmmaker out of San Francisco Kyle Meshna may hold the keys to the TikTok Success. His content mostly consists of his beautiful landscape and street photography but is formatted into the type of content that blows up on TikTok. In other words, he knows how to ride the trends. He has a YouTube video that breaks it all down.
Brittany is a Pet photographer and seamstress based in Virginia. Content consists of a BTS video of her creating set and costumes for her photo shoots. It's hard not to like what she is doing.
There is nothing I love more than comedic retouching. Beauty photographer and retoucher Natasha Lindemann has found a way to flip the script and do retouching in a way that will make you laugh out loud. She does this by warping her beauty edits into caricatures then unwrapping them back to the finished edit. It reminds me of the famous meme Art Director Pablo Ratchet.
Derrek is a photographer from the Bay Area who has dedicated his account to doing portraits of strangers he meets on the street or at the mall. His strategy has paid off because he hit a million followers in a matter of months.
Derrick Freske is already huge on Instagram. His conceptual portraits scream vibes. His approach to TikTok is a lot different from the rest. It looks like he uses a lot of continuous light in is work, which means he can easily create moving portraits. The new style seems to be popular on the app.
India has 20 million active users so that I would be doing you a disservice not to mention at least one creative from the region. Truthfully I could do a whole post TikTok creators from Southeast Asia. Franklin is a cinematographer in India's independent film scene. His content is mostly BTS, but they keep my attention. In his posts, you can find him sitting on top of an ancient looking jib (often barefoot) as he directs his crew.
Jeremy is part of a team that shoots luxury hotels. On TikTok, he likes to talk to his audience about this journey and photography philology. He also posts BTS videos; one of them has hit over 800k likes. Jeremy proves that you don't have to be Gen Z to find success on the app.
Video creator @markup.sf is taking the less is more approach to TikTok. He made behind the scenes a high art. With over 150k likes in only five posts, I'm guessing this is only the beginning for Philips on TikTok.
Stop motion has been around since the beginning of filmmaking, but in the last few years, it has exploded onto the social media landscape. @samplertimes is leading the pack of stop motion animators on social platforms. I first found him on Instagram and thought he was a big deal. But on TikTok Lawrence is a major player, 13 million likes type player. He creates felt art animations and dancing superhero characters. He has done collaborations with Will Smith and Lizzo. Becker uses TikTok's React feature to juxtapose a completed animation with him live animating. He also uses the duet feature to show how he modeled dancing action figures after kids on TikTok dancing. The best part about his BTS content is that every once in awhile, he posts clips of him modeling the dance moves he's animating. Plus, it looks like he's doing everything out of his garage.
Right now, brands are scrambling to have a presence on TikTok while it's still in its wild west phase. Even if you don't want to start making your content on TikTok, you will need to learn about it because your clients will want it to be a part of their marketing plans. Let's be honest, successful creatives are often the ones who market themselves the best. But if you are proactive on the app now, it could be life changing in the way Instagram changed the fortunes of a lot of photographers in its early years. It won't take a lot of extra work to do. Unlike YouTube, it’s short form, so it should take less time to create. Focus on creativity, and don't overthink it. Test the waters by experimenting and looking at what other photographers are doing. When you decide to make your content, you can put your spin on it. Similar, but different is never a bad way to go.