How to use social media as a photographer

August 22, 2022

Social media is a key tool for gaining visibility, building networks and reaching wider audiences. If you want to know how to use social media as a photographer, whether that’s for marketing your photography business or getting your work out there then this how-to article is for you. We will guide you through the different social platforms available for photographers and how to make the most out of what is to offer.


Welcome to the AP Improve Your Photography Series – in partnership with MPB – This series is designed to take you from the beginnings of photography, introduce different shooting skills and styles, and teach you how to grow as a photographer, so you can enjoy producing amazing photography (and video), to take you to the next level, whether that’s making money or simply mastering your art form.

Improve your photography from AP and MPB

Each week you’ll find a new article so make sure to come back to continue your journey, and have fun along the way, creating great images. If you’ve found these articles helpful, don’t forget to share them with people you know who may be interested in learning new photography skills. You’ll find a whole range of further articles in this series.


Social Media platforms for photographers

Love it or hate it, social media is one of the most powerful tools for getting your work seen, finding inspiration, and gaining new customers. But with competition for attention nearing saturation point and so many different platforms available, it is hard to know where to start.

It can take a lot of time to maintain a website and social media accounts, but if you carefully and consistently share your latest work to your social media network of preference, it can be a decent substitute for running a website portfolio. The distinct advantage of using these tools is that it’s free to use. With some careful curation, you can ensure that your potential fans and clients are given a great impression of your creativity and skill as soon as they click on your page.

Understanding each platform and how to use it will be a great starting point for knowing which is better for you and getting the most out of the platform to really market your photography.

Firstly, you don’t have to use them all! Picking just one or a couple and adapting your content for each platform will be much easier to handle and achieve the right user interaction. What you want to achieve from social media will heavily influence your decision.

Whether you are a professional photographer and using it for marketing and building your client base or using social media as a visual portfolio or for gaining inspiration for your next shoot; consider how you want to build that information, what is right for you and your photography. Not every platform will be best.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when selecting platforms

  • What is my intention?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Who do I want to reach?
  • How do I want my work to be seen?
young woman travelling taking a photo of a sunset on greek island for social media

Image: Mystockimages, Getty Images

The main and most popular social media platforms for photographers:

Instagram

Instagram was developed and created originally for image sharing, and still remains among the most popular platforms for photographers. It is predominantly used on mobile and is full of people creating and also looking for beautiful images. Plus, video content too. When it comes to Instagram, quality over quantity is really the answer.

However, it is not the best platform for sharing links within organic posts, for example if you are referring to a blog post, but you can do this within stories and sharing a URL within your profile.

Key Features: Posts, Stories, Reels, Guides

You can add up to ten images in one post when uploading your post by creating a gallery. Plus, pin three images to the top of your feed.

Instagram checklist:

Captions: Add a caption, there is a limit of 2,200 characters. Which is way more than enough so keep it short!

Hashtags: You have a limit of 30 hashtags, the recommended amount to use is 10-15. Use a range of hashtags that are relevant to the image.

Locations: Add a location to your posts where possible to reach more people.

Recommended image dimensions for posts: Cropped 4 : 5 for portrait 1080 x 1350 pixels, for square or landscape photos maintain an aspect ratio of 1:1 or 1.91:1, 1080  pixels. 

Instagram story dimensions: 1080 x 1920 pixels in 9:16 aspect ratio.

Check out our more detailed guide on how to succeed on Instagram here.

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social media platform. As well as having a personal profile, you can create a Facebook page for yourself as a photographer or your business. This is a central place to have a place for your business and is a great option for building a following for your business and interacting with customers. This page can also be linked to your Instagram page, where you can cross pollinate posts.

Facebook has users of all demographics and is one of the most diverse channels.

Key Features: Live video, Paid and Unpaid Partnership tagging, Events, Galleries

Recommended image dimensions for posts: 1200 x 630 pixels

Twitter

Twitter is a networking platform which is great for quick content, especially topical news. Many use it for building relationships, customer service and providing commentary on trending topics.

Lots of photographers are using the platform for sharing their images. The great thing about Twitter (and Facebook) is you can respond to posts with images as well as text.

The one thing to note is that as Twitter is constant, tweets have a short life span (approximately 18 minutes!). So if you use this platform you need to be committed to being engaged and sharing lots of content regularly.

Key Features: Lists, Threads, Co-author Tweets, Pinned tweet, Polls

Captions: 240 character limit

Recommended image dimensions for posts: 1200 x 675 pixels

TikTok

Although it’s not a completely new platform (founded in 2016), TikTok really kicked off during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Fastest growing platform that is completely short video based. It is a space for entertaining video content, with new ways of reaching people – especially a younger audience. You can create a TikTok within the app, or upload videos and images to create it. Videos can range between a few seconds long to the maximum video length available, which is now three minutes.

Videos are best shared as vertical 1080 x 1920 pixels in 9:16 aspect ratio, like Instagram Reels.

Key Features: Lives, Duets, Tiktok Effects and Filters, Reply to comments with a video, Favourites that can be curated into Collections, Stories.

Youtube

Youtube is a major platform for solely for sharing and watching great videos! Videos can vary in length and supports longer video. If you are a photographer who also makes videos, a content creator, vlogger or videographer this platform will be great for you.

See our how-to video guides to help you get started with taking video.

If you are interested in becoming a guest contributor to AP’s channel then see details here: Call for content creators – feature on our Youtube channel!

Video recommendations: 1280 x 720 (Minimum HD), 16:9 aspect ratio

Image: Drazen_ / Getty Images

Flickr

Flickr is a image hosting site that allows us to curate an online portfolio and share with others.

For a number of years, Flickr was the go-to online platform for photographers and visual creators as a fantastic source of community and inspiration. One of the major strengths of Flickr is that it uses the support-group feel of photography forums and provided a gallery-style layout that let the images take centre stage.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a popular platform for finding inspiration and discovering the latest trends in the industry. The platform acts as a digital scrapbook where users ‘pin’ images to curated boards and is great for businesses selling aesthetically pleasing services and products. You can create your own pins using your images as well as links to pages on your website.

It does however have a more specific audience, with users weighing more towards women.

Recommended image sizes for Pins: 900 pixels recommended height, 2:3 to 1:3.5 aspect ratio.

Other platforms: LinkedIn, Vero, Reddit, Youpic, Behance, Tumblr, 500px, Photoshelter, EyeEm


How to get the most out of social media platforms

Use fewer Platforms

Focus on fewer platforms, but don’t limit yourself to just one. Choose a couple and do them well, rather than spreading yourself thinly across three or more channels.

Fill out your profile

Make the most out of your ‘profile’ information – adding your about you, contact and web details. You can even link through to other platforms or create a URL which will direct users to multiple links that you can’t fit in one space. You can do this through platforms like LinkTree or Hoo.be.

Write for Social Media

Write compelling captions and engage your audience. In some cases you don’t have a lot of words to play with so make it engaging and to the point. But where you have space, it pays to be a bit more descriptive.

Tag others

Where other people feature in your content, including brands, tag them within your content.

Make use of features

As seen above, there are many tools and features within each of the social media platforms that you could use to your advantage. Stories, Guides, Twitter threads, Live streams – get using them! Social media is no longer just about the profile posts, make the platforms work hard and put them to good use to share your content.

Check your Analytics

Most platforms depending on your account type provide access to post analytics. It’s worth looking at this when you build up your network to see what content is working well and the audience you are connecting with.

Image: Jacoblund, Getty Images

How to stand out on social media as a photographer and grow your audience

Find your niche

Whether you focus on a particular genre or have a colour scheme or style, a consistent and beautiful portfolio of images shared on social media will be recogniseable to others and stand out from the vast amount of images.

Curate and share engaging content

Share high quality images. Curate your page so that it makes a clear and positive impression of your photographic skill and style. People will decide whether to follow you based on the first three to six images they see.

Use hashtags

Most platforms (Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter) encourage using targeted and relevant hashtags to reach people. Find other photographs and photographers sharing content of the same interest and they will find you. Try using a hashtag generator app like Leetags or having a search on the platform. For Instagram, you can also add hashtags to your comments instead of within your post, if you prefer your posts to look ‘tidier’.

Avoid using the same hashtags with every post, doing so may see your content hidden from other people’s feeds as your account may be wrongly flagged as spam. It’s worth taking some time to be creative and specific with the hashtags you use.

Even if you don’t use hashtags, platforms like Instagram use AI to ‘see’ what’s in your image to determine if it is relevant to users and how to so it within the app. It will also take into account your description, location tag information and account tags. So being descriptive in your captions, tagging locations, as well as brands and people featured will be a good way to improve your reach.

Show your personality

Don’t detach yourself from your content. Show yourself within your social media and make it personal – don’t just share your photos. Now I don’t mean sharing loads of selfies, what you ate at lunch or pictures of your cat. Show yourself as a photographer and share your process, this can be through how you write in the captions and/or the images you post.

Behind the scenes content and images of yourself working are great examples. Not all images have to be perfect – and that’s okay! You will become more relatable and gain valuable followers. If you are a business using this approach will allow for your clients to feel like they are getting to know you through your content.

Put yourself behind the camera. Image: g-stockstudio, GettyImages

Don’t follow the crowd

Just because everyone is creating short videos to certain trending sounds or sharing photographs taken at popular landscape destinations doesn’t mean you have to as well. Stay true to yourself and your photography. Make it your own and be authentic. Express yourself and show your vision, deceiving other users and potential clients will come out later.

Be consistent

Regularly share a variety of content to keep your followers engaged.

Trending topics

Be aware of trending hashtags, special and seasonal days. Consider whether your content is suitable to share and make the most of the trend if you can.


Networking on social media 

Social media is all about being social, so… be social on social.

Engage with other photographers! Yes, social media is a place to promote and stand out against your competitors, but its called SOCIAL media for a reason. The original purpose of many platforms was to connect with others. You need to be social and interactive to succeed. Engage with other users, comment, like, share their posts. By doing this you will also build up more reach and engagement for yourself, as well as potential following, through getting your account in front of other people.

Join and be active with Photography communities

Search for Facebook groups and Instagram communities you can get involved with (UKBFTOG, UK Shooters, SheClicks, Grain Gurls are just a start!). Many have their own hashtags you can add to your posts to be considered for sharing on their platforms.

You can also tag us @ap_magazine! At AP, we have regular features on our platforms from readers and online followers. We also have a Picture of the Week feature that gets published in the magazine and on our social media (#appicoftheweek). Plus, share your smartphone photography with us to be named Smartphone Picture of the Week on our website and social (#apsmartphonepicoftheweek)!

Image: Klaus Vedfelt Getty Images

Find opportunities

Many opportunities get advertised on social media! Whether that’s job vacancies, magazine feature opportunities, competition open calls or photographers needed for shoots, lots of users and businesses share opportunities that will be relevant to you and helpful in getting your work out there.

Cross Pollination

Use your audience in one area to drive attention to your other online activity. Cross-pollination of your audiences is a great way to grow your following and reach – for example connect your Instagram and Facebook accounts or reuse and adapt content for other platforms.


Tips to keep up with social media algorithm changes:

Being seen on social media is a challenge for a number of reasons – many accounts are artificial, which can be frustrating for many working photographers. Algorithms are responsible for the visibility of our posts, but YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are sketchy on how exactly these algorithms work.

  • Be consistent
  • Share a variety of content
  • Make use of what the platforms have to offer
  • Stay up to date with trends and trending content
  • Take note of what content has worked well and include more of this within your content
  • Be social with other users

Don’t get fixated or disheartened by the number of likes a post gets – Although a high number of likes can help and look attractive, they aren’t everything and do not represent how good your photography is. Focus on providing quality content and engaging with the loyal followers and engaged users you make.

Finally, have fun and be responsible.

Article: Jessica Miller

Featured image: CASEZY, Getty Images


Tune in next week, for the next article in the series of the AP Improve Your Photography Series – in partnership with MPB.

Find the latest Improve Your Photography articles here.


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How to use social media as a photographer