The Difference Between Somebody Who Likes to Take Pictures and Photographer

Somebody once asked me why I don’t publish more of my photojournalism on social media? It is a fair question considering that like Pavlov’s Dogs we have been conditioned to think that Instagram and Facebook are the driving forces behind building a successful reputation as a photojournalist, photographer or content creator. The truth is that it isn’t.

Sure, you can put your photos on these social media platforms and get some pretty decent attention. Friends and family will validate your work and tell you how great it is just to keep from hurting your feelings or alienating you. But the reality is that Facebook and Instagram do not really do as much for your business or brand as you might think. Let me explain.

My business as a photojournalist revolves nearly 90% around editorial photography and videos—mainly photography. But what exactly is that? You take photos of people and things for editorial use right? Wrong. That is only one part of the job.

An editorial or commercial photographer/photojournalist might have to arrange for hair and make-up. You could also have to have location scouting and arrange for campers or RVs for your talent. Catering will likely be needed for the shoot. Then you have to work with the editors and art buyers to deliver EXACTLY what they are looking for. Here is a cold hard truth—art buyers are not interested in your creativity or how you express yourself. They are more interested in how you can deliver their story or brand. I think that bears repeating—they are more concerned on how you can deliver their story or their brand.

When I speak with editors I have a pretty clear idea of what they are looking for in a story or images before I agree to the job. I make sure that I have a full understanding of their work and their brand before I go in and shoot. I would not shoot a house in an upscale neighborhood without showcasing some simple highlights of that neighborhood and what the potential buyer will see from their front yard. I would not shoot Coca-Cola with a vivid blue background. I would not shoot a local politician in their office if the story isn’t directly about them and their office. It makes zero sense. You have to understand where the story is going before you can shoot the story. Often that is a luxury, often it isn’t. You just have to feel your way through it.

When it comes down putting your work on the internet I don’t think you should be constantly promoting your work as much as your TOTAL capabilities as a company. You can’t think of yourself as a commercial photographer, you have to think of yourself as a content creation company that delivers on the regular.

Posting interesting tear sheets and images from photo shoots are great! But it should not be your entire feed. By far, let your social feeds talk moser about capabilities and strengths and less about your photography.

Remember—there is a big difference between somebody that likes to take pictures and a photographer or photojournalist. Take that for what it is worth.

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