Category "Social Media Marketing"

What Happens When Your Images Go Viral: Eric Pickersgill’s REMOVED

by Efrem Zelony-Mindell, aCurator

Eric Pickersgill_Angie_and_Me

Eric Pickersgill_angie_snappin_pics

Eric Pickersgill_cody_and_erica

Eric Pickersgill_debbie_kevin

Eric Pickersgill_grant

Eric Pickersgill_headon

Eric Pickersgill_Phyllis_Photographing

Eric Pickersgill_Phyllis

Eric Pickersgill_vickis_ice_cream

You’ve probably seen and possibly heard the story of Eric Pickersgill’s body of work: REMOVED. How Eric noticed a family in a coffee shop all staring at their personal devices and simultaneously feeling disgusted dejected and realizing that he was that same family. So he created a series of images with the phones removed, “to show just how weird that can be”.

What you probably haven’t heard is what happens to a photographer when a series of images goes viral. And what can be done to harness some of that viral-ity to money and attention to the photographer whose images have been co-opted by the internet.

“It happened so fast. It still seems a little unreal,” Pickersgill chuckles. 2015 was already shaping up to be a great year for him as an emerging photographer, even before a friend at Business Insider asked to feature his work. Business Insider was the start. Views of Pickersgill’s feature quickly went from a few hundred to tens of thousands. A day later the work started popping up on other blog’s and online publications. How is a little hazy, as some of these early posts were used without an e-mail to him. This additional coverage helped push the work further; this is when sensible inquiries started. USE USE USE, WANT WANT WANT, e-mail after e-mail requesting images for publications we view every day.

The emails quickly ramped up to over 300 a day and Eric says, “money floated into my mind as an afterthought, but I soon realized I was going to need some help.” Almost without exception, the expectation was that images would be given for publication for free. He did not get too many “it will be great exposure for you” insults, but the sense was he would be eager to be published. And Eric was very eager to be published and a number of websites and blogs benefitted.

On the third day of this Eric called photo professional Julie Grahame, who he was introduced to by a mutual business friend. “I wasn’t sure the first time we spoke. I thought the work might just fizzle,” Grahame said. It’s funny to note that both Pickersgill and Grahame shared this thought upon first interactions before they agreed on working together. Pickersgill quickly came back around to Grahame after a day or so attempting the Internet solo. “Other countries started calling for the work. The Netherlands, South Africa, on and on.”

With so many inquiries on the table, Julie set out with Eric to prioritize those likely to have a budget. They agreed to just not get back to a bunch of people until they had managed the more practical clients. That was hard for Eric, he had to understand he wasn’t being rude, he was just staying sane. A couple of things likely slipped through the cracks, because it was so overwhelming, but they soon had several invoices out to various countries, and as each publication came out, they perpetuated the interest.

“Some clients I expected to have a budget said no, and when we refused to play, managed to find a little bit of cash”, says Julie of their interactions with clients. One German journalist said “I’m sure they do have a budget, I’ve just never seen it used” and then found them $200. They had to be creative and flexible – one client who Eric did an interview with had to process the fee as an equipment expense. With all the best intentions and efforts it is difficult to get a publisher to pay up-front but they did manage it on a few occasions.

Lots of people wanted interviews as well, but they still insisted on license fees for the majority of them. They also let go a bunch of websites who used images without permission that they felt it would be impractical to pursue.

“Collecting the money is the usual ongoing effort but we’ve done really well!”, says Julie, “I would like to add we have negotiated licenses that include an ad campaign, and a music video.” (As an aside, managing tax issues and incoming wire transfers from all over the world is a bit of a pain.)

There were also several requests for prints but Eric decided that “instead of jumping to make quick sales, he waited until he found a gallery who was interested in the work and who would then fulfill the print requests for him.” This manifested in an enthusiastic agreement with Rick Wester Fine Art, in New York within a month of going viral.

Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. Eric is saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and he doubts we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now. This is Pickersgill’s story, this is how it all began.

The photos are deeper, they delve into a history of portraiture, and they are as sculptural as they are narrative. Pickersgill’s images bridge a gap between fine art and editorial. They are full of repose and gesture and curiously, the hands of the subjects with their devices removed, create a nebulous sense of vacuum. Composition informs the subject’s relation; tonality and print quality capture awkward moments of estranged intimacy. In Pickersgill’s own words, “I have a strong connection to the body and photographing people.”

REMOVED incites a certain sense of joy hidden in the images’ absurdity. That’s not to say they’re a joke, laughter ensues because the photos allow a viewer to realize just how complicated they’ve made themselves. There’s a freedom in that.

Eric’s future isn’t clear, but there’s a whole lot of potential. The work will continue, and so too will the obsession with REMOVED. As long as people need reminding it seems pretty clear Pickersgill will have subjects to photograph. The body goes on adapting and relying, submitting itself. And maybe that’s the ultimate realization the work can impart. I don’t get the feeling that his photos are trying to say put down the technology, but to grow with each other and to raise the platform. The blinking lights and fun little gadgets will catch up.

Efrem Zelony-Mindell, aCurator

Social Media Marketing – Put The Internet To Work For You

Social Media, when used regularly, has become a great new marketing tool for photographers. It’s rare that we talk to a photographer who isn’t using Tumblr or Instagram to update clients and fans on their latest work. And what could be better than showing potential clients a stream of new work that you’re producing. For your clients, social media has the advantage over traditional methods in that it’s entirely opt-in. The client decides if they want to see updates from you. And unlike traditional media, where you’re competing for their attention in mail, email, phone and facetime directly with important day-to-day operations of the business; with social media they’re able to set aside time just to catch up with photographers they’re following.

All great except for one thing. This has not eliminated traditional marketing methods, so we’ve really just added one more thing to do to the pile. And lets not forget the most important part of the equation: you’ve got to have something to post. Spending all your time on marketing and running a business leaves little time for creativity and producing new work.

Luckily the internet is coming to the rescue with tools I discovered a while back that put the internet to work for you:

ifTTT (ifttt.com) stands for If This Then That and they have an incredible set of triggers that allow you to have one action (posting an image on Instagram) trigger a whole slew of other actions (reposting on facebook, twitter and your blog). That example of reposting is just the tip of the iceberg on this service and depending on your workflow you can automatically trigger all kinds of interesting things that will help you with your workload. The key here is automatic. I think we can mostly agree that the internet is a giant time suck for all of us, but once I discovered this service I saw the potential to put it back to work for me.

Nearly Naked Women + Tumblr + Excellent Photography = Success

I’m always on the lookout for photographers who use social media to build an audience and then leverage that audience to success by selling them something or attracting commercial and editorial clients who are interested in the audience. There are lots of examples where photographers attract other photographers by talking about the business or their process for making pictures, but the real potential lies in attracting consumers outside this industry.

I’ve been lecturing about social media marketing for artists for several years and my go to examples of this are: The Sartorialist, The Cobra Snake and The Selby, all three of whom built their careers (in varying degrees) using social media. A few years back I was happy to add to this list an established photographer (Michael Edwards) who took a tried and true formula (nearly naked wormen plus tumblr), but added in his skills as a pro picture maker, and watched the whole thing go viral: http://meinmyplace.com. But, the success in the whole endeavor lies not in his ability to attract hundreds of thousands or horny college kids to his site, but to leverage the whole thing into a monthly column at Esquire, which he did for a year and a half and has since moved it to Playboy.

PDN has an interview with Michael (here) where you can get the full story.

If you want to study success in social media with photography these 4 are excellent case studies and pioneers in the industry.

Social Media Means More Opportunity To Be Seen

This is a series of posts based off a talk I used to give on social media marketing for photographers.

It’s a generally accepted rule of thumb that 3-5 point of contact (some say 7-9) is necessary for someone to make a hiring decision on you. What that means is someone must encounter your work 3-5 times either by you putting it directly in front of them or some serendipitous encounter somewhere. If you look at the typical day for someone whose job it is to hire artists, traditionally (in the past) this meant they saw your work:

Browsing the newsstand
Looking through their mail
Reading email
During an office visit
Talking with colleagues
At industry events and awards

Now with social media we’ve simply added blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to the mix. And, what’s powerful about these new tools is they allow for more serendipitous and peer recommended encounters with your work, two of the more powerful kinds.

People who are reading less mail, email and having less office visits are probably spending more time online or at least trying to make up for it with more efficient network recommended stuff. There’s a great quote that goes “If it’s important it will find me” which means that your network will keep alerting you to the same thing over and over again if people around you deem it important.

This means two things for people marketing themselves. Participation in the different networks is mandatory and if  good things happen to you offline, you can make them social by writing and publishing it.

How Social Media Changes Marketing

This is the first in a series of posts based off a talk I used to give on social media marketing for photographers.

The traditional method for photographers to prospect for new clients is to market themselves using one of the following:
Direct Mail
Direct Email
Sourcebooks (Workbook, LeBook…)
Cold Calling
Office Visits

The problem with these methods of marketing is the prospect has no way to control it. Social media solves this by allowing them to unsubscribe from updates if they’re not interested. Of course the challenge then is to get them to subscribe in the first place, but I believe eventually all marketing will be received through these channels because they’re so efficient.

It’s helpful to think about social medial as just another publishing platform and delivery tool. No different than creating a postcard and mailing it to someone except that when you put something online it can be shared over and over again with no additional cost to you. The new methods for marketing are:
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email Newsletters
Blogging

A blog is the perfect tool for tackling all of these at once. You can publish your marketing material on a blog and have it sent automatically to an email list and post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Many blogging platforms (wordpress.com, blogger.com, tumblr.com) have plugins that will auto post and setup automatic emails. https://posterous.com is a blogging platform that was created for auto sharing and tools like http://dlvr.it will take your blog RSS feed and post to social media. If you’re uncomfortable with auto posting you can always use the blog as a home base and write something original for each platform but link back to the blog as a way to direct traffic to your site. The goal with all of this is to funnel people to your portfolio when they have a job to award. How will you know when they have a job to award? You don’t, but the more visible you are the better your chances of being considered when it happens. So, this isn’t to say you can give up on the traditional methods just yet, but it’s time to put more emphasis on the new methods.

It’s helpful to look at this from the clients perspective. Traditionally, if I discovered a new photographer I was interested in hiring, because I saw them in a magazine, an award or a colleague told me about them, I would visit their website and bookmark it and then add them to my photographer list. Now, I can sign up to receive information by liking their facebook page, following them on twitter, connect on LinkedIn, signup for an email newsletter or adding their blog feed (RSS) to my reader. Now, not only does your marketing reach me it can be recommended to me and I can even discover it without having signed up in the first place. Social media changes marketing in a good way.

Social Media Marketing Talk – PPE NYC Tomorrow

I’m giving my talk on photographers using social media tomorrow (Friday) at the PDN Photo Plus Expo in New York City. The talk is at 1:30.

The talk has evolved since I first gave it 2 years ago as I’ve discovered more and more photographers finding success with social media. Also, this idea that you uncover demand using social media, rather than create it has changed how I look at everything. So, if that interests you and you’re around come by and listen.

The Daily Chessum

When I give my Social Media Marketing talk most of the examples I give of photographers having success using it to market themselves involve lots of writing and monkeying around with a blog which can feel ridiculous to present to a group of people who take pictures for a living. That’s why I always end my examples with Jake Chessum’s blog thedailychessum.com where I’ve come to love the simplicity of a daily image from one of my favorite photographers as a brilliant marketing tool.

In my mind it easily represents how social media will allow those in the hiring seat the opportunity to follow photographers they’re interested in, rather than get blasted with emails and promo cards. Additionally, people can easily share his content and if he added a couple simple features it could be on twitter and facebook in an instant.

This is where social media is taking us, to a world where everything comes into our purview after someone endorses it. You don’t have to look further than the survey I did with Art Buyers and Photo Editors to understand that this is how hiring decisions have always been made: someone recommends you, a magazine I like hires you, an agent I trust has you on their roster, you win an award I keep track of. Now there’s just a more efficient way for recommendations to happen.

It’s been a year since he started so I decided to give him a call and ask a few questions.

Rob: Tell me, why did you choose this format to put your work out there?

Jake: Well, first of all I didn’t want to write one of these confessional type of blogs. I think it’s too easy to get yourself in trouble with clients that way. I wanted to be able to put new work up without having to go into the website and reorganize the portfolios. I wanted something immediate, to capture that moment when you’re really excited about something you’ve just done.

What about the time commitment, a photo each day must get difficult for someone as busy as you are?

If I’ve got a job coming up and won’t be around I can post ahead and I always keep a folder with 20 or 30 in the bank. There is pressure to create something and so when I’m in between shooting jobs I’ve got to have the camera with me for when I see something. It’s actually quite good in that it keeps you motivated to shoot.

What about the fact that this is one more thing photographers have to do now?

I remember very clearly as a kid how everyone said that in the future technology was going to do all the work for us. How we were going to be down to a 3 day work week and have loads of leisure time. Turned out to be complete bullshit, the opposite is true. This stuff adds to the workload, but I do feel it’s a positive and necessary thing.

Do you see this replacing any of the traditional marketing you do?

I think the whole industry’s in a transitional period so we don’t know what’s going to happen. Look at vinyl, everyone said in 5 or 10 years nobody will buy a vinyl record but now when an album comes out you’ve got to have a vinyl edition for the collectors. I do know you’re taking a risk if you’re not participating in these emerging outlets.

How well do you think it works as a marketing tool? There’s not really a way to tell if you’ve landed jobs because of it is there?

No not really unless somebody tells you. It does put the pressure on to be on your game. You’ve got to pick 30 pictures a month that you stand by. I couldn’t do it without my wife. She’s a great editor and critic. When I’m traveling around the world on jobs I can post and let people know where I am and they can follow and know what I’m up to. When a shoot is published in a magazine I can post the outtakes, some of which are often favorites, but didn’t make the cut for space or other reasons. Media is changing day on day and the consumption of images is so rapid. The real payoff as I said before, is the immediacy of it. When you’ve done something you’re proud of and you’ve got that great feeling about it, you can publish it, for everyone to see.