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Open New Markets with Video

Jon Hornstein

March 31st, 2009 · 7 Comments

Once upon a time photography and videography rarely crossed paths. In virtually all markets for visual communication (commercial, editorial, corporate, documentary, events) photography and videography were provided by completely separate individuals or crews, the fees came from different budgets and the client base rarely overlapped.

But that era is rapidly fading. Until recently, the primary venue for still photography was print material of some sort such as magazines, books, brochures and albums. Video was primarily experienced over broadcast or cable channels or distributed to consumers and corporate customers on tape or DVD.

Publishing and Broadcasting Converging
The Web is now the default vehicle for reaching audiences and publishing to mobile devices is rapidly on the rise. From the publishers’ perspective, the technical separation between still photography and video is rapidly disappearing. More importantly, the cost of delivering video to an audience declined significantly in just the past few years. Not long ago, the barrier to entry for getting video in front of an audience was extremely high. Getting a magazine, brochure or even a book was typically much less expensive. Today, there’s little distinction between publishers and broadcasters.

There are distinct differences in the way each of these media types conveys information and affects the user experience. Still images have an instant impact that videos, due to their temporal nature, can’t match. Video, on the other hand, can tell a more complex and nuanced story (when done well) than can a photograph. Photographs also require less of a commitment on the part of the visitor than the 30 seconds or longer it takes to watch a video. In most cases it doesn’t require a click to see a photograph on a Web site but it does to watch a video. This might sounds trivial but getting people to click things on a Web site is one of key challenges faced by Web publishers.
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5 Ways To Use Video Now

Jon Hornstein

March 30th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Most photographers need to develop new skills before they can offer video services to clients. Here are things you can do to help them develop these skills plus they’ll provide you with valuable material to promote yourself and your work:

1. Post a short video of yourself on your Web site.

On your bio page, include a video of yourself talking about how you approach your work. Personal networking is the best way to market and since you can’t meet every potential client, this is a good proxy.

2. Show how you work in a video.
On your next shoot, have someone record the days activities and then post it on your site. It will give potential clients confidence that you work in a professional way plus putting it together is a good way to give yourself video editing experience.

3. Get video testimonials from past clients.
Interview several previous clients on camera and a create a series of one-minute testimonials. It has greater impact than just using text quotes.

4. Create a video for a client to accompany your next assignment.

Just as an exercise, create a video at your next photo shoot. When you create pictures for a client you should approach it as if you’re solving a problem for them. They need an idea expressed, a story told. Use this same approach when you create the video.

5. Make an experimental video.

Don’t get too caught up in trying to transfer you photo style to video. Try things you might not do for a still photograph. Even if you’re not happy with the results, spending some time with a video camera in your hand might give you some fresh inspiration that can help your photography develop in new and different ways.

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Get The Word Out with Online Social Networks

Jon Hornstein

February 28th, 2009 · 1 Comment

If you’re under 30, it’s likely that you already understand the power of online social networking. But for those of us who’ve been doing business before the Web was ubiquitous, there’s a good chance that you aren’t exploiting the opportunities offered by social networking as well as you should. Services like LinkedIn, Facebook, Digg and Twitter are just a few of the services that can serve as powerful promotional tools

The Big View
One of the reasons that professional photography is facing challenging times is that the advertising and publishing industries are hurting badly. Advertising and publishing dollars are shifting away from print, which is the ideal medium for photography, to the Web which is as least as well suited for a wide range for other creative media including video, interactive, 3D renderings and animations.

But an even bigger change is taking place. Advertisers and publishers are looking at a completely new way to get their messages and content out to audiences. They call it a “conversational” approach. Instead of broadcasting their message with an authoritative, top-down voice, they are looking to create an interactive relationship with their target audience. This can be anything from simply encouraging lively forums on corporate and news sites that were once tightly controlled, to having contests where audience members make commercial, vote on new products or are given some other way to feel they can actually wield influence, and therefore have a stake in the relationship.

And a key part of this conversational approach is what is variously called viral marketing, social marketing or social networking. The premise is simple: You are more likely to open, read and act on an email from a friend telling you that Burger King has a site that will turn you into a character from the Simpsons (here) than if the email came from Burger King. Modern consumers have been bombarded by enormous amounts of corporate and media messaging for so long that it’s become increasingly difficult for these organizations to cut through both the noise and the skepticism that envelops consumers today.

Ways to Use Social Networking
Photographers can use this same approach to help promote themselves, their work and their business. After all, face-to-face networking has always been the most effective marketing tool and what is commonly called social networking is really just an Internet enabled form of traditional networking. In many ways, the advent of social networking for photographers parallels the emergence of portfolio Web sites. While it’s always more effective to sit down with a photo buyer and show them your portfolio in person, the massive reach of a Web site more than makes up for the fact that you aren’t spending “face time” with each visitor and the images don’t look as good as they would in a beautifully printed book.

The same is true with social networking. While each referral may not be as meaningful as a personal introduction, the sheer scale of social networks can result in getting you significant exposure.

There are two primary ways to use social networks, broadcasted and targeted.

The goal of the broadcast approach is to have your network of contacts reach out to their network of contact, who then reach out to their networks of contacts (an on and on) to draw attention to you, your images and your service. This is called “going viral.”

An example of this viral approach is to push out to your Facebook “friends” a message that says you just returned from spending a month living with and photographing a family of migrant farm workers and have posted the images on your Facebook page with a link to your site. The hope is that your Facebook friends like it, pass it on to their friends, more people link back to your Facebook page, ask to be your friend and otherwise spread awareness of your work through other services like Digg and Twitter. Ideally, beyond just making more people aware of you and your work, this could bring you to the attention of organizations that work with migrant workers or publications that are doing a story on the subject. There are two benefits to promoting yourself and your work in this way:

  • Your message is likely to reach interested, important parties that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to find
  • When it does come the attention of these organization or publishers, it will be as a referral from a “friend” or some other trusted source, not from a complete stranger.

The targeted way of using social networks is to look for a specific person or people who you would like to be introduced to. You can usually do this either by searching the networks of you “friends” or “connections” to see if the people you want to reach are part of their networks, or you can usually search on a specific person and then see if they are in one of your contacts’ networks or perhaps removed by one or two degrees of separation.

Here’s an example of using the targeted method: Let’s say your name is Jim. You know that an agency is calling in books for an upcoming ad campaign. You’re sure you’d be perfect for the job but also realize that yours will be one of dozens of books they’ll be reviewing. You know the name of the art buyer and search for them on LinkedIn. You see that the art buyer is one degree removed from one of your connections, who we’ll call Jane. You contact Jane and ask her to find out which of her connections is connected to the art buyer. We’ll call the contact between Jane and the art buyer Joe. Ask Jane if she’s willing to make an introduction between you and Joe. If she agrees, ask Joe if he would mind sending a note to the art buyer (or perhaps have Jane ask Joe) along that says: “A colleague I greatly respect suggested that a photographer she knows would be a great fit for your upcoming shoot. His name is Jim and he has submitted his portfolio. You can also see his work online here . . . “

The efficiency of locating and reaching people via the Internet is a major cause of the decline of print publishing, and that in turn is one of reasons the field of professional photography is facing such challenging times. But photographers can also use the Web’s ability to connect people as an asset when promoting themselves and their work. The advent of photographers’ Web sites, which made the physical portfolio virtual, was only one step in the process. The next step is to get the word out. Direct email campaigns are important but it’s getting increasingly difficult to break through the “noise” and get your message to photo buyers using direct email alone. The new frontier is online social networking. If you aren’t doing this yet, experiment to see what works best for you and then incorporate it into your marketing plan.

In times like these you need to use every tool available to reach potential clients. Online social networking is an exciting and powerful way get your message out.

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5 Tips for Online Social Networking

Jon Hornstein

February 28th, 2009 · No Comments

1. Make it interesting: When pushing out a message you hope will go viral, think of what will be of interest to the recipient, not to you. “I just updated my portfolio” will not interest anyone. Go for quirky, dramatic, humorous; anything that will stand out.

2. Respect the referral process: While using social networks asks less of people’s time than traditional networking, it still requires the same level of trust. Every recommendation or referral someone makes ultimately impacts their own reputation.

3 Not all contacts are created equal: One of your contacts might be someone you worked closely with for years, another could be someone you merely exchanged cards with at a party. It might be reasonable to ask the former colleague, to make introductions. For someone you’ve only met once, that might be asking a lot. The same scenarios apply to the relationship between your contacts and the contacts in their network.

4. Keep your profiles professional: Understand that anything you include in your profile will be seen by prospective clients and in essence become part of your brand. If you feel the need to proclaim your political leanings or your passionate position on current federal drug policy, understand that this could be a turn-off to some prospective clients.

5. This is new territory: The largest and most aggressive ad and marketing firms are still trying to understand how to harness the power of social networks. The exciting thing about online social networking is that it’s a bottom-up approach, not a top-down. But things at the bottom are less predictable, and less controllable than they are at the top. Be experimental, track what works and what doesn’t, and keep innovating.

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