This weeks reflection post considers the following topics:
Use of social media in promoting a practice
Shoot preparation of Barge passage Harwich to Maldon
Final preparation of opening night at London Photo Show
This week has been an opportunity to reconsider the use of social media to help promote my practice. Currently I have a full time job that occupies about 60 hours of my week. Traditionally for my Photographic Practice I have focused on activities that cover all stages of the photographic lifecycle starting with the development of project concepts, execution to create bodies of work and then the associated post-production. I have been developing my practice profile through exhibitions with the London Photo Show being my second London based exhibition in the last 2 years.
When the different social media platforms stated to become popular such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn I created accounts partly because I recognised the importance of getting my piece of real estate for my name claimed on the different platforms, to allow for a consistent identity across the platforms. Though a desire to take conservative position on the use of social media due to the fact my employers introduced policies on social media usage I very much operated as a consumer. Now that social media has become more accepted as a platform for promotion and organisations understand how to engage with these platforms I am reviewing my usage of platforms to support development of my practice.
Based on my research, use of social media for marketing I believe a using Instagram alone is not necessarily the correct strategy achieve the goal of connecting with my target audience. During the week I experiment with a number of different approaches to engage with an audience and increase followers. I found that following galleries and art publications resulted in an increase in the number of followers however those followers were passive in nature. My definition of passive followers is accounts that follow you but do not interact in terms of likes, shares or reposts. Ultimately it is the level of active engagement that will increase the chance of a social media platform featuring my account and help accelerate engagement further.
I currently do not have enough data to evaluate the effectiveness of my use of social media as a marketing platform. It will require more than a few weeks of social media activity to determine which strategies work best to drive engagement though the generally accepted view appears to be that consistent patterns of usage work best to encourage and reward follower loyalty. My view as a new photographic name I need to build a social media following that is greater than the following of more established contemporary photographers. The size of a social media to drive a sustainable practice is something that requires further consideration. Photographers such as Mark Power have 26,000 followers.
In my original research project proposal I decided to explore the Essex coastline through different perspectives, to date my shoots have been land based however on Sunday 15th and Monday 16th of October with the help of TopSail Charters I will be on board the Thames barge Thistle when she makes passage from Harwich to Maldon as part of the crew introducing a water based or reverse coastal perspective to the work. This week I contacted the TopSail’s offices to confirm details for the passage from Harwich to Maldon the barge’s home port. This trip will allow me to observe the coast from the sea and follow part of the traditional commercial routes that would have been used to transport goods from Essex to London. It was agreed that I would embark at Harwich Pier at 16:30 and that we would either sail on the Sunday evening tide arriving back in Maldon on the midday or midnight tide depending on the weather conditions. Now it was just a case of me packing clothes and photographic equipment for the trip. Following part of the traditional trade routes for me is an important part of connecting with the history of the county especially the coastal area.
The week involved work at the other end of photographic production timeline, preparation for the London Photo Show with the final countdown to the show with final pre-show tasks to complete, these including the printing and mounting of the ‘Artist Statement’, ‘Exhibit Title’, Labels and ‘Layout Guide’ that I would provide to the team responsible for hanging my work. These activities are discussed in more detail in the following post these three activities for me highlight how much time a photographer spends on business activities when running a professional practice. For me each week is a constant challenge of balancing the time required to develop my practice while recognising the fact that it is in the start-up phase and has yet to transition to a viable business where income in the medium term equals or is greater than the associated operating costs.