The Photographer and the Blog, Part 1
I did an interview with Frederick Van Johnson of TWIP last week. Easily the most fun I’ve had doing an interview in the last 15 or so years, and there have been some real doozies. One of the questions he asked me was about blogging and while I can’t recall the exact question, or my reply for that matter, it’s had me thinking.
Q: Should photographers blog?
This is a little like asking if architects should use telephones. Taken the wrong way it’s a bit on the far side of non-sequitor. On the other hand, if the architect needs to make a phone call the telephone will be a much better tool – assuming he uses it right – than, say, a turnip. Of course the question Fred was implying was: are there benefits to blogging that photographers who abstain from this social media might be missing? And the answer is a resounding Yes! Clearly if you’re reading this you see value in the blog as a form of communication. If you didn’t you’d be doing something else with your time. Possibly even out making photographs.
I did a post months back called You Definitely Should(n’t) Blog and followed that one up with Blogging Tips for Photographers so I won’t repeat it again. If you’re interested in this topic, by all means go back and read those two articles.
I just want to follow up because Fred’s question got me thinking and I haven’t been able to shake it. So forget all the rational reasons and let me give you three more that are a little more experiential. Used well, with some skill and intention, using a blog as a form of social networking and promotion can bring gifts you never expected.
1. My best friends in the photographic world have come through my blog.
I have a circle of friends that I am every day grateful for, and most of them came through this blog. They are now people, many of them, that I’ve met in person, travelled with, taught with, photographed with, and shared meals with. If it all fell apart tomorrow I’ve made lifelong friends. If my blog had done nothing more than that, this would be enough.
2. My best client has come through my blog.
Two and a half years ago I got an email out of the blue from someone who’d been reading my blog, lurking in the background for months. One minute I had no idea she was even out there, the next minute I had an email on my desk asking if I’d be interested in a high-profile assignment in a couple countries in Africa. I wasn’t angling for work, I wasn’t writing for clients. But something in the way I wrote and the common interests and values we seemed to share made her think I was the photographer she wanted. We still work together and that account is both my largest and my most enjoyable.
3. My best opportunities have come through my blog.
Every one of the best opportunities I have had over the last three years, including my book, have come as a result of conversations that were initiated on, or because of, my blog. Without exception. I have booked lectures, workshops, and writing assignments solely from this blog.
I love blogging. I get more personal and professional satisfaction out of the time I spend on this thing, and on the blogs of others photographers, than I ever imagined. The blog can be a powerful, career-building tool, when wielded right. If you’ve ever wondered if blogging had any benefits for a photographer, and if the three benefits I listed above didn’t seal the deal, read the article I mentionned at the top of the post – You Definitely Should(n’t) Blog
This week I want to talk about blogging as photographers. If you have questions or ideas for topics you’d love to see covered, leave a comment. I have a couple ideas but as is often the case I’m kind of just launching the ship into these waters this week without a solid course set. It’s just more, uh, organic that way. If you’ve seen your own blog bring you solid benefits or have some wisdom to share, leave it the comments and share the love. Tomorrow we’ll talk about why you just might wanna leave this whole thing alone.