Whether you’re new to photography or just finally confident enough in your portfolio to set it free in the world, there are a few things you should know before you share your pictures online.
These range from simple precautions every photographer must take when sharing photos online, to finding the places best suited to your photography, which offer you the best opportunity to be seen. The internet is an ever-changing place, and rule from even just a year ago no longer apply. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Small photos are SO 2008
The first thing you need to know about sharing photos online is what size and resolution is best for your images.
As you all know, images straight from the camera – any camera – are quite large. For starters, this means it will take a long time for your images to upload. But more importantly, you are giving every thief on the internet the equivalent of an unlocked door, a set of car keys, a defrosted windscreen and a cup of coffee in the drink holder. That said, the old standard of 600px to prevent IP theft is really a relic of the early noughties.
The rise of tablets and better picture viewers on social media platforms has led many photographers to increase the resolution of the photos they share online to 1000px – even 1200px. Images this size (crucially, still at 72dpi) are still too small for anyone to steal and make large prints from, but they are big enough for those who are web savvy to appreciate the finer details you so brilliantly captured in your perfect exposure.
2. Ditch the watermarks already
As long as we’re talking relics of the past… did you know the first watermarks belonged to the ancient Egyptians, who’s pharaoh watermarked his hieroglyphic signature on the side of Cheops? OK, not really, but watermarks are pretty outdated and you should totally stop using them.
Here’s why: people who are going to steal your photo are going to steal it whether there is a watermark or not.
And people who just want to enjoy and be amazed by your photo are going to be annoyed and a little less amazed by the John Hancock spoiling your elegant composition. Imagine if Kubrick had embossed his name on the monolith in 2001?
We can’t speak for every photographer, only most. And most photographers who share photos online now accept that when sharing photos online you are essentially setting it free and accepting some risk.
Like teen pregnancy, the only way to prevent theft when sharing photos online is to abstain. When sharing photos on the internet you’ll just have to accept that for every 10,000 people or so who view your photo and are amazed by it, one of them might steal it.
3. All the kids are at 500px
Flickr’s traffic still puts our – and 99% of other sites’ – to shame, but many of the photographers who are pushing the envelope and serious about their photography like you are starting portfolios on 500px. The simple format, big images and social nature of the site has fostered a thriving community.
4. Your unreached audience is on Pinterest
If you haven’t heard by now, Pinterest is the new(ish) visual bookmarking site, where you create ‘boards’ of interesting things you found online and share them with your followers. The site pulls an image of your choice from the url being ‘pinned’ and adds that to the mosaic of your board.
There are hundreds of millions of people on Pinterest, and even the so-called social media experts struggle to explain its popularity. But one thing is certain: its outrageous pace of growth suggests it will soon dwarf all other social networks. And because of its visual format, it is perfect for photographers.
A number of savvy photographers have taken advantage of 500px’s agreement copyright with Pinterest, which mandates that any pin from 500px includes the photographer’s name and image title.
We’re now seeing the start of a migration of 500px photographers who are creating Pinterest boards and pinning their 500px portfolios, thus exposing their work to millions of people who would otherwise have never have seen it. Get in on this bandwagon.
5. How to share your photos online in the new era of sharing
Gone are the days of sites like Digg where you could just post your own content exclusively and expect easy rewards. People now know how to find their way around internet a bit better and won’t put up with someone who only pimps his own wares.
Be subtle with your content. For every one of your own photos that you pin, tweet or share, include four of someone else’s.
It’s not only a nice way to build a community of followers who come to you for good content (which also happens to include your own), but it’s also a sign of confidence in your work. And why shouldn’t you be confident in your work? You’re amazing!
6. Start your free photo blog on Tumblr
We’ve been around the internets a while. If you’re looking to start a free photo blog, the popular choices are WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr. Blogger offers the most templates, and WordPress offers the most functionality. But if you just want a basic template for posting photos, Tumblr offers a classy minimalist format, with emphasis on big images, and makes it easy for others to share these images on.
7. Start a blog on your photography website
Have you paid for a bespoke website to host your photography? It’s rather inexpensive these days and can be a classy way to show off all of your archive and take more control over its presentation.
The problem is, once you upload it all and leave it there, no one is going to find it unless your name is Annie Leibovitz. If you want people to find your website, have a think about what searches you would like people to use to find your site.
With that in mind, start a blog page on your website and make 3-4 posts a week along those themes. Include images (sized according to above) and make sure you include the keywords related to those searches and what you do within your posts.
For good examples of doing this subtly, but effectively, look at landscape photographer Tony Howell and portrait photographer Sue Bryce (above). They are two great examples of photographers who are ahead of the pack.
Anyway, hope you found these tips useful. Let us know about your experiences of sharing your pictures online in the comments below. Alternatively, why not share your photos with us on the Photoventure Facebook page…