In the cluttered and often distracting world of social media, finding your place and your collaborators can seem daunting. The truth is, there are creative, supportive communities all around you — showing up every day to support, shout at, and help each other move forward.
For photographers, finding a passionate community on social media can lead to new connections, job opportunities, and that creative spark you may be looking for.
We’ve hosted our first-ever Twitter space dedicated to this topic and we’re thrilled that over 250 of you tuned in!
Where can I find my own photo community on social media? How to start?
Moving from one chapter of life to another can cause many different emotions. Feeling lost is common. This feeling can often be the catalyst for finding a dedicated, like-minded community.
For Polly Irungu, founder of Black Women Photographers, moving across the country and starting school in a new state has left her depressed and unsure of the journey ahead.
After grabbing a camera and sharing some of her photos online, she began to find solace in social media as a way to connect with others.
“In Oregon, I just felt like I was in a whole different country and I really felt like I was away from everything I wanted to be culturally connected to. Who would hire photographers in the ‘Oregon? Who would hire black photographers, black female photographers in Oregon? I was trying to find a community of people who looked like me, people to turn to, ask questions… so I turned to social media and I really wanted to put my work there, but also find that community because I knew it existed somewhere – just not where I was currently placed. Polly Irungu
After discovering the power of social media, creating various Twitter Lists and tweeting her work time and time again, Polly began to find and build a community of like-minded creatives. Fast forward to the present day and Black Women Photographers is now a global database of hundreds of photographers, with over 48,000 followers on Instagram and over 20,000 followers on Twitter.
Polly breaks down five of her top tips for finding your own photo community as part of this partnership with B&H.
Twitter versus Instagram. Which is best for community building?
Believe it or not, it was the general consensus of our guest speakers that Twitter has become the go-to place to find and build your own community of photographers. With Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri’s admission last year that Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app (the focus is now on “Creators, Video, Shopping, and Messaging”), he no wonder photographers are flocking to Twitter to share their work and meet other photographers.
For Brayden Williams (known as Brayden Creations on social media), Twitter feeds were the catalyst for high engagement and community building. The ability to reply, follow, and share your work with others is something Instagram definitely lacks.
The retweet is one of the main reasons why these photo challenge threads are gaining traction and also reaching the masses.
“I took a course on online communities and they were talking about how being as broad and simple as possible with your words can go a long way. Then you can win over people from other cultures, other religions, other groups in general where they don’t speak the same language as you – so when that translates, it translates better so they can to understand. And I really took that and tried to create such a simple, easy-to-read format where I say, “Share your work and I’ll retweet it.” – Brayden Williams
Content is catapulted into a web of different networks via Twitter likes and retweets, making it easier to access communities and build professional and personal relationships.
When Community Leads to Opportunity
Remember the recent ad campaign showcasing celebrities who made their dreams come true on Twitter? It’s not every day that you can manifest your career goals and aspirations just by tweeting, but it might be more common than you think!
One of the main topics of discussion during our Twitter space was the benefit of using social media to network and find photo assignments and job opportunities. Instagram profiles are often used as a second portfolio or as a great place to generate interest so that potential clients or employers visit your website and contact you for work.
We were fortunate to have New York Times photo editor and Diversify Photo co-founder Brent Lewis join us to share some thoughts.
“I love social media… I have to take my hat off to the people who did my job as photo editors before social media existed because they opened my eyes to so many photographers that I would never have seen before. And some photographers I picked by sharing an amazing photo, or if I followed a hashtag, event, or Moment… I see links and people don’t have to email me. The way the system is set up right now, emailing a photo editor is difficult. – brent lewis
Polly’s work with Black Women Photographers is full of great examples where community support and social media connection has also led to handshakes and paid opportunities.
So don’t be shy. Reply to this tweet. Apply to this program. Send that DM! You never know what might happen next.
How does social media affect your mental health?
It’s obvious that social media can bring new people and new opportunities into your life, but we can’t overstate how important it is to tune out sometimes.
As social media managers, creatives, or photographers, keeping up with trends and posting frequently can be a lot to manage. The expectations we place on ourselves can be exhausting. The daily news cycle kicks in a lot these days.
But staying creative and following your community doesn’t mean you have to be on social media 24/7. Taking time to recharge, meet people in person, and pursue other passions is so important. Your mental health matters.
“Spoiler alert: these apps will still be here. Twitter isn’t going anywhere, Instagram isn’t going anywhere. Whichever app you prefer, it’s not going anywhere. You can log out, you can delete the app, you can do whatever you need to do to create that separation and understand what your limits are… You can still care offline, y’all. Polly Irungu
About the Author
Jeremy Berkowitz is a creative media producer, photographer, social media brand manager and multimedia journalist. He is also a social media and content marketing specialist at PhotoShelter. To learn more about Jeremy and see his work, check out his website and Instagram. This article was also posted here and shared with permission.