Where to Share your Photographs
Taking pictures is my passion, it is the reason why I do Street Photography. Looking at my “keepers” makes me happy already, but there is also the urge to me to share my work with the world. Where can you share your Photographs with the World?
I guess it is only a natural habit to showcase what you are proud of and share your photographs. Kids do it all the time and are getting on the nerves of their parents. Although a lot of photographers claim that they only photograph for themselves and aren’t interested to share their photographs, in the end, everyone is interested in spreading their best work.
So here is my overview where and how you can share your photographs, including modern social media platforms as well as “old school” photo groups.
Sharing your Photographs
To continue where I left, there is a slightly negative connotation about actively trying to get your work published. Some might think that all they need to have are great pictures and publishers will reach out to them, therefore they don’t need to present themselves.
This is not true, especially in our modern world. If you want to show your images to the world, you got to spread them actively. That doesn’t mean to spam, to get likes or shares on social media platforms. But that you need to invest some work yourself to share your photographs.
No, pitching your Street Series that you worked your butt off for hours to no end is not whoring out to some media outlet. It is only a way to raise attention to your photography and gives them the opportunity to decide whether your images are worth publishing or not.
Give people the opportunity to enjoy your images as much as you do. Therefore, as an unknown photographer, you need to bring the images to the people, not vice versa.
The Story of Vivian Maier
Street Photography is deeply interwoven with the photographer Vivian Maier. A nanny that took pictures while she was out on the streets of Chicago. Saving her images only to herself while being highly motivated throughout her lifetime. She wasn’t interested in showing others her work.
Instead, she rose to worldwide fame, unfortunately after her death as her images were found in some boxes in the attic during a sale. Her images were so strong, that they gained attention on their own. They didn’t need a Vivian Maier selling her story to the media. The images spoke for themselves.
What a little romantic story that is. The “simple” nanny that was a hidden genius only to be discovered after her death.
Wait… something isn’t adding up here. There is a little detail being left out in this mysticism floating around this iconic figure.
During her lifetime Vivian Maier tried several times to get her pictures published by newspapers. She sent countless pieces of her work to editors in the hope to get her photographs printed. The editors didn’t see the potential in her images and she never got any image published.
What seemed like a romantic Cinderella story is now a tragedy.
The nanny, that was a brilliant Street Photographer, pitched her images all her life, only to rise to fame after her death.
Do you want to be a Vivian Maier?
Online versus Offline
Unlike Vivian Maier, we have a lot more opportunities in the modern digital world.
As Andy Warhol stated in 1968:
“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”,
the Internet gives us the opportunity to fulfill this dream.
While the online world gives us the opportunity to spread our images throughout the globe, there is also a lot of competition. There are millions of images uploaded and shared every day. Gaining attention and real interaction is very hard and you not only need outstanding images, but also a lot of perseverance.
Showing your images offline, through magazines, galleries or books is not outdated as well. Having your image printed in a popular magazine is still a very high accomplishment. Also seeing the physical result is always something special and nothing comes close to hanging your photo on the wall and watching others as they enjoy the image as well.
Monthly Users: 122 Million
Shared Images Daily: 1 Million
As one of the earliest Social Media platform that I used, Flickr always had great incentives for photographers. You are able to upload your images in full resolution, can see the meta tags and can share them in communities.
One of my first goals was to get “explored”, which means that your image will be included in a special front page of Flickr for a day. With the high amount of visitors each day, you will get easily a few hundred likes and thousands of views. This is a great motivation to upload your images and share your images with million of peoples relatively easily.
Unfortunately, Flickr seems to be declining. The active user numbers are going down and the platform has made negative news with security leaks.
Nevertheless, it is still one of the few platforms left where you can browse through relatively good quality images. Also with the free 2TB storage, you can also use it as a cloud space to save your photos.
Also with the free 2TB storage, you can also use it as a cloud space to save your photos.
Alternatives include 500px or Photobucket.
Monthly Users: 700 Million
Shared Images Daily: 90 Million
I guess I don’t have to describe Instagram anymore. Everyone who takes images probably already has an account there. Instagram is great to share your images and has a very engaging community.
Nonetheless, I believe that Instagram is a photo sharing platform is past its prime. Most interactions aren’t genuine and bots are a very real problem. Also, a lot of brands have discovered the platform as a marketing tool.
It is still great to quickly share your image to a lot of people, but it is nothing that really sticks with the people. With a number of images shared daily, your photos will be forgotten rather quickly.
Don’t expect too much, it was a lot more genuine a few years ago, but if you have the luck to acquire a good amount of followers it is still the most powerful image platform.
Alternatives: Snapchat, Pinterest
Monthly Users: 2 Billion
Shared Images Daily: 300 Million
Not known as an exclusive photography platform, you are able to share your images on Facebook including a personal backstory that describes the image.
Just like Instagram, it is very difficult to gain some traction, but it is still the largest Social Media platform.
Be aware that the algorithm can be quite a pain in the ass. Not everyone who likes your page will be seeing your posts. The lower the engagements the fewer people will see your images. So you kind of will be forced to post images that have a high engagement rate or otherwise no one will be seeing your posts.
On the other hand, it is a great platform to connect with other photographers and get in touch with the community. If not for the likes, you should at least have a private profile to connect with people whose work you admire. Most photographers are very open to share a few tips or to meet up in case that you are traveling alone to a foreign city.
Most photographers are very open to share a few tips or to meet up in case that you are traveling to a foreign city.
Monthly Users: 330 Million
Daily Tweets: 500 Million
Mostly known for the tweets of the current US-President it can also serve as an image sharing platform.
The limitation of 140 characters forces the interaction through images without longer attached stories. Through Hashtags, your photos can be discovered by a variety of photographers all around the world.
From my perspective, the engagement is quite high and people are open to share your images and leave a favorite.
Also, it is a good place to share a link to your blog or other places as people are very willing to click through the links as they will see a preview card.
Monthly Users: 540 Million
Shared Images Daily: 200 Million
Announced as the alternative to Facebook Google Plus had a hype surrounding its launch. Meanwhile, the hype has settled and the platform isn’t very active anymore.
Personally, I don’t share my images there. It can be a good place to share blog articles or other stories depending on the circle that you are a member of.
As a photo sharing service, I don’t see a real value for me.
Monthly Users: endless potential…
Shared Images Daily: Whatever you like
Starting your own Website where you share your images is not set up as easily as an Instagram account, but in my opinion, it holds a lot of advantages.
You are not directly dependent on algorithms that decide whether a follower will see your posts or not. An RSS feed or e-mail newsletter will always reach the people that chose to follow your work.
Gaining followers and visitors is a very tough process. You have to compete against a lot of very high-profile websites, but like the other accounts, through persistence and quality content you can establish a whole community with your Website alone.
Hosting your own page also grants you complete creative control. You are able to display your images as series and in any way you prefer.
There is also not the risk that the platform will decline in popularity or simply close. Your website is a long-term project that grows over time and invested work.
Creating your own website is also a lot more fulfilling than having a 3rd party account. You are your own boss and decide how to display your photos.
Realistically you won’t have much audience for a few months or even years. But in the long-run, it can be worth it and even net you some side-income by setting up a shop or selling books.
Thanks to WordPress you are able to start your own blog within a few simple steps and it doesn’t need to cost more than 10$ a month.
In recent years, the number of online awards that promise to give you exposure in case you can convince the judges has skyrocketed.
Just like workshops, awards a very profitable source of income. Hence, there are a lot of awards that I wouldn’t participate in and see them as a money sink. They have no reputation, you pay money and don’t even have a lot of exposure.
It is hard to distinguish between legitimate awards and scams. Even popular groups like Magnum participate in awards that are very shady and don’t provide the critique that has been promised by joining the competition.
Here are a few selected awards that I believe have a high reputation amongst Street Photographers and are worthwhile to pursue.
Most of them also hold exhibitions to celebrate the winners.
You can also see a more thorough list at StreetPhotographyBerlin.com
Monthly Users: 50K
PhotoBlog is an up and coming photo sharing site that is a bit unique than other photo sharing sites. As the name implies, it allows you to create a blog around your photos.
This doesn’t mean you have to always write words but sometimes words do help give your photos more context. Telling the story behind your photos (what it is, why you took it, what you want the viewers to take away from it) helps you make deeper connections with your audience. Here is a sample photo story hosted on PhotoBlog.
This is why PhotoBlog feels like one of those old school sites where real connections are made. Site’s users are friendly and often leaves meaningful comments and interact with one another.
PhotoBlog is free to use and allows you unlimited photo uploads a month. You can add up to 10 photos per story.
As a photographer, the exhibition is probably the pinnacle of presenting your photos. You are able to print physical copies of your images in a reasonable size and frame them nicely.
Depending on the number of images, it doesn’t come cheap to hang all your photos. From my own experience it doesn’t need to be the most expensive frame, but when it comes to image quality, it is better to invest a little more than to go cheap. Especially the paper can have a huge influence on the perception of your photo.
If you don’t have the money, location or amount of great images you don’t need to start with a solo exhibition. Group exhibitions are also a great way to present your images and publish your work.
Maybe there are contests running in your area for an upcoming exhibition that only wait for your photos.
That’s how I and my two colleagues Martin Waltz and Chris Candid landed our first group exhibition as a group.
Seeing your photo framed on the wall while others stand in front of it and enjoy the photo is a huge ego boost and definitely a highlight in every photographer’s career.
There aren’t many traditional magazines left, but you might search for local papers that still are on the search for fresh content.
Show them your work, maybe with an article that you have written and maybe your images will be published. There isn’t the same pleasure as seeing your photo on the wall, but you can reach more people and the cost is a lot lower for you than investing in an exhibition.
I have mentioned before on this blog, that I am very critical of photo groups. Most of them are not very photography related and gear has a very high priority. Instead of presenting the latest work, there are more discussions about the newest lens or camera.
After visiting a Leica photo group myself, there is still a little truth to it. But I also have to admit that these photo groups can have great photographers that are very interested in actually discussing photography and not gear.
This very much depends on the group, so you might have to search for a bit to find a group that you click with.
Having a regular group that you can present your images to and that will give you meaningful feedback is a huge step forward in becoming a better Street Photographer.
Similar to exhibitions, publishing your images in the form of a book is a huge commitment. Normally, you want to present a long-term project or show a series that has a cohesive topic. A series of photos that you can arrange in a way that it makes sense to you.
Today, you don’t need the backup of a publisher, to print your own book. In cooperation with a printing company, you are able to self-publish your photo book and sell it to your friends or interested followers.
Holding your book is like winning a little trophy after a lot of work.
It will last for a very long time and be connected with your person. Therefore make sure that it will meet your quality demands.
Don’t sort the images alone and seek for feedback regarding your work to make sure that even in the future you still enjoy your product.
Other than Instagram or Facebook, these images will make a lasting impression.
Final Remarks when sharing your photographs
There is no shame in sharing your photographs and wanting your images to be seen by others. We might be our hardest critiques, but once we are satisfied with our photos, we want to share our photographs and accomplishments with others.
To share your photographs, you need to dedicate your time to market them, either on online or offline platforms.
Don’t believe in the Cinderella story that you will be magically discovered sometime in the future. The competition is getting harder and harder with the rise of social media platforms and the flooding of images. Although the quality might not be increasing, it will still be harder to gain some market share.
Send your images to editors, publishers or other people in charge so that they will have a chance to see your photos.
Engage in online communities to build relationships and your photos will be shared around the world. But these images will vanish very fast.
If you want to make a lasting impression, having physical images in exhibitions or books will have a bigger impact.
Speaking of long-term, starting your own website can be more satisfying than joining some 3rd party platform, although it requires a lot of work in the beginning.
Enjoy your photos and let others participate.