Blogging with a Target: is there a Tribe for Fine Art Photographers?

08.01.2010 · 13 comments

in Photography on Internet, Thoughts, Photography as Art

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Over the past few months I’ve used the blog mainly for shameless self promotion/communication of what was happening to me and less for talking about photography or for commenting what was going on on the photoblogosphere. I apologize for being so selfish but time has been limited and, as I wrote (in Italian) here, blogging something interesting means time and effort. It’s also worth to say that I’ve started twitting more and, hey!, twitter is absolutely interesting and intriguing and, for sure, need just a breeze of time blog normally deserve.

I actually know that this way of behaving bring your regular readers far from your blog. At the end of the day who cares about your nth news? Probably just a very small part of regular readers. Most can be interested in something different. Yes, something different what? Over the last years of blogging (started back in 2004) I’ve covered different aspects, from technologies and techniques to Art, from camera-related topics to interesting findings/takes from the NET. I’ve done it in different languages, sometimes only in Italian, sometimes in both languages. Now, everybody keeps saying that blogging and social media are an important aspect of every photographers (marketing) strategies. There is a group of fellow twitters (@PicSehsu, @NewMediaPhoto, @jimgoldstein, just to mention some of them) that are intelligently focusing on the mission of bringing photographers to use of social tools. Rosh has also a nice blog devoted to this task.
But an important thing is to try to understand clearly WHY are we blogging (or socialmediactvie), and WHICH is our target audience. Last year there was an interesting attempt made by DLK to classify blogs with a triangle (just for photography as ART) whose sides where CURATE/PROMOTE/COMMENT. It is a useful classification that starts from the view point of (part of) the OFFER, but does not cover the viewpoint of the DEMAND. Yes, the demand. Which is the demand of who’s looking for photography on the Net? And WHO’s actually looking for photography on the Internet? Art and/or Technique (let’s try to keep this simplistic distinction at the moment)? These are million dollars (or, even worse, Euros) questions with not a single, definite answer. I believe that an enormous mass of blog readers are photographers (mostly amateur) that are primarily interested in gears and techniques to improve their shots. This assumptions comes from the analysis of statistics on my posts reading (will cover later) but, more then that, from the moves the photographers as Chase Jarvis made on the Internet. Here’s the oversimplified recipe: you blog on some technique. You are a cool guy and look extremely successful as a photographer. You probably start becoming a model for a lot of aspiring photogs, since, from what can be perceived online, you’re life is a metaphor for most people holding a camera (for passion or for work). Just before the announcement of The Best Camera apps for the iPhone I was keeping asking myself: why does Chase do all of that? Kudos to Chase, he surely hit the target. A nice application for the most relevant market niche of fellows photographers that came out AFTER building a complete community: probably a new business model for making money out of photography (I agree with Doug Menuez here). Same applies for David Du Chemin who puts more focus on education (with direct and ebooks focused offers) but that, again, is hitting the greatest marketing niche.
If you resisted so far to this (arguable) overview on marketing considerations, I would like to elaborate towards a perspective that is closer to mine. I’m not a full time commercial photographer, I do not promote seminars or workshops, I’m mostly an (emerging – horrible word but still very much used :-/ ) (fine art) photographer. So which is my niche as a blogger? Who should be my targets readers? Photo buyers and collectors, galleries and museums. Am I getting closer to this niche with the Blog? Is there a content of Interest for them? I think we are back to the Art Triangle. With a great difference from who’s currently making that triangle live, which is “who am I”. As a photographer I can PROMOTE (as I did) some works I like. I can please a friend, but still simply think that photographers are not the best at promoting other colleagues works (maybe I’m wrong, and, of course, I’m fully open to discussion). For sure I would feel myself really uncomfortable at “curating” or “commenting”, I simply don’t have the “right profile” and I also feel that too much writing brings slowly far from photography  (or, at least give the impressions that you’re more writing that taking pictures as Rosh write here). Is just promoting interesting for my target niche? Not sure about it… So where is my tribe or, do I have a tribe on the Internet outside other photographers? Are the consideration and thoughts of a photographer interesting for his potential market? Or being socially active means just getting more hits and hence becoming more known with the idea that in the big mass we could also hit some of our potential target niches? Lot of questions, would love to hear your viewpoint.

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