Philip Given

Social Photography: Shoot More, Share More

By: Philip Given | December 3, 2013 | 

social photographyBy Philip Given

There is a perennial divide between gear-obsessed hobbyists and seasoned photography pros.

“It’s not about the equipment,” the pros say, “just get out there and shoot.”

This is truer than ever before as we’re armed with an incredibly powerful photographic tool right here in our pockets – the camera attached to our mobile device of choice.

In an Instagram-heavy world, you might be hard pressed to find people actually encouraging others to shoot more social photography, (“Do we really need to see another dinner photo, Philip?”) but I’m here to do just that.

Social Photography

A wardrobe of the day selfie or snap of your morning Cheerios isn’t going to net you any awards or drive much traffic to your blog, but every photo you take is an opportunity for creative growth. Here are some things to think about when you’re out taking random pics.

What’s the Point?

Before I even launch my trusty camera app, “why?” is the very first question I ask of myself. I mentally categorize the photos coming off my phone and into my social stream in three ways. If I don’t see it fitting in one of these rough categories, chances are it won’t get shared. It’ll just live on my phone instead.

New and Exciting

Ooh, a new restaurant! Why is that building being torn down? Check out this amazing new recipe I just tried!

Keep your content fresh and relevant to the communities you call your own. The same bowl of cereal every morning, framed the same way in each and every shot, is just as boring and uninspiring for your followers as it is for you.

Break the Fourth Wall

Clients and fans look at a photographer’s dSLR as a magical device that holds the key to great photos. I like to use my social feed to share behind-the-scenes images from commercial shoots, share interesting teasers from weddings, and give people a peek inside what’s happening within the four walls of my business.

Come up with a creative way to let people feel like they have the inside scoop on what you’re doing through social photography.

Who Cares? This is Awesome!
Break all of the rules for an amazing photograph. A once in a lifetime sunset, 40 photos from your trip to Greece, or the dining experience of your dreams. While you don’t need to push every photo across your social network, share it if you think someone will appreciate it.

But Photography is Hard!

Gini Dietrich wrote a great post about the techniques and theory behind great socially-curated photographs, so I won’t rehash here.

Photography isn’t hard, and my advice is simple: Get out there and shoot.

SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are immediate feedback tools for your work. Use them. Keep posting photos and keep looking at the content that interests you.

Follow people who you admire. If you see a friend share a cool photograph from someone you don’t know, follow that person, too. Social photography depends on you being social.

The simple act of consciously evaluating the types of images you’re sharing means the quality of the photos you capture will only get better. Use that power to create thoughtful, curated photographic content but, more importantly, shoot more and shoot often.

No one ever got better at photography by taking fewer photos.

About Philip Given

Philip Given is a wedding and editorial photographer based out of York, Pa. He spends his time eating good food, playing with his dogs, and plotting to take over his small chunk of the world.

  • susancellura

    @philipgiven True advice! Do you know Chris and Suzanne Salvo? Salvo Photography. They teach the same principles to many IABC classes. I like how everyone views the same picture with a different eye. My daughter sees a scene differently than I do. It’s cool to take pictures of the same scene and compare them!

  • @pgiven You know I love this post — and your perspective. The ubiquity of Instagram et al is making even non-photographers think more consciously about composing a really memorable shot, even if it is just my dinner. 🙂 
    That’s the biggest obstacle to my own photography — I haven’t gotten familiar and comfortable enough with my equipment to start thinking visually instead of just pushing buttons.

  • Sinek says… start with why…

  • pgiven

    susancellura  I don’t! I’m checking out their work now. 
    Nothing motivates me more than looking at portfolios, blogs, galleries, and even instagram. We host walking tours occasionally and it’s amazing to see how differently people can interpret a scene.

  • pgiven

    jasonkonopinski I think that’s part of the beauty of instagram, really. It eliminates the stress and technical hurdle of what we know as “photography”. Just compose and push the button. 
    Some photographers will scoff at this, but I consider social photography an excellent entry point in understanding what makes a photo great.

  • Nice post Philip, I don’t have “an eye” (like, at all! LOL) but love taking snaps. But then, I remember back when you had to out those flash cubes on top of your camera. #Truestory

  • BillSmith3

    Great post Philip, I’m one of those gear obsessed photography enthusiasts who actually goes out and takes pictures, with old film cameras no less. 
    There’s a lot of advice here for people who should actually just go out and shoot even if it’s with their smart phone with the Hipstamatic or 645 Pro app and edit on the fly in Snapseed. Deep down it’s all about composition, lighting and being at the right place at the right time.

  • This is a cool post, pgiven!  I love shooting all kinds of photos, asked for a “real” camera for Christmas (are you listening, Santa?) and it’s on my bucket list to really learn how to do it “properly” someday!  Thank you for encouraging us to get out there and just do it!  Hope to meet you at CoWork one of these days when I stop down to visit jasonkonopinski 🙂

  • Great post pgiven! I actually just called one of my coworkers to see if we got some BTS photos from a video shoot we did yesterday. We didn’t actually get any, but it’s on our list for next time!

  • pgiven

    wiedenu pgiven Absolutely! It’s one of those things that we forget all the time. They even come in handy in promoting ourselves in the future. 
    A big thing i’ve noticed with video, too, is it’s a way to show your clients how big (or small) your impact is while you’re shooting.

  • pgiven

    lizreusswig pgiven jasonkonopinski Just do it! Right? 
    The best ____ is the one you have with you. That applies to cameras, too!

  • pgiven Aye, I’ve seen some of those debates and they get ugly. The solution to a competitive landscape is focusing on doing better work so it floats. Social photography gives us an opportunity to do just that.

  • Very nice tips, Philip! I always say the future is visual, so the more we practice our photography skills the better we will be in social sharing in the future. Instagram is a great platform for practicing this and seeing what works and what doesn’t. 
    It’s also a way to practice garnering a following, using the right hashtags, color filters, etc. It’s a simple app, but there’s a small science to it.

  • tnfletch

    Great post! I am a big
    fan of the social photography trend. Recently I have found it fun to
    participate in weekly photo challenges on Instagram and WordPress. It’s a great way to connect with others and inspire creativity and community online
    through photography. And for a newbie photographers
    like me, the weekly challenges get me out the rut of posting my bowl of Cheerios
    each morning!

  • Not to get all social media narcissistic, but I totally straight flex on Instagram and it’s not pictures of my muscles. I’d love if you would take a quick look and let me know what you think: 
    I think this whole take picture, share, and immediately receive feedback stuff is totally rad. It’s got downfalls sure, but I consider myself a quite proficient, albeit amateur photographer nowadays and I don’t see that ever having happened without this iPhone in my pocket.
    Thanks for the insight and ideas Philip!

  • I’m not really using photography for business yet, but I know the engagement is higher on the personal photos I share (or the landscapes I share from others).

    Still wondering how SnapChat will play out in a business world. I think Instagram still has the best platform for businesses to share/tag – along with Facebook. However, I definitely use SnapChat personally – my family tends to do more SnapChat than text nowadays!