If social media is today’s best way to brand oneself, it only follows that it’s one of the most important tools for marketing a photography business. We spoke with wedding and editorial photographers, KT Merry and Greg Finck, to find out how—with the help of Richard Photo Lab to create digital scans and printed products from their film—they translate their love for analog image-making into a large social media following and digital marketing strategy for their businesses.
PDN: You’ve achieved a significant following for your work on Instagram (41,000, and counting) and an impressive roster of editorial clients. What’s your marketing strategy?
KT Merry: I’ve seen a drastic difference between the years I spent investing in my work and the years I didn’t—shooting for myself was by far the most important way I grew my business. I seek out weddings that align with my goals as a photographer, and then I work hard to ensure the best of those photos are published.
If you hold yourself to a high standard, invest in your work, and invest in your relationships, the clients will notice—and word will spread. I was fortunate to have my work recognized by a number of publications; it came as a result of focusing on my craft and settling into my aesthetic.
PDN: How do you use social media?
KTM: Instagram is by far the most useful app for me at the moment. I can create a quick, snapshot-style portfolio of my work, updated to the minute—and the potential for exposure to future clients is enormous. I also love to use Instagram’s Stories feature; it gives me the opportunity to show my followers what life as a destination photographer is really like behind the scenes.
PDN: How do you distinguish your various Instagram accounts?
KTM: I have three: @ktmerry is for my editorial and destination wedding work; @ktmerryprintshop is for our print shop, which is focused on our travel and Equus photos; and @renderloyalty is an outlet for our passion project, which involves photographing endangered species to promote conservation and raise funds for our conservationist partners.
@ktmerry receives the bulk of my attention (and my Instagram traffic). But Instagram can be fickle; if you post too much, people unfollow you. If you don’t post often enough, your followers forget you exist. And if your posts are too diverse—meaning they followed you for destination wedding shots and you’re showing them endangered species a third of the time—they’ll unfollow you.
PDN: What role does video play in your work and approach to marketing?
KTM: I recently learned that millennials are 136% more likely to focus on mobile videos than they are on still photos.
I’ve started branching out with Instagram’s Stories and Live features. How do you give your followers a taste of what life is like behind the camera, while still making sure each post is aligned with your aesthetic? I try to ensure that each video hits three criteria: the right time, the right place and the right content.
PDN: You also use Instagram to draw people to new blog posts. In what ways do you think blogging is relevant to your business?
KTM: I think blogging is an important tool to showcase current work and maintain our website’s search engine standing. A blog post gives us extra space to show a wider array of work, so our portfolio can serve as a highlight reel instead of an overwhelming compilation of every single wedding we’ve ever shot. That said, I’m guilty of blogging less and leaning on Instagram more to achieve the same thing.
PDN: How do you market printed products in the "Digital Age?"
KTM: I remind my clients that there is beauty in the tangible. While it is necessary and convenient to view images online there is also something equally important in viewing images as prints. You can see how the images and colors translate onto photo paper, and make connections with images in a different way than you can on a computer screen. Richard Photo Lab is an extension of my business in light of this.
PDN: How do you use your website and social media to reach new clients?
Greg Finck: My most important pages are my portfolio and my blog: This is my front window to the world. I use social media—Instagram only—to reach a broader audience for my photography (@gregfinck) and workshops (@gregfinckworkshops). I choose wisely what I communicate on Instagram: I post one photo per day, relaying only the very best of my portfolio.
PDN: Do you send out traditional print or email promotions?
GF: Addressing only a high-end market, I don’t believe in print or email promotions and extensive information. People have all the resources they need today to find great vendors in the wedding industry, so information doesn’t need to be pushed on them. That said, I’m in touch throughout the year with wedding planners I’ve worked with to make sure they have all the required information about me and my work. I usually reach out with tangible products: a print portfolio, my pricing folio or an album.
PDN: Do you think blogging is still relevant for your business?
GF: I’m challenging the importance of blogging on a daily basis. It’s pretty frustrating to spend so much time blogging, knowing that only a limited amount of people will see it. That said, it’s still very important to me. I can show a deeper aspect of my work, contrary to my portfolio or Instagram, where people need an instant impression. Blogging is important to keep my website fresh and SEO-friendly. That’s why I blog on average once every one to two weeks. There is no job I am not proud of on my blog, and there are more than 70 galleries on there.
PDN: What role does video play in your work?
GF: I use Instagram Stories, as it's a great way to engage my audience with my brand. As my Instagram page has truly become a portfolio, there is no space left for personal stuff on it. This is where Stories comes in. As a photographer, people book me for my work but also for my personality. I use Stories to show people where I travel, behind-the-scenes at a wedding and personal stuff.
PDN: You often collaborate with industry professionals at your workshops. How do they add value to the experience?
GF: Yes, I often collaborate with bespoke dress designers, hair and makeup artists, floral designers, models and photo labs to create a dynamic experience for workshop attendees. I then tag them on my @GregFinckWorkshops Instagram feed to give them exposure in return. For example, Richard Photo Lab, print lab partner for my workshops, has a large presence on Instagram. And as a quality-obsessed lab, they take a great degree of care with image processing, scanning and handling—sweating the details of each and every frame to exceed your expectations—so last year, I invited the business-savvy Marketing Director of Richard Photo Lab to speak about defining one’s style for photographic success at my workshop.
—Sponsored by Richard Photo Lab