lomokev

Lomo Kev and Using Flickr for Photographers

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Great night at the camera club last night. Kevin Meredith AKA Lomo Kev talked us through his impressive photography achievements from the early days of flickr to the publication of his books.  52 Photographic Projects and Hot Shots: How to Refresh Your Photos and of his upcoming publication Toy Cameras which I’m looking forward to.

Lomo Kev at Brighton Camera Club

Lomo Kev at Brighton Camera Club

Using Flickr as a platform to publicise your work is a must in the array of Social Media options for Photographers. Kevin is a shining example of someone who used Flickr to show his images, and gain world wide recognition for his unique and quirky style. Over time, people started to hire him for commissions; He has worked for Dr Martins and The Times newspaper – all because of his evident passion for photography displayed in his account on Flickr. One thing he mentioned in in talk is that it is good to create themes and sets of subjects. His interesting collection of shoe images and of course the reputation that he had built up, were key to  his Dr Martins commission for which he was sent to LA – not a bad gig. His wellie collection lead to the Times Newspaper feature, and his portrait montages have lead to fashion commissions.

Flickr’s big strength is in its communities. There are Flickr groups consisting of photo libraries and discussion forums for nearly any topic imaginable. Whether it’s a type of camera, a technique, a theme, a location, or even a color, there’s a Flickr group of fellow enthusiasts devoted to that topic.

I myself have sold work through flickr, got commissions etc. I have had enquiries from magazines, newspapers, sportswear suppliers, families the list goes on. People have found me by searching for location or subject matter, for example when I cover an event I often get enquires as my images are well tagged and will come up prominently in searches for the event name. Flickr supports a wide range of metadata. Keywords are the most obvious (Flickr calls them tags). I have been asked to exhibit through Flickr and requests often come in to use my images on the web with credits or links to my site, that’s all great for SEO (search engine optimisation).

My flickr account: Heather Buckley on Flickr

Lomo Kev’s Flickr account: Kevin Meredith on Flickr

Here are a few reasons why, as a photographer you should be maintaining a Flickr account:

  1. It is the #2 rated photography website in the U.S., UK, it holds a near 40 percent market share in the U.S. Photobucket is still the leader, – Flickr’s global presence could still be greater.
  2. Yahoo! acquired Flickr in 2005 – so it has been optimized with the Yahoo! Image Search tool.
  3. Flickr’s photos are listed in the Google, Tag your images properly and it is not too difficult to appear in on the front page of Google’s image search.
  4. Technorati, personalised and start pages, as well as various other portals, websites and blogs will pull in and display Flickr pictures through RSS feeds.
  5. All of these direct sources can be funnelled back to your website, and at least make others aware of your brand and/or product.

It’s not just photographers that can use Flickr for SEO and Publicity gains, although you need to use it creatively as it’s not supposed to be used for commercial advertising.

So if you are not already using Flickr as a photographer time to get started and if you already have an account time to seriously start tagging your work.

Silicon Beach Training run a great set of Social Media Training, SEO Training, WordPress Training and Blogging training courses.

You can see Kevin talking about photography and Social Media at Google headquarters;

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11 replies
  1. James Hedley
    James Hedley says:

    Heather,

    As discussed elsewhere, and fond as I am of Flickr, I’ve found that its use by professional photographers is not so likely to improve the strength of their ‘brand’ and in fact the opposite may be true.

    Having spoken to several professional photographers – and by that I mean togs whose sole income comes from snapping of one sort or another – and they didn’t want to appear as hobbyists who occasionally made money.
    I understand it horses for courses, and there’s such a wide range of photography jobs out there so it might not be for everyone.

    Having said that, the old adage that, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” still rings true… and the social media out there are perfect to help you spread the word, just ironically, the photography social media might not be the ideal one.

  2. Heather Buckley
    Heather Buckley says:

    If you believe the hype of professional Photographers who despise Flickr, and condemn it to the realms of the inexperienced and unprofessional, I think you could be missing a trick. There is much more than the fact that the space is shared with the masses that underlies this resistance to Flickr.

    Digitisation of Photography as well as the effects of online media have revolutionised the the way professionals market their images and make money. Previously good images could only be bought through expensive picture libraries, but that’s all changed. Professional photographers are unhappy about this (and I can understand why) they complain that amateurs are infiltrating the market and it’s much harder to get decent money for a good image. But consider this – there is little difference between selling one good image for £200 and 100 of the same image for £2 which is easily possible when using technology to access a readily available global market.

    I think that in order to survive photographers (that aren’t already famous) need to stop fighting and adapt, it may be painful but it is necessary for survival. The most effective forms of marketing today are social. It’s about getting people to notice you and developing a relationship with your followers.

    There was a time that the only way to own a piece of music was to buy a record, soon everyone was taping their compilation tapes on cassette and now they are downloading them for free. You can’t stop a tidal wave.

    Flickr has become the first place many buyers, that any professional would love to work for, will look

    Examples:

    Lomo Kevs Dr martins and Times Newspaper commissions as descirbe in the article

    Toyota commissioned Rebekka Gudsleifdottir, an Icelandic art student with a large Flickr following, to shoot a series of local billboards for the Prius. Her self-portraits have won her stacks of fans who follow her website and her blog.

    Microsoft bought images for Vista from a number of Flickr photographers, including a Kuwaiti medical student

    Media Organisations as large as the BBC and The Economist use Flickr as a source of visuals for their blogs.

    Despite the fact that Flickr also is home to amateur and sometimes bad photographers there are a growing number of new opportunities for professional photographers being created by Flickr.

  3. Kev
    Kev says:

    I recall, though I may be wrong, that kev told me he got the Dr Martens job as he had an old friend that worked at the creative agency that won the pitch. He made no mention of flickr playing a part in that process- though having images there may have helped illustrate his style to the client- but the commission itself came from the oldest of methods of knowing the person making the pitch.

  4. Heather Buckley
    Heather Buckley says:

    It’s not just about getting commisssions through flickr though, I only upload small images and I use the creative commons licence. I rank well in google when people are looking for photographers because of the hundreds of links to my flickr stream that this practice generates.

  5. lomokev
    lomokev says:

    That is true it did come from an old friend. But he was living in LA and was in Brighton he knew of my obsession with shoes because of my shoes flickr set, if those flickr sets where not there I would not of got the job.

  6. Juliet Greig
    Juliet Greig says:

    I think a lot of professional photographers feel threatened by flickr, because there are so many amateurs willing to do jobs for free or for very little (eg weddings), hence there is less paid work available . As far as I can see, the only different between a professional and amateur photographer is that the professional gets paid. I think that the most “anti-flickr” professional photographers are the bitter ones not getting any work. Also, many professionals pretend they don’t use flickr, but secretly look at it all the time, to get ideas and inspiration 🙂

  7. James Hedley
    James Hedley says:

    Heather,

    I think by your first paragraph- “If you believe the hype of professional Photographers who despise Flickr, and condemn it to the realms of the inexperienced and unprofessional, I think you could be missing a trick.” – that I may not have made my point clearly.
    No professional photographer I’ve ever spoken to despises Flickr, nor condemns it. And i don’t think anyone has questioned the high standard of photography that can be found there. The opinions I was relating referred more to public opinion of social photo sharing sites. For example, if a client is looking for a wedding photographer, would they be swayed more by a bespoke website, or some pictures on a social site like Flickr?

    Don’t mistake this for elitism, as some professionals i know exist on Flickr just with a different identity to their ‘corporate’ self and personally i don’t think that’s a bad idea.

    As an aside, Brighton’s own Miss Aniela is a real Flickr success story.

  8. Heather Buckley
    Heather Buckley says:

    Jim,
    I do think that flickr snobbery does exist though I did not presume you held that view. you just have to look at forum threads on the subject to find photographers who are very anti flickr. I think that a professional photographer absolutely must have a slick well designed site to attract custom, and can also benefit from more traditional marketing techniques. Flickr though, I think is a really strong platform and shouldn’t be dismissed as it can only be a benefit to photographers in terms of exposure. If you had to choose between a great website and a flickr account I believe you would need the site. but we don’t need to choose and one can only support the other.

    Personally I think you should keep your brand the same throughout all channels – flickr, facebook, twitter, linkedin, youtube, tumbler and any other social channels that you have the time to manage.

    I’m a great fan of Miss Aniela in fact i have written a post about her. http://www.siliconbeachtraining.co.uk/blog/why-women-rule-social-media/

  9. Julie Edwards
    Julie Edwards says:

    Heather.

    Interesting comments and statements.

    I have to wonder if Kev would have won that Dr. Martins commission if there was no prior contact or friends involved (that’s not to discount Kev’s work, which I like). It would I feel be a blind leap of faith for any company to commission a shoot blind from a flickr stream only.

    I do agree that flickr may an important tool for pro togs, you rightly point out good search results for well tagged images and yes, I have sold from there too but the key here is I kept the price as close to the market price for the images and placement. I have also lost many sales by refusing low prices. I wonder how many of those other examples you cited resulted in Market value sales, or did the companies use and rely on flickr to get cheap images? We know that the Getty flickr scheme does not result in decent value sales.

    I have no problem with amateurs selling their images, if they’re good enough – great but I do feel that many give them away to cheap or for free (wow, look at me i got a photo in the time) and that advantage is taken by the companies or media… Many think that photos are cheap to produce and hence have little value, they fail to think of the investment (not only in time) but also in equipment made by the pro and to a lesser extent, the amateur.

    This is my worry with flickr, am I devaluing my images by putting them there? I wonder what the actual value of using it is?

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