Photographers Guide to Pinterest

It took me a while to get used to Pinterest. As with all social networks, we discover  how we wish to interact with it and with others by playing and using. We learn by seeing what works and what doesn’t, whether our end goals are social, commercial, creative or all three.


I have an “about life” board on pinterest. I update it often. If you like the images above click the image and follow the board. Main image here by Kasia Krynska from left to right 1/ Stanley Kubrick, 2/ Stanley Kubrick, 3/ Joel Meyerowitz, 4/ Me


Whilst I’m sure there is a lot yet to learn and discover, I’m sharing with you what I consider to be the best advice. Please feel free to share any genius tips you may have tucked up your sleeves in the comments section.

Pinterest for Photographers

  1. Keep things tidy.
  2. Build your boards/categories and their titles carefully. Make sue your board title actually describes what you share on the board.
  3. Choose who you follow carefully, don’t just randomly follow the interests that Pinterest offer you when you sign up, you’ll be forever un-following the stuff you are not interested in seeing.
  4. Be on the look out for other great curators. If you like 90% of what they post then follow them or selected boards of theirs.
  5. Likewise if images that are just not your thing keep appearing in your stream, trace them back to origin and unfollow the person or board.
  6. The sooner you get your stream finely tuned, the easier and more pleasurable it becomes just scrolling through a creative feast and sharing the best morsels.
  7. Update often but not all at once!
  8. Post only the best of others
  9. Post the VERY best of your images, be selective.
  10. Establish yourself as curator extraordinaire, in the webby mess of imagery, people will love you if you have an eye for a killer image and do their sifting for them. Unlike Google, you are not a machine; it is your personality, humor and style that count.
  11. Use Pinterest as a clippings library for articles that you find really interesting as well as your own articles and create boards with well organised themes.
  12. Make sure your blog has a clearly findable Pinterest share buttons. (Unlike mine, I’m working on it but it effects other third party share widgets, annoying)
  13. Link up your other accounts to allow Pinterest to share your pins on them, you can choose which pins to share on accounts like twitter or Facebook.
  14. When your board is looking particularly good share a link to it from other networks.
  15. When you accept an invitation to post on someone’s board, think carefully, their board will appear on you page, does it really represent you?
  16. If you find a board with multiple curators that does fit  your idea of a good board than ask if you could be a curator.
  17. Use Pinterest to publicise your other social pages, pin from you blog, from Flickr, Redbubble, Instagram etc. Note that some networks do not allow pinning (tip: from flickr click ‘view all sizes’ and pin from there).
  18. Remember Pinterest is about curating and sharing. As a photographer you are your brand, if you constantly only promote your own brand (images) people will get bored.
  19. After a while you will see some of the same images doing the rounds, when you see something extraordinary on the web, then pin it, don’t just rely on repins, you want to be original. Do check that the original photographer is linked to and credited, and does not prohibit it.
  20. Don’t forget you can comment on other peoples posts, respond to comments on your  posts and you can message someone with the usual @ symbol

4 replies
  1. John Farnan
    John Farnan says:

    Hi Heather
    I find the point number 8 a bit interesting
    pin only the best of others
    Pintheft state you have to own the copyright of the work to pin it.
    How does this fit in with that?

    Point 19 states be original
    You cant be original if you are pinning someone elses work?

    I have to point out that i am against pinthefts blatant disregard for copyright and the rights of artists but i was directed to this site as it shows how it can be used.

    Some people who have their images pinned on pintheft might not appreciate having them on a board next to nudes.
    All these things need to be considered as well
    + 1 last point
    not everyone wants their work pinned but if you pin it you are stripping them of the right to say no.
    How would you feel if someone else was to use your work in a manner you were not happy with?
    You have a fine body of good quality unusual work this is not a dig at that
    just a wee pointer to some things posted here

  2. Heather Buckley
    Heather Buckley says:

    Thanks John,

    I thought there may be many photographers with similar concerns and questions. I do lightly cover that fact that you should only pin images of those who do not prohibit it in point 19. Also that the original photographer should always be credited.
    As a digital marketer as well as a photographer I have watched as the industry has been turned on it’s head in the last decade.

    I know there are many who do not share my views but I believe that once I publish my 1000 px max image on the web, it WILL be reproduced, sometimes without credit but very often with.

    It is almost impossible to make a great living selling low res images only, however, getting good quality, relevant links to your site or your social profiles is hard work and time consuming, using a creative commons license that allows people to share your images with credit is a very economical way of promoting yourself.

    So whilst I feel for those who never want their images shared or used on other sites, because they are fighting a loosing battle, I think they are actually missing a trick.

    What about all the uses of your image without credit? Contact them if you find them and politely ask for a link as it is part of the conditions of use, it’s a quick and efficient form of link building.

    Your other point being original – Nothing is new, I did a photography talk once where I showed very similar concepts and images from a variety of well known photographers. I get ideas from everywhere and yet am still original. My ideas board on pinterest is full of images where one thing inspires me. I don’t even have to like an image for it to be pinned here, I like the concept or the colour and tone, or the composition etc. the project that these images will inspire will be my own creation.

    Also the magic of Pinterest is curation. Curation is a creative process, like the choosing of images for the hanging of a gallery or selection of images for a book. I think my about life board shows my sense of humour, it is a personal process.

    And finally yes, i do get a bit annoyed when I see my images pinned thousands of times from a tumblr account that didn’t credit me. But it happens, if you want to have an on-line presence that people will recognise and trust it’s all par for the course. the question for me is not if it is right, but if it is something you have absoloutely no control over, the best thing to do is make the best out of it.

    Sharing, community, personality, brand, an audience and trust are all the big wins, and they are very powerful stuff, I’d rather focus on using these tools and enjoying them than waste time fighting a loosing battle which in fact has a great many fringe benefits.

    I’m sure there will be many who disagree, but that’s the way I look at it 🙂

  3. John House
    John House says:

    Funny enough I just did a blog about Pinterest and such like on my Blog and briefly touched on the issue of copyright etc as it occurred to me that I bet many people get funny about their images being used around the web without permission.

    Having seen your tweets and FB messages about this, thought I would see what you were saying and I totally agree with you. A low res image is a low res image and anything on the internet is going to get circulated and rightly so. I think very few people are original enough to worry that their work will be heavily plagirised and if that is a concern to an artist, they shouldn’t put it anywhere on the internet until they are ready to ‘reveal’ their concept or methods.

    The most important thing is to try and promote everyone being credited for their work. If you see you image appearing somewhere without credit, then contact the poster and get it sorted. Ultimately the lesson is to always ensure any images you post are always well ALT tagged, credited and named etc.

    ultimately we all want exposure of our work don’t we?

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