An interview with Ken Kaminesky – 103,000 followers on Twitter and counting

By Cindy A Stephens

I hadn’t expected commercial travel photographer Ken Kaminesky to tell me that he spends too much time on Twitter. Ken has 103,000 followers on Twitter, which is impressive by most standards (certainly by mine). Ken shared with me that his Twitter stream is slowing down significantly because he is on the road so much for business and also for his new photography tour business with upcoming tours in Italy, Iceland, and Jordan.

 

 

“I wish I could delegate it but that isn’t the point of social media,” he says. “The point on Twitter is to be a resource and to get to know a person,” adds Ken. In fact, answering, engaging and proactively reaching out to people on Twitter is what Ken attributes his Twitter success to. It is rare, he says, when he doesn’t reply when someone tweets something relevant to him. (Case in point: Ken generously gave me an hour of his time to interview him, despite his extremely busy schedule).

Despite the rather large amount of time that Ken spends tweeting, he is confident that it has helped his career and has propelled him to achieve better strategies for marketing. “My Twitter following gives me credibility.” Ken says that his success on Twitter allows him to reach out to send a media kit to a tourism company, for example. “They see my numbers and say this guy is for real.” This means that what once might have taken months or weeks to make meaningful business contacts now takes days or hours.

How to use Twitter for business

Jack Hollingsworth recently told me “Sadly, photographers spend too much time in the social environment without monetizing their interests. It’s a big problem.” Ken says that he is still learning to be more strategic on Twitter adding “Twitter is the crack of social media – it’s addictive.”

There are many ways to use Twitter strategically to promote a business. Ken shared three of his tips with me.

  • Marketing is a small part of Twitter. Ken advocates a 10 to 1 ratio: Tweet 10 things that are of interest to you for every 1 that is about you. People he says, don’t want to know about your business too much. He sees that people who have good followings are those who talk about the industry and what they are passionate about. “For me those things are curating, architecture, science, travel, and art.”
  • Be personable. Seeing the person behind the photographer is something that Ken is passionate about. He wants to really talk with people, as people not businesses. This echoes Ken’s earlier comment about delegating – people can’t get to really know the person behind the tweets if those tweets are being done by someone else. “Talk to people,” Ken advocates.
  • Network and socialize with key brands. Talking to people extends to magazines, writers, companies that are prospects for your commercial work, and others. “Show interest in what others are talking about and if you find them interesting use that as a strategy to be able to talk to them in their language. Tweet at them. Send a direct message.” Ken advises that if you are researching someone for business perhaps reach them on Twitter first. “It’s a more social thing. Read their Twitter feed. Engage them afterwards. Be a social person and use social media to its full extent,” he adds.

Some of you may remember a marketing conversation I had with fine art photographer Annu Palakunnathu Matthew about building relationships with galleries. Using Ken’s approach , consider reaching out to a gallery owner on Twitter before mailing an unsolicited portfolio. The point would be to develop a relationship first and connect on some shared interest.

See also how to find and work with a gallery

Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+

Facebook is also important, Ken says, for social engagement with people. You can be more personal on Facebook but you can’t reach out to potential corporate clients. “Facebook isn’t about that,” Ken says.

One social media network that Ken would like more time for is LinkedIn. “Networking and marketing, that’s the beauty of LinkedIn”, he says. For Ken, LinkedIn allows him to connect with peers and collaborate on projects together, perhaps globally.

Google+ is also important to Ken in terms of photography these days. He says “the Google+ team is doing a great job and makes it a great social sharing channel. It will be a very important social media platform for years to come.”

Unlike these other social media networks Ken says “the beauty of Twitter and its 140 characters is that it respects your time.” “It is really tough,” says Ken. “Social media has added to the workload for those who already have a full plate to begin with. It’s also opened a lot of doors. It is a double-edged sword.”

Mostly Ken tells me that social media has been fantastic to him although he still wishes it didn’t take us so much of his time. He’d prefer to be doing something creative, which isn’t happening enough these days.

Do you really want tens of thousands of followers on Twitter? Do you have the time that it is going to take to build your following and then engage with them every day? Go into it with your eyes wide open, set clear priorities and monetize your interests to create your artistic presence.

See also 5 tools Ken Kaminesky uses for managing his photography businesses from the road

Trademarks or registered trademarks mentioned in this post are the property of their respective owners.

Ken Kaminesky is a commercial travel photographer and visual storyteller. His work has been featured in numerous commercial publications, including the New York Times and on the cover of National Geographic. He communicates his passion for travel, and for the landscapes & people he meets along the way, through his popular blog, and through yearly workshops in places as far-flung as Jordan, Italy and Iceland. His favourite place in the world is always his next destination. He believes that everywhere has a story that will inspire people, and he’d love to capture it in an image. He doesn’t usually talk about himself in the third-person.

Cindy A Stephens is a marketing professional and fine art photographer. She has more than 20 years of hands-on experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, and now teaches creative professionals how to create artistic presence in a changing art world. Her series on Boston Photography Focus, Marketing Conversations for Photographers, presents constructive concepts and tips on how to improve success and visibility as a photographer working in the world of art, commerce, or both. Regular guest contributions for Mosaic offer suggestions on building influence using mobile photography.

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Opening Reception: Thursday, December 5, 6-7:30pm

By Kaleigh Rusgrove, PRC Intern

Moira Barrett, “Jan 26, 2012,” 2012/2013 from the series “Regarding Beauty: Notes on Turning 60,” archival inkjet print, Courtesy of the Artist.

For the past five years, the Photographic Resource Center and The Griffin Museum of Photography have organized and run the New England Portfolio Reviews (NEPR). The purpose of NEPR is to provide opportunities for photographers of all skill levels to meet with members of the photographic community. NEPR participants meet with gallerists, curators, educators, and other professionals who are able to provide feedback on the artists work.

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By Kaleigh Rusgrove, PRC Intern

Kaleigh Rusgrove, “Siren” from the series “Make Believe,” 2013

My photographic journey began at thirteen when I started taking pictures for fun with a small Olympus point and shoot I found lying around my house. Looking for a place to show these snapshots of flowers and my converse sneakers, I turned to quickly growing social media sites, in which I found a digital home for these random and often pointless shots I was accumulating.

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By Kaleigh Rusgrove, PRC Intern

Paolo Ventura, “Behind the Walls 2,” photograph; Courtesy of the Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston

(Work from Ventura’s series Behind the Walls was recently featured at the Barbara Krakow Gallery in Boston (September 10 – October 9, 2014). Behind the Walls is also the subject and title of a book published by Aperture. Ventura is currently showing his series The Infinite City at Atlas Gallery in London.)

Viewing Paolo Ventura’s first Boston show, Behind the Walls, is much like getting lost in a great story. It is easy to find yourself standing in front of the prints and imaging that the wall may open up and you might join Ventura in this mystifying created world. Standing in the small side room of the Barbara Krakow gallery, I found myself enthralled by these images of a place that seemed familiar and unknown all at once. Ventura’s work is inspiring on many levels, not only because of his gift as a visual narrator but also because of his incredible attention to detail. In Behind the Walls, Ventura has truly mastered his craft in creating miniatures and false realities.

Italian native Paolo Ventura began his career in the 1990’s after studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. Ventura worked in Italy as a fashion photographer for many years before deciding to move to New York City. It was there that Ventura began making miniatures, staging dolls inside of them, and photographing the created sets. In his first series (War Souvenir, Winter Stories, The Automaton), Ventura worked primarily with dolls as subjects. Now skilled in his practice, Ventura has entered into his own world and is the main character in his newest story, Behind the Walls.

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By Audrey Gottlieb, PRC Workshop Assistant

Photograph by Rania Matar

“A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound…” This quote by French poet Charles Baudelaire (1859) was one intricate thread of the conversation opened by Rania Matar in her recent two-day workshop at the PRC. Her eight (nine including myself) students had the good fortune to meet Rania and share a dialogue about photography that came straight from the heart.

Starting with a slide projection of famous and not so famous paintings, Rania introduced the class to subjects who posed for the great masters such as Vermeer and Rembrandt. She pointed out the importance of observing available light pouring in from a window, of learning to see shadow, skin tones, body language and mood. She interspersed photographs made by the late August Sander, Irving Penn and Diane Arbus, as well as those of contemporary photographers Tina Barney, Lydia Panas and David Hilliard. Between the first and second classes, Rania sent us emails listing the other 20 plus photographers’ works she had shown us, as well as a list of poignant quotations about portraits that she had used in her presentation. There had been a lot of material to cover in the vast territory of portraiture photography, so these suggestions to familiarize ourselves with additional images were welcome and useful. Rania provided piles of beautiful photo books to reinforce her teaching us how to see through different creative approaches.

The second class was devoted to looking at and critique-ing the “homework” assignments brought in by the students. Everyone contributed to this exercise. The critiques were gentle, constructive, interactive and expertly guided by Rania. We looked at photographs of children, families, couples, Alaskan fishermen and new Bostonian immigrants. Students talked about how and why they were motivated to follow the subjects they did. The old saying that puts forth “A picture is worth a thousand words” was supported by the fact that story-telling is vital to any personal project. There was a fabulous repartee and camaraderie among the group.

The icing on the cake was at the end of the workshop when Rania showed us her extensive portfolio of beautiful prints from past and current projects.

Rania’s rhetorical yet practical question – “What makes a good portrait?” – was answered time and again in so many ways over the course of our instruction, leaving the class begging for more and for a follow-up class next spring.

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Issue #7: Tips for how to price fine art photography

By Cindy A Stephens

Last month in this column, I reported on my conversation with photographer Scott Indermaur on how to price commercial photography.  This month I turned to D’lynne Plummer, from the Arts & Business Council, on how to set a price for fine art work.  In a time when many artists sell work in multiple channels (e.g., Etsy.com and direct to collectors from a studio), D’lynne advises them to “have different product lines”.

Create product lines for your work

D’lynne shared an example from her experience with the Artist’s Professional Toolbox program.  A recent graduate has very detailed, large and relatively expensive oil paintings.  These pieces are represented by a traditional gallery.  In addition, he sells prints on Etsy.com from different paintings, for a few hundred dollars.

D’lynne says “he would never have these less expensive prints available for purchase in his studio.  Similarly people on Etsy would not be likely to purchase one of his more expensive oil paintings, they would generally make that type of commitment in person.”

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Marketing Conversations for Photographers

Issue #6: Tips for how to price commercial photography

By Cindy A Stephens

As a marketer I can tell you that knowing what to charge for a service or product is always challenging.  There are no hard-and-fast rules to follow.  Unfortunately for photographers, understanding how to price our work has become ever more challenging in the past decade.  The shift to digital imagery has heralded new considerations with regard to digital products, the length of time a digital image will be in use, multi-media work, and more.

Commercial photographer Scott Indermaur tells me that “even people with 20 years in the business, they are still sharing pricing suggestions with each other.”

This is the first of several blog posts designed to help photographers price their work.  While I can’t tell you specifically how much to charge, I can provide examples of how commercial and fine art photographers approach pricing: what are the pitfalls?  What are the best practices?  Should you negotiate, and if so, how?

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Marketing Conversations for Photographers

Issue #6: Creating an Effective Photography Website

By Cindy A Stephens

You don’t have to be an expert in html to create a website that showcases your photography.  There are many easy-to-use website development tools that help even the most technically challenged build a photography website.

What does require some expertise, however, is an understanding of how to build an effective photography website.   Fortunately, the barriers to achieving this are crumbling for a photographer without the wherewithal to pay for a completely custom website.  It all starts with knowing who your customers are and what your goals are.

Get to know your audience

PhotoShelter’s co-founder Grover Sanschagrin tells me a common mistake photographers make is to “design their website for themselves.”  He says “they ask other photographers for input, but spend little or no time asking their actual customers – photo buyers and editors – for feedback.”  Grover advises photographers to get to know their audience and don’t automatically assume that you know what they want.

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By Kati Blair Kotrc, Ed.M.
Director of Education, Communications, and Development
VSA Massachusetts

Inclusion is an imperative for the health of all cultural organizations. Not only do the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state regulations legally mandate including people with disabilities, it also makes good business sense. 11% of the population in Massachusetts are people with disabilities, 13% are over 65 and experiencing the loss of vision, hearing and mobility associated with aging. Add to that the family and friends that they travel with and you have a sizable potential audience. Furthermore, whatever is done to address the particular needs of an individual or group typically improves the experience for everyone. Who hasn’t rolled a suitcase over a curb cut intended to provide access to the sidewalk for someone using a wheelchair? Similarly, once a large print guide is created it often becomes more popular than the standard print version because everyone can use it easily. Any organization that isn’t deliberately designing for access and inclusion is likely coming up short.

By providing audio descriptions of visual information, organizations create access points for visitors who are blind or have low vision, but can also deepen the engagement of sighted visitors. See for yourself by listening to or reading the descriptions of Gordon Sasaki’s NY Portraits featuring New York artists, musicians, writers, dancers and actors with disabilities.

Diana – Actor/Model. Audio description text: This close up is a head and shoulders shot of an attractive woman, appearing to be in her 30′s. Her dark full hair, looking slightly wind blown, hangs to her bare shoulders. She pulls up her right eyebrow with the middle finger of her right hand. Her left arm, which appears to have been amputated just below the elbow, reaches up to frame the left side of her face. The end of this arm, skin folded in to form a vertical crease, pulls up the eyebrow above her left eye. Her lips, with a light tone and shine to them, are parted to reveal the tips of her upper teeth, and curl up at each end. Her jaw lines descend gracefully to her small round chin. The photo is cropped just below her neck with no indication of clothing. Out of focus patterned curtains form the background.

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By Danielle Ashley Burke, PRC Workshop Assistant

Sequencing and editing a portfolio is one of the most important, daunting, and occasionally confusing things a photographer can do. From novice to professional everyone must make portfolio selections at some point, which is one reason it is great to get first hand information from a professional who has been doing so for decades. For me, signing up to be the workshop assistant for Ernesto Bazan’s Sequencing and Editing Workshop through the PRC could not have come at a better time. I had just graduated from photography school and was eager to get a fresh set of eyes on my work.

(c) Danielle Ashley Burke

The nine of us in the course were told ahead of time to bring 30 images to be critiqued (whether it be 30 from one series, or 30 images we considered to be our best work). Ernesto was able to give each person a great amount of time going over each and every image. He promised to be critical but constructive in order to help us improve and he definitely delivered.

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