Posts Tagged “Marketing”

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.

Comments 1 Comment »

Marketing Conversations for Photographers

Issue #4: How to Find and Work with a Gallery

By Cindy A Stephens

Do you want to be represented by a gallery?  Many of the graduating students from the Montserrat College of Art that I met during their portfolio review had answered that question for themselves with a resounding YES.

There are many advantages to working with a gallery.  Galleries have established relationships with individual collectors, museums, and other buyers so when a gallery agrees to take on an artist they also agree to promote that artist to these important audiences. Fine art photographer, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew tells me ““Some artists are looking for a brand name gallery which can definitely help with their career but I would be cautious if that is always the best match.”

So the real question becomes: how do you find the right gallery for your career?  The gallery landscape is more diverse than a decade ago:  there are artist-run cooperative galleries (e.g., Galatea), online galleries (e.g., Saatchi Online) and traditional brick-and-mortar galleries (e.g., Howard Yezerski Gallery), making it a challenge to find the best match between artist and gallerist.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 2 Comments »

Marketing Conversations for Photographers

Issue #3: Building Your Online Presence

By Cindy A Stephens

“How do I drive more traffic to my website?” is a question that I hear frequently.  Creating a website is merely the first mile in a marathon of establishing your online presence, which is now fairly straightforward with the myriad digital tools that are available for photographers and other creative professionals.

The answer to the question is that once your site is built, you need to recognize that you have just started a marathon and then make the commitment to complete the journey.  This persistence is critical to successfully building your online presence.  And that, says online influence expert Stephanie Sammons, “cultivates business success.”

Stephanie told me that “most people give up before they reach their desired level of success with the volume of people visiting the site, growing their network or connecting with them.”

It all starts with getting clear on what your goals are and aligning your online presence with those goals, which Stephanie says is “very, very critical to building a successful online presence.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 1 Comment »

Marketing Conversations for Photographers




Issue #2: Describing Yourself and Your Work

By Cindy A Stephens

As artists we are natural visual communicators and are comfortable sharing ideas and information through images.  It is written and verbal communication, however, that is often used by artists to bridge the gap between our creative intentions and the audience of our work.  It acts as a translator to the language of photography.

Whereas artists are comfortable at storytelling using imagery, the rest of the world (including art collectors) often needs a verbal translation from these visual clues to discern the intended meaning. Reviewers and jurors sometimes need this verbal translation too when reviewing work.

Photographer and founder of Lenscratch, Aline Smithson, tells me that the way photographers share work has changed in the past 10 years.

“Prior to 10 years ago artists were bringing in portfolios of beautiful images unrelated to each other.  A lot of the focus was on the mastery of the darkroom print.  Now in the digital age, reviewers are looking for artists to have explored an idea in a deep way with at least 20 images.  Often times that work is enhanced by the written articulation of it.”

Describing yourself and your work now goes way beyond defining yourself by the photographic genre you fit into, such as landscape or nature photography.  “That’s old school,” Aline says.  “Now you are articulating ideas.  Why are you making those landscapes? What is that other layer that makes the work deeper?  How could a gallerist or curator convince a buyer or museum director that your project is meaningful?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 1 Comment »

Marketing Conversations for Photographers




Issue #1: How to Build Awareness for Your Work

By Cindy A Stephens

We are witnessing the democratization of photography.  The rise and rapid adoption of digital technology has made photography accessible to the masses in a way that wasn’t possible a generation ago.

Millions of images are now shared on social media sharing sites by hobbyists as well as emerging photographers and established pros.  Some work is superb and other images are merely mediocre.

The result of this seismic shift is that it is increasingly difficult to stand out in a very crowded marketplace.  Technical know-how and creative genius is no longer sufficient to becoming an established fine art or commercial photographer.  Marketing acumen — the ability to differentiate you as an artist — is now a required skill for photographers.

Free-lance photographer David H. Wells tells me that marketing is as important a skill for a photographer as the actual photographing.

“I would argue that marketing is more important [than photographic skill], proven by the wild success of many photographically mediocre artists who have great marketing systems,” David says.

I found it startling that David spends only 10% of his time photographing.  The other 90% is spent on marketing activities.  Like many photographers, he has multiple revenue streams including stock photography, assignments, and teaching workshops and he spreads his marketing efforts across them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments No Comments »