How can photographers use YouTube to their advantage?

The wonderful thing about photography is that it can take one moment in time and freeze it forever. This art form and medium translates amazingly well on canvas or print, is a useful addition to news stories and blogs, and has transformed e-commerce to allow retailers to showcase their products to potential customers.

Photography has also helped social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest flourish and increase their user counts by drawing people in through the eye-catching visual content available on these channels. But perhaps one social media channel that doesn’t seem like a good fit for a photographer is YouTube, which is of course a video-sharing platform.

Other than creating a slideshow of your still images, it can initially seem as though YouTube and photography are not a great mix. However, there are several ways for photographers to make the most of YouTube and use it to their advantage.

Demonstrating your skills

There are few hobbies or art forms more intimidating to the layperson than photography. It can be difficult enough for some to distinguish between a DSLR and mirrorless camera but throw in some more technical terms like aperture, ISO, or shutter speed and explanations may be required. This is where you can offer demonstrations that showcase what the different camera settings and setups mean, and how they may influence the pictures that you create.

For example, if you are looking to do more portrait photography then focusing on the difference ISO and wide aperture can make to your images shows you know your stuff, while also displaying some great photographs on the screen for viewers. By honing in on the particular areas within photography you wish to work, you can show your work to potential clients with a link to your YouTube channel as part of your marketing communications.

Reviews to showcase your knowledge

Not all of the photographic content you wish to put on your YouTube channel needs to be focused on your work or how-to demonstrations. You can also have some fun reviewing other photographers’ work, celebrating what is good, and further showing your knowledge by explaining how these shots have been achieved.

Consider requesting viewers to send in their photos for you to critique to create more engagement and loyalty to your brand. For example, award-winning street photographer Thorsten Overgaard offered this advice, “Work on drawing out the colors more. There is some red in the brick wall and sunshine in the photo that could be more vibrant through post-production editing”. Adding “To keep this image in color, it would be important to bring out a contrast of warm and cool tones”.

While called a review, it’s important to not think of yourself as a hardnosed critic who tears some people’s work to shreds. Staying positive is important and you won’t win many clients through negativity, especially at the expense of others. Furthermore, being overly critical of other people’s work may result in your channel being taken down for breaching YouTube’s harassment and cyberbullying policies.

Offering tips and helping viewers improve their skills

Besides demonstrating how certain photographs or visual effects are achieved, you may also wish to provide tips and tutorials to your viewers. From beginner tips to more advanced lessons, the more content you can put onto your YouTube channel, the more viewers you will gain.

Offering a comprehensive tutorial platform can be significantly more impactful than a text blog, with 69% of people preferring to learn about a product or service by watching a video.

Providing tutorials shows that you know your way around the camera, while you can also help people with their understanding of editing and printing processes. By offering a glimpse behind the lens, you can provide informative and engaging content that further increases recognition for your brand of photography.

Sharing your portfolio

You will no doubt be sharing your portfolio on your website and in person at the various shows and fairs you attend to find new clients. However, YouTube is also a great way to share pictures from your portfolio.

You can do a deep dive into the methods you used to achieve certain images, explain the challenges you overcame and provide a more detailed story to enhance the viewing experience.

Being a more prominent photography brand online can help you improve brand awareness, which in turn can increase the trust that clients place in you. For example, showing that you have built a following for your work is another trust signal that can lead to a boost in sales.

Collaborating with others

Photography can often be a solitary activity, whether as a hobby or your job but it’s not always the case. You may collaborate with other photographers via YouTube to provide fun and engaging content for your viewers, or pool your skills and create shots you may otherwise never be able to achieve.

Furthermore, you can work together to help explain certain aspects of photography that may often go unseen or to create a podcast-style series where you share your favorite photos from particular shoots or tours. There are also opportunities to collaborate with exciting brands and content creators in a mutually beneficial partnership.

Max Cave of parkour brand STORROR says, “Perhaps it’s that we document parkour life better than most. It’s not only the moves but also the behind-the-scenes stuff, so people can see the challenges and how we approach overcoming them”. Partnering with brands that create exciting content, can further increase your viewership numbers and opportunities to introduce new people to your style of photography. 

Creating a monetized channel

Being the face of a YouTube channel may not have been what you had envisioned for yourself when you set out to be a photographer. However, while not the career path of choice for everyone, finding your feet on YouTube does bring additional earning potential.

You can monetize your YouTube efforts and enjoy an additional revenue stream if your channel grows large enough. It is important to note that growing a YouTube channel to the point where it makes money of its own accord takes time and dedication so it’s not something that can start earning you lots of money overnight.
Even one successful video won’t suddenly push you to the next level and while it won’t hurt, consistent growth and a substantial amount of subscribers and regular viewers will. The starting point for earning money through a YouTube channel is 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past year

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