The American Society of Media Photographers provides this forum to encourage the development of critical skills and to foster new ideas. Our goal is an informed and savvy professional photography community.
[by Tom Kennedy]
Circa 2000-2005, blogs were the primary way individuals could reach an audience on the Internet. Many used blogging to express themselves, offer insights and opinions, or address niche interests not being discussed in mainstream media. To a large degree, the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media streams in the past decade has affected the landscape of blogging. Social streams offer “sound bites” or short posts containing many of the same elements as blogs, but executed in a more naturally conversational style.
With that said, I think blogs still represent an opportunity to display the fruits of one’s skills and experience, express a more extended viewpoint on issues of importance to the community and demonstrate one’s value as a community member.
Successful blogs have a consistency of “voice” that reflects the personality of the blogger in a way that is accessible to the audience. The blog topics themselves can also contribute to shaping the perception of the voice being expressed.
Deciding on the primary purpose is crucial. Is the blog meant to raise concerns, share information, raise questions, entertain, or offer inspiration? Answering that question should determine the content and approach. Increasingly, blogs are more visual, which makes sense for our profession.
Ideally, a blog not only expresses the personality and intentionality of the blogger, but also fosters social interaction that builds community. To do that effectively, the blog must contain “hooks” that enable the community to respond to what has been posted. Providing feedback loops and two-way communication to the natural community of interest is critical.
Social stream mechanisms can be effective for driving attention to a blog and enabling the community to find it. I look at Twitter and Facebook or Google+ as steering mechanisms that can help a natural audience navigate to the deeper content offered on blogs or websites.
Part of the struggle of maintaining a blog is arriving at a way to generate enough content with enough frequency that it is valuable to the audience (and its value to the author exceeds the time invested). Publishing rhythms can vary widely. It is helpful to think about rhythm as a variable influenced by the content itself, and the capacity to sustain publication as part of one’s work activity. Various publishing frequency rhythms can work as long as the audience can learn what to expect.
Finally, determining the role of the blog as an indicator of one’s professional value is also a decision point. I’ve come to believe that I can use social streams to express thoughts more quickly and I can stimulate a more interactive conversation than if I relied solely on a blog. I still think a blog has value for allowing more full expression of my thoughts and I use it as such. But I supplement that usage with other more instantaneous and fluid forms of communication that are less time-consuming to produce, but still allow me to contribute to the community.
Tom Kennedy is an independent consultant coaching and mentoring individual photographers, while also working with various organizations to train individuals and teams on multimedia story creation, production, publication and distribution strategies for digital platforms, and enhancing creativity. He also regularly teaches at Universities and multimedia conferences. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Tom Kennedy |
Posted: October 20th, 2014 |
When Blinkbid founder, Lou Lesko, asked the audience at a recent ASMP DC program how many had blogs, nearly every hand went up. When he asked how many had updated their blogs within the past month, nearly every hand went down. The days when bloggers posted daily and readers visited and commented almost as often have morphed into something rather different. This week, our contributors share their thoughts on blogs today.
[by Todd Joyce]
Having been involved with ASMP on a national level, I know a lot of photographers all over the country. Great people too. They’re all resources to contact to ask about assistants, talent agencies, scouts, stylists, etc. I get calls from ASMP members coming to my area, too, and I’m glad to help. That’s what ASMP is about – being part of a large collective that can help our industry and help each other.
Several years ago, I traveled to 19 different cities in less than three months to photograph a series of portraits for a pharmaceutical company. I often didn’t have much lead time and I always needed a stylist and an assistant in every city. My favorite story from the project comes from a day when I was already on location and I was told that we had a subject who was in another city and was only available the next morning.
It was already 5 pm so I knew that I might not be able to reach anyone and I had to move fast. I looked up an ASMP member and called to ask about an assistant and stylist. I explained my situation to the photographer and he replied, “Let me call you right back.” I waited anxiously for 10 minutes. When he called back, he told me he had booked both for me and gave me their contact info. I hadn’t asked him to book anyone – I had only asked for some referrals. But, he knew I was in a jam, so he called a few people he knew to check their availability. Not only did he save me time, he made sure I had the right people for the job. Now that is going the extra mile.
We’re all in the same boat. As a member of ASMP, you get support. And, you support the industry and each other.
Todd Joyce, past asmp national director and past national president.
By Todd Joyce |
Posted: October 17th, 2014 |
[by Kevin Lock]
I met my mentor in college and didn’t even know it.
While attending San Diego State, I took my first ‘paying’ photographic job at the Daily Aztec. After only being on staff for a few weeks I attended a slide show presentation on Somalia, presented by a photojournalist whom had begun the rocky transition from newspaper photographer to freelance. After the presentation I ran down the photographer and interviewed him for an hour or so. I had no idea at the time how profoundly this photographer would affect my career and how quickly. I had just picked up my second job. Assistant.
Over the years my relationship with this photographer grew. My photographic career metamorphosed. He introduced me to his fellow photographers which led to new jobs, I mastered the art of being his gopher, dark room technician, second shooter, digital retoucher, studio manager, problem solver, occasional house sitter, and in time, business partner. This ever evolving relationship has taken us on photographic adventures across the country and to a few international destinations.
It was with his encouragement that I joined the ASMP in 2003. I attended a few board meetings and then he pushed me to run for president of my local chapter. After 2 years as president and as I approach my final year on the national board, I can’t help but think how differently things would be for me today had a photographer not taken interest in my journey and taken the time to help me succeed over the years.
Joel Zwink, I thank you for your guidance, encouragement, and your friendship.
Kevin Lock is a current director of the ASMP. While Kevin and Joel joined the ASMP at different times, they both continue to give back to their community by being photographers, helping photographers in San Diego and in a town near you.
By Kevin Lock |
Posted: October 16th, 2014 |