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By on Apr 23, 2012 in Blogs, Korea | 6 comments

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Something I was thinking about while enjoying a cup of coffee

There are tons of ads and materials to waste your money on that may get you more traffic to your site and possibly a new career in photography but, is it all worth it? Recently, I have been giving a lot of thought about where to take my passion and drive. However, As a teacher in South Korea, you sometimes get the feeling that there is only so much that you can do. The truth of the matter is that while you are living here, you can achive anything. Just look at Simon and Martina from Eat Your Kimchi.

I respect them because they show you that if you produce something that you are passionate about you will get noticed, but you do have to be committed to what you do. If you look at a lot of the “producers of Korea” as I like to call them, they are pounding out the material at an insane pace.

Everyday, I see new and amazing shots from Sungjin Kim, Robert Koehler, Justin Howard,  Jimmy McIntyre and the whole horde of awesome photographers. Dylan Goldby and Flash Parker and constantly running workshops and producing professional shots for a publications across the globe. Chris Backe and Steve Miller are running circles around the country taking shots and filming in different locations to bring you new and interesting stories. They leave me breathless just trying to keep up with just reading their blogs. Gregory Curely is writing for numerous publications around Korea and the world.  These are just a few names that will come up when you are looking for talented people producing great work in Korea. It is no wonder that I constantly see these people getting better and better at their craft and they are getting noticed!

So, if you ever wonder why National Geographic, Google, The Korea Tourism Organization and anyone else is NOT beating down your door to give you that dream contract, you have to look at what you are contributing. I am assuming that you are probably a decent photographer/blogger, so it goes without question that you have talent. It is just how often you produce that quality.

The internet is a fickle creature. Think of it a lot like a news feed on a facebook page. You could get a lot of hits one day and be lost in the mix the next. The trick is to commit yourself like “The Producers” above and commit yourself to putting out a consistent effort. This also goes for Flickr and 500px as well. I think we are all guilty of the “Dump and Run” where we drop 50 photos of the site without titles, tags, descriptions, exif data, etc.  Hell, I still do that…. not proud to admit that, but I am resisting the urge to just give a title and the most obvious tags imaginable.

By staggering your image uploads and taking the time to give the proper information will allow people to find your work. For those that are already following you, one or two photos will keep you at the top of the page and not overload them.  If I see 50 photos uploaded, I may get through a few but chances are that I won’t make it through all of them. So stagger them out over more time and chances are your followers will keep up.

Other than that, there is no magic mix to bring more traffic or people to your site or photos. There is no program, pluggin, service or app that will draw people to you. Follow your passion, staying on top of your game and producing great work, over time, will draw the internet to you. So with that being said, get out there and produce something!!! Make it yours and keep at it!!

6 Comments

  1. Steve Miller

    April 24, 2012

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    Thanks for including me in the mix. It is certainly a full-time job in and of itself. Part of this will be addressed this week on the podcast as the Question of the Week.

    Great post and you are right. I give similar advice when speaking with new YouTubers about growing their audience. It takes time and isn’t going to happen overnight.

  2. The Bobster

    April 24, 2012

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    Not everyone who uses a camera is a photographer. Steve Miller (Hi, Steve!) and Simon&Martina are not photographers. Not in the classic sense of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams or the guys at Magnum or any of the incredible geniuses who shot for Life magazine or you’ll still find at Natl Geographic.

    I’m not insulting anyone by saying this. Entertainment and documentation-slash-promotion is not the same thing as photography. The internet is all set up for rewarding people who can do that. And I have no problem with it, really.

    The biggest problem with the internet? People who are producing things that fall outside of commerce have little choice but to give away their art, their time and their energy – for free. Or even less than free.

    Quick story. A friend was told if he went to an important soccer game a national (Korean) paper would publish it. They didn’t offer to pay him a dime, and I don’t know if he got in for free, but they would give him name credit. He spent his time and even rented a particular lens for the job, and his shot was published.

    The punch line? They spelled his name wrong.

    Afterwards, he picked up his guitar and started writing songs again. He’s in a band now. And that’s cool.

    I’m just a hobbyist, by the way. My pictures as just as good as I want them to be, and people are welcome to them, if they like them. So, I’m probably part of the problem.

    • Jason Teale

      April 24, 2012

      Post a Reply

      Interesting thoughts! I added Simon and Martina in as a note on what is achievable by producing fresh unique content, not as pure photographers. Steve, I believe is in fact or was a photographer at one point in time even though his is doing more filming these days.

      I was trying to be as careful as I could with the use of “producer” rather than “photographer” as I knew that not everyone is a photographer by the traditional definition. Perhaps it got a little diluted as I prattled on. However, times have changed for photographers and promotion is as big as ever.

      In an interview with David duChemin, Joe McNally brings up this issue on how promotion is one of the biggest challenges to the current business of photography, even for an experienced photographer like himself. He said “Now you have to be updating your website on a monthly bases, and that’s hard – even for photographers who are shooting all the time and have staff. The pace is very fast now” These days it is all about keeping paces and producing.

      In Regards to people who for are forced to give their work away for free are not really the problem, it is more the businesses that are needing the work but not paying for it. Getting your name out is something of a good thing and I am still happy to do it. However, it is when I get requests for images that will later be used for profit on the bases of “we’ll give you credit” that annoys me only when I know that the company has the budget to pay for them and is simply trying to save a few bucks. There are a ton of great photographers that give their work away for free and a great example is Trey Ratcliff. He gives his work away under the creative commons license.

      The thing is that whatever you are producing must have a value. Be it monetary or not. By producing material for a site or a blog WILL bring people to you, but you must not let it get stale. It is then up to you to work out the details of what you want to do with it.

      When I first started out, it was my nasty frontpage-created site that got me my first big gig. I was lucky enough to work for the people behind the AFC champions league and over email we got everything set up and well as established my credentials (need to field access) and the pay rate. Because of that I was later promoted to the official photographer for the entire country.

      The thing is that when you start getting “Jobs” the traditional roles of a photographer get mixed up with the roles of a businessman and manager. Companies just want the images and if they don’t pay for them, even better!

      I have great respect for all the people that I have mentioned here not because they are photographers but because I have learned so much from them that I can use for my photography. Photography these days has gone far beyond just pressing the shutter and when I see people doing well by producing content in Korea, I want to learn from them.

      I really appreciate your thoughts because you always make me think and it shows that someone is actually reading and thinking about my posts. Thanks.
      JT

  3. The Bobster

    April 27, 2012

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    I want to be clear that like what S&M have been up to – they are the only ones I can see who have succeeded in breaking the barrier between expats and the Korean internet, or even tried to. I greatly respect what Steve has been able to achieve also, though I’m not sure I agree with him about the importance of tourism for Korea. (It’s not essential for every country, I think.)

    Don’t you think there’s a difference between people who upload content via Creative Commons – it’s not really giving it away when we make stipulations about giving credit and that those who borrow must not try gain profit – and on the other hand, people who are willing to, basically, donate their time and talent to a for-profit media outlet, without compensation or contractual arrangement, in the vague hope of a name credit upon publication that might or might not create relationships for future work. I see some large problems with the latter, myself, and I’d worry a lot about it if I were ever hoping to make a career out of photography.

    If a paper can get something almost as good-looking as a pro would provide without having to open the wallet, heck, why should they bother paying anything? And, since that is the case, how in the world can anyone hope to even try to make a living at this?

    • Jason Teale

      April 27, 2012

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      When people give photos to magazines the must must make sure that they get credit. For the most part many magazines do this, especially in Korea. However, the biggest thing is that nobody is forcing anyone to give away their photos. So the biggest tips I would say for beginners is demand that they give you credit, if they don’t then “no” is a good word to use. If they really want your photos they will make arrangements. If not, then you are really not losing anything because it does your career no good if no one knows who took the awesome photos. I guess the long and short of it is use the creative commons. I don’t see any other options here but that.

      What you brought up in the last paragraph is something that is challenging for the working professionals in the industry. However, the main difference between working with a pro and someone who is not, is the handling of the photos and the service after. While those who mainly just take photos but don’t dabble in the professional business side may take great photos it is doing everything else that makes a pro more professional. Things like file sizes, exporting, deadlines, tags, captions, photo packages, etc. All of these are done with (I believe) a greater amount of professionalism than someone just getting into the biz.

      Not to say that people starting out can’t do it, but if a company wants photos handled a certain way, they will usually turn to someone they know that they can count on. Typically that would be pros that they have worked with in the past or someone that they know has some credibility in the industry.

      For the most part though, many papers and magazines are heading the cheaper way for stock photos and blog shots. Usually for big ticket pieces or events that have to be covered a certain way they will shell out a few bucks to make sure it gets done right. For the most part, I have never had anyone contact me to use my photos with out giving at least credit. Mostly there is some sort of compensation but that gets tricky in Korea if you are not on an F-class visa.

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