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Taking your photography to the next level February 2011 £4.25 www.photopromagazine.com

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ULI WEBER INTERVIEW PAGE 45

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Give your people pictures the small world effect

Ways to make 2011 a great year for your photography

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YOUR WORK


BUSINESS

Social Skills

Case study: SnapKnot

Charlotte meets the founder of a new social media site for wedding pros that’s also a one-stop-shop for brides and grooms in search of a photographer WORDS Charlotte Griffiths

“It’s the ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it’ mentality: we provide an even playing field for photographers”

I

t’s an unavoidable fact that getting the best results from networking on social media will take up some of your time. Even if you strip your online presence down to the bare minimum you still have to think about what you’re writing and – crucially – also spend a while connecting with your audience by commenting on their online presences. So if someone offered you the chance to maximise on your efforts by relaying your work to precisely the audience you’re trying to appeal to, you can see why a service like SnapKnot deserves a second glance… While pottering through the Flickr forums I stumbled across an interesting addition to the roster of social networks: SnapKnot, a new ‘unique wedding photography directory’. Designed for brides and grooms to search for the perfect wedding photographer by selecting their location and setting the budget, the site picks out the matching cards of registered photographers that show the photographers’ name, their price range, if they offer destination weddings, their experience and any pro organisations (SWPP, BIPP etc) that they’re a member of. And that’s pretty much it. The site’s clean design allows relative newcomers to the industry to sit alongside the ‘big boys’ and lets the photographers’ talent alone convince the bride they’re worth booking. As SnapKnot’s founders are American, the site predominantly lists US-based photographers – but as is the case with most online networks, the site is completely international and new countries and cities are added whenever photographers offering services in that location sign up. Basic membership is free and allows all photographers to get their card in the window, but for $49 a month photographers can sign up for ‘Premium’ membership of SnapKnot. This enables photographers to put a small portfolio of pictures on their card, lets them list five destinations rather than one and also means that their page will always be listed above those of free members when a bride searches for a specific location. On top of this, premium members will also receive promotion through SnapKnot’s own use of other social media networking sites. It’s easy to see the appeal of this – they’re not quite doing the social networking for you, but they’re making sure your work is seen by as large an audience as possible. I spoke to one of the site’s co-founders, Mike Rheaume, about the year-old site and its impact on the online wedding photography community. “The idea came from my cofounder Reid Warner’s experience when he

got married back in 2007,” he said. “They had a very frustrating time trying to find a photographer, spending a lot of time on Google searches and on the current ‘big media’ wedding sites.” As a ‘bootstrapped start-up’ the pair relied on social media to promote the site, connecting with wedding blogs that they liked. Within a week, they’d had over 100 photographers sign up and currently have just over 1500 registered as users – and crucially, they see over 10,000 visitors to the site every month, brought in by the site’s exposure on these social media sites and some PPC (pay per click) advertising on Google AdWords and Facebook. Some might question the worth of being listed alongside other photographers who might offer a cheaper service to you or have more experience – when I raised this point, Mike’s response was that SnapKnot provides an even playing field for photographers. “We think it’s more the ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ mentality. We aren’t arbiters of style or taste, which are ultimately very personal things anyway, so we feel that it is best to empower brides to choose photographers they like who fit their budget and location. There’s also no screening process. We only vet new members to make sure they are not spam, or obscene, or irrelevant.” Another interesting feature is that the photographer’s price is almost the second thing that a bride learns about them. “We thought that it was important to have the cost displayed,” Mike said. “It helps save time for photographers because they will field fewer inquiries from people who do not have the budget to use them. And for brides, it can be very frustrating to find a photographer you like and then find they’re more than you can afford. We understand that some photographers do not wish to show their prices. That’s fine - SnapKnot isn’t for them.” SnapKnot was originally designed to be a static directory (albeit a very social-media-savvy one) but much to the founders’ delight a community has developed around the website and its networks, to the extent that over the past few months they’ve repositioned themselves as an online community for

wedding photographers. “We have made personal connections in real life with many of these photographers, and our Twitter and Facebook networks have become very active and involved - especially for our Premium members,” Mike explains. Think before you link As with all online activity, it’s important to work out if a service is right for you and the way that you position your own business before signing up and connecting your brand with a company. The majority of photographers on SnapKnot could be classed as ‘wedding photojournalists’ and seem to favour the reportage, candid style that’s so popular at the moment, so if your own style is different to this you’d stand out from the pack – which might be a good thing, depending on how you cut it! Signing up to a directory or networking website is a very personal decision and no advice will fit all businesses. Although SnapKnot is still relatively young, the speed with which it’s been adopted by American wedding photographers seems to show that it’s working for them: perhaps browsing the site might be worth five minutes of your time next time you connect to the web… l Contact: www.snapknot.com twitter.com/PhotoProUK twitter.com/Photolotte

Taking your photography to the next level February 2011 25


SnapKnot Feature Article in Photo Pro Magazine