Instagram: Jon the person

March 30, 2015  •  4 Comments

I've been having a few conversations recently about social media with other photographers. In those conversations there was one thing that came up again and again.

Social media is supposedly "social" - yet by its very nature it often becomes in-personable. The millennial generation seem to measure things in a new currency of likes, follows, shares and subscribers. Something I understand but don't quiet buy into. This new social currency can hold new opportunities for those who have large numbers of followers. Companies want to access this new currency as a marketing stream. But I guarantee it comes at a cost. The cost is a complete lack of engagement. It almost goes without saying that those people who have the highest number of likes, follows, shares and subscribers almost certainly never engage with their 'fan' base. So what on earth is the point? 

In the context of photography I think engagement is important. I also think that in a very large sea of "so and so photography"'s (guilty as charged) it isn't enough to have a profile picture of yourself behind the lens, or lying on your stomach hiding behind a 600mm lens - sorry but "all the gear no idea" comes into mind.

People who follow you, probably want to know a little more about you. Not a lot more, but a little more.

So in these conversations that I have been having with other photographers about social media I listed 3 things that I think are important to allow you to better engage with the people who follow you:

  1. It is better to have fewer more engaged followers who appreciate what you do than thousands of people who click "like" but never take the time to comment. I would rather engage with people who appreciate what I do, and in turn I appreciate the time they take to look at my work.
  2. Put a face behind the name. Put a profile picture, no matter how cheesy it is (my Facebook one is very cheesy, but I don't care)!!! Make sure it is a portrait. Don't hide behind the lens of your own camera....seriously, I don't care how big your lens is. 
  3. Find a platform to share more than just your photography. In my case my focus area is in wildlife and landscape photography. But there are more aspects to me the person, than me the photographer.

Enter Instagram.

I follow many wildlife photographers who use Instagram exclusively for wildlife photography. I have nothing against this. On the contrary I appreciate digesting wildlife images through this platform. However for me, I want to use Instagram to show you the "behind the scenes" - what is going on in my everyday life, when I am not out with my camera. I want to share a little bit about "Jon the person" not necessary "Jon the photographer", and certainly not bots and fake followers, and fake likes. Why?

Well because I want people who engage with me through social media to have an additional dimension to the "so and so photography" that they are following, yes in my case "Jon Bryant Photography". We are living in a social media world where we are flooded with images and content under different banners and platforms. Yet the "social" part is often completely lost from the equation!!!

What has Golf got to do with Wildlife Photography? Nothing. But that's entirely the point!

Last week I was at the British Wildlife Centre at a photography day. I met a great bunch of enthusiastic photographers and what I appreciated more than anything was getting to know a little about these people, why they were passionate about photography, what were there motivations to shoot wildlife, what gear they were using, what were their photographic goals and drivers? It was great to hear different peoples rational for the art of photography. And it was something that you can't do through social media.....get to know the photographer you are following. Sure enough a number of us connected on social media, and this is great because I got to see their images from the day and this put a smile on my face. Thank you Amanda, Rachel and Keith! :-) Amanda, your enthusiasm for the otters was incredible and its great when you find a subject you enjoy more than anything....its truly amazing. 

So before I blog about my day at the British Wildlife Centre, ask yourself this simple question. What do you want to get out of social media?

For me, it's about sharing my journey in wildlife photography, with a little bit of the real me thrown in for added measure. If I just posted all my wildlife pictures I wouldn't be keeping it real, and I'd run out of images pretty quick!



(an actual real person).


Oscar Fernandez(non-registered)
I really enjoyed being here. Thanks a lot
Gerry Van der Walt(non-registered)
Nice post Jon.

Too many people are after the quick fix of more follows, likes, etc. Depending on your goal, and that's different for each of us, you need to have a clear strategy of what you would like to achieve by engaging on social channels.

Images alone are never going to sell prints, safaris or courses. It's the human element behind it but there is again a fine line of oversharing. Some people just seem to get it while others... well.. don't. ;)

I think the biggest mistake that people make on social is to see all the platforms as purely distribution channels to get people to their blogs or websites. Each platform gives us a different place to tell stories, add value and engage with people and once you recognise this and start learning the subtle nuances of each one the real social fin begins! :)
Very true Jon - Nicely done! That was the great thing about guiding - you meet the people in the environment the facilitates creativity! Nice Callaways too - should we go play leopard creek next time youre down?
Andrew Beck(non-registered)
Spot on Jon!
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