Most photographers would agree that, in today's world, you need to be on social media in order to keep up, stay inspired and make money from your work – if that's your goal, of course.
But it's one thing to sign up for social media platforms and share a few pictures, and quite another to be an active user, using the apps to engage with other photographers, potential customers or creatives. We've already written advice on how to go viral with your photography (opens in new tab) and even how to use instagram (opens in new tab). However, if you're a total beginner, nothing beats finding out how a real expert does things...
Mike Will is a creative photographer based in London, UK whose compositions include vibrant night cityscapes, adventure travel, music festivals and stunning portraits. Mike was previously a professional athlete, representing Team GB in Ice Hockey. He’s also the founder of the photography community @uk.shooters (opens in new tab) and a Sony Alpha Ambassador. For more visit www.mvisuals.net (opens in new tab)
Cue our quick-fire Q&A with photographer and content creator Mike Will. As a shooter who's always on the pulse, Mike balances commercial shoots and creative freedom, all while looking after active photo communities. His style is very recognizably him, and very ‘Instagram’ (which is no bad thing, because his consistent portfolio is a dream to scroll through).
Mike wasn’t consistent at the beginning of his photo journey, and looking back he wishes he’d spent more time posting when he started shooting. But today, he spends a lot of time in the online space, after founding his community and photography events business, @uk.shooters.
But how does Mike do it all? And how can you grow your own social media presence? We recently spent ten minutes with Mike to dig into his daily routines, plus advice for others who want to expand their audience.
If you're serious about expanding your social reach, don't forget to look into the best cameras for instagram (opens in new tab) and the best cameras for streaming (opens in new tab), which could help to make your videos more professional and more engaging.
Hey Mike! What social media platforms are you on?
I’m on Instagram (opens in new tab), TikTok, YouTube (@m.visuals) and Twitter (@mvisuals).
How has social media helped your career as a photographer?
It has definitely helped launch me into the industry and not only given me a platform to use as my portfolio, but also a way to meet other like-minded people, network and get inspiration from many other amazing artists around the world. It’s been at the forefront of my creative career.
From which social media platforms do you get the most engagement?
Instagram was and still is a big part of my practice. There has been a recent change to Instagram, though. It is now pushing video more, including the reels of up to 90 seconds, so it will be interesting to see how photographers react to those changes. If any photographer wants to grow on Instagram, you have to post reels. It is no longer the image-sharing platform it once was when I started. In order to grow, you need to listen to what the social media platforms are telling you. It’s a balance between playing their game and staying true to yourself.
YouTube is a great resource where you’ve got the opportunity to show something longer, and I’ve been on YouTube for just over a year now. Obviously, creating longer video content means putting in more effort, and you have to cut down on other things. If you have lots of jobs and brands, it can be hard enough to keep up with just one social media platform, so you have to balance things. I try to challenge myself to post on at least one of the platforms every day.
That sounds challenging. How do you come up with new ideas on a daily basis?
It is tough. Sometimes you’re full of inspiration and ideas and the next day you go out and you have nothing. It’s just a case of constantly pushing yourself. I’ve been traveling a lot recently and that makes it easier to feel inspired, as I’m seeing completely new things, people and places.
What kind of posts do you find generally get the most engagement?
It’s hard to say, and really it’s a two-sided question. My photography is what I’m known for, so I might post a photo and get good engagement but not the reach I would have got say six or 12 months ago before the platform changed. Reels are what get pushed now. I could upload a Reel that quickly goes viral, but that won’t be getting engagement from my actual followers, who like my stories and the educational side of it. For example, the before and after pictures are popular with many. Although you want the engagement, it’s also good to stay true to yourself and what you do.
What about the logistics of filming and creating the content? Do you have people to help you or do you do it all yourself?
It depends. Sometimes I’ll just shoot POVs (Point of View), which means I just strap the camera to my chest and go, but for other videos, such as the gear ones for instance, then I’ll have someone to help me so I can talk to the camera. The actual posting on social media, I do all that myself.
What advice would you give to anyone else who wants to expand their social media audience?
Be consistent and engage with your audience as much as you can. Be real and post as much as possible across multiple platforms. Those are my big pointers.