Gaining exposure is, especially at first, a difficult task for photographers. Our photos float around the internet – a mere drop in the ocean of millions of photos – hoping to cause a ripple big enough to attract the attention of what could become a ‘following’.

However, while the goal of getting a decent following seems attractive, the way in which we go about achieving that goal not only determines the quality of those followers, but also the cleanliness of your reputation at the end of it.

Your reputation is everything. I cannot stress that enough. Your name, or your brand, is affected by everything you do and the quality of imagery you produce.

Over the last couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of being very much part of a huge online photography community. Like many others, I’ve watched people promote their work in entirely the wrong way – the way that will do more harm to them than anything else.

In this article I’m going to take off my ‘Nice Guy’ hat and become Simon Cowell for a few hundred words. I don’t wish to cause offence. My aim is to offer guidance so that you can continue to create an honest reputation.

Below are some DON’Ts of self promotion that I truly believe will do more harm than good.

1. Don’t Ask People To Check Out Your Work On 500px.

For each image I publish on, like many others, I receive comment after comment from photographers saying ‘Hey, cool photo, check out my work’. This one sentence is a sure-fire way to appear desperate. Secondly, 500px are starting to do a good job at filtering these comments. In other words, if you’re guilty of this, you’ve probably already been flagged as a spammer.


2. Don’t Tag Other Photographers In Your Photos On Facebook.

There is a tendency for some, but not many, photographers to tag you in their photos, even though you’re not present in them or have nothing to do with them. Since you are tagged in the photo, it will now show up in the news feeds of your friends and followers, thus increasing the exposure of the image.

It then becomes a nuisance because you will now get updates every time someone comments. I’ve had to block people on facebook because of this, and change my settings so that if I’m tagged in a photo, it will never appear in my news feed.

3. Don’t Spam Every Page On Facebook With The Same Message.

I see the same message, time and time again, from the same photographers on different pages. Usually it says something like ‘Love your page, I’m a new follower. Like my page too’. What these people may not realise is that these comments also show up on the ticker to the right of our news feeds, so we can see how often they spam pages. I wrote a little piece on this very topic a few months back – Spamming For Exposure.

4. Don’t Email A Photographer Asking Them To Share Your Work.

This will never get a good response. Usually it’s an email saying ‘Hi, please can you share my photography page/blog etc.’

5. Don’t Think Your Images Are Amazing.

The best marketing you can ever do as a photographer is to produce stunning photos. Enjoying your work is, of course, extremely important. However, believing your work is amazing, or truly top-class, may hinder your motivation to keep improving, and blind you from your weaknesses.

6. Don’t Ask A Photographer To Critique Your Work And Then Get Defensive.

We all enjoy the idea of gaining honest feedback by photographers whose work we admire. However, if the photographer decides to give up his free time to critique your work, don’t get defensive about any criticisms. A couple of years ago I agreed to critique an image by a photographer I was connected to on facebook. I gave thorough, honest feedback. The photographer replied with anger and then ‘unfriended’ me. He was expecting me to be so blown away by the image that I’d share it with others.

Fortunately, this list is very limited. In future articles we’ll be looking at the many ways you can grow your following in a clean, honest, genuine manner.

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