What it means to be a big-brand content creator

 (Dylan H Brown)
Sarah Herron dropping in for REI.

The world has embraced social media. Instagram is booming, Facebook is one of the world’s largest countries (in terms of numbers) and Twitter seems to be trolling on…

But where does that leave us as photographers? In a world so instantaneous, so fleeting, so easy to ripoff —— How can we possibly monetize our vision in this world? I am continually asked for free image use, asked to promote a new wine, a new dating app, a new aggregate site etc. Sure collaboration is important, but so is paying the electric bill! So where is the line drawn and where do you look for your next paycheck in the world of social media?

 (Dylan H Brown)
It’s important as ever to get out there and create! Not just for other brands, but for your personal brand as well.


It still comes down to original content. Brands and companies want to stand above their competition, and through exclusive, high-quality photos and video they can do that.

But there is one catch: it’s no longer a single-day production nor a zip-a-folder-and-deliver project. Being a content creator in a social world means being highly involved, and in many ways becoming a brand ambassador. I recently shot for REI, wrapping up their #ForceOfNature social campaign with Sarah Herron (who’s a brand in her own right). The agreement seemed straight forward enough: provide 6 images, 1 Instagram story and host 1 Facebook Live event, all to be culminated in 2 months.

We were stoked. It’s a dream project to be given an open slate, more or less, and to be given the room to run free. We came up with a series of themes for each post, came up with a cool idea for the Instagram story and scouted tirelessly for a good spot with ample LTE for the Facebook Live event. As with any shoot, scouting is paramount! We executed great! We captured our images in timely fashion, had the content delivered way beforehand and thought we were good to go…

 (Dylan H Brown)
Ice Lakes, San Juan Range: Our choice location for our Instagram story.

Well, hold on a second! This is a world of social and in that world, being a content creator also means we are in many ways social influencers. As photographers/directors, we are no longer just hired for our skillful eye, but also our personality. For the Instagram stories that means adding creative text, emojis and having a strong on-camera presence. It also means adjusting and editing, making sure it’s just right for the client. Professionalism is key in every aspect of being a commercial photographer, especially when it comes to being a social content creator.

On the front-end, social media seems very quick and easy. Snap a photo, provide said photo, and invoice. Viola! Eh… hold on a minute and press those brakes! The backend of social is just as involved as any print-ad campaign or a catalog shoot, maybe even more so. If you’re shooting social for a big brand — or even a small client — you’re shooting for their ethos. Social is one of the most direct way to get a message in front of the masses and needs to be accurate! It needs to reflect exactly what they are about, what they’ve spent years building. There are no redos, no edits, nothing! So it’s very important to get everything right!

Social is a burgeoning world… really has been. But as more and more advertising dollars are diverted to this world from print and broadcast, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve, or at least right there with it. Social changes daily and we as photographers need to be able to deliver exactly what the client wants; need to be able to problem solve, provide answers and through it all stay positive, professional and courteous. And remember, brands still crave original content. They want to stand alone and have their exclusive photos and video and it’s up to us photographers to deliver content that stands apart from the masses.

 (Dylan H Brown)
Sarah taking in the view for REI.

Let’s stay social:
Instagram.com/dylan.h.brown
Instagram.com/sarahherron and Facebook.com/SarahHerron

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