Facebook is a wonderful platform for all businesses to market to potential clients and connect with other professionals in the same field. However, in many cases, common courtesy and respect seem to be dismissed on a daily basis, especially among photographers. Let’s face it, photography is a heavily saturated industry, and we are all just trying to make our mark and be noticed. In fact, many photographers rely solely on Facebook as a means for marketing and showing off their portfolio.
With all of the many benefits of using Facebook as a marketing platform, I have noticed a common trend in photography groups and business pages. So many get caught up in “competing” with one another that common courtesy and etiquette seem to be put on the back burner. Hopefully, these tips will help shed some light on keeping Facebook a positive place for connecting with other photographers.
Photography Group Etiquette
As a photographer, chances are you are part of a few (or a few hundred) photography groups. Groups are a great place to socialize with others in the industry, share tips and advice, receive honest feedback (constructive criticism) on your images, and maybe even make a few new friends. I am an active member in many groups, and I can honestly say that I have learned a great deal from fellow photographers this way. I also administrate a group with close to 3,000 members. I try not to over-saturate my group with a ton of rules. However, I feel there are a few rules that need to be put in place just as common etiquette.
Deleting Your Own Posts
One of the biggest issues I have noticed in groups is the deleting of posts. Someone posts an image for critique or posts a question for advice and many members take the time to give the requested advice or critique, then the post just vanishes. Why does this happen? Usually, it is because the OP (Original Poster) simply does not like the advice given to them. It could be because they feel humiliated or foolish based on the responses. Or, they feel that their question has been answered, so the post serves no further purpose to the group.
Here is why this a problem: photography groups are created for the sole purpose of becoming a learning environment. When you post an image for critique or ask for advice on a topic, you are likely speaking for many other members in the group. One single post by you may help educate hundreds of other members. The image you posted that was completely blown out or out of focus may be a common issue for many others. That question you posted regarding pricing advice may be something that several other members are struggling with themselves. We all learn from one another’s mistakes. By deleting a post, you are defeating the purpose of the group.
Group members need also to take into consideration the time that others spend giving free advice and tips. My group is made up of many seasoned pros who know a thing or two about photography and running a photography business. They take time out of their day to interact and offer helpful advice to complete strangers. However, I have found that many of those seasoned pros have just completely given up on helping others in groups because it becomes a waste of time when their advice just vanishes. If we want to keep groups productive learning environments, we need to maintain a level of respect for those spending the time to educate.
I get it; sometimes people can just be plain mean. I’ve seen it happen a thousand times, and I have been the victim of it myself. Of course, if you are being threatened, bullied, or intentionally humiliated, then protecting yourself takes top priority. There are exceptions to every rule. There is always an option to report to admins if you feel you are being “attacked” by a member. Just always keep in mind that other people are taking the time out of their day (unpaid) to share valuable information with you and other members, and your post may help other photographers.
Screenshots And Sharing Other’s Work In An Attempt to Belittle Them
Just don’t. It really is that simple. You gain absolutely nothing by taking screenshots of other photographer’s posts or work then posting it in a group for hundreds or thousands of others to see with the intention of belittling them or making a mockery out of them. It is distasteful, disrespectful, and a complete waste of your time. So you don’t like what the photographer is charging, or you think their style of work is horrible? If you need to vent, send a private message to a trusted friend and vent away! Always keep in mind how you would feel if the tables were turned. The only thing humiliating others in this industry will get you is disrespect.
Do Your Research First
Have you ever posted a question in a group and the only response you get is telling you to Google it? Do not take this as a rude response. I have learned that you can find just about anything on Google. Gear reviews/comparisons, legal questions, camera functions, software questions, etc. can almost always be answered with a little effort and research. One thing my college professor taught me that has kind of stuck with me is self-resourcefulness. If you feel that you have done your research on a topic and are still having a problem comprehending or understanding, then by all means, ask away! But, you may just find that you learn a hundred more things while researching that one topic. Research first, ask questions later. A quick search on “photography tips” yields almost 3,000,000 results. You are sure to find at least some information to lead you in the right direction.
Giving and Receiving CC (Constructive Criticism)
I am not going to go into too much detail on this topic. It’s like beating a dead horse, and everyone has their own opinion. However, I feel that there are a few points that everyone should keep in mind when giving and receiving CC.
So you have decided to put yourself out there and post a photo for critique? It can be nerve wracking at first. Believe me, when I first started posting for CC, I sometimes left wanting to crawl into a hole and never come out. Here is what I have learned: photography groups are full of other photographers. Plain and simple. If you post an image for critique, that is just what you will get.
Disconnect the personal connection you have with your work (easier said than done) and soak up every ounce of CC you can get. If exposure, composition, or focus seems to be the common issues pointed out, invest time into correcting those issues. Critiques on your work are not critiques on you as a person.
Keep in mind that “criticism” is part of CC. Members may not even point out the good things about your image. The point of CC is to learn from your mistakes and the basic fundamental issues of your image. Take it, learn from it, and apply it to future images. You will notice major growth in your work when you learn to be open to honest criticism.
There are a few things to keep in mind when giving CC as well. Of course, the obvious would be not to resort to name calling or telling the person that they should just put their camera down and never take another photo. That is rude and not at all helpful.
Ask questions. What were your settings? This simple question can usually answer many issues with the image. ISO may be too high, shutter speed too slow, aperture too wide, etc.
Keep in mind that an amateur photographer may not be familiar with all of the lingo and photography terms that come with experience and education. Communicate on their level. Perhaps point them to websites, forums, or tutorials that are more in depth than you could possibly write in one comment. Most importantly, be honest. False praises may seem like the right thing to do, however, save that for their family members and friends. My family certainly lied to me when I first started, and although they meant well, it did not help in my growth at all. You can be honest and helpful without being just plain rude.
Facebook Business Page Etiquette
As photographers, we use our business pages for marketing. We display “sneak peeks” from our sessions for our clients, their families, and potential clients to see. Unlike groups, these pages are public and open for all of Facebook land to see.
Facebook etiquette certainly needs to carry over to business pages.
We post images on our page for marketing purposes. We tag our clients in them. Criticism on our public pages is absolutely uncalled for. We do not want our clients or potential clients seeing every issue with our images pointed out for everyone to see. When it comes to business pages, unless specifically requested, just keep your thoughts to yourself. Respect the fact that doing so can cause negative consequences to the photographer and their business.
Leaving a Bad Review
So you “aren’t a fan” of a certain photographer’s style, or you feel they aren’t worthy of charging for their work. This does not give you the right, as a fellow photographer, to leave a bad review on their business page. Reviews are meant for clients to give their opinions on the services they received from a photographer. Again, this boils to down to respect.
Marketing Yourself on Another Photographer’s Page
Unless you receive an open invitation to do so, you should avoid marketing yourself on the behalf of someone else’s page. Again, this is distasteful and disrespectful to the photographer you are intruding on, regardless of whether or not you believe you have something better to offer. Keep marketing yourself to your own page.
This is an issue that has grown very common for photographers and it is very disheartening. Resorting to reporting images with the intentions of getting a photographer’s page shut down is quite frankly, ridiculous. There are many valid reasons to report images on Facebook. However, reporting just for the sake of reporting needs to stop. We work very hard to build our page followers. To see it all come crashing down for no legitimate reason at all can be devastating to a photographer. Receiving a notification that your page has been unpublished usually results in having to start fresh with a new page, and rebuilding your following. Appeals seldom work in your favor. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Back in June of 2014, Victoria Simmons was one of the many photographers who have been targeted in this way. You can read her story here.
If you feel offended by “controversial” images posted on a photographer’s page, simply un-follow their page, or perhaps send them a private message with your concerns. Opinions are not a good enough reason to risk someone losing their page over. Boudoir photographers are going to post boudoir images. Don’t like what you see? Don’t follow their page. Most importantly, do not report images just because you know it is an easy way to get someone’s page shut down. You will gain nothing by having their page eliminated.
To Sum It All Up
So there is no formula or set of rules set in stone for Facebook etiquette for photographers. However, I feel these are common issues that need to be addressed. I believe most of it boils down to common sense and respect. Focus your time and energy on your own business and your own clients and success will follow. As long as Facebook is around, there will be thousands of other photography pages and groups. Your page is just one of many. Treat one another with respect and the way you would want to be treated. We can all help one another grow in this industry, but respect is a must.
Share this article with all of your photographer friends so that, hopefully, we can get the message across!