Social Media – Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy?

As a photographer, you look for inexpensive ways to market your business. You use a free blog with Blogger, and free networking with Twitter and Facebook.

You start building your network, and building relationships in a variety of ways. Its fairly easy to gain friends into the thousands, and build a nice little business for yourself.

But what if it all disappears in the blink of an eye?

Chances are you’ve heard some of the horror stories surfacing right now. Like the Tucson photographer that had his reputation destroyed in the social realm due to his $125,000 lawsuit against a newspaper for using one of his photos of the 9 year old shooting victim.

His jury wasn’t in the court systems. His jury was online. And in a matter of days, the photographer learned just how effective social networking can be.

I’ve seen the arguments on both sides.

  • You can say the photographer did everything right – it was a case of traditional media using his image without right, and they should pay the price.
  • You can also look at it through the eyes of the situation – the family was simply sharing a favorite photograph in an extremely difficult situation.

Both sides are true, and can be argued. But that doesn’t change the situation. The photographer in this case wasn’t tried in the courts – he was tried with social media, and lost.

This wasn’t the first photographer to be affected by social, nor will he be the last. And in some ways you simply can’t predict what will happen. You take a stance, and the rest is fate.

But the key that is beginning to surface now is that social is here to stay, and it has an impact on everything we do. Decisions are made quickly, and you have to live with the consequences. You can’t ignore it – it will happen with or without you.

Can a photographer recover after a moment like this? Of course, but only time will tell in this case.

Even in a situation like this, you can’t shun away from it. Embrace social. Tell your side of the story. And wait for time to cool things down. Reevaluate. And make a decision on your next move.

Life is always about risk and learning. All you can do is move forward.