Behind the Scenes

Instagram growth service called Liked Lab

Instagram is the Best Promotion for Photographers

I’ve been a photographer for almost 20 years now, and have tried just about every form of promotion to get my work in front of potential clients. We are talking printed mailers, ads in sourcebooks, email lists and campaigns… even just personal letters and phone calls. But lately, one of the cheapest things you can do… an Instagram profile… seems to be outperforming just about every other type of promotion at our disposal.

When I first started, every professional photographer at least did the printed mailers once or twice a year, and a combination of various sourcebook advertising.  It was the go to standard, and if you had a photography rep it was mandatory.

The printed mailers could be very simple, for instance a basic post card sent out to 500 hundred potential clients that would cost you in the neighborhood of $2,000.  Generally it was recommended to do that 6 times a year.  And generally 99.9% of those mailers ended up in the potential client’s trash. 

Or they could be extremely ambitions (and expensive)… entire 40 page magazines of a single photographer’s work, or giant gallery quality prints. This was a once a year promo at the most and I saw photographers spend over $30,000 on just one mailing!  It’s a huge investment not just in money but also the time to put it together. But I suppose if that photographer got one big advertising job from it, well then it was totally worth it. 

But if you didn’t think it through, it could be a disaster.  Like the photographer that sent out a stainless steel saw blade with his logo and contact information printed on it, buried underneath sawdust inside a raw wood box…  a nice presentation and it fit his construction product advertising niche.  Sounded like a great idea…. until art directors all around the country dug their hand into the sawdust only to rip open the tips of their fingers on the extremely sharp saw blade!   

Sourcebooks were another expensive but ubiquitous option.  Every fashion photographer advertised in LeBook, from the most established and successful to the brand new and ambitious. For a young photographer it felt almost prestigious to be in it…. even though you were paying a hefty fee for the privilege at around $5,000 for a two page spread.  And if you weren’t Meisel or ripped by the biggest agencies you could pretty much be guaranteed that they would bury you in the very back of the book.

Later in my career the next big thing was email promos.  It’s from around $150 to $450 a month for an email list service like Agency Access depending on which client lists you sign up for and how many emails you send.  One of the nice things about the service is that you can see who clicked through your emails… but the numbers were abysmal and have only been getting worse and worse through the years.  If you sent 1,000 emails and 10 people clicked through to your website that was considered a success!  But we all know how much we love getting spam and I guess art director’s are no different..

I put a profile on Instagram around 2012 and really didn’t do much with it… some behind the scenes photos, lots of vacation pics.. I didn’t really know what it was all about so I didn’t pay too much attention to it.  It seemed like it was more a social place to share with your friends and I just didn’t want to put any time into it… I was busy shooting, and retouching and doing all the other things photographers have to devote their limited time to.

But then things changed… it started to become an important outlet for discovery, and the whole influencer thing took off… nothing has been the same since.

I saw that clients more and more were talking about Instagram constantly… how they discovered new models, or photographers, talent of every kind… even locations, and props… everything! 

About this time I removed the vacation snapshots, all the superfluous crap that had migrated there over the years, and just concentrated on displaying my latest fashion work. 

Quickly my profile went from a couple thousand followers to 10,000. And then I got a booking directly from a client that found me through Instagram… a 3 day catalog on a beach in Mexico!

I wanted more jobs like that so I started to invest more time and effort into Instagram.  I tried a couple apps that allowed you to more easily search and follow people that had an interest in photography, and my following grew a bit more.  I researched other techniques to grow my following, and it grew even more.

But when I signed up for a social media growth service, things really caught on fire.  It wasn’t buying fake followers or likes, and it wasn’t magic or some super secret sauce.  It was just hiring someone that really knew how Instagram worked, how to research the right audience, and then could make my account active 24 hours a day.

My following went from 15,000 to 80,000 in less than a year!  And more importantly, I was getting regular bookings from clients that never heard of me until they saw my work on Instagram.  Those jobs took me all around the world… Moscow, London, Armenia.  And all from a $100 a month investment..

The service I recommend is called Liked Lab.  They have a great promotional and research system, and they are more involved in the process than any other service I have seen… they provide me with analytics so I know the best days and times to post, and what kind of posts work best, what are the strongest hashtags to use.  They even give me advice on the look of my profile.  It’s been a big help, saved me time, and really helped my career. 

Instagram growth service called Liked Lab

chris hunt studio recommends social media growth service called Liked Lab

So at the beginning of 2017 I wanted to try an experiment… I stopped all other forms of promotion and only used Liked Lab for Instagram.  No emails, no sourcebooks or printed promos.  What happened? I didn’t see any drop off in activity.  In fact, just the opposite. Not only was I getting more work from client’s noticing me on Instagram, now my following and engagement on Instagram was getting so strong that I was getting offers to promote products as an influencer. Ok, that’s not something I am interested in now, I am still busy shooting. But it’s definitely something I can think about for the future or as a side hustle. 

So what does it mean?  I think the entire photography industry is changing, and the old ways of getting noticed don’t work anymore. You don’t need to spend $5,000 on a sourcebook ad, or $400 a month on emails, or $12,000 on printed promos. I haven’t cracked open a sourcebook in years, all the spam emails I get go automatically to the trash.  I think the best thing you can do as a photographer now is just shoot as often as possible, get your work in every magazine or website you can, and then promote promote promote on social media.

What do you think?  I’m still experimenting with the best promotion methods so I want to hear what works for you!

Chris Hunt in GoSee.us for his work in Miami and Mexico

I’m happy to be a featured again in GoSee.us, the European photography news website:

THE NEW FASHION LOOKS IN NYLON MAG – PHOTOS BY CHRIS HUNT

In the beautifully rough outskirts of Mexico City, CHRIS HUNT photographed a fashion editorial for NYLON magazine. In front of his camera: the beauties Ollie and Jess. Styling was in the hands of Alice Gamus & Deborah Torres with hair & make-up by Juan Peralta.

MUNICH MODEL NATALIA BORGES WAS THE SUN-TANNED BEAUTY IN IPRESS MAG – COLORFULLY STAGED BY PHOTOGRAPHER CHRIS HUNT IN MIAMI

In Wynwood Miami, the fashion photographer staged sun-tanned Natalia BORGES c/o MUNICH MODELS for a colorful fashion story in IPRESS magazine. Styling was done by Yael Gitai, with hair by Carlos Vera and make-up by Erika Chrysler.

 

My photos from a NASCAR Mexico race

I love auto racing!  I’ve been a fan of Formula 1 all my life, and most every other form of auto racing too.  So it was a lot of fun to be given a pit pass to a NASCAR Mexico race at the Autodromos Hermanos Rodriguez when I was in Mexico City for a photo shoot. Of course I brought my camera to the race, and below are the results….  plus a photo of me in my element! Watching auto racing on TV only gives you a glimmer of how exciting it actually is in person, especially when you are right in the pits with the teams and the cars.  I can’t wait to do it again, maybe I’ll get lucky and the next time will be a Formula 1 race 🙂

 

CHRIS-HUNT-at-a-nascar-race

Chris Hunt having fun at a NASCAR race.

Chris Hunt Photography for C&A

A fashion campaign shot by Chris Hunt for C&A

A fashion campaign shot by Chris Hunt for C&A

A fashion campaign for C&A by Chris Hunt Photography

A fashion campaign for C&A by Chris Hunt Photography

Here are a few images from a fashion campaign I shot for C&A.  Now, I know that many of my friends from the USA don’t know much about C&A as they don’t a presence there, but in Europe and Latin America they are one of the strongest fashion brands, competing directly with the likes of H&M, Zara, and others.  So, here is a little information about the brand:

C&A is an international Dutch chain of fashion retail clothing stores, with its European head offices in Vilvoorde, Belgium, and Düsseldorf, Germany. It has retail stores in many European and Latin-American countries. Its brands include Angelo Litrico, Canda, Clockhouse, Here+There, Palomino, Rodeo (ski and snowboard clothes), Westbury, Yessica, Yessica Pure, and Your Sixth Sense.

The company was founded by brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer in 1841 as a Dutch textile company, taking its company name from their initials. They were from the German Brenninkmeyer family which traded in linen and textiles since the 17th century from its hometown of Mettingen, Germany.

C&A Fashion Campaign by Chris Hunt Photography

Here are some images from a fashion campaign I shot for the Dutch fashion brand C&A.  We captured a bit of a sunlight feel in the studio for this one using a single strobe head mounted with a grid above and to the side of the camera.  Most of the background light came from this single strobe head, but we pumped it up a bit more by adding two lights on each side, and behind the models, all using small umbrellas.  This is a photography lighting set up that I use quite a bit in the studio as it works well for department stores and more commercial fashion shoots.  It adds a sunny feel to any campaign, makes the clothes and models look good too.  And believe it or not we did almost no retouching to these images, it looks like this straight off the camera.

Chris Hunt casual men's campaign for C&A

Chris Hunt casual men’s campaign for C&A

Chris-Hunt-Photography-Fashion-C&A-Campaign-0378 Chris-Hunt-Photography-Fashion-C&A-Campaign-0379 Chris-Hunt-Photography-Fashion-C&A-Campaign-0380 Chris-Hunt-Photography-Fashion-C&A-Campaign-0381 Chris-Hunt-Photography-Fashion-C&A-Campaign-0382

Chris Hunt Photography featured in GoSee.us

Some of my recent work has been featured in the photography news service, GoSee.us They selected a few campaigns I shot over the last few months for Avon, Ilusion and Westies by Nine West.

SEXY FRAGRANCE & LINGERIE CAMPAIGN FOR THE MEXICAN LABEL ILUSION, PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRIS HUNT

Chris HUNT realized the printed motif for the fragrance AMOR BY ILUSION in addition to his photographs of lingerie label ILUSION’s new collection.

ILUSION : ‘In 1949, in Mexico, we had a dream to design and manufacture beautiful lingerie that would be loved by Latin beauties. Now, over 60 years later, we continue our dreams as the largest intimate apparel brand in Mexico. We are proud to be a private family operation that is 100% Mexican. We manufacture our products in our own facilities and produce most of our own fabrics and laces with the help of our more than 5,000 dedicated employees. Ilusion serves the whole network of entrepreneurs that sell by catalogue through stores all over Mexico and distribution centers in the US and Central America.’

Amor by Illusion fragrance campaign by Chris Hunt

Chris Hunt Photography for Amor by Ilusion fragrance advertising campaign

AMOR BY ILLUSION FRAGRANCE CAMPAIGN BY CHRIS HUNT

CHRIS HUNT for Illusion Lingerie

Chris Hunt Photography for Ilusion Lingerie

CHRIS HUNT FOR ILLUSION LINGERIE

CHRIS HUNT for Illusion Lingerie

Chris Hunt Photography for Ilusion Lingerie campaign

CHRIS HUNT FOR ILLUSION LINGERIE

CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHS SHOES AND ACCESSORIES FOR WESTIES BY NINE WEST

NINEWEST : A global footwear authority born on the streets of New York City in 1978, Nine West passionately satisfies a woman’s ceaseless desire for affordable, chic, sexy footwear and more. Providing women with a quality, trend-right, accessible collection in over 70 countries across the globe.

Wastes by Nine West campaign

Chris Hunt Photography for Nine West

WESTIES BY NINE WEST CAMPAIGN

CHRIS HUNT PRESENTS HIS NEWEST SHOWREEL AND WATERPROOF COMMERCIAL ON GOSEE

CREDITS / DETAILS / VIDEO EMBED LINK

Whether fashion productions on the beaches of Mexico, lingerie, and perfume campaigns in the studio or lifestyle shoots outdoors – Chris HUNT serves a broad target when it comes to advertising photography and film. We present you the newest show reel and a commercial for waterproof cosmetics.

Chris Hunt’s New Commercial Director Show Reel

Check out the latest version of my show reel of the commercials I have directed. It’s a mix of things I’ve done for clients in the U.S.A. and Mexico. It’s been a lot of fun getting to this point with the motion work, and I have a lot of new projects just completed or in the works right now including commercials, music videos and film. I can’t wait to get them all edited so I can show you what I have been up to.

And here is a shout out to my Director of Photography, Ivan Vilchis Ibarra… you can see his work here: http://www.ivanvilchisibarra.com He’s an extremely talented DP and a great guy to work with. One of the things I have learned about directing is that it’s all about assembling a talented team, and working together in an open and collaborative environment. As a director I need people like Ivan around me to offer their expertise and input. And I also have to give them the freedom to try their ideas out. After all, the goal of every one on the set of a film project is to support the director and make the project look as good as it possibly can. So a big thank you to everyone I have worked with on these projects!

INTERVIEW WITH FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER CHRIS HUNT ON LUXURY SNAPSHOT

Luxury Snapshot is a new website featuring stories about professional photographers from all around the world.  Recently they asked me to do a short interview with them where I talked a little about my background in fashion photography.  You can check out the interview and profile here and below is the text of the interview.

Q&A

Did you go to school or teach yourself? I taught myself.  Since I was a kid I played around with photography, and I always had an interest in documentary photography or photo journalism.  I even shot for my local newspaper and my college newspaper.  But it wasn’t until I was winding down my job as a model agent that I really started teaching myself about lighting and the technical aspects of photography.  There was no trick to it, I just shot every day and tried out a lot of different equipment and techniques.  I think this is one of the reasons that my style is so varied… I just loved learning and trying things out and that love of experimentation has followed me through my career.

What interested you in photography? At first it was the idea of making a living as a photographer that was the attraction…. the creativity and the lifestyle it allowed.

Why did you choose the fashion industry? My mom was a model so I was around the fashion world as a small child.  After college I got a job in a model agency, and from there being a fashion photographer just started to make sense as a next step.

How would you describe your style? In general I have a California vibe… but I have done a bit of everything, and in many different styles.

What’s the thing you like the most about being a photographer? And the least? Every job is different and challenging in it’s own way, and that keeps things exciting for me.  And now that I am expanding into filmmaking, it’s opened up a whole new world of challenges.  I love my business, its the best job in the world, so i can’t think of anything that I don’t like right now… but maybe if you ask me when I’m trying to shoot a campaign in terrible weather I will have something different to say!

Who was a big influence for your work? I have never actually had a lot of outside influence… There are some photographers or filmmakers that I really admire, but that doesn’t really translate into an influence in my style. I have generally just done what i enjoyed and worked in the parameters of whatever project I was working on at the moment.

Where do you look for new ideas and inspirations? I can be inspired by different locations or fashions or models, but usually I just go out and do it… if it’s on location I will find something interesting in the space, or the light, and use that.  If it’s studio it’s usually about the model or clothes that we are photographing.  I will sometimes come with a very specific game plan in mind, but sometimes I just allow thing to be discovered on the day.

Do you remember an almost impossible shoot to produce? A car campaign in a volcano that was at such high altitude we all were on the verge of passing out at one point or another… that was a challenge!  Another time we were shooting in the freezing rain and the client wanted it to look like a sunny day!  But these challenges really are what makes my job exciting.

What do you like to shoot on your down time? I love to shoot fashion on location, so if I am doing something just for myself that’s what I will most likely be doing.

Favorite equipment? Equipment are just tools to me, so I use what I need to get the job done… even though I am highly technical, I am not much of a geek when it comes to equipment.

Do you prefer to shoot on location or in a studio? Generally location because I love to be outside in the sun, but I am totally comfortable in the studio too…. just depends on my mood I suppose.

What was the best location that you shot at? Tulum, Mexico and Boracay, Philippines.  No coincidence those are beaches 🙂

What did you wish you would have known before you started? I never assisted so in the very beginning I had to learn everything the hard way… I made some mistakes, but I think in the long run that helped my career because those lessons really stuck with me.

What advice would you give to those just starting out? Shoot, shoot and shoot… just constantly shoot.

Where do you see your career headed? I am moving into directing tv commercials now… I love that and hope to do a lot more.