One of the biggest thrills for photographers is sharing their work. After so much thought, time, and effort are invested in finding, composing, capturing, and processing your beautiful shots, it would be a shame for no one to ever see them. In the past, the most effective and efficient means of sharing photos was to fill up a photo album with prints and gather the family around. Today all you have to do is sign up for a free account with a photo sharing site like Flickr, 500px, or YouPic and you instantly gain access to a global audience. You just have to play your cards right. Here are some strategies you can use to get more eyes on your photography.
Post Your Best Work
Lets start with the obvious: post photos that are actually worth looking at. Yes, everyone seems to have different criteria for what a good photograph is, but whatever you’re posting make sure it is something you’re proud of and is representative of you as a photographer. Don’t use the platform as an image dump (there are sites for that); community members tend to find such behavior tiresome and they aren’t going to sift through all 400 of your vacations photos just to find one nice sunset.
Give Your Photos an Identity
So, you’ve posted a shot that can speak for itself. Great. Still, there are a few things you can do to give your image the exposure it deserves. First, make sure you provide a fitting title for every upload. Since we’re talking about posting images on websites that use an algorithm for cataloging, it’s a good idea to not be overly clever or artsy with your titles — one or two word titles don’t typically work well. Create a descriptive title, even it is a bit longer than you want it to be.
Next, make sure to add keywords/tags. Many of the keywords you use will probably be fairly obvious; if the main subject in your photo is a red car, then you would use the the tags “red” and “car.” But you should also use other descriptors pertaining to the car. Is it a vintage car? Brand new? What make and model? Don’t stop at the car itself, however. Include tags that relate to just about anything else concerning your image: the location, objects and structures not directly related to the subject, or gear used to capture the shot are just a few examples of what to include when you add keywords. Be specific, descriptive, and creative.
The final identifier you might consider is the description. Photo sharing sites like Flickr and 500px provide a dedicated “Description” box. There’s no need to craft an essay about the shot you’re posting; a short, meaningful description that includes a few prominent keywords will suffice.
Include EXIF Info
Another way to make your photos more discoverable is to include the EXIF data embedded in the files you upload. It is possible to modify or disable EXIF data before you ever upload a photo; some people remove location info due to privacy concerns. However, it is beneficial to you as the uploader and to others who might search for your photos, to keep data such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. intact, as these are searchable criteria, potentially giving your work more exposure.
Be Social/Join Groups
Groups are a big deal on Flickr in particular and there is a group (often multiple groups) for just about anything you can imagine: macro photography, food photography, film photography, photos made with specific cameras and lenses, photos made in specific locations, photos processed a certain way. You should have no trouble finding one or more groups relevant to your style of photography. Here you will be able to get more focused exposure for your work in addition to having the opportunity to interact with others who are into the same style of photography. You should know that some groups have posting limits, and it's never a good idea to post and run; if you're interested in receiving meaningful feedback on your photos, be sure to do the same for others.
Photo sharing sites can be an incredible asset for photographers looking to get their work noticed and, minor frustrations aside, they can be valuable learning resources so long as you know how to navigate and maximize all that is available to you. But perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself once you're a member of one these communities is to remember to have fun and don't take things too seriously.