Who is your audience seems a rather silly question to be asking. Obviously if you’re posting your photos to social media your audience is your followers. Two years ago I wrote a post called An Audience of One. This was a post reaffirming that the most important person that I’m taking photos for is me.
In that post, I also gave a passing nod to my followers who enjoy my photos and comment on them. But honestly, I would not have considered the reactions or needs of these fans when I set up my photos. Recent events have made me reconsider this position.
After reading Roland Barthes Camera Lucida I understand that photography is a triangular relationship. This relationship is composed of the creator, the image and the viewer. When I create an image I have something in mind, but when I put it out into the world, the viewer can bring a completely new experience, thought process and expectation to that image. And if I’m honest with myself, the viewer’s opinion and reaction is more important than my own.
This change in thinking has come about as a result of my recent attempts at selling my work. But it doesn’t matter if you’re creating works solely for social media, to sell at local cons and festivals or you’re building a portfolio to establish yourself as a commercial photographer. Your audience reaction is important to consider. They will ultimately decide if your work is good enough for a like or comment, good enough to buy or good enough to hire for a commercial assignment.
Are you Connecting?
Recently Tobias, one of our regular guest authors, asked me what I saw in his upcoming six-image narrative. He wanted to make sure his images read as a complete, albeit enigmatic, story. When I told him what I saw, it seems it was a very different interpretation than what he saw. After he rearranged the images, the story was much more successful. This is an example of creator / viewer disconnect.
This disconnect with you audience can also happen when you sell your work. When I create images for selling I have a certain idea I want to convey, or at the very least, images I want to display. But I’m finding that my audience has different needs. They’re asking for images I had not considered creating. Lucky for me these requests are not too far outside my own interests. I simply need to point my lens in a slightly new direction. Without these interactions I wouldn’t understand that I wasn’t connecting with my intended audience .
Who is your Audience?
Being a toy photographer is easy; we have a built-in audience of fellow toy photographers. Even the newest toy photographer can find a supportive audience within our community. The question of “who is your audience?” gets more complicated as you move outside of this community.
Are you creating work to be noticed on social media? Maybe you’re creating work for your kids and family to enjoy? Maybe you’re like me and you’re creating work to sell? Or maybe you’re like a few ambitious folks who aspire to becoming professional photographers? Or maybe you simply want to tell a story.
However you answer these questions, the only real question you have to answer next is: Are you connecting?
Who is your audience and are you connecting with them?