Thursday, 2 May 2013

Blogging tip: Taking photos in public places and featuring local businesses

Before I dive into day two of the Blog Every Day In May challenge, can I just say HOLY CRAP ON A STICK?!! I had no clue this little idea I hatched would blow up like it has. The entries into yesterday's linkup shot through the roof, and I literally couldn't believe my eyes as I watched the participation grow and grow. Apparently so many of you, like me, are craving good content and fun blog topics and real writing! It's a revolution! 

Thanks to all of you who've stopped by here lately, both old readers and new, and left me such kind notes - I am beyond thrilled to hear you're enjoying the challenge. 

Ok, now that those pleasantries are out of the way, let's dive into day TWO! Only 29 more to go... we got this. 

Today's topic prompts you to "educate us on something you know alot about or are good at," and for this one I decided to appease the masses and talk a little about taking photos in public places and featuring local businesses on your blog, which I am quite good at if I do say so myself (and by "masses," I mean the small handful of people who have asked me about this).

Recently I've taken to this idea of featuring local restaurants, businesses, and other popular spots around Austin (see posts here!), and I do it for multiple reasons. One, because I truly love trying cool new places, and the need for blogging material keeps me motivated to get out and do so. Two, because many of my readers are local and I'd like to attract even more local readers (I have a photography biz, you know!), and three, because reviewing local businesses is actually a really savvy way to market your blog! I'll explain that in a minute, but the more pressing question is "how do you not melt into a puddle of embarrassment and shame when you're lugging around your DSLR and snapping lots of pictures within inches of bustling employees or curious patrons?" 

People are naturally inclined to watch when they see something a little out of the norm (read: a tiny person [me] toting a large camera and taking photos of strange things like the salt and pepper shakers or the light fixture or the loaf of bread or every item of food on the table). Nevermind when said person actually stands on a chair to get that "above the plate" shot. Now that's just asking for attention. (And it happens, my friends, it happens.) 

Personally, I don't feel a lot of embarrassment during this process, and you shouldn't either. People are probably not judging you if they watch - they're just curious.  However, sometimes I do suddenly feel a wave of awkwardness wash over me, especially if I notice people staring, and then it's important to just not make eye contact and continue doing what you're doing as quickly and efficiently as possible and then get out of the way. If you notice an employee or manager/owner-looking person is watching you, seems curious, or asks you questions, this is a fantastic time to give them your business card if you have one (and I recommend having one!) and let them know you plan to feature their fine establishment on your blog. This is when everyone gets giddy, because FREE ADVERTISING! Awesome! You just made a new friend, and possibly a new blog reader. Now all the awkwardness was worth it! But it gets better.

Once you take those pretty photos that feature the business in the best possible light, you create your lovely little post, publish it, and then go leave the link on that business's Facebook page and mention them on your tweet on Twitter (include link to your post). Half the time or more when I do this, the link gets reposted on their Facebook and/or Twitter page, sometimes to thousands of fans. Now you're growing yourself a local audience, folks! Neat, huh? (one time I even got two free dinners out of it!)

So bottom line: Don't be afraid to take your camera to local coffee shops, restaurants, and businesses. They typically love any extra exposure you can give them. When you're taking photos of actual merchandise, it's a good rule of thumb to ask first, but I've never encountered any problems photographing the inside of a restaurant or coffee shop type place. Usually people just cheerfully ask me something along the lines of "what publication are you from?" and then I share a bit about the blog.

A couple more quick tips: 
Sit down first and scope out what you want to photograph before you get up, 
try not to get in the way or bother anyone, and 
be friendly and cheerful to the staff, explaining your purpose if you'd like. 
It really is a win-win for everyone.

Check out my around-Austin posts here

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Looking forward to learning something new from the rest of YOU! Get ready, get set, EDUCATE US! 

***In the "Name" box of the linkup you have 50 characters, and I encourage you to write the name of your post, your blog, or something extra instead of just your actual name - that will make things more interesting on this list! :)

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