As we move further into the digital age, the importance of connecting (or learning to reconnect) in personal ways is becoming apparent. People want to live in the "instant" world that technology has helped create, but they don't want to be seen as a series of 1's and 0's (computer code)—or, even worse, as dollar signs ($).
The world of photography is no different in this regard. We have all benefited from the amazing advances in DSLR technology and communication, which allow us to share our images in ways that were previously impossible (see Figure 1). But as human beings we still strive to connect on more personal levels.
When you're attempting to choose the online social network(s) where you will invest your time as a photographer, there's certainly no shortage of options. Between Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and 500px (see Figure 2), nearly all of your bases are covered. Each of these networks has positive and negative traits, but the overall reason we use any of them is to be social. Though creating a photograph is generally a very personal experience, I believe it's our ability to share and connect with other individuals that truly helps drive our passion to document the beauty of life on this planet.
Developing a Networking Strategy
Many people share a common problem with regard to social networking: not really knowing what to do. In essence, they just wander around waiting for something to happen. That approach won't get them anywhere.
The first question I always ask myself when developing my strategy for a new social network is this: "Why am I here?" If you're a portrait photographer, your goal might be to find new clients. A landscape photographer might want to share her work and learn of new locations to shoot around the globe. Someone who is just getting into photography might need to learn from the pros.
By answering the very simple question of why you're at that particular social network, you'll get a much clearer idea of what your goals are for your participation, and knowing your goals should help you begin to plan in order to achieve them.