Top 10 Tips on Google+ for Photographers

Top 10 Tips on Google+ for Photographers

As some of you know I received an early invite to test out and participate in Google’s latest entry into the social networking world Google+. I did an early comparison piece between Google+, Facebook, Flickr, 500px and Twitter the week before last. I wanted to write and update my thoughts on Google+ for photo sharing now that I’ve gotten a few weeks under my belt, as well as share with you all my own strategy for sharing photographs going forward.

Google+ completely changes the photo sharing game. Not just a little bit — alot. This may be the most significant shift in photo sharing that we’ve seen since the introduction of Flickr. There is more engagement going on with photographs on G+, more ways to share photographs on G+, and it is growing at a rate that blows my mind away. Photos are elegantly presented as large oversized thumbnails in stream views (in contrast to Facebook’s stingy microscopic photo thumbnails that I’ve never quite understood). When you click through the photo you get the most elegant lightbox view (on black) of any photo sharing site out there today.

Here are some tips for those of you who would like to maximize your photo sharing potential on Google+

1. Post your photos directly to Google+. This is probably the number one most important thing to do to promote your work there. If you post a link to Flickr, a link to your blog, a link to some other site, you get a small little thumbnail at best. If you upload your photo *directly* to Google+ you get a massive oversized thumbnail (is that like saying jumbo shrimp?). The larger your work is presented, the more likely it is to be engaged with. Even better, photos posted to G+ don’t count towards your Picasa storage limits so Google is effectively giving you unlimited photo sharing on G+ for free. What a deal.

2. Get the balance right. You don’t want to post too little or too much to G+. Your photos posted to G+ have a limited life. In the first hour that you post your photo it will receive 50% of the attention. In the next 3 hours 25% more, in the next 6 hours 10% more. In the next 24 hours 12% more. After a day and a half your photo will likely be buried. So it’s important to regularly be adding photos to your stream. On the other hand, if you inundate people with too many photos (like 10 in a row within 10 minutes) people will drop you faster than a hot potato and you will lose visibility — there’s a fine line between sharing photos and whoring photos. Find a rate for uploads that feels right. At present I’m uploading about 5 photos a day to G+ spread out throughout the day and night. This feels about right to me.

3. Share your best work. Don’t upload *everything* you take to G+. If you want to archive all your work use Flickr or Picasa. Save G+ to showcase some of what you feel is your strongest work. This will encourage other people to share your work and promote it more.

4. Don’t use watermarks and signatures on your work. Don’t hate me for this one. I’m so tired of haters. If you want to watermark the crap out of your work, go for it. It’s your work, do WHATEVER you want with it. YOU own it. It’s YOURS. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just saying that watermarks, sigs, logos, etc. look *especially* bad when people pull up your photos in the large lightbox view. I’ve noticed that photos that are mared up by watermarks tend to not do as well on G+.

5. Make sure you understand sharing and make your posts *public*. Alot of people make the mistake early on of only sharing their photos with their circles without even realizing that they are limiting themselves. This means that your photo goes out to *alot* less people. This would be the same as marking a photo as private on flickr so that only your friends and family could see it. These photos will get alot less attention because most people *can’t* see it due to Google’s privacy settings. When people first start using G+ if they are browsing in a circle of their contacts and they share a photo from that screen, it limits the photo to only that circle. If you want your photo to be seen, make sure when you post it that it says “public” when you are sharing it.

6. Invite people from your other social networks. Post on your Facebook Wall about your Google+ stream. Offer to send invitations to your contacts there. Tweet links out to your G+ stream. Post it on your blog or tumblr account. Most importantly, post to FLICKR your Google+ stream so that your photo sharing contacts on Flickr can add you on G+. There is no easy way to transfer flickr contacts to G+ other than by word of mouth. It’s up to you to get the word out to your other photo sharing channels and get them to follow you on your new G+ account.

7. Engage with people who engage with you. Pay attention to the +1’s (fave/like) your photos receive. Pay attention to the comments. Go check out the people that are faving and commenting on your stuff. Social networks are largely about reciprocation. If they are a talented photographer consider adding them to a circle. If you like some of their work fave and comment on it too. Don’t just post your own stuff. Engage with the community there.

8. Try some hangouts with other photographers. I’ve hosted a few hangouts so far. It was great hanging out with Scott Jarvie who is one of the top wedding photographers out there. Trey Ratcliff seems to always be hosting them. Popular ones will fill up quickly (hangouts are video chats limited to 10 people) — but keep trying to get in those or maybe even set up one of your own. Don’t be shy on a hangout. Talk about photography. This is a great opportunity for you to virtually network with some other great photographers. It’s easy. Drop in, drop out. Make sure you’ve got your clothes on though, this is not Chatroulette.

9. Write good titles and descriptions for your photos. If you enter a description in for a photo in Lightroom or whatever other photo processing tool you use and write it as the photo’s caption, it will automatically populate into Google+ when you upload it. You’ll still need to manually add a title or headline. Make your titles interesting and engaging. Don’t upload something as DSC10989. Give it a good strong title. Don’t overkill on the caption, but a nice one or two sentence caption can be nice.

10. Be early. Don’t wait to get involved with G+. Get yourself an invite and signup NOW. Photo Sharing on G+ feels alot like the earliest days of Flickr. It’s the early frontier. Many of Flickr’s most popular users are popular because they got on the site EARLY and built a following before there was as much competition. Right now there is a huge brand new audience, HUNGRY for great photography on G+. It is early still and people are figuring out who to follow. Get involved and super active early to help build your own audience there. If you wait six months, or six weeks, or heck, six days as fast as Google+ is growing, you’ll miss out on some of the strongest, fastest early growth.

Bonus Tip: check out who your other photographer friends have added to *their* circles. You will likely find alot of people you know to add by doing this.

One final note. I’ve been asked by TONS of people about what the Google TOS means for photographers. There is a lot of FUD flying around out there about that now. As a policy I no longer comment about anything copyright related, so please don’t ask about that here or on G+. I won’t answer any questions about it. I will point you to an insightful post on the topic though written last night by Vincent Mo (who works for Google) on the matter.

If you don’t have an invite to Google+ yet and want one, either email me tom(at) or flickrmail me your email address and I will try and invite you. I’m doing the best I can to keep up with the invite requests, so bear with me if it takes some time to get it out to you.

Also if you are already on Google+ and want to follow my work there you can do that here.

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  1. Nicole says:

    Nice post. One gripe I have is that I can’t change the album cover, the order inside the albums, nor am able to move photos.
    Adding tags would be great too (the tags for places etc., not people).

    Yes, watermarks. I use them due to people, esp. in the Middle East, who think that anything without a watermark is a free for grabs.
    Maybe I’ll change my mind one day, but for now, I might leave it, dunno 🙂

  2. Brian Meeks says:

    I would love to share photos, but I’m afraid of the ‘Rights’ I’m granting Google when I do. I sell my photos on istockphoto and worry about losing my images.

    Does that concern anyone?

  3. David says:

    Great tips, especially the uploading directly, Google+ makes photos look stunning. Love it.

  4. Michael Tapp says:

    “Your photos posted to G+ have a limited life. In the first hour that you post your photo it will receive 50% of the attention. In the next 3 hours 25% more, in the next 6 hours 10% more. In the next 24 hours 12% more. After a day and a half your photo will likely be buried.”

    Do you think that the Google+ algorithm is similar to Facebook’s Newsfeed algo? Does the post have a longer shelf life it it gets a lot of +1s, shares, and comments? I think the algo will prob change a bunch since the service is still in beta.

  5. Hi, I think I am getting overfed and tired nowadays with new social stuff like Google +.
    Currently I am testing what the added value can be, but I am still a bit sceptic. I have spend much energy in Twitter and find that much more powerful, then what I see now on Google+.

  6. Absolutely right. Thank you for everything. I really love this and all your articles. Congratulations. I have a question for you. Nikon or Canon? Which one is better for you and why?

  7. Paul says:

    I watermark my photos because Google+’s terms and conditions state that by uploading your photos, you are giving them an unlimited license to do what ever they want with your photos.. including using them on other sites etc.

  8. Pax Rock says:

    The editor in me is forced to remind everyone that it’s “a lot”, not “alot”. Have a nice day.

  9. This should be a good one. still waiting for an invite

  10. Great post. Im going to translate and resume in spanish. Best Wishes from Lima, Perú

  11. excellent insight and tips Thomas.

    @Nicole, if you go to Picasa Web Albums, click organize, you can change the album cover there.

  12. Tor says:

    How do you feel about 500px vs G+ these days? I hate FB especially for photos and never log in except to respond to people. I’ve put a lot of work into Flickr, but the lack of innovation is frustrating so I’ve been dipping my feet in the water at 500px. I am vary of getting into too many social network things, but maybe G+ is worth it for photos as Google is a great company and i love gmail.

    Great post, blog and photos as always. Keep it up!

  13. Kenneth Chan says:

    Great tips! I’m particularly trying to figure out how to balance my time posting and engaging with folks on G+ vs. doing the other stuff I should be doing (like getting out there and shooting!) =]

  14. Will Marlow says:

    As always, Thomas, this is a very useful post.

    Google+ seems to be in competition with social tools like Twitter, which are focused on EXPANDING networks and influence, and it doesn’t seem to compete with Facebook or LinkedIn, which are focused on being the online connection to your real, physical relationships. I think a lot of people (not you) are wrongly saying that Google + competes with Facebook, which I don’t see happening…I think that the very fact that G+ is useful for photographers and others like us is evidence that it doesn’t compete in the same space as Facebook…

  15. Dana says:

    How do you feel about giving google unlimited rights to your photos?

  16. Will Marlow says:

    Dana — that’s a good question and I hope Thomas weighs in. I think that realistically Google’s Terms of Service is in place to prevent them from getting sued in the course of using your photography the way you want them to use it. That is to say, Google needs to transmit and modify your photos in order to share them with others in your network on Google+. So it is likely meaningless that the Terms of Services are so scary looking…

  17. Beau Kahler says:

    Great article, I completely agree with every point, I am really looking forward to the growth of photography on Google+. Follow me here if you like thanks!

  18. Dave Powell says:

    Nice write up… I am one of the people that is not concerned about the TOS. Google is going to start selling my photos… especially as they are not high res enough. They want to be able to market their services which might have one of my photos in them.

  19. Nice post and lots of information, thx! There is only one topic in which I do have a different opinion: watermarking/signature. Perhaps this isn´t important for 95% of the people uploading their pics to G+ (or any other Online Service)… but for the last 5%, specially stock photographers, it could be important. Opposite to you I have not had any negative responses when watermarking my pics. Your mileage may vary :-). I always find it important to let the viewer know WHO made the picture. Otherwise… what would be the advantage of sharing pictures for the photographer? I wrote a post about this topic on my blog:

    Nice blog you have here, btw. And very nice pictures!

  20. Tom,

    Thanks for the great post. I use your knowledge and experiences to help me out in the photo world.

  21. I’m game. Great tips to start out the gates with.

  22. uncle wilco says:

    can you get an rss feed of photos you have upladoed to google+ eg would like to pull in these photos to another site –


  23. Read this article and the updates: Google+ may carry dangers for photographers – The Washington Post

    If you value your photos always read the small print, ignore all the puffery about how wonderful Google+, Twitpic, Facebook, etc is. They are all very happy for you to donate creative content to them and they do very well out of it.

    I’m not saying don’t use them, but DON’T give them anything that you think you can earn money from. In particular avoid TwitPic, they can use your stuff and sell it. Be very careful about your FB settings.

  24. Great post Thomas thank you for your insight!

  25. M O says:

    Thanks Tom, awesome insights from an early G+ adopter & famous photographer!

    But I couldn’t quite fully agree on #3’s archiving of photos on Picasa or Flickr since Picasa has limited storage while you’ll have to subscribe to enjoy Flickr’s. I’m thinking it’s quite a hasty comparison.

    Anything else that’s really worth comparing?

  26. joe says:

    im still waiting for an invite

  27. Kelly hofer says:

    On that note, can anyone send an invite to I have been hearing too much about plus and desperately want a piece of the action. Please, anybody….

  28. We should not forget that google+ is made to replace facebook not flickr or fotki

  29. Scott says:

    Love the post! Can’t wait to use g+. Look forward to getting an invite.

  30. Keith Carey says:

    Wow! it’s so nice to hear that Google has a very special treat for all photographers like me.. This is really a good news for us photographers.

  31. jimD says:

    I was caught by the FUD too. But read this: and then follow the links there to figure it out yourself. Here’s another link from there:

    You really should read these before commenting about G+’s TOS.. then feel free to draw your own conclusions.

    cheers, JD

  32. Great tips – just as I was getting to grips with Facebook!!

  33. a great and insightful article into G+. I have to admit I did a bit of a groan when I first heard about it, having been on for a couple of days now I am thrilled I signed up, its a photographers paradise with the exchange and interaction

  34. Thank you for this wonderful article! Just joined Google + last week and have been trying to figure it all out. Hopefully my photos will now reach a larger audience!

  35. Void says:

    Getting noticed at the start is the trick. How do you get people to start looking at you if you are not already well known? I have been posting, but I don;t think anyone is looking 🙁

  36. Damien says:

    I’ve tried and think you can hardly share anything on there considering the hard JPEG compression. My opinion is that it’s good for iPhone snapshot of family/ holidays, but displaying high resolution photographs coming RAW from your DSLR is not worth it. Just like I’d not considering sharing photos on Facebook, I’m rather keeping Flickr and 500px to share photos!

  37. An Entrepreneur says:

    Just got my self a new cam for my blog posts. These tips will definately come in use. Thanks for this. Ive bookmarked this site and will be coming again soon.

  38. Katie says:

    Thanks for the tips. Check out Josh Dunlops blog for photography stuff, Zak Taylor has some good tips on his blog

  39. Matt says:

    I was excited to get on G+ but I’m very disappointed by the limitations. A 3:2 typical DSLR image can only be displayed approx 640 pixels wide, maximum. That’s useless (Portrait orientated shots seem even more constrained). Picasaweb prevents easy access to the higher res image..why is this?? I uploaded it to share?! I’m going elsewhere because G+ isn’t cutting it AT ALL for photo sharing.