Tag Archives: photography

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Marketing ‘America’s Best Idea’

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I recently travelled out West—California to be exact. As a tourist in central California, I did classic activities in San Francisco and along the coast. As an idiot southerner, I went to Yosemite National Park at night in a snow storm. It was there that I was exposed to the resources of the United States National Park Service. Otherwise, my entire family would probably have died. Dramatic statement yes, but honestly very true. The harrowing experience as well as the prevalence of the park service out West led me to look into the service’s digital presence.

Writer and historian Wallace Stegner once said that the “national parks are the best idea we ever had.” So now, the United States National Parks Service brands itself as “America’s Best Idea.” Known for some of the most beautiful locations in the country and even the world, NPS fills its social media platforms with pictures of diverse landscapes across the U.S. While many companies face obstacles in encouraging customers to publicize for them across social media (view my blog on social media backdrops), NPS doesn’t need incentives for people to post pictures of their parks. Most people visit national parks for that very reason, to experience beautiful, protected landscapes and capture pictures.

That isn’t to say that NPS doesn’t do a great job of digital marketing. The job is not done for them. Their social media platforms engage users with beautiful pictures accompanied by tidbits of relevant park history. Their #FindYourPark campaign connects followers with national parks and outdoor activities that they may enjoy. Research done by park rangers, park employees, and partnered environmental organizations serves to provide constant engaging content that explores the history as well as future of the National Park Service.

I think their best digital engagement and customer awareness rests in their park websites. Going to a national park that is in a harsher environment or father away is a major obstacle for first-time or inexperienced visitors. Visiting a national park can seem more like an unrealistic bucket list item than an actual possibility. To overcome this obstacle as well as serve experienced adventurers, each national park website contains pictures and detailed information of available reservations, hiking details, possible winter activities, and road conditions. I think the National Park Service does an incredible job of engaging people across social media platforms and serving visitors and ultimately the parks they protect through their digital resources.

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The Journey of Becoming a Photographer

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It’s amazing how quickly you can learn new skills if you really put in the time and effort to make it happen.  For a few years I’ve been dreaming of owning my own camera and being a photographer, and about a year ago I made the big purchase and bought a Nikon DSLR.  I knew the real photographers shoot in manual mode not auto, so I began the adventure of learning to use my camera.  At first it was frustrating because it was a lot of trial and error, but eventually I learned all the ins and outs of how to use my camera.  I bought a few lenses (the 35mm 1.8 is my personal favorite) and purchased editing software (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop) and learned to use those as well.  After only a year of learning about photography, I feel like I am a decent photographer and I absolutely love the art.

I don’t say all this to brag about my photography skills because I have WAY more to learn, but I want to talk about the power of social media and the internet in general.  I didn’t learn all these things by just messing around with my camera and Lightroom on my own (although I did some of that).  I gained about 92% of my photography knowledge by learning from other people on social media.

I started out by finding a few photographers that I liked on social media, and just following what they did.  I watched how they handled their photography businesses and the variety of photo sessions they did.  Many of them post tips and suggestions for beginning photographers.  They would share videos explaining how they edit their images or giving advice on what camera equipment to buy.  I watched tutorials, read blogs, and tried out the things I was learning until I understood it.

Social media is a powerful tool that should not be underestimated.  It’s more than just sharing that cute picture of your dog.  I’ve learned so many valuable skills from following professional photographers, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if these people had not put their knowledge out there for others to benefit from it.

So far I’ve taken many photos of my sister and my friends for free, so my next step in my journey as a photographer is to take photos for paying clients.  Eventually my goal is to incorporate photography into my career.  I hope to have a job that lets me get outside and be creative with taking pictures because that’s what I enjoy most!

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SPARKsouthSeptember 28, 2018
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