Clubhouse is a new social media app that may be of interest to photographers of all levels. Here’s a photographer’s look at the new social service.
Clubhouse has some similarities to the Zoom platform in that you are in a room and speaking to others. Anyone on the platform can create a room and anyone is free to join a room. The creator of the room has the option of allowing only moderators to speak or the creator can make it so that anyone can speak.
I have seen rooms on the platform have over 100 people present and as many as 20 of them have been authorized to speak. You would think this would lead to a lot of people talking over each other, but it doesn’t. Perhaps we’ve all been trained how to handle these online group conversations through our months-long reliance on Zoom as a major platform for communication with coworkers.
A room can be created on any theme and I am often drawn to the rooms that are aimed at connecting photographers to makeup artists, hairstylists, fashion stylists, and models. Often these rooms are mostly populated by photographers and although I enjoy listening to and taking part in the conversations, I do question if this is a valuable use of my time. Other photographers are not my clients.
Some rooms have a roll call where the speakers give a 30-second introduction of who they are and why they are on the platform. I find these intros tend to fall into one of two broad categories. It’s either, “I’m a celebrity photographer / God of photography who has photographed X, Y, and Z” or “I’m a total newbie and I’m looking to learn on this platform.”
Information is shared pretty openly and you’ll find everything from software advice to pricing information provided if you ask. Most of the rooms I’ve been in expect you follow all the speakers in the room on both Clubhouse and Instagram. Some people will follow everyone in the room and that includes the people who are not speaking. So, you’ll definitely gain followers on your Clubhouse and IG and accounts by spending time on the app. However, these followers may be of questionable value to you since, as a photographer, it may not really benefit you to have other photographers looking at your work.
Also, once you begin following others who were in the same rooms as you, it is possible that your feed may start to contain content that you don’t really care about because you are only following them as a result of a brief interaction on Clubhouse.
One positive aspect of the platform though is that pretty much everyone there wants to connect with others. Instagram is the main platform for that connection. If you are interested in someone else in the room, you can click their icon and visit their IG. You’d follow them there and DM them through IG.
Pretty much everyone will respond to you. I have seen well-known photographers like Peter Hurley stay in a room for over an hour and provide information that is beneficial to any portrait photographer or photographer who is looking to make a profit in photography. I’ve also seen Alex Stemplewski, who has over 780k followers on IG host a room where the goal is to learn how to grow your following. This is valuable information being given for free by someone who is has mastered follower count and engagement on IG.
To be fair, I must point out that I’ve also wasted a lot of time sitting listening to photographers and others talk about things that I have no interest in. I more enjoy speaking on the platform and suggesting topics that the group subsequently goes on to discuss for a long period of time. I’ve brought up topics like “Working a 9 to 5 vs following your creative passion” and “What are some best practices to ensure that your test shoots are worthwhile for everyone on the team?” that have gone over very well with the speakers.
The platform is currently invite-only, so the only way for you to get in is to have a current member send you an invite. I’ve been on Clubhouse for 2 weeks now, but I’ve only earned 2 invites. The more time you spend on Clubhouse and the more you follow others and speak in the rooms, the more invites you’ll gain.
I’ve seen people stay on the platform for over 10 hours each day. Sometimes I’ll log on just to see if certain people are STILL logged on and active in certain rooms. If new people keep joining a room and a moderator is always present, the room can stay open “forever”. It is also possible to schedule a room that will operate only 1x per week at a certain time.
At this moment, Clubhouse is free, fun, and informative. Things may change a bit when it goes public at some point in 2021. It may also change further down the line with some sort of advertising or paid features are implemented into the platform, so the earlier you can get on Clubhouse, the better your experience is likely to be.
About the author: John Ricard is a NYC based portrait photographer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Ricard’s work on his personal website and Instagram.