A decade or so later, just about everyone knows more or less what a hashtag is. And yet, many artists still aren’t making the most of them.
Hashtags are a powerful way to promote your work on social media. They cost nothing, yet they can open you up to millions of new viewers.
Given their importance, I’m currently building #CameraAsBrush. For that reason, I’ve put together this guide to get everyone thinking about how they can leverage this simple tool more effectively.
What is a hashtag?
Half-shaded red steam, Illusion, BRYCE Watanasoponwong, 2020.
A hashtag is a pound sign # followed by a phrase. Most social media platforms create a link between the post and all other posts with the same hashtag.
This makes it possible to search and view the content you want to see, even if you do not follow all the individual profiles that contribute to the topic. This allows you to search and view the content you wish to see, even if you do not follow all the individual profiles that contribute to the topic.
It’s a form of indexing the enormous amount of text, images, and video produced on these platforms daily. And it allows people to connect with those they would never otherwise have by sharing an interest in the same topic.
The rest is history. What was once known as the pound sign (or octothorpe, for the more literary-minded) became the main way users self-organized their posts on social media platforms. It became so ubiquitous that some people even started introducing the term in their slang.
Why do people use hashtags?
People follow hashtags and see every post that anyone who uses the same hashtag makes. This feature broadens your horizons and enables you to connect with people outside your circle. And on the other side of the coin, posting hashtags expands your reach to people who do not follow your account.
This can have a profound impact, especially when trying to promote your brand or push an issue in activism. We have repeatedly seen over the last decade how a hashtag can take off and make waves in the culture at large.
For me, photography began as a hobby. I would go out into the street and capture what I saw — it was all very raw and direct. Quite quickly, I fell totally in love with the art form. But within a few years, the COVID pandemic came crashing down on all of us. Suddenly, street photography became much more difficult. No one was out and about enjoying life in public.
So, I began experimenting with my cameras. I took the process of image making in an entirely new direction — rather than capture something realistically, I tried to push the boundaries of how I could express a deeper reality through different processes.
But as I looked over this work again and again, something kept jumping out at me. These treat photography like painting. Not unlike a painter, the process I use layers and blends colour, both directly and indirectly.
This hashtag brings my work into a single space on social media platforms. But it also does something else, something that radically changes how I interact with others online.
It gives people a chance to contribute to the idea of #CameraAsBrush. Rather than simply sitting back and taking in, the hashtag is a tool that encourages participation.
And if this hashtag really catches on, soon it will become something much larger than my practice. It will become a community of photographers taking their art to this new place. There, we can all have the chance to talk about what we are trying out. We can share what we’ve learned and ask questions. In short, we can develop this style together.
Hashtags are a simple way to leap out of your circle and connect with people you never thought you could. That’s why they have become key features of campaigns — whether marketing a new soda or promoting a social movement.
When we know how to use them, they have the power to build communities around them. For that reason, I’m trying to build #CameraAsBrush.
Do you have a unique way of creating works? Would you like to share your unique process with me and other like-minded artists? Begin contributing to #CameraAsBrush, and let’s learn from one another!
I’m excited to see where this new journey takes us.
Photographer and visual storyteller based in Bangkok
BRYCE Watanasoponwong is a photographer and visual storyteller. He is interested in producing a narrative series that evokes emotion and makes a personal impact. Becoming more involved in how photography is... read on
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