In the new issue of Source we set out to find out how many of the most important people in photography are using Twitter. To get a sample of successful people in photography we have included full time curators, members of Magnum, professors of photography and photographers shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. This totals 246 people of whom 36% have Twitter accounts although some of these accounts appear to be dormant; 27% have tweeted in the last six months.
Curators are twice as likely to use Twitter as nominees for the Deutsche Börse Prize, they are also more active once they have signed up, producing more than double the number of tweets. Professors of photography are both the least active (writing a quarter of the number of tweets as the curators) and the least followed. Members of Magnum are the most popular attracting, on average, five times more followers than the professors.
To understand more about the use of Twitter I spoke to Mark Power (
@marktpower) who, confusingly, is both a member of Magnum and a professor. He explained that for him it is both a professional and a personal tool.
To get the view of an art photographer and someone who doesn't use Twitter I spoke to Fiona Crisp. She signed up to Twitter (
@FionaCrisp1) but rarely uses it and says she is embarrassed that people might follow her when she has no intention of tweeting.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Clearly quite a few people in photography use Twitter, but it's still a minority activity among those who have achieved the most success. It is not surprising that curators – whose job is to find out about things and communicate with people – have adopted Twitter most enthusiastically. More surprising is how few art photographers tweet. As Fiona Crisp suggests, perhaps Twitter doesn't provide the kind of engagement they are looking for from gallery visitors? I also spoke to the photographer John Davies – not a Twitter user – his response, 'Life's too short, it's not actually productive…'
To read more from the new issue of Source you can subscribe here. In this issue there is also a subscriber offer to win a free tactile photograph, find out more about tactile photographs and how to win one here.
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