When Pinterest burst onto the scene, there was quite a bit of discussion regarding copyright of images, with some photographers diving head first into the new and exciting platform to showcase their work, and others questioning why it was so easy for an image to end up separated from the original photographers credit. At the time I wasn't sure on which side of the debate I fell, and even today I am still uneasy about posting any of my own work. I have however recently signed up and begun using the site, as it has more uses than just another place on the web to show off my photos (and lets face it, we already have plenty of those!)
The first of these was my original reason for signing up, and that is as a pin-board for inspiration. There are many great photos and articles circulating on Pinterest, and many websites now have an option to directly 'pin' things to your boards. I regularly browse for ideas and inspiration before a shoot, and often search for non-specific photos just out of interest. Pinterest creates a 'home page' feed for you based on the people you follow and the things you 'pin', so you can easily browse through random images tailored for you without having to search for anything in particular. Every image you study, just as with every image you take, will add to your collection of experience, that you can call upon in the future when on a shoot.
I have a couple of tips for using Pinterest as a source of inspiration. Firstly, if you find an image you like, check the source. Follow the photo back to its original website, chances are you might find more work by the same photographer that appeals to you. Also this helps to verify if the image should have been there in the first place. The only way we can ever really crack down on people publishing photos without consent is if we all remain vigilant. My second tip is to always try and add a comment when you 'pin' an image. It could be anything from a simple comment about your initial reaction upon seeing it, to a more complex description about all the aspects you like and different reasons for adding it to your board. These notes can be rather helpful when you look back a month or two down the line.
The second use, I found out a short while after signing up. This concerns the more social aspect of the site. Whilst it may not have quite the same level of social interaction that sites such as Facebook and Twitter do, the ability to share your boards with others, follow your friends boards, and even collaborate with people and build up a board together is undoubtedly a valuable arrow to add to your quiver of social media. When visiting a client in advance of a shoot, I show them a board relevant to them so that they can get a few ideas, and encourage them to create one of their own. I then check up on them once a week or so as they update it with ideas that they have seen and might like to try out. This allows them to research things in their own time, and they can add things as and when they come across them. In the case of wedding clients, this can be up to a period of a year which gives me plenty of time to get to know the style they are looking for. This also adds to the level of interaction with my clients, without taking up a whole deal more of my time. Moving from one or two meetings before the shoot/wedding to having an almost constant connection makes the whole experience easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
So I suggest that you give it a go, regardless of what you might have thought before, and who knows, you might find another use that I have yet to come across. Please add you're own views and comments below.