Why Podcasting Is Like Photography

Daniel Steinberg‘s guest post on Chris Brogan’s blog this Saturday got me thinking. He noted: “we don’t know what podcasting really is any more than we know what photography really is.”

When you think about it, podcasting as a communications medium has a lot in common with photography.

  • Niches – while they don’t need to by definition, many podcasts serve narrow niches – they focus on a tightly defined topic. Photographers often focus on specific niches – Caralin, for example, focuses on portrait and wedding photography. There are plenty of other forms out there, but she’s decided to focus. Your podcast is more likely to succeed if you do the same.
  • Comments after the fact – unlike Twitter, for example, podcasts don’t involve a rapid free-flowing conversation. Comments are possible, but they are submitted after the current content is posted.
  • Large or small audiences – most photographers have a relatively small audience for their photography. The vast majority of photographs aren’t taken by people who would consider themselves ‘photographers’ but who take photographs anyway. Meanwhile, a small number have very large audiences for their work. The same goes for podcasts. Most have a very small audience. Others enjoy large followings. Both are fine. Don’t expect your podcast to go nuclear just because you produce it.
  • Perfect for some means, limited for others – as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. However, in some cases photographs just can’t capture the moment effectively and a different medium – perhaps video – would work better. The same goes for podcasting – just like any other communications tool, it’s not suitable for every occasion or every audience. Pick your use effectively.

What do you think? Are these comparisons on-target? Way off-base? What would you add?

  • I think we all have to remember that podcasting is a medium. In that way, yes, it’s like photography. It’s also like blogging or sending paper press releases.

    Podcasting’s utility depends entirely on how it is used as part of an overall strategy. As you noted in the final bullet, sometimes a podcast is just what you need; other times it isn’t.

  • Owen Lystrup

    I would also submit that podcasting, like painting, photography, etc. is also a creative art. For some, speaking out loud is a labored venture and often does not work out to be interesting.

    Not everyone who takes a photograph can do so in a way that emphasizes a compelling image. If you took 50 people and had them shoot the same object, every photograph would come out differently. And some of them would be crap. Guaranteed.

    Since there is no visual stimulation to podcasting, you need someone with an engaging voice who has something interesting to say.

    Without those two elements, you’re bound to create one boring podcast. More than that, it will be boring; and a boring podcast is almost as bad as no podcast at all.

  • I like the analogy in that both podcasting and photography are inherently creative. We’re creating something when we take a photograph. We’re visually recording “our own take” on a situation or an image. That is precisely what we do when we podcast. We’re creating “our own audio take” on a situation or an issue. I think the parallels are quite strong. I’ll just add that while I usually look terrible in photos, I’m hoping my colleagues and I sound at least “okay” on our podcast. It’s why we don’t do vidcasts…

  • Owen Lystrup

    Maybe you have a face for radio. But I enjoy your podcasts tremendously 😉

  • Something I would add is that podcasting is for a much more laid back audience. The type of person who is looking for a quick fix, isn’t going to be willing to listen for long. Podcasting appeals to people who want a little bit more depth and are very interested in the subject. I would also venture that if someone is willing to take the time to listen to your podcast, they are also highly qualified as leads for whatever you might want to sell them (if that’s an intention of yours).

  • Owen Lystrup

    I can’t wholeheartedly agree with Emmet. I would never consider an audience a body of “leads.” Not in the least.

    The audience of a podcast is just that, an audience. Whether your podcast pushes the benefits of a product is a different matter. However, it’s safe to say that normally if someone listens to your podcast, it’s because they have already bought in to your product, brand, message, etc.

    Because of the depth and lack of quick-hit style of targeting, I wouldn’t use podcasting as a way to market yourself or your company, but more as a tool to back your message/business philosophy. It’s a chance to participate in conversation with an audience and present a message to them; not a sales tool.

  • i just starting Podcasting and i find it very exciting. it is my second hobby aside from blogging.