After posting on social media for a few years, I, like many, became engrossed with the amount of likes I would get for each image. It got to a point where I would be constantly checking for updates on my phone to see if the number was going up. As each batch of likes rode in, you can be sure I was only a moment away from checking it. This verged on being an addiction, to the point I came away from my phone and social media (You can read about it here - Dumb down your Smartphone and be more productive)
Whilst I limited my time on social media, I still posted and the main goal in my mind was still in relation to the number of likes. Then, something changed; I posted this photo…
A moment of clarity
I knew this photograph was strong, however not as strong as it turned out to be in regards to the feedback I got online. I woke up that morning and sent out the post on both Facebook and Instagram. As I have trained myself to do, I shut down my laptop, went about my day and forgot about it.
I got home later that night to find I had hundreds of notifications. From comments to likes to DMs, people were loving this image. It had become by far my most liked image on Facebook and was in the top 3 on Instagram. But it was not the amount of likes and admiration that image got that made me most happy, it was who the admiration was coming from.
For the first time it seemed almost everyone I have on social that I, and pretty much everyone in the field, consider to be a name of worth showed love for this image. Even photographers who are less established but I still consider as strong creators were interacting with the photo.
These photographers accounted for around 5% of all the likes the image got. And whilst I am grateful to anyone who shows love for my work, for the first time the 95% were not the main focus in my mind.
You see, it was those 5% of likes that reinforced the belief I have in myself that I can produce strong photographs, something that should be at the forefront of any serious street photographers personal goals. They made me feel proud, and more so that I could be part of the conversation within the field.
What it also did was further establish just how much I respect the work and knowledge of those 5% of photographers. As for them to have such an impact of my confidence and emotions just shows how respected they are.
Get out of the social trap
Likes, of course can give you a good feeling. As I say however, it can become more of a dependency than a source of enjoyment. It can also be harmful to your development, as the people liking them may have limited knowledge on what makes a good photograph. This can fool you into thinking you are doing better than you are.
When you next upload a photo ask yourself “who is this image for?” and “who will like it, rather than how many will like it?”. Trust me, when you see the support come in from all the people you respect the most, it will tell you so much more about what makes a strong photograph.
So be careful not to get stuck in the social media trap that so many others do. You may become more concerned with the amount of love you get rather than the quality of your content, and who exactly the love is coming from. 10 likes for a great photo from the right people, is far better than 100 likes for a mediocre photo from the wrong people.
Thanks for reading
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