Over the past few months I have found myself wondering about the impact of Social Media on my photography and whether it is taking the fun out of photography. Like a Pavlovian Dog, I sit up and bark when I get a new follower or someone likes my post (ok, that may be a bit exaggerated but…). Who doesn’t. It is only natural, a part of being a social being. And, the computer companies know this. That is why they are designed the way they are and why they have been so tremendously successful.
I have a web site of my own (if you are reading this, you are aware of that fact). Yet I find that I am on my site every week or so while I am checking to see what is happening on facebook daily and sometimes (most times?) several times a day. I find I am driven to get an image to post. Then I need to check and see if there are comments (I dream of comments and “conversation”). If I want to keep my followers I need to respond, I need to post frequently, I need to post better material, I need, I need. It never ends.
All of this chasing the posts is not in itself bad. It can move one to taking better images. It can help one gain exposure and build a name in an industry that is becoming increasingly saturated. My involvement in G+ built me quite a name in the bird community and I developed connections with people around the world that continue today. This is all good stuff.
But there is a downside to all of this activity as well. The drive to post all the time leads to not sharing something when I have already shared (gotta save it for tomorrow) and, god forbid, might even cause one to share less than their best.
In the effort to garner likes (and my dog ear perk up in anticipation) I post only those items that my followers respond to. Like the dog that is trained to ring a bell for a treat, I ring that same bell over and over. Soon my social media stream looks like a monotone splattering of daily shoots. The willingness to post images that are not my usual style diminishes and with it the willingness to try new things, to be creative, withers and dies.
I am sure that this all sounds a bit over dramatized, over stated. Perhaps it is. But I have to wonder just how much? How much of the joy has been taken out of photography by social media.
You may be wondering, “what images is he not sharing?” Here are a few examples:
In camera blur of Commorants flying up river.
A statue at El Santuario de Chimayo with devotions or offerings.
“Smoke Stacks” at a Forest Products mill
Hard hat washed up on the beach.
I hope you enjoyed the images and look forward to hearing your thoughts. Are you finding Social Media is impacting your photographic joy?