I didn’t expect this. When writing the piece KILLING THE BEAST I promised myself I would write without the “Will my followers like it?” filter. And so that is exactly what I did. I presented my own journey through social media including beautiful, pretty, bad, ugly and everything in-between. There was no other way to get around it.
The response I received was overwhelming. Many of you shared your stories, experiences and ways of dealing with the issue of sharing, liking, keeping up with updates, trying to retain and protect your photographic identity and so on. I am deeply thankful for your effort to engage with this difficult topic. What is even more remarkable is that this discussion is taking place without profanities, trolling or a nasty attitude! Don’t’ worry about the disagreements – I embrace different perspectives.
Although my last piece laid out my personal experience of social media and built the framework for solutions, it didn’t answer the question: HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AS A PHOTOGRAPHER. Of course, I spent a lot of time thinking about it, reading your thoughts and creating my own approach – something that fits my personal and photographic life and works for me in the long term.
First, I must address the reaction I received from some people: “You don’t like social media so why you are sharing this piece here?” Wait! I never said I don’t like social media. Not only do I enjoy using social media but I am aware that as a photographer I must engage there. The whole theme of my piece was killing the beast to stop social media from intruding into my creative process. It flattens the reception of other people’s work and makes your interactions patterned and mindless. This is the beast that I am convinced needs to be KILLED.
Then I referred to DUCKY as a form of presentation and interaction that should be occasional, honest and thoughtful for the benefit of my friends, colleagues and online participants as well as my personal growth. Think how much better our online interactions would be if we stopped using clichés, half-words and vapid pleasantries. I want to go though less content but see more. I want to LIKE less but, behind every LIKE I give, there should be the genuine attention and admiration YOUR work deserves.
Most importantly, I know I have to take a regular bubble bath with Ducky. I need lengthy breaks from social media to let my mind rest, wander and float without the chains of being tied up to words, opinions, visuals and relentless self-promotion (or the plug!). Until the water gets cold, I want to hold someone’s hand, have heated conversations without reaching for a phone, experience REAL smiles or anger … without the social media filter which is often used unconsciously.
I want to stay away from social media entirely every so often to make sure my photographic identity remains unscathed. I want to make sure my muse (I really don’t like using the cliché INSPIRATION) comes from the real, outside world – something I can feel, hear, touch and experience, rather than from the virtual world. Not slippery soap that gets lost under the water.
In this way I can share MY OWN SEEING. Don Craig, a great photographer, fascinating person and deep thinker from Victoria, whom I had the pleasure to meet in person, shared the following quote: “The more I like my work, the fewer others seem to.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Of course, some may view it as not inspirational enough but photography is the craft of self-discovery and visual risk-taking. Therefore, everything we share should be based on our own seeing and experiences, even at the cost of popularity. Like great art, great photography may never be popular!
For this reason, blogging remains my favourite way of interacting online. I notice that when I visit other photographers’ blogs I tend to read more and take in more. It is not a quick browse through an Instagram or Facebook feed but rather a conscious visit to someone’s online home. I have observed the same from people who visit my blog. It appears they really want to meet me and get to know my work. Their comments are more thoughtful and I appreciate that. Does it mean I will quit Instagram or Twitter? Of course not, but keep in mind that my visits may be less frequent. I may LIKE less but I assure you that once you notice LIKE from olafphoto, it’s real – it means I took the time to pause and experience your work. My LIKE means I. Really. Do. Like. Your. Work!
Please do the same for others. Let’s get REAL in the virtual world! KILL THE BEAST, not DUCKY!
There’s no question this topic is a serious one so to lighten the mood I’m posting some images I shot recently with the X100F. This time I went berserk with colour using Fujifilm Velvia for my street photography – something I haven’t done much before. Enjoy.
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