Let me first say that this article is not a ‘how to’ take advantage of social media for your photography. Instead, it’s more of a personal perspective on it from a nature and landscape photographer. Of course, this can be a touchy subject, but this article mostly dives into my own personal experience with being a photographer and some of the pros and cons I have seen while using social media over the last few years.
I’d like to discuss the cons first because, let’s face it, many of us find social media quite frustrating to the point we don’t want it to exist at all. In fact, you can probably create parts 2 to infinity of this article based on the dislike and pure anger social media can bring us… but let’s save that for later.
One of my biggest issues I see with some photographers and social media is the massive ego boosts it can create. I like to think of myself as a pretty humble person and I think those who have met me or talked with me would agree (at least I hope). However, time and time again I see posts on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram where other photographers are put down in a manner that is disheartening. No one needs to explain to one another that they are a superior photographer because a) they make X amount of money, b) they have won so many awards, or c) they have worked alongside so and so and they are “good friends”.
As photographers, we all share the same passion and that is to create photographs. Whether we like each others’ photographs is a whole separate topic, but I don’t feel it’s necessary for any of us to go out of our way to diminish someone else’s work. It’s as simple as scrolling past something you dislike and moving on to the next image. Let’s move on from this…
Another con I have seen over the years is the sharing of specific locations that then become overrun. This issue is a very sharp double-edged sword and I will tell you why. On one side, perhaps a once-special place is now destroyed because the location can’t handle the foot traffic and is literally being trampled to it’s very end. On the other end, I am personally all for people getting out to explore, but only to a certain extent.
I think people need to be more mindful of what and how they are sharing locations across social media. It’s far too easy for word to get out to a bad apple and that bad apple then ruins it for everyone. As a personal choice, I no longer share locations unless they are obvious places like the Grand Canyon; but even with obvious places, I do not disclose specifics of a particular site within those areas. I’ve received far too many messages over the years demanding where locations are from people I do not know. For all I know, they just want to go take a selfie or worse, damage the landscape.
Please stop asking photographers “where is this?” without doing your research. Many of us have taken the time to seek out these places on our own without the help of others. As nature and landscape photographers, we should be doing as much as we can to educate others about conservation while at the same time showing why through our photography. Also, part of the fun of being a photographer is finding all these places on our own. It is much more rewarding to come back with a photograph from a place that you researched extensively to get the shot you desired.
Now for some positives!
Aside from the cons, social media can be an incredibly powerful tool to influence others. We have a platform where we can share our artwork and messages with millions of potential viewers. Of course, with some algorithm changes, this can be a little more difficult. Despite this, being able to share my passion and some of my views with strangers has brought me new friends as well as clients who share the same views and/or I have learned from.
It has definitely impacted my business for the better. Being able to get your name out to companies or organizations who may want to buy your work or services just seems like a no-brainer. I would like to guess that the majority of my business was initiated through social media in some form and I look forward to creating more connections to continue making a business out of my passion.
Aside from the business aspects of social media, I have also found a number of artists I otherwise would have never have seen. The endless streams of great photography one can find through social media is a good way to stay inspired and help with your own personal creativity. You never know who you may meet and connect with on social media. I have met a number of photographers who have undoubtedly helped me get to where I am today as an artist.