Comparing your work and social media.
I remember when I was pretty wrapped up in social media with my photography. It’s inevitable to avoid being sucked into the game of wanting “likes” and “loves.” Social media has found a way to make people value their worth based on how they do on social media. The far extremes of this are people who purchase followers, play the game to get attention from bots, and other things to make themselves appear more popular. It is sad what lengths people go to “appear” a certain way to strangers.
When getting into photography, it’s important to understand that not everyone is going to like your photos. That is fine and completely normal in regards to everything in life. Not everyone will like your shoes, but you’re not going to stop wearing them, are you? No. You have to take the same approach with your photos if you want to keep yourself mentally healthy. I rarely ask anyone what they think any more of my work. If I do, I usually tend to ask a particular question about an image. Like, “Do you think this is too bright?” Getting caught up in wondering what people think is the easiest way to get away from your creativity. For me, this was the turning point for finding my vision for my photography. I am still growing in this area, but now I see things in my head when I’m taking a shot.
Another common mistake that beginners make is that they are afraid to share their work. Social media is everyone’s best. It is too easy to start comparing your work against others. They have more likes so mine must not be that good. WHAT???? Why do we tear ourselves down? What committee deems your shot better than mine? This is what social media does to you if you do not recognize the behavior. You spend all kinds of time scrolling feeds comparing, comparing, comparing. For what? Next thing you know, you’re down on yourself, in your feelings, and it kills your motivation to move forward. Stop repeating this pattern. Learn to control social media.
Even outside of photography, it’s a healthy lesson for life. Not getting so caught up in what others think about you all of the time. Everyone is so good today at walking around like nothing is wrong. Everyone has problems in life. A lot of people cannot even admit that because they feel like they’re a failure when the person they are talking to is probably struggling with the same stuff. My problems are not unique. Maybe slightly different than my wife’s but in the end, they are still problems. I always wonder what the world would be like if everyone would accept their issues for what they are and learn to be “ok” in their own skin? It’s okay when I struggle. Everyone does. It’s more important to figure out why and find an answer.
So with photography, you have to stop basing your work off of how many likes you receive. It doesn’t matter. Either you’re sharing your work to share, or you’re not. If you need everyone’s approval, you’re going to be let down a lot. I do not care one bit that I only have about 864 followers on Instagram and that Michael Shainblum has over half a million. Means nothing.
So how did I correct my course? I stop looking at Facebook and Instagram for over a month. It was hard at first because I had to break a habit. Then, once I came back, I stopped paying attention to my feeds. Admittingly, I miss a lot of friend’s work, but it’s ok. I limit how much goes in because our brain is a sponge. Quality in, quality out. Being selective is key. I also try to fight the urge of hopping on social media just because I’m bored. I still struggle with this one at times, but I will force myself to put my phone down. It amazes me how many people cannot just sit in a chair anymore and wait for something.
There are lots of interesting articles online to read about these behaviors. I only hope to bring awareness to new photographers so that they learn to relax and enjoy what they do. Do not be afraid to share your work. Someone will ALWAYS know more than you, have a nicer image, or whatever. It’s normal. Enjoy the ride! 🙂