Previously, I have been covering the topic of long exposure photography as a creative process, the equipment required and basic technique. Recently, however, I have taken a hiatus from social media as I felt I was in need of a digital detox to refresh, rejuvenate and reconnect. As a result of this detox, I want to write about social media, namely Instagram, which is my primary social media platform to share my photography.
I have had this blog post sitting as a draft for months as it has been on my mind for a while but I just wasn’t sure how to articulate my thoughts. The initial draft was very negative and provided no real value for anyone reading it. The catalyst for it I can only really describe as a frustration for a perceived lack of progress in the world of Instagram. So I didn’t publish it and I began to think more about it and analyse what it was that was impacting me and my photography. During this time I identified I was getting far too concerned with the statistics, the number of likes and comments associated with my posts and losing my focus on my photography. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for analytics in achieving goals and measuring progress, however, it needs to be considered in the broader ecosystem of Instagram.
First and foremost this is not an Instagram bashing blog post. Instagram has the ability to connect people, to inspire and develop an appreciation for the world around us. I have made some lifelong friends through Instagram and met some incredibly talented photographers. However, undeniably there is a not so wholesome side to Instagram. Enter the realm of automation and bots. I want to qualify what I mean by automation, I am not referring to applications like Later which assist with scheduling posts and workflow but more so bots that automate tasks such as liking and commenting which undermine the social concept of social media and creating an engaged and real community.
I have never used bots and I have never purchased followers. My personal view is that bots and automation is no way to build a genuine following. It is not an accurate reflection of the quality of the creative work and it is counterproductive to creating an online community that exists for photography to be appreciated by genuine people and to be engaged with authentically. In my opinion purchasing likes and followers undermines the integrity of the work being displayed. Imagine if you had your work on display at a gallery and you paid people to look at it and say nice things about it. See what I mean?
One of the reasons often sighted online is that automation and bots are necessary to “beat” the algorithm. The Instagram algorithm is a topic that is constantly debated with many users venting frustrations regularly. Personally, I have given up trying to understand the algorithm. I could go and do my own research to educate myself in the intricacies of the algorithm and how I can attempt to “beat it”. However, I feel like my time and energy is best focussed on my photography, becoming a better photographer, and engaging with others through Instagram. If one of my photos gets over 400 likes but the next gets 200. So be it. Does it mean my work is bad if I don’t get lots of comments? Absolutely not. I don’t particularly give much weight to my work being judged by an algorithm. Ultimately, there are no shortcuts to success. Nothing can beat hard work and genuine engagement with the people who are viewing your work.
So what am I hoping to achieve with this post? For people to value their work and invest in genuine and authentic interactions with real people in order to grow organically. This type of growth is far more rewarding. One of the best things I did for my photography was to stop focussing on the statistics and the numbers and to focus on my craft and engaging with others.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope it was helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. If you would like to view more of my work please visit my website. I also offer custom prints and an online print store. If you have any suggestions for blog topics you would like covered or just want to say hi, then please get in touch :)