I thought about deleting my Instagram account but I’m not ready to kill it yet. I came to the realization that by constantly posting my photography on IG I am devaluing my efforts. I do not mean in a monetary way since I am not actively selling my photography work at this time. As a photographer on Instagram I get paid in likes. My EGO receives the payment and it makes me feel validated for the life cycle of the photo. Generally that’s about 4-6 hours and then it gets forgotten about. Very rarely does anyone go back and review my feed or gallery. Instagram has certainly launched careers for aspiring photographers and it’s gotten work out there that would otherwise languish in obscurity so I’m not saying it’s a bad thing overall, however, when it became a source of dopamine and I was constantly working specifically to have something new to post to my feed I lost the sense of why I even take photos.
Before I got hooked on IG I took photos for tangible projects. I wanted to make prints, not to sell, but to display my work. I wanted to make zines, again, not to get rich but to share my work with a living breathing audience. I was posting on IG but it wasn’t my prime motivator. It was just a way to gauge if my work had appeal. I already know what appeals to me. Once I started building a following on IG I got it into my head that I was going somewhere. I wanted to be a populist. I wanted photographers to say, yea, he’s a great photographer! Maybe my work would get discovered and some gallery owner would insist that I have a solo show. Maybe the MOMA would call (or at least DM me). But that never happened. The jolt of excitement started waning. I realized I had a dedicated group of
“likers”but it wasn’t growing, and they were all people that I followed and also “liked”their work. My likes were mostly genuine, but some I gave away for free because they don’t cost me anything. I won’t even get into the follower/unfollower building an army of followers for commercial reasons contingent that’s out there. The ones that like 5 of you photos and start following you but never actually look at your feed. IG changed how you follow people, so now you can follow people and never actually even have to look at their work.
Someone, I’m not
sure who, brilliantly said that if you are using a product for free than you are the product. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Social media in general. It’s a partnership complete with a contract (user agreement). I should probably include BLOG’s like the one I’m writing now into that fold as well.
While I can’t escape social media and hope to become relevant as a photographer outside of my own mind I can at least have some artistic control back as well as some of that time I’ve been spending constantly looking at my phone. So I’m refocusing (unavoidable pun) on what I am doing as a photographer and how I utilize social media as a tool that works for me rather than me working as a tool for social media.