Part of the thing is that I've been oversaturated with the "unique snowflake" millennial generation ideal, and then with social media being the way it is, (and I'm sure with the ability for us to curate it to be limited content), everyone's doing the same thing and I can't become a #uniquesnowflake anymore.
I read a recent article about instagram user and National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, and he said this: "I think that in the world of social photography, which is enormously powerful and ever-growing, that one essential fact is true: photographers used to produce pictures, now photographers must produce eyeballs. The point being that we used to just make pictures and it was somebody else’s job to get the pictures seen. Now it is incumbent on the photographer to make pictures that go directly to the audience, many times bypassing traditional publishing altogether. The photographer must bring the audience to the client in this model. And I think that is the growing realm of photography."
What I took away from that in regards to what I'm talking about now, is the fact that because now that everyone has to produce eyeballs, there are too many of the same things to look at. Back in the day, a photographer just sent his photos off to an editor or whoever, but now the photographer has to send them to everyone and anyone. It's overwhelming and frankly frustrating, a lot of the times, especially to see someone getting a lot more "eyeballs" and business than you, maybe even when you are producing better pictures. This isn't even in just regards to photography. In this day, it almost seems like it's not enough to simply produce good content, because even if you have the best photos mankind has ever seen, or the best outfit, or the best blog article or novel, or whatever, if you can't produce eyeballs, then you're a failure. Regardless of that skill.
I'm just not good at making eyeballs, at least eyeballs from anyone and everyone, and at least at this point in my life, I'm tired of trying. Which brings this post around to what I was talking about in the beginning: the reason why I decided to stop being a personal style blogger. I just stopped trying to be that huge social media presence that I couldn't become.
It all seems sad, right?
On a seemingly unrelated note, Photoshelter also released their latest guide, The Photographer's Guide to Instagram, and I took note of the fact that every instagrammer interviewed spoke about the real world relationships that developed from the platform. How cool is it that something that fits into our pocket can connect us with the rest of the world? I'm trying to become more intentional with my social media in that way--reaching out to people, meeting other creative, talented individuals, and creating relationships with those that inspire me. I am quickly learning that no matter how many likes I do or don't get on a photo, nothing compares to the real world meeting of another human who shares the same passions as me--or different passions that I can learn from. That's my new goal for this devil called social media, to use it to just meet awesome people.
Back on the main track, even though it may seem sad that I've "given up" on trying to just make some eyeballs, I'm instead making complete human beings. That is to say, I want real relationships with real people. Still doesn't mean I don't want those online relationships, because I do have some great internet/blogger friends that I love dearly; also I understand that sometimes it's impossible to meet someone in real life, and the internet is a wonderful thing for bringing two people who were otherwise strangers closer together.
This is a recent favorite video of mine, in which Gregory Heisler talks about how he wished he realized early on that photography was all about relationships. I'll let you watch the video and have it speak for itself.
So it seems sad, but really, without me spending so much time on social media, I have been able to make so many real life friends and contacts. I wrote a bit about this on my facebook page:
I didn't necessarily write that status in the light that this post is being written in, but I'll add this: even though I'm not popular or successful on the internet whatsoever, this has been my most successful summer of photography. I'm doing more shoots, meeting more people, producing better images than I ever have before. The number of eyeballs does not equate to the number of human beings. Meaning, my internet success has no relation to my real life success.
But then in the same breath, it is important to have a good online presence, as like I said before, all these social media platforms connect people to one another. So maybe the eyes do lead to humans? Who knows. Either way, I am content where my life is now.
But I still don't go a day when I don't question if I should even try to pursue photography as a career. It all goes back to that oversaturation. There's too many photographers in the world--do they really need one more? Am I really making a difference by throwing some three by fives into the giant dump of millions and billions of three by fives? One thing I do know, it's those human relationships that remove all doubts. When I hear or read someone say that they love my photos, that they feel beautiful in them, when they put them on facebook or instagram or in their home, or ask to buy prints, or even ask me to photograph them, that's what makes it all worth it. I am very much a people pleaser, and I absolutely love being able to make people happy through my work and my art.
It's not about the eyeballs, it's all about my affect on people's hearts--and in turn, their affect on mine. Because relationships are all about giving to others, and in that giving we are blessed.