I’ve been listening lately to the photography podcast “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen” by Matt Payne. It’s a great podcast, I really recommend it if you are a landscape photographer. Every week he interviews a different landscape photographer, often a full-time working professional, on a variety of topics in current landscape photography. Being pretty much an outsider, I’ve learned a lot about how this field works and who some of the personalities within it are.
One topic that comes up over and over is social media. If you want to be a professional landscape photographer starting out today, I gather that social media is critical to succeeding. Myself, I have virtually no social media presence, so I can’t really speak from firsthand knowledge, but I have to say it just… sounds… terrible.
First, as near as I can tell, the consensus seems to be that social media for photography is basically a big, hothouse, echo chamber. It appears to reward the posting of essentially the same kinds of images over and over (the same locations, from the same viewpoints, under the same kinds of lighting conditions, etc.), typically in the form of a grand landscape in bold colors. Since I photograph in black and white, often in anonymous locations and with somewhat subdued subject matter, it seems to me my photography might not have a place in this kind of environment.
Second, I get the impression there’s a lot of hostility in social media. Say the wrong thing online, even with good intentions or by virtue of simple mistake, and you run the risk of being slammed with a backlash of vitriol and negativity. While I realize that I’m an outlier, I’ll confess that I find people unpredictable and volatile under the best of circumstances. I certainly would not want to expose myself to the ire of thousands of strangers online.
So, I used to think of my lack of presence on social media as a bit of a personal failure. And really, it probably is – if someone wanted to magically offer me 100,000 followers on Facebook, I’d have a hard time saying no. But given what I’ve learned about how social media works from listening to interviews with the pros, I do feel less bad about not being engaged with it.