What If You Could Not Share Any Photos for One Year?
Would you still be committed to photography?
Yeah… that is the question, isn’t it?
Imagine not being able to post your favorite photo of the morning to Instagram, or make that cool collage on TikTok. Imagine not posting a Facebook update of the photo you took out walking, or that amazing sunset over the Grand Canyon all filtered up and stuff.
No blog posts, no website updates, no Glass or Flikr or anything sharing-wise.
Would you still do it?
Are you doing it for the likes, hearts, stars, thumbs up, and “cool shot, bruh” stuff of social media hustlers?
If so, that’s cool. However, I wonder if the work you are sharing is your best work? I wonder if it is authentic?
If the algorithm is your heart’s desire, then you will do everything you can to feed the algorithm. That is not authentic, that is blatantly commercialism on a personal basis.
Algorithms are notoriously fickle, irrelevant, and constantly swerving from one ‘viral sensation’ to another.
Authentic work is the work done outside of the algorithm, the faint praise from people you do not know, and the encouragement from people who have no idea of what you are doing, but just want to be a part of it.
Authentic work can indeed be shared.
But authentic work doesn’t NEED to be shared to be good work.
Many photographers I have known and worked with over the five decades I have been doing this stuff were committed to the act of producing photographs.
They shot for a living.
They shot for fun.
They shot for a hobby.
They shot on vacation from the job where they shot every day.
Srinivas Rao discusses how important it is to create for yourself in his book “An Audience of One” available on Amazon. (affiliate link)
Be creative for its own sake. Be creative to create. Stop focusing on the end results and focus on the work. By doing the work, the creative spirit is nourished, and when you make work that you love, that spirit is empowered to do more.
When you are shooting for yourself, you can focus directly on the making of the image, get to know it intimately, and produce work that is unique to you — not an algorithm appeaser.
You can also fail more. And we learn more by failing than by winning. Of course, it is good to get critiqued and involve yourself in mentorships, education, and peer review.
Does this mean you should not share your work? Of course not. Share away, it is fun. It can be informative, as well as educational.
But if the sharing is the point and not the making of images, then it will be far more stressful than simply making images for yourself.
I share online. I have an Instagram that I think about once in a while, I have a blog, a website, and I try to write on Medium when I have some downtime from teaching.
But I do considerable work that doesn’t get shared. It is work that will be going into a book project, or my class projects, or possibly even for sale.
And if I could not share online, it would not deter me one iota from creating photographs every day. It’s photography I am committed to, not sharing with strangers.
I am a photographer, designer, and photo editor. You can find me at my self-named website or at Project 52 Pro System where I teach commercial photography online. This is our tenth year of teaching, and it is the most unique online class you will find anywhere.