After setting up my website “Light & Grain” almost 2 years ago, I always thought about a presence on social media, as well. This is how most photographers today attract people and create interest in their work. The usual path is to show up at least on Facebook and Instagram and have a Youtube channel with new content being uploaded regularly every week, fortnight or month. I am a notorious non-user of Facebook & Co plus the time I have to spare for creating content just for my web page is already rather limited. This means that producing content at a certain (and probably necessary) pace to feed all these social media channels, let alone learning how to make proper videos, is simply impossible for me and I touched this topic already in a previous post.
On the other hand, my website – despite being the perfect online tool to store some of my better photographs and present them to any person on this planet who shows some interest – doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Certain blog posts seem to have been shared quite a bit (e.g. The Isolette and I), but most of my humble writings as well as the majority of my photographs have not seen many visitors. Thus, three weeks ago I reviewed the possibilities of the different photography-related social media platforms again and decided to give it a try – with Flickr.
It’s funny, but opening a Flickr account and posting the first photographs on this platform has a different feel to it than posting the same photos on my website. Knowing that only few people will stumble upon them on my homepage gives it a more private and personal touch. But, throwing them into the Flickr ocean of millions of online photographs could either mean that they slowly descend into the photographic marine snow lingering above the bottom of the deep sea of mediocrity (please excuse the analogy from my professional realm!) or that they are highly visible at the ocean’s surface with many people looking at my work…and reviewing, commenting on or even judging it. Equally scary scenarios! We photographers (and probably all creative people) have something like a split personality: We would like to share our images with many people, because we think we have something to say, but at the same time we don’t want to have too many witnesses, because we fear that the outside world criticizes our work. To step out into the open regardless is what the American author Brené Brown in her marvelous book Daring greatly describes as vulnerability:
When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. […] Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.1
In many respects, Brown’s book is a game changer for me and so it was for my online presence, first with my website and now with my Flickr account. And so far, I must admit, there is nothing to complain about regarding the feedback.
1 cited from Brené Brown, “Daring greatly”, Portfolio Penguin, 2013, page 2