I’m sure most photographers have entertained the dream of making their living through photography. It’s a fun dream and for some it comes true. From the handful of professionals I’ve chatted with it’s not an easy life. It’s a lot of hard work and hustle which is often accompanied a healthy dose of existential angst.
I admire dreamers and think you have to be one if you want to be an artist. But there’s a dangerous side effect to being a dreamer and that’s self-delusion. For the dreamer photographer with tendencies of self-delusion there maybe no more lethal a narcotic than internet popularity. You can watch this play out on social media platforms. As comments, reblogs, favs and followers add up a photographer gains more confidence in their work and can quickly slip into a bubble of self-delusion.
I often wonder about the true benefits of exposure on the internet. I remember talking to a friend who had a project that was picked up all over the place, including mainstream websites. I asked them if they received any calls or jobs because of the exposure. They said no. Then again, they didn’t exactly take a proactive approach either.
The internet is a pretty awesome and powerful tool for distributing photography and building connections, but I also think we sometimes overestimate the true value we’re creating. Look no further than the first internet bubble for a prime example. There are some that say we’re in another internet bubble right now, one that’s driven by over valuing social media.
For photographers, I think it’s important to step back and think about the value of the connections you’re making. Do you really have 500 followers? Or is it more like 50 true followers and 450 superficial digital acquaintances?