Counting and liking the hits?

 One of the traps that is easy to fall into while sharing creative work on the internet is trying to gain validation.  Does my work, my words, my ideas, expressions, any of it have value?  We are social creatures, and electronic media feed that idea.  We post bits of ourselves and hope that those pieces get instant approval. We look at the number of hits or likes, and we can feel some satisfaction in knowing that people agreed with our ideas. We did something good or right. 

But what happens when the likes and re-posts are not there?  When you put what you feel is a fantastic photograph on Instagram (or YouPic or 500px or.....) and there are no likes, no views? Does that mean that your image was a failure? Maybe that means that YOU are the failure...

I know I have done it. I have looked at other photographers and seen them racking up dozens or hundreds of likes or whatever the site you use calls the up vote, and wondered why it is that I don't have more votes for my own images.  It can be an easy trap to fall into.  My 365 Project is an example.  There are a number of photos on the project that only have one or two views.  Others don't have any views. Then comes the worst part of the trap - the self doubt.  "What am I doing wrong?" "Why don't people like me or like the work?" "Why isn't anybody talking about my work and having it go viral?" 

Take a breath.

First of all, does it really mean that nobody appreciates your work? There are a lot of images being shoved in front of our collective eyeballs every second. I am on several different sites and if you post an image to YouPic five minutes after I log off and move to EyeEm the situation is not that I didn't like your work.  I just never saw it.  Or maybe it was posted on Tuesday and you had a photo of a kid kicking a soccer ball that was pretty solid, but I just spent three hours photographing and editing images from a soccer game. I may be a little jaded towards soccer photos and may give it a pass instead of a like when I scan through the new images feed.

Let's move away from the not seeing my photos reason though. Maybe people did see my images and still did not click like. What does that mean? While you try to figure it out ask yourself this: Is the photo you are wanting people to like and validate really and truly a good photo?  Is it interesting?  Does it have good composition and interesting lighting? Does it do a good job telling a story? What is the contrast and color like? Is it like every other image you have posted in the last three months? Does it have anything that really makes it stand out where you can honestly say it is a good photo?

It does? Then ask yourself  who it is that you are showing it to.  If you have some psychedelic night skateboarding images and you share them with your mother and grandparents are you really appealing to the right audience? How are you getting your work out there - just spray and pray? If I post all over the place hopefully somebody will see it and love it. Maybe that is not the best plan.

If you are trying to market a business and the images you are sharing are not getting attention then you need to be looking at what is going wrong with your work.  What can you change to get more hits and more likes. Is your style right for the audience you are trying to reach? Do you even have a style?  And also ask yourself if your number of hits and likes really matters.  Are you keeping busy with clients and keeping them happy on the jobs you do? Then do those hits and likes really matter? I would submit then that those hits and like don't much matter. Maybe your business model can do without so much attention to social media and more attention to in person client relations.

What if you are not running a business, and just shooting photos because you enjoy it? If you are doing it as a way of self expression, as a pleasurable pastime like singing along with the radio in the car, then again I would suggest that those likes and shares are not of any importance.  Do it because you like the images you create, because you are touching on the emotions and meanings and messages that interest you at the moment.  Do it because you are figuring out your style and learning and are on a voyage of self discovery.  Take and make those images for yourself.

Be self involved in your images and find happiness in your work.
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