So before I start talking about this, let me say that I’m not criticizing people who put their work in these groups. This is just why I don’t and this works for me.
I’m part of 3 or 4 photography groups on social media and most of them I joined when I was a newbie photog. I think these groups are a good thing because sometimes there are business and marketing questions that get discussed and info like that is always helpful. I used to post my work on occasion but over the last couple of years I’ve stopped. Here’s why:
- I found myself fishing for likes. Validation has this power over us that can make us go crazy. We can start to equate the number of likes we get to how good we are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a horribly done photo that had TONS of likes probably due to the fact that someone with lots of friends was tagged in it or it had some horrible filter or edit that someone thought was cool. Also, likes don’t equal income so, who cares?
- I started comparing myself. This is the worst thing you can do to yourself as an artist. Listen to me. You are you! You have your own ideas. Maybe you haven’t found your niche yet but copying someone’s style or thinking theirs is better isn’t helping you grow. Find what works for you and make that your brand. Some people will like it and some won’t. Those that don’t aren’t your problem.
- Picture thieves. I know this isn’t exclusive to photography groups and this happens almost every second of the day. It’s the nature of the internet. Thankfully I’ve never had this happen personally but I find it the absolute worst that this happens in groups where we’re all supposed to be supporting each other. It doesn’t matter if your water mark is there or not, the good ones know how to clone that right out.
- I realized I was sharing my work with the wrong people. If you want constructive criticism, save up some $$ and go to a portfolio review or find someone in your niche industry and reach out to them. I reached out to my old photography professor from college. I sent the photos via email and we spoke briefly over the phone in between his classes and he broke it down for me. Was some of it hard to hear? Yes. Was it helpful? Absolutely. It was the truth along with what to do to improve. And I still think about what he said during every shoot I have. And the best part was no trolling! 80% of the time when you ask for constructive criticism, you’re not going to get what you think. Also, tones get misconstrued, feelings get hurt, and you’re left feeling defeated instead of inspired.
*steps off soap box*
The hustle is hard. This industry is super competitive. You need to stand out and sometimes in those groups, you can start to blend in.