Shoot for Yourself

I upload my photography to 500px, Flickr, Instagram, and occasionally to Twitter. I find that I have to upload to all those social media sites because each one behaves differently!

They don’t behave differently in the sense they’re clunky and hard to use — no that’s not it at all — it’s the audience that behaves quite differently!

I consider myself a hobbyist photographer. I was a semi-professional at one time but I have a full-time gig that pays well and I don’t need the hassle of dealing with people as customers.

I like to shoot models, make fun photos with other creative people, and photograph fungi (mushrooms) when I hike. Once I make those photos I usually process them in Luminar and then upload them to 500px, Flickr, and Instagram.

Would you be surprised that your photo will resonate differently on each platform?

On 500px you have a “pulse” measure to see how quickly and well your photograph is doing. On Flickr, you have your followers comment or “fav” it. Instagram you have little hearts or other emojis. Each platform lets followers and viewers give kudos to a well-made photograph

I’ve written about how insidious sometimes this instant feedback is but it’s also a measure of how well your image resonates with your audience.

Would you be surprised that your photo will resonate differently on each platform? Do you think it’s by a lot or a little?

The answer is by a lot!

This photo of Lucy shot to the top of the 500px pile of popular photos the fasted ever for me.

Art Model Lucy Magdalene as a Witch by Thomas Ott on 500px.com
Art Model Lucy Magdalene, © Thomas Ott

She clocked in at a measure 88.8 (which puts her into the popular category) just shy of the magic 90 measure. This happened in under 3 hours.

The reality is that we’re dealing with social media silos.

Whereas this image of my mushroom clocked in at 52 over the past 24 hours.

Turkey Tail mushrooms - Trametes Versicolor. by Thomas Ott on 500px.com
Turkey Tail mushrooms, © Thomas Ott

It never made out of the “Fresh” category, so by 500px standards, it’s just noise.

Conversely, when I upload my fungi/mushroom photos to my Instagram, people comment, like, and go wild!

The images of Lucy? They’re received well but the excitement isn’t there as it is 500px.

Siloed social media

The reality is that we’re dealing with social media silos. The silos attract different types of people than different social media silos.

You should always work to achieve whatever vision makes you happy, whatever resonates as your authentic truth…

For example, the discussions I have and share on Twitter are vastly different than the ones I have on Facebook.

The same applies to your photography and your work. You have to upload the work you create to multiple social media sites so you can market yourself and sell your artwork.

While that sounds exhausting, it’s always been this way! Ask any writer that has piles of rejection slips from pitching their novel or work. Ask any artist how many galleries have rejected them before they landed the first one.

The thing is your true audience is out there but they’re not going to make it easy for you to find. Yes, social media helps you cast the net faster and further, but you should always be casting your net.

You should always work to achieve whatever vision makes you happy, whatever resonates as your authentic truth, and then take your voice and make yourself heard.

You need to shoot for yourself first because that’s who you are. The saying “be yourself because everyone else is taken” is 100% correct.

I like mushrooms and fungi, so I’m going to be the best mushroom photographer I can be!

I like making art with models, so I’m going to be the best art model photographer I can be!

Don’t be discouraged if Flickr gives your photos the cold shoulder. Find that Instagram or Twitter that will make your work go viral. That’s the tribe that will welcome you and your message, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Leave a Reply