Why I Suck at Social Media

There have been strong issues presented on the negative effects of social media, primarily dealing with the decline of social skills and the lack of privacy. I’m going to approach the subject from a professional nature photographer’s point of view. Social media has taken off in the photography industry with the simple premise: the more of an online presence you have, the more you grow your customer base.

The most inspirational photographers today have very little online presence at all. There are two reasons for this. The first – they have built a strong enough audience that they don’t need to rely on social media to build their client base, and second – they are photographers, not social media gurus. Their passion is to push their craft as far as they can and to produce art, not talk endlessly about it.

The simple reality is this – the most popular photographers on social media rarely produce compelling work. There are two reasons for this. The first – their photography alone is not enough to entice clients and thus, they have to build a persona to become a celebrity, if you will, to grow their client base. The second – they are no longer photographers but social media gurus. They have a new job description. Social media is a full-time job. I think it’s extremely difficult to be a great nature photographer and a social media guru at the same time.

I do want to point out that my statements do not apply to ALL photographers. They are generalizations that apply to many. My intention is not to offend an individual, and I will not be naming names in the article. There are always exceptions to the rule, and certainly it’s possible for a great nature photographer to have a strong online presence.

As a nature photographer running my own business, the more hours I put into it, the more I get out of it. I often will work 100 hours in a week, taking clients into the field, working 16 hours a day. When I return home from being in the field, there are images to process, websites to be updated, newsletters to put together, blog posts to write, clients to communicate with, emails to respond to, etc. It really is a job that you have to consciously take a step back from and create balance in your life, at least for me. I try to be the best spouse that I can be, and a present member of my family as much as possible. I’ve given up friends, other than photography friends where I can work in the field and hang out at the same time. The reality is – if I’m able to get a free night, I’m going to spend it with my spouse. Then there’s the health issue, eating right, working out, these things take time to do right. And of course… any other passions you may have. I’m a hardcore traveler and hiker, which in some cases, doesn’t always mix with photography. There’s the consumption of art – looking at peers’ images, reading books, watching film, watching quality TV, listening to music – I love multiple forms of art and consume as much of it as I can.

With all that being said, where in the scheme of things am I going to do a facebook post? How about a tweet, a Google + entry, a linkedin whatever, a flickr upload, a 500px upload, a pinterest pin, or an NPN post? Imagine participating in most of the above? How about multiple times of day? Welcome to the life of a social media guru. No thank you.

And here’s the worst part of all – most social media works off reciprocity. If you want comments, tweets, +1s, faves, etc., you have to do the same to others. Now we’re talking hours and hours of hard work commenting on other people’s images, most of it uninspiring.

This brings me to my first real social media experience – flickr. I joined flickr and followed a recipe laid out by previous flickr experts: make contacts, comment on their images and repeat. The more involved you get with others, the more they will be compelled to reciprocate and comment on your work. This formula is tried and true. Your comments grow from 10 to 20 to 30 and on up. The amount of time it takes to comment on others without saying: “nice work!” on each image, takes a great deal of time. You have to ask yourself this question – what’s it all for? Is this the most productive use of my time? Am I becoming a better person as a result? While it can lead to profit, I ultimately decided to back off, leaving zero comments. The result: reciprocity kicked in and my comments spiraled downward. I still post to flickr when I can and the best I can hope for is 20 – 30 comments. If it’s one of my best images I’ve ever created, the comments could push 40 – 50. If I was handed the greatest nature image ever made and posted it under my account, the comments would never push past 50. The same applies to all social media outlets. For Google +, each image is good for 2 – 5 comments and a + 25-30, regardless of the image. This is an incredibly important point. The work is not what carries your online presence, it’s the TIME you invest in it that does.

Facebook. Absolutely, positively, my least favorite social media tool out there. The interface is a nightmare, I get 100 friend requests a day from strangers, and despite having a fanpage with over 1,000 fans, I don’t believe I’ve ever received a client from facebook. One thing I do consistently across all social media platforms is unsubscribe from email notifications. I despise my inbox being flooded with social media junk. Yet despite unchecking every option in facebook, if someone invites me to a group, I don’t get the option to accept or decline, I’m automatically in and the first group update goes right to my email account whether I want it to or not. I then have to go into facebook and leave the group.  I don’t look at feeds or other people’s pages, I only update when I have a new image to share. I receive 2 “likes” and that’s the end of it. Facebook has to go. After I post this article, I will delete my account from facebook and smile.

Google +. Did we need ANOTHER social media entry? Of course not. Photographers can’t help but gush over Google +. The main reason I believe this to be true is the opportunity to get in on a social media platform from the ground up. Try to become large on flickr right now. Good luck. Not going to happen. But Google + is so young that you have a huge opportunity to even the playing field. Google + even had a conference for photographers. People paid a lot of money to hear photographers (or social media gurus) tell them how Google + has benefited their business. Isn’t social media by nature transparent? Can’t you go to anyone’s Google stream and see what they’re up to? This seems like another way for social media gurus to cash in on their celebrity status.

Twitter. I like twitter. It is one of the best sources for news out there. I follow feeds that provide me information I care about as fast as possible. I’ve had to stop following photographers for the most part though. Tweets like – “become a fan of me on facebook” or “in case you missed it this a.m….”. Ultimately it’s photographers trying to build clientele. That’s not me, I’m not their market, and I shouldn’t be. I only tweet when I have something new to present to fans, primarily new images. I have no idea if 10 fans, 20 fans, 100 fans, or 0 fans follow-up on the tweet. And so it goes.

Blogging. I’m a huge fan of blogging. I think the creation of an article discussing one’s work, passions, travels, etc., is a rewarding experience and something I absolutely need to do more of. I have great admiration for the quality photographer bloggers out there, especially the ones that are constantly on the road. It takes a great deal of dedication to keep a blog going, and it’s something I strive for.

I’ve come back to this article a few times in the past couple of months and I’m anxious to finish and create a blog post. These last few paragraphs are being written on a flight from Boston to Seattle, returning home after two weeks of photographing fall color in New England. I get two days at home before hitting the road for a month. My schedule includes a group workshop in Leavenworth, a private workshop in the Southwest and back to back workshops in Zion National Park. I won’t participate in social media while I’m gone but instead, will focus all of my energy on my clients in the field. I wondered when the day would come when social media would be a choice for me, when being a professional photographer would bring a healthy income and building a client base would no longer be a great challenge that I relied on social media for. It’s been a great year for my business and the clients are coming. I strive to run the best nature photography workshops in the business, and my hard work is paying off. I still aim to get the word out and have people read my testimonials and inquire about my workshops and I recognize social media is one strategy. My short term goal is to delete my facebook account, post on flickr, 500px, and Google + and notify with Twitter. I believe building a strong blog will have the most benefit to my online presence, and allow me to create through writing.

For those of you that found your way to this article, thanks for taking the time to read it. I don’t imagine there will be too many of you for after all, I suck at social media:)
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55 responses to “Why I Suck at Social Media

  • From Moments to Memories

    This is awesome and I believe in a lot of it! Cheers to you for voicing what I think every day!

  • Ilona

    Justin, this is so right-on that I feel you somehow gained access to my thoughts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this resonates with a lot of people who continue to be held hostage by the idea of having to participate in social media, taking precious time from what really matters to growing your business and balancing your personal life within that. There’s not a point in your post that I would dispute. An important and well-written piece. Thank you.

    • Justin Reznick

      Ilona,

      I love how you said “held hostage by idea of having to participate in social media”. Thank you for your feedback, it’s great to know there are peers who have the same struggles with social media.

  • Erin Kohlenberg Photography

    Lately, I have been asking myself to evaluate my follows in twitter, facebook, email newletters, blogs. I ask myself: What am I getting out of this person I follow? Am I learning something? Are they a friend? do I admire them? Frequently, the answer is no, so I quit following or what ever. ( I’ll keep following your blog). Thanks for a great article, that challenges the current thought!

  • Ron Coscorrosa

    While I’m not a professional photographer, I agree with your sentiment. There seems to be a lot more focus on self promotion and reciprocity than the actual art itself. I’ve seen numerous examples with people being satisfied with being popular rather than improving their craft (nothing is more devastating for a photographer than premature and undeserved praise). There’s almost a perverse inverted relationship – the more popular, the lesser the quality of work (on average). It’s unfortunate because social media would be a great platform for discussion and critique but it’s mostly just used for self promotion.

    I’m not totally down on social media, I have met many cool people (in person!) via Google+ and discovered many new photographers via 500px. But these are generally people who aren’t using it for self promotion but are just sharing their work.

    I’m glad that you are able to jettison the social media that is either an ego trip or a waste of time and actually focus on your photography and your workshops.

    Also – looking forward to what you got in New England!

    • Justin Reznick

      Ron,

      So well said! I completely agree with having met some incredible people through social media. That’s been the most significant positive aspect of social media.

      I also agree with viewing sites to see new work, I do it obsessively. It’s always exciting to discover a great image. I only wish we didn’t have to scour the net in search of new work. For example, I see every new image you post, and to do that I visit Google + (what appears to be your go to site). For another photog, it’s 500px, and another it’s flickr. I wish we had consolidation within the online sharing space.

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply! Can’t wait to see your work from NE!

  • Alan Majchrowicz (@AlanMajchrowicz)

    Excellent article Justin, I agree with you on many of your points. As a fellow professional I have many misgivings about putting lots of time into all these venues. On one hand it does help get some feedback and exposure, but on the other it takes away time from reaching out to true potential clients that have no interest in social media.

    I’ve been participating in all of this for a little over a year now off and on, following the initial advice that its the “thing” to do to keep your business viable. I’m probably going to scale all of it down since aside from meeting lots of new people, you being one, it hasn’t boosted my business one bit.

    I can easily guess the individuals you refer to, I’m constantly astounded at how so many fall head over heels for terrible photographers that have nothing to offer.

    • Justin Reznick

      Alan,

      Thank you for the thoughtful reply! It looks as though we’re in a similar social media pattern. Meeting people is definitely been the highlight, and I look forward to your Google + updates, especially your recent work from the North Cascades! I’m already counting down the days until larch season next year:).

  • Benjamin Chase (@BenChasePhoto)

    Great article Justin,

    I’m starting to come to the same conclusion that you have. All of my sales and clients have come from me reaching out to them individually or them reaching out to me individually. I’ve received exactly zero new clients through social media.

    Capturing, editing, keywording, and presenting images takes enough time as it is, sharing them all via social media channels would require (for me anyway) more than 24 hours in a day! I’ve already curtailed how much of it I’ve been doing.

    Have a great week!
    Ben

  • Josh Cripps

    Word up, dude. Definitely a social media hostage right here. But I asked myself a lot of those same questions about how my time was best spent and what I really wanted to be doing with my time and my life. Posting to 50 social media sites was not the answer. So I rarely if ever post to flickr anymore, and my presence on 500px and g+ is practically non-existent. Facebook I do use, but then I get a return from it, and do get workshop clients and sales from it. But for sure it doesn’t work for everyone.

    • Justin Reznick

      But Josh, I miss your stories. Seriously, you are an entertaining poster and I want to see your latest images! This brings up an interesting point – how best do I follow you? I don’t use facebook, so my only option is your website, but you don’t have a “New Work” gallery. So I guess what I’m saying is, and this may seem hypocritical, but come back to flickr!!!

      • joshuacripps

        Haha, I will be making more of an effort on flickr again. I also recently redid my website to better integrate it with my blog. Because I too am working on blogging more. You’re right that I don’t have a recent work gallery, but I do now have a “latest updates” widget at the bottom of every page on my site.

      • Justin Reznick

        Your site is looking good Josh, did you do all the design on your own?

  • exposurenorthwest

    I read it, and it was in fact a well thought out and interesting read. I certainly agree with some of your points. I also think there is more to it than that. The explosion in popularity and accessibility of digital photography equipment coupled with social media and sharing with others has in fact “created a monster” and I feel sorry for anyone that feels they are a slave to social media. Feeling the need to reciprocate every comment and or “like” is something I have always disagreed with. If you simply tell a new photographer that their work is good, when it is not, you are doing them more harm then good in the long run. If you take the time to explain the stronger aspects of the image they created and offer your insight as to how they could improve upon it as well, they will have the continued opportunity to grow as photographers & you are doing them a priceless service. When I leave a comment, even if it is a short one due to limited time on my hands, it always has been and always will be because I truly appreciated the image and felt it had something to offer. A reciprocated comment or “like” has little value in my opinion unless the relationship I have with the person is more than just “seeing” them online. Competition is fierce out there, as you know and ensuring that your potential clients & customers see what you have to offer on a regular basis is still extremely important and I suspect it will continue to be. This is the reason you still see someone as successful as Art Wolfe on social media (even if it is one of his employees posting on his behalf). Out of sight, out of mind you know. You can be the worlds greatest photographer and because of the wave of social media your work and your business can get lost in the noise in an instant. That wouldn’t mean your work wasn’t good, just that someone else was there to fill a need when it presented itself. It doesn’t take much to post a quick blurb about your business with your work. The amount of time you have to grab someones attention and hold it is a matter of seconds. I have had large bodies of my work picked up by 3 separate art directors in the past year and none of them would have found me if it hadn’t been for social media. This area of my business, licensing images, far and away generates higher and more consistent revenue for me then teaching workshops ever will. All that being said, I have cut way back myself, both in the images I share and the time I spend online. I have also cut back on the time I spend in the field and spend more time at home with my family. I am happy to hear you have found balance there. I would not personally be able to spend weeks or months away from home and still feel like I was giving of myself and participating in my families lives. At the end of the day, that is all that matters anyway. Everything we are doing now “in the field” could be hopelessly unimportant a year or five years from now depending on where life takes us. Having memories in all areas of our lives is what is going to give us all peace and gratitude for the things we have and the lives we lead. Besides, that next big thing could be right around the corner and being able to adapt to changing times, including participation with social media could be the determining factor between your continued success, or your work being lost & forgotten. Regardless what we do, or how we choose to manage our businesses, those of us who are blessed to still get excited going out to capture images at a location we have been to many times are truly the ones who are blessed. If you enjoy what you are doing and enjoy being yourself, you have already won this race. 🙂 Nice post Justin. Very thought provoking.

    • Justin Reznick

      Aaron,

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply! Social media has gotten me business as well, and that’s where the hostage mentality comes in. You make some excellent points about staying in the social media game. The key of course, is finding balance and that’s what I’m striving for.

      Cheers!

  • Ron Niebrugge

    Excellent post and I do tend to agree with much of what you have written and have debated myself about the benefit of social media given the amount of time it takes.

    Ironically, I probably wouldn’t have seen this post had you not mentioned it on Facebook. For what it is worth, I have always enjoyed seeing your images pop up on my wall even though I don’t comment or buy anything from you.

  • reznuk

    Great observations Justin, that apply just as closely to those trying to build a following in the blogging world. Reciprocity takes enormous effort and time to keep up, and if you haven’t done it already in your chosen subject, and if your chosen subject is already quite heavily populated – then you’ve very little chance.

    What those who encourage us all to become social media experts don’t seem to understand is – most of us with full time jobs are working hard enough at being good in that job!

  • Matt Suess

    Interesting post Justin with some good points. I can’t stand FB either and have come close to pulling that plug too – but what stops me from doing that is not the present – but the future. I have had some workshop students already find me via FB. When I look to the future and the younger generations who are growing up with FB, I stop myself from leaving. These future generations – that’s all they know is FB and probably never go to websites. So I grin and bear it and deal with FB, cursing all the time. Cheers to you though for breaking away.

    • Justin Reznick

      Matt,

      You’re killing me. You make the most compelling argument for keeping my facebook account, the future. I might just have to keep it around. It would feel liberating to delete it, but I certainly don’t want to restrict future business.

      Cheers!

  • Alex Noriega

    Nice article, Justin. Certainly, I can understand your perspective since you work up to 16 hours in a day on photography, as you mention.

    I only release a maximum of 1 image per day, but I’ll put it on my website, 500px, NPN, Flickr, G+, Facebook, and I’ll tweet a link to it on my site. The reasons are as follows:

    1) Very few people would see the images otherwise, since people don’t just visit the website of every photographer they like on a daily basis.

    2) I’ve made several print and licensing sales (some huge) from people/companies finding me on 500px, Flickr, and even NPN.

    3) Some fellow photographer friends are only on certain networks, and those are the people I care most about sharing with (from a non-business standpoint).

    I’m with you on the whole comment/like reciprocation thing. I definitely don’t post to get meaningless accolades from people I don’t know. The only opinions/comments I’d even care about are from photographers whose work I respect, and I have to skim over hundreds of “amazing!” or “beautiful!” or “great shot!” type comments to see those. The friend requests from strangers on FB do get annoying. It’s all just a side effect of getting your work out there digitally.

    Regarding Flickr in particular, yeah, the number of comments (not that it matters) is tied to how much you “participate” in the back-patting. That’s why I like 500px – I can just post an image, and if people like it, it’ll get extremely popular on its own through their voting algorithm. I rarely comment on anything there, and I’ve still garnered quite a hefty following. However, you can still see people gaming the system like the old days of Flickr – people that have posted 10x as many images as I have and comment on everything they see, pathetically pleading with people to “check out their latest” – they have similarly large followings, certainly not linked to the quality of their work.

    I’d love to be able to make lots of prints prints for galleries and art shows.. but that costs up-front capital that I don’t usually have. Social media is a great way of spreading awareness of your work without spending anything but your time (and indeed, it can be time consuming – but you can also get it down to a science so you can have an image posted everywhere in a matter of minutes.)

    I also have the advantage of my “other job” being home-based, so I’m on the computer all day anyway (if I’m not in the field shooting). This makes it easy to “stay involved” in social media and respond to a few people’s questions. Definitely not going to thank people for their one-word comments, though – that’d be a full-time job by itself. All email notifications are piped into a separate label in Gmail that keeps them out of my inbox.

    • Justin Reznick

      Alex,

      Well said, and a great strategy. It’s very similar to my approach and it’s great to hear that’s working well for you! I especially like how you have it down as a system that keeps you within a reasonable amount of effort and time. I think some added discipline would be good for my approach.

      Cheers!

  • Ilona Berzups

    This is an excellent post and the replies really help to put social media back in perspective, something that gets lost when we’re in the thick of it’s daily grip. Thank you for so much valuable feedback everyone. Something that may be helpful if sticking with Facebook is to put friends into FB Lists. List show in the left news stream column and you can see how many posts are in each at a glance and only look at the ones you’re interested in. For example, I have i_Photographers, i_Personal and so on — akin to G+ Circles. You can assign friends to lists/multiple lists either as you accept/friend them, from their timeline, or via your entire Friends list/view. Here’s a down-and-dirty screen mock that may help (http://bit.ly/R55lT0).

  • Jean Day

    Thanks for the great write up, Justin and these are exactly the issues I’ve been wrestling with for some time. I just can’t do all the social networking necessary to make a presence, and hope that my work will speak for itself. I do spend more time on FB than any other site to see what friends are up to. Keeping up with blog posts is also difficult and I find myself spending hours reading, though a lot of good information out there…such as this post…still, not enough time and I’d rather be shooting or processing!

  • Caroline

    I would share this post on facebook except the constant changes working against us drove me to delete the account. You have no idea how wonderful it feels to be rid of the irritation.

    Shame so few now have the patience to post on their blogs…

  • Michael Russell

    Great article Justin – refreshing to see a bit of a different perspective regarding social media. I joined twitter as my first photography related social media experiment, and found quickly that I could learn a lot from the people posting there. I have a presence with many other networks but I think that Twitter and G+ are the ones that provide to me the best results in terms of learning from others which is still my main social media goal. I do post on 500px and Flickr occasionally, but that is partly due to their content showing up in search quite readily. Speaking of search – I think that is one of the strongest reasons to maintain a blog. Once they are reading a blog post (through search or another means) they are already on your website and are more likely to check out whatever else you might have to offer.

  • Justin Reznick

    Thanks Michael! Blog is where it’s at, I’m excited to being more consistent!

  • Kent Mearig

    You’ve inspired me to try and make a post to my blog in the next few days…tonight?…we’ll see how it goes.

    By the way, I linked here from G+.

  • jared ropelato

    Very cool read Justin. Some great points. Good luck out on the road. Cheers

  • Colby Brown (@colbybrownphoto)

    Interesting blog post with some very valid points. However I think it is important to point out that most people don’t understand social media. They look at it as these foreign platforms where they are not really sure what to do. The reality is that social media does nothing more then provide you with the opportunity to to make personal connections. It doesn’t matter if you have 100,000 followers or 100, if you are not taking the time to personally interact. People are more internet savvy today then every before. They don’t want marketing pitches, but rather to get to know you. That doesn’t happen from a website or a blog like many people seem to think judging from the conversations on this particular post.

    One thing to take into account, is the demographics of the field of photography and the photo industry as a whole are changing rapidly, no matter what any of us think. The average person picking up a camera is getting younger and younger and more people now, then ever before in the history of our species, are exploring the art of photography on some level. These younger generations are growing up in a technological focused society. Those that choose to “take the higher road” (notice the quotes) as artists and not engage on social media….you will be left behind. The pathways to become photographers like Joe McNally no longer exist and that is a reality those in this field must accept. This industry is dynamic and ever changing…those that can adapt and evolve, survive, those that can’t go back to working 8-5 jobs.

    Bottom line, you are right that not everyone needs to be on every social network, but at the same time, each network offers potential clients from various market segments. As a photographer myself that teaches workshops all over the globe (currently wrapping up one in Cambodia, one in Jordan next month and Argentina the following), social media allows me to fill nearly every one of my workshops. Do social networks fill every spot, of course not, but if used correctly…they can drastically improve the business of various aspects of photography.

    • Justin Reznick

      Thanks for the comment Colby. It’s great to get feedback from someone who has a great deal off success with social media. Your points regarding the future, and the consumption of information for the younger generations are well taken. Does it ever feel like it gets in the way of your creativity? If you could fill the workshops easily without social media, would you still devote the time that you do? Thanks again and best of luck with your upcoming workshops!

      • Colby Brown (@colbybrownphoto)

        I personally don’t find it limiting at all, especially creatively. Running a business, much like taking a photograph, can be an art form in itself. It is all about changing ones perspective. If you feel you are forced to take photos…would you? Or do you do it because you love the process? It is the same with social media. I don’t look at it like it is a chore, I look at it as an opportunity to get to know and connect with more people then would ever be possible via any other median in the foreseeable future. If I have the chance to connect via an individual in France in a meaningful way and ultimately that person takes one of my workshops or buys my ebooks…great…but that is not my focus. My focus is just to establish that personal connection. I have made friends, collaborated on creative projects, gained new sponsor ships, sold prints and filled workshops via various social networks. Why does it work for me? Because I don’t blatantly market my products or services on a consistent basis and instead strike up conversations and answer questions. It helps bring back the personal side of interacting in a digital world. I love this type of interaction…so why would I ever feel forced to do it?

        What is most amusing to me is listening to photographers that think they are better “photographers” because they are taking the “high road” and are not going to spend time on social networks. I am not saying you are part of this group, but it is between the lines of what I read of many photographers all over the Internet. Not surprisingly, these individuals generally have very small followings when they make these opinions known… coincidentally. The reality is that any of us can look at 500px or 1x and seeing thousands of amazing pieces of art from photographers none of us will ever hear of again. For me, I am a photographer because a) I love the art form and b) because it provides a life for my family. In a changing industry, that means understanding the value of branding, marketing and exposure. But at the end of the day, just as a camera only helps you take photos, social media is simply a tool that one can learn to use to benefit ones business.There is no one right way to run a photography business…but for me and my various photography businesses, that pathway to sucess has social networking playing a vital role.

      • Justin Reznick

        The take away for me Colby, is that you are passionate about social media and that translates into your success. Without the passion, or at least the enjoyment, success is highly unlikely. The best part of being a professional photographer for me is teaching. I am extremely passionate about it, and that’s why my clients almost always continue on with me on future workshops and tours. But for me, it’s in person, in the field, hands on. That’s where my energy goes. There’s a disconnect and an impersonal nature of social media that rubs me the wrong way. Of course, one could argue that you won’t have face to face time with clients unless you are a successful marketer, and that’s where the social media hostage mentality comes from. I get to spend the next month in the field with clients, providing them with a 100 percent attention, and sharing my passion. I can’t imagine being “online” during this experience. As long as I can fill my workshops with a limited online presence, that’s ultimately feels like the best route for me, at least for now! I have to be open to a changing market, and evolve the process as needed. Thanks again for the thoughtful comments. I imagine we will run into each other in Zion this year. Cheers!

  • Scott Smorra

    Excellent article Justin. It was great to hear your perspective on social media and reading the comments was very interesting as well.

    I don’t think I would delete your FB account just yet, since I found the link to this article on FB!

    I’m an amateur photographer (i.e. I have a full time non-photography job), so my perspective is a bit different from yours, but here are a few of my thoughts on social media.

    -Overall, social media has been very good to me. I’ve learned a lot about photography from social media sites, and I’ve made many photography related friends over the years. It’s fun to go out shooting with the friends I’ve made and it’s also enjoyable to run into other photographers in the field who I recognize from social media.
    -To me one the keys to social media is only following people you know personally or photographers whose work truly inspires you. If you try to follow too many different people on several websites, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information passing through each day.
    -My participation with social media tends to wax and wane based on how many new images I have to post. I’m definitely more active if I have new images to share.

    Thanks for posting this interesting article.

    • Justin Reznick

      Thanks Scott! Good to know you found the link on facebook, will have to keep it around. Meeting people has been the huge advantage for me as well, I will do a positive spin on social media blog post soon!

  • Monte Trumbull

    You bring up a lot of good points that hit home Justin. I have struggled with social media for years, waffling from not doing anything to spending hours a day. I agree that it does seem to waste valuable time that could be better spent on your craft. I did see mention of this post on G+. At least now I am following your blog! Best of luck.

  • Kah Kit Yoong

    Thanks for this post which hits the nail square on the head for me. At least for nature photography. I’ve done the opposite to you, in using Facebook as the centre of my network. This is because it’s useful in coordinating shoots with non-photographers who are not on G+, flickr, etc. I think flickr is almost dead as a tool for serious photographer. 500px is a useful as a showcase but not for connecting. G+ has potential if you really want to build some numbers but I’ve lost interest in it since I’ve made Facebook my main platform.
    Marketing has always been a bigger factor in doing better business than talent in photography. So with the age of social networking, this is no different. The very best photographers will still be able to get by on talent alone; all of my favourites barely do any networking at all – probably because they’re off creating than talking.
    As for the big names with a big following – a few produce good work, none of them great work and many of them a constant stream of junk that I would be embarrassed to show on my own web galleries.

  • Raico Rosenberg

    Now that is a brilliant article! Good to follow up in depth what we discussed at your workshop, i agree fully with your point of view. As you say, nature photographer and not some internet cowboy.

    I suck at social media, i get lost easily in cyberspace and thus i get disorganized with priorities. Been doing a lot of frantic posts to promote myself lately. Need to get out and shoot!

    (Anyone interested in attending a workshop with Justin i can only recommend this.. we travelled halfway round the world from the Canary Islands to do a workshop in June 2012. Justins unique approach and confidence with his work is superb. We really learnt a lot despite being fairly advanced and i hope i can attend in the near future).

  • robknight580956555

    Hi Justin,
    I enjoyed you post, and I mostly share your opinion of social media.
    I was just having a conversation with my wife about hiring someone to handle the social media for her hair salon and my photography business. I was explaining to her that hiring someone to connect personally with potential clients kind of defeats the purpose.
    I have a lot in common with other commenters… I have made friends through social sites, but few clients. The clients that have found me through social media have mostly been through Facebook. I am not “passionate” about social media, so I don’t participate enough to have huge followings anywhere. Cultivating your social networks is a full-time job, and I’m not terribly interested in that job.
    I thought I would share an experience with you that this post reminded me of:
    A well-known photographer came to be a guest instructor at a workshop of mine a couple of years ago. He is a friend of mine, and I thought his big name and social media following would fill up the class instantly. The class filled, but less than half of the attendees had ever heard of my big name guest.
    Long story short, he spent the week (out of the country) leaving shoots early, blogging and showing slide shows on his phone of all of the interesting places he’s been. He was much more interested in getting his next gig than he was in doing the job I had hired him to do. He asked me at one point why I wasn’t blogging, tweeting, etc while we were there. I told him I was busy having the experience and that I would write about I when it was over. The whole trip put a bad taste in my mouth for social media.
    All that to say I think you’re right… There are a few folks that are great photographers AND social media gurus, but most people are either one or the other.

    Cheers!

    • Justin Reznick

      Thanks for the comment Rob! I love your story! I tried my best to participate in social media during a workshop and it lasted about one post. It takes away from the present, from the clients who have paid good money to be there. It’s just not good customer service!

      Thanks again!

      – Justin

  • bowdend

    Nice work !
    Ok, I am kidding… no, wait. It really is a hell of a story, well stated and I 100% agree. I have spent a fair bit of time in the past doing posts on G+ around the predictive nature of the site and get frustrated by the “Celebrity” status of mediocre photographers…..

    All because they started three months before anyone else.

    It is a huge time sink/black hole.

    I really appreciated this as I am building a new blog for the same reason. I would rather share on a blog than on those platforms. This was just some added fuel to the fire to get me moving even faster.

    Thanks again! this was a great post.

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