Ahhh, the age old question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This is the question that came to mind when I saw recent post on Facebook and I asked myself, "If you post an image on Facebook and it receives no likes, should you quit photography?"
A photographer had posted some recent images on Facebook and noted that no one seemed to be "liking" them and asked in his post if he should stop creating photos all together. This photographers' images weren't bad - they weren't particularly great(but that's a matter of opinion I suppose) - but they certainly weren't bad. I was tempted, but refrained from responding with a one word answer. Yes.
Yes you should quit creating images. If Facebook is seemingly telling you nobody likes your photos and you think that matters, then yes, please stop. You clearly don't have "what it takes" to be a photographer and there are plenty of other photographers out there willing to fill the void you leave. Photography isn't about Facebook "likes" or being "Retweeted" on Twitter or having an image "Plussed" on Google+(which I think is still a thing). It's not about how many "fans" you have or how many prints you sell - yes all those things are good - but that's not what it's about. It's about how photography makes you feel and sharing that with the world - whether they "like" it or not! It's about being out there in nature(or wherever you choose to create images) and the only thing in your world in that moment is you, the camera and the landscape in front of your lens. It's about doing something for the pleasure of it and doing it, foremost, for yourself.
You have to have "thick skin" and know that you're starting from the bottom and that climbing your way up can take a long, long time. You have to know that you're going to fail. If a photographer tries to tell you that they don't fail or haven't failed at some point in their photographic career then find another photographer to talk to because that one's lying! I fail. I fail all the time. I publish images that are "duds". All the images in this post received little or no attention on social media and I have sold few, if any, prints of these photos. But that's ok, that's not what it's about! The thing about every photo in this post is that I enjoyed creating them. Sure, I hope you like them too, but you may not and that's perfectly fine because to me they are valuable.
There are photographers on Facebook, Michigan Photographers, who have 10, 20 even 50 times the amount of "fans" that I have!! Do I wish I had more fans? Yup. Does it matter that I don't?? Nope. It's not a popularity contest. The amount of "fans" or "likes" or "retweets" does not make a good photographer, it might make a popular photographer but not a good one. I've seen plenty of photographers with 20,000 fans that aren't nearly as good as some that I've seen with 800 fans! If you focus on being a good photographer - whatever that means to you - the popularity will come eventually but you have to have "what it takes". And if you think that simply getting "likes" is what it takes then you're in for a rude awakening.
Now if you're reading this thinking, "Who the hell is this guy to think he has all the answers?!!?", trust me I know I don't. I still consider myself to be on the lower rungs of that ladder(and still constantly question if I have "what it takes") and I know I may never get to that ultimate destination. But I do know this, if I base my success solely on how many "likes" my photos receive and if I didn't accept my failures and I hadn't learned from them, I wouldn't even be on the ladder. So, if a photographer posts a photo and and nobody likes it, is he or she still a photographer? Yes. If they choose to be.
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