Social media has become quite the conundrum for photographers these days. On one hand it provides more exposure for our work than any other free outlet but on the other hand it can cause great anxiety, stress and frustration. For myself doing landscape photography full-time, I’ve definitely had plenty of moments where falling social media engagement has led me to doubt everything and I’m sure pretty much every photographer out there has had the same - whether they are a pro or hobbyist.
When I first started posting my work on social media about 8 years ago, things were quite different to how they are today. Many people were only just starting to jump on board Facebook, and Instagram wasn’t even a thing. People reacted with awe to stunning images from around the world that were posted on their feeds. There were places and scenes that many people had never seen such beautiful photos of. These days, after years of social media being flooded with gorgeous photos, most of us are a bit numb to it all. We’ve all seen the mind-blowing aurora shots from Iceland, or the majestic peaks of Patagonia. And that tree in a lake somewhere in New Zealand? Yep.. seen that a couple of times!
This definitely makes life harder for us photographers - if even the most amazing places on the planet no longer have much of a wow factor on social media, then how are those of us who take more humble images going to get noticed, much less try and make a living. I hear a lot of photographers complaining about algorithms and their work not getting seen by as many people on social media, but I think the whole ‘image saturation’ issue has had just as much if not more effect on our engagement rates.
I’m grateful that the work I put into social media years ago helped build my business, but I also know that going forward things are not going to be the same as they used to be. Nearly all of my decent size photographic opportunities come directly from my website these days, from people who are searching for what I can provide - rather than me pushing my work through social media onto people who mostly don’t care.
My advice for those of you who are struggling to get your photos noticed in this photo saturated online world? Try printing some of your work out and hang on your walls. Maybe give some prints away as presents. Sell a few at your local markets. Viewing a beautiful real life print is something that I don’t think will ever get boring. Who knows, maybe things are going to end up going full circle with photographers abandoning social media and going old school!