"Don't do it for the likes!"

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, November 2015

Follow any well-known, influential photographers on social media long enough, and eventually you’ll hear them trot out the old trope, “Don’t post your photos on social media just to get likes!” Without fail, every one of the people who utters these cliche words will have thousands upon thousands of followers and get hundreds or thousands of likes per post. I think their underlying intent is well-meaning, in that they’re really just saying not to get discouraged if you don’t get a ton of likes or comments early on. Keep working, and hopefully it will come. However, the larger message as-is, is patently false and hypocritical. If getting that interaction didn’t really matter, they wouldn’t be posting on social media themselves. I mean, think about it: no one shares their art anywhere - whether that be online via social media, at a local art fair, or on the wall at the neighborhood coffee shop - without hopes that those viewing it will like it. Otherwise, why would we share it? Everyone wants their art to be appreciated. And after all, what’s the point of expressing ourselves through art if no one witnesses the expression?

So, I think the message needs to be amended: go ahead and do it for the likes, but don’t be discouraged if a ton of them doesn’t come early on; and also, be more concerned with who’s doing the liking as opposed to how many are doing the liking. For instance, take the photo above… I could have edited that in a brighter, more colorful way that would have appealed to a wider set of people and gotten more likes and comment praise, but that wouldn’t have been staying true to my vision, so it’s much better to get the smaller handful of likes from the people with shared taste that get my vision. Ultimately, those likes mean more, as I didn’t have to sell myself out to get them.

All that said, get off social media - it’s wasting your time. ;-P If you must, though, go ahead and do it for the likes.