Instagram: A Creatives Curse and How we Lose Ourselves to Social Media


It is easy to get caught up in the statistics of social media. Its easy to become envious of photographers with followings of 10k and more. It is even easier to get caught up in the world of social media marketing apps, hashtag spamming, and the annoying world of Follow for Follows.

Lately an entire industry has grown around trying to improve you “social presence” recently I was even contacted by a company that offered to edit and curate my entire feed for me, offering a list of photographers accounts they managed.

This is concerning in many ways. To start services like this, create a level of fraud in many accounts. Accounts curated and edited by others removes a crucial step to developing your own artistic vision. Additionally, the need for follower can cause us to lose our voice trying to appeal to the masses.

In a recent video Sean Tucker discussed his own dilemma between the Youtube content created. Often stuck deciding between the mass appeal of tutorials, and the more philosophical examinations of photography that he preferred.

What is additionally concerning is the constant state of comparison social media places on us. I regularly find myself questioning my own worth solely based on that days Instagram performance. A comparison that can completely ruin any excitement I had for a specific series or image I created.

What stinks about this is many times the lack of views and likes can be completely irrelevant to the quality of what your posting. In many situations, it is arbitrary things like algorithms that prioritize “influencers”, or things such as time of day that can effect who actually sees your work. All of this can lead to an underperforming day making us feel lost in what we are creating, and second guess everything we make.

I experienced this with a recent project called of A Hawaiian Dream. In it I tried to create cinema style images of the goings on around me to produce a dream like feeling of my time in Hawaii. When I finished I felt it contained some of the best images I had ever produced. However, after days of posting I continually drew in the least engagement since I started posting regularly about two years ago.

This need for reaffirmation caused me to stop what could have become a great series. What I’m now beginning to learn is that producing images for the sake of likes is the wrong reason for creating. Creating should be done for the self, and who views and cares about it should come last. This not only allows us to become unique in our work, but to give everyone around us a far more genuine interaction.

It can be said that the best artists, leave a part of themselves in their work. However, if our work only features a carefully curated version of who we are how can we expect our work to ever become great. Ultimately all the work we create should be about our vision, not what garners the most attention at the time. Through this true to self-creation we will begin attracting individuals who love what we do for our genuine selves, something far more rewarding than thousands of followers who only care about who we aren’t.