The picture is a placeholder.
It’s pretty enough, but that’s not what this post is about. I promised you my views — among a lot of other people’s views — about Instagram. In yesterday’s chaos I forgot to write about that. Sorry. Today’s post is about social media, and Instagram, in particular.
It didn’t help matters when I read about the “selling of ourselves” in a New York Times editorial piece this morning. It helped even less when a friend of mine who talks about the music business said about the same thing in an email that he sends to a few close friends. About a million of us.
Instagram. There is a growing belief that it hurts photography more than it could ever help. It is derivative in nature, with so many photographers producing the same kinds of images that everybody they follow does too. You know the ones. Pictures with water in them that is exposed at such a slow shutter speed that water appears to be almost mist-like. Or, the high mountain top so over produced that nature could have never made that scene. Or street photography that isn’t really street photography.
This is all done for likes and popularity. What a trade-off. We need to feel good about ourselves rather than actually try to produce something that matters. For some of us it once done in hopes of attracting new business. Not so much anymore. Either buyers or assigners know who you are or they don’t. It’s too hard to wade through the noise.
The same thing happens in every social media. A good idea becomes derivative as many people think it is a good idea, and start to copy it. I see that with my work all the time. At first it’s flattering. Then, it’s annoying.
It really comes down to this.
There are just too many of us trying to break through. There is just too much stuff to wade through in order to find the good stuff. There are no real gatekeepers and anybody who tries gets shouted down. At the same time, many people see this as a new way of doing business.
It isn’t. The same basic business rules apply. Ever hear of the 20-80 rule? Originally it meant that 20% of the staff does 80% of the work. That’s broadened out a bit. It can almost apply to anything now.
Twenty percent of the people are making pictures that might matter. Eighty percent of them make pictures that are crap. The same thing applies to music. To writing. To painting. And, on and on.
That’s not to say that something in that marginal 80% won’t appeal to someone, but that’s a personal preference. The body of work from which that one piece of art came won’t hold up under close view. It’s also not to say that beginners shouldn’t post for the feedback… as long as they accept feedback for what it is.
Bottom line. It’s almost all noise and no signal.
Better thinkers and writers than me have said it. They go even further. They think the whole thing needs to collapse under its own weight so we can start again. Some think slight adjustments will recalibrate the whole thing, but I don’t know.
From my own very personal perspective, I’m not immune either. About 80% of the work you see here, on Storyteller, don’t pass my own standards but are good enough. Good enough because I publish everyday and sometimes you just have to go with what you’ve got.
That’s no excuse.
On the other hand, pictures posted here don’t put food on the table. Maybe I should adjust my own thinking. Maybe I should post less, but with some really wowie-zowie work that buyers will be interesting in. If only I knew the proper SEO to get them here. I suppose I could hire somebody. But, they only know what once worked. SEO changes everyday.
For the record this isn’t a rant. Although it could be. It is really a state of the arts. Today. It’s not meant to discourage anybody. It is meant to make you think. To help you make original work. To grow. To be different. And, to own that.