Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How do you measure success as a photographer?

What signs should you follow?

If you upload pictures on social media websites you will know there is usually  some form of audience judgement of your success as a photographer.

How good you are is supposedly measured in votes, clicks, awards, views, badges...

This is a good strategy for website owners because everyone likes a pat on the back and so visitors keep coming back to their website for the rewards and little treats. As they say in website terminology it makes the site more 'sticky' and more visitors equals a bigger audience share and more revenue.

Photographers fall into the trap of trying to please broad website audiences and they let this cyber-gang steer and even rule their creativity.

Do you really want to let people who breeze past your image barely giving it a glance or pausing to comment, vote or paste a badge determine the direction of your creativity and influence your vision as a photographer? Most visitors are hoping you'll return the favour and visit their offering. It's a sad cycle to be caught up in.

If 'popularity' is not a measure of how good your photography is then what is a good measure?

  • Do people contact you out of the blue wanting to buy your work? 
  • Do people want to publish it and share it with others and exhibit it and talk about it? 
  • Does your work change opinions or even people's lives? 
  • Does it communicate ideas? 
  • Has someone sent you an email saying that your photography is incredible and it moves them deeply? 
  • Has anyone ever said to you that what you do has changed the way they see the world?

If this has happened to you then you're on the right path. Keep going. If not then you need to work harder on your art and focus on your creative vision rather than the hollow lure of popularity.

Being popular is wonderful so long as your fans genuinely value and love the work that you do. If your audience on the other hand has a different agenda for praising you and you fall into the trap of believing that their accolades mean you are making worthwhile art, then you are playing a fools game.

Till soon,
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