I love photography. It’s been my creative outlet for two years now.
But for the past couple of weeks I haven’t posted anything to my Instagram, nor to my Facebook. In fact I haven’t posted to Facebook for over two months.
I found myself chasing the likes, where I should have been chasing my passion.
Instagram was great in inspiring my recent passion for photography. I found the diversity of stunning photos on the platform to be incredibly inspiring to my own work. And then there was the supportive community of like-minded photographers, sharing their own stories and encouraging me along my journey.
But then there were the likes. And the follower count.
And that’s what I found myself posting for. Not for me. Not for my community. But to get more likes. To boost my following.
I’d go out to shoot with the mindset of capturing a ‘likeable’ photo. One that beat my previous best.
That little hit of dopamine when someone likes your photo quickly becomes addictive. Soon 10 likes isn’t enough and has you chasing 100. And then that isn’t enough. It has you needing 1,000 to feel that same rush.
My best analogy? It’s like constantly chasing your tail up a mountain and never quite stopping to appreciate view up there.
But don’t think that I’m advocating that we shouldn’t strive for improvement, or to settle for mediocrity.
But rather that we stop to consider why we want more and more.
If it’s a by-product of bettering our art and sharing that with our community then fantastic. But if it’s to get more likes on todays photo than yesterday’s one, then maybe it’s worth taking a step back to get a fresh perspective.
And that’s what I’ve been able to do these past couple of weeks.
It’s given me a freedom away from constant checking notifications on my phone. Away from seeing how many new followers I’d gained overnight. And away from any anxiety around whether will my photo ‘perform’ as well as my last one.
Because throughout this, I’ve found that art doesn’t exist to be liked, commented or shared. It exists to make you feel something.
And moving forward, that’s what I’m aiming for my work to do. To make you feel something.