7th September 2013, Singapore – Just a little note for Facebook Based Photographers. Consolidated from various forums and websites. I believe there are some truth in the points mentioned below, then again, everyone is different and subjected to various situations as well as individuals.
1) When You Post a Photo, Don’t Expect “Likes”.
Many photographers today had developed the addiction to “Likes”. It is as if every time a photo is uploaded, the photographer expects to get instant attention from peers. This corrupts the purpose of posting. Most photographers are encouraged to share their photos so that other more experienced photographers will help to comment and critique so that you know where you can further improve on. Facebook is a platform for sharing, not for collecting “Likes”. Given the traffic on Facebook, many friends may miss your posting too, if they are your friends, they will pop over to your wall to check out your latest offerings. So don’t ask me why I never Like your Facebook Album.
2) Like the Photos, Like the Album
Many times when a photographer uploaded an album, there will be “Likes” on the Album as a whole and not the photos. Chances are, your peers saw your album on the live feed and they simply “Like” without even viewing a single photo in the album. To some, this is just a way of saying “Noted” or simply being cordial without really giving a damn what kind of photos are really inside the album. If you have no time to view a person’s photo, do not “like” the album until you find some time to browse through the photos.
Even if you are doing this as an encouragement to the photographer, in the long run, this is an insult rather than encouragement. So be genuine, be real, like the photos before you hit the “Like” button on the Album – If the photos really commands a “Like” in the first place.
3) Leaves Comments Objectively
Comments on any photo posted serves as an important lesson for many budding photographers. So critique the photo objectively so that the receiving person will take note of the mistake(s) committed and avoid heading down the same line again. Remember, most photographers has pride, this is something that you, me & professional photographers will understand. So use your words sensibly and watch out for the soft spot of a photographer. Here’s an example; “You should have corrected your horizon axis before you edit other aspect of the photo.” Such direct comments are easily understood by the receiving person but as easily misunderstood as insult. Personally, I will send a private message to the person and uses the exact same words as above and the effects are dramatically & positively different.
4) Ask Permission
Photos are owned by the respective photographers. If you wish to use anyone’s photo for any use – be it personal, charity, porn or commercial, it is common sense to first ask for the permission to use a photo by someone else. In another scenario, if a photographer friend can’t seem to understand what were you trying to share, you saved the photo & edited for the person and reposted the edited photo and tag the person – never do this unless this is done in private. This usually hurts the photographer although with good intentions, we are handling humans here, no matter how humble a person is, there will always be pride. First ask for permission privately if you can show the person by editing his/her photo, if the person agrees to let you do, then do it and share it privately with the person. The person will be very appreciative of your sharing and teachings this way.
5) Do Not Compare
I have came across many instances where photographers were comparing photos of other photographers taken in a similar fashion or at a similar location. My advice is, do not compare. As photographers, by comparing, someone has to be better than the other and in this sense, if you are on the comparison table, how will you feel you are of the lower rating? Everyone has a certain understanding or rating, but there is no need to publicly air it. Even comparisons can be really unfair when photography is the subject. 2 photographers may have visited the same location during a different time of the day, different season of the year, using different equipments, etc. So how does that make a fair comparison? Take reference from other photographers, not comparisons.
6) Be Humble
Never boast your achievements on Facebook. Everyone was once a beginner. But there are many routes to becoming a semi-pro or a professional photographer. Do not be overly boastful of your achievements online because likely another photographer will overtake you in no time. Such is the harsh reality of this industry. Instead, learn to be humble, keep learning and talk to people from all levels in the industry to understand more, learn more and make many friends. Always be prepared to listen to new ideas, new shooting techniques, be prepared to adapt to new systems, new regulations & new platform. This way, eating the humble pie is the real short cut to becoming a professional photographer. Being boastful will likely ends you up in 2 situations – 1) Your constant boasting are the map to success for others which many of your peers will adapt to your success plan and made your plan as their success plan too. There is no secret, you boasted all out yourself on Facebook right? 2) You may gain fans now at the peak of your fame, once your 15 minutes of fame is over, you are next to nothing and you get forgotten faster than people can remember you. Don’t be a Facebook hero, be a humble photographer.
7) Gear Heads
As a professional photographer, gears & equipment are our working tools. This is especially important to us because our livelihood depended on these gears and good gears are not cheap. At most times, the professionals don’t even want to let you know what they are using for their commercial assignments. On Facebook, it is a different world, there will always be gear heads among your peers that are more interested in what you are using rather than what you are shooting, asking about views on certain equipments all day without really buying, or keep asking questions that are calculated and designed in such a way that they can carry on the conversation with many opportunity to talk about their prized & latest equipment. Avoid online conversations or Facebook threads with such a person before it gets ugly, gear is important, but not everything, skill is. If you are a seasoned photographer and mature enough, you understand this, Gear talks are for beginners to learn, for amateurs to show off, for semi-pros to find out the market rate and an entertainment for the professionals. This is my personal view so don’t flame me.
8) Photo QC
Not every photo shot by you must be uploaded to Facebook. This is especially for those who believe in uploading everything from their memory card in whole. Take a moment and go through the photos and delete those photos that are blur, wrongly exposed, no storyline, no meaning or simply snapshots that are not worth a 2nd look. By posting everything, you are just opening up yourself for target practice. People may (will) judge you for the “poor standards” based on the bad photos although there may be as many good photos too. Clicking on photos on Facebook can be irritating if after 20 clicks, you are still seeing the same subject in the same frame – you know what I mean.
9) Fan Wars
Now, every online discussion-enabled sites like forums has such a war broke out at least once or every now & then. The constant bragging of your base system brand on Facebook is not going to help you become friends with photographers who are using a different system as you. Take a moment and ponder, will anyone spent thousands of dollars only to complain that their system sucks? Likely they will be defending their choice of system fiercely with another person who invested in a different system and this eventually erupts to an online war. Friends & Fans will start taking sides and this goes on forever, fun? I call this childish. Every system has its Pros & Cons, and within systems, there are high-end range-topping models, mid-rangers and entry-level models. In the photography world, you get what you paid for. It’s just that simple. So the next time you want to post something about your system, think again, is it necessary?
10) Facebook Check-Ins
As a photography instructor, I check-in on Facebook at every class location to allow my students to locate me or to notify them that I’ve already reached. Other times, it is also for my fellow photographers to know my location so in case of emergency, it will be easy to pin-point my exact location should evacuation or medical help is required. But most of my fellow photographers know that I do not check-in on Facebook when I am doing commercial assignments. Why? For a simple reason, I do not see the need to tell people or announce to the world (at least your Facebook friends) you have been given a job. So it is not too difficult for anyone to just browse a photographer’s Facebook Wall and sum up how miserable it is to have just “3 jobs per month”. From my understanding, real photographers are a pretty secretive lot (me included), they do not really want others to know how many jobs they are doing (or earning). And this is pretty much the standard protocols among the pros. Disagree if you wish, at least the fellow pros around me are living by this mandate.
Facebook or any other online media is a Double-edged sword. You can make it work for you as well as kill yourself. If you are a complain King or Queen, it is normal for one to post rants about a bad day on their Facebook wall status – But do watch what you are ranting about. The online world is a very small and connected dimension. Everyone seems to know everyone and to make contact, it is just a click away.