Exhausted by social media, I am changing things up a bit! What's your take, and your approach?

Big ol’ rant incoming! TLDR: moving to quarterly batch image releases in an email newsletter, unsure how to handle posting batches to flickr and instagram. Curious of others’ thoughts, and strategies they have for posting images online in general.

You know how when you’re in a beautiful natural place for a few days, and life priorities seem so much clearer? How you can zoom out and look at the big picture with lots of space and time to think?

On my recent solo backpacking trip to Utah, I think I crossed some kind of threshold. I got home, edited a ton of images I was excited about (because unpacking and cleaning my gear can wait several weeks), and then put a plan in place to move away from Google and Facebook products as much as reasonably possible. The biggest step I took was deleting my Facebook account. I don’t need to get into my rationale here but feel free to ask if interested.

Now, the main reason I hadn’t left FB for so long is because I loved to share my photos with my friends and family, and they seemed to enjoy the photos. I also enjoyed the occasional civil discussion about photography in various groups and on people’s pages. I feared that if I deleted my account, people would forget about me and my photography. Far worse though is that I was afraid that if people didn’t care and I didn’t get external validation, I wouldn’t care about photography and would stop doing it. When I was out in Utah, I took an internal stand and said “dammit Brent, you love taking photos because being outside and being creative is awesome. You didn’t start doing this to gain anybody’s approval!”

The idea struck me to create a very low impact, awesome email newsletter. That way, people could sign up if they really cared and I wouldn’t have to worry about bothering friends that don’t really care about my pictures. I realized that I really enjoy email newsletters from other photographers; those and going to their actual websites are my favorite way to consume online photography. I created the newsletter, and the first one will go out in a few days now. Way more people signed up than I expected, and I am super excited about that!

I am very happy now; I feel like I got a double benefit. The newsletter sign ups show that some people really do care about my photography, and I have so much more free time and anxiety-free mental space with one less social media network to manage and check and think about. With that time I’ve already gone through and tweaked all 106 images on my website to look their best, which was quite a project.

I’m now left with the newsletter, instagram, flickr, and NPN. I’m still debating how often and where I want to share pictures. A big batch of images will go out in the newsletter at the end of each season of the year, so 4 times per year. With NPN, I think I can just post as I feel, both before and after the newsletter release. This place is pretty chill.

The other two though I feel are not conducive to just dumping 20 or so images 4 times per year. They work better if you “feed the beast” every day, or few days, or week or something. They have algorithms for peoples’ news feeds that may cause a big dump of images to go unnoticed, which would be a shame. I fear the images will have less impact in an infinite scrolling feed if they only appear once every 3 months.

Am I mistaken? Does anyone have ideas or strategies for how to post to these popular social media networks without getting caught up in them too much? I want to share my photos with a wide audience but just don’t want to devote the time and mental space to them too much. Am I just thinking and worrying too much? :laughing: Any and all thoughts are appreciated and I’m curious how you fine people handle this kind of stuff.

I feel your pain regarding facebook! Too much hate and people looking for … whatever. I didn’t log in to FB for about a year (self preservation). I am near where you are so may just take the plunge and pull the plug on them. The only down side if that is the only way I keep track of the grand kids. Although I suppose I could actually drive the hour to so to see them once in a while. GEE, The though of actually seeing someone! How radical can I get!

I think your approach is valid if it is what works for you and I think that is the most important part of all of this.

I belong to one other photo forum that seems a bit more active than this one and has some real talent that is willing to share procedures which I love that part. I have learned a great deal from them.

All of my on line photos are on a photo hosting site that allows me to customize the layout and also gives me full control of what is visible and to whom. I wish there was a way to automatically send out like a feed or something that allerts my followers, as few they may be , to new photos I have uploaded. If I can not find that I may go your route.

Good luck!.

Greg (ProMapper)

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Hey Greg, thank you for the reply.

I think your approach is valid if it is what works for you and I think that is the most important part of all of this.

After I posted this, the silence was pretty deafening to me :laughing: Although I felt embarrassed, what you said here is basically the realization I had. I don’t think anyone can solve this problem for me.

Although I suppose I could actually drive the hour to so to see them once in a while. GEE, The though of actually seeing someone! How radical can I get!

This also gets to the heart of it! You may be in “contact” less with them if you use social media less, but if it leads to more quality time then that is potentially priceless.

I wish there was a way to automatically send out like a feed or something that allerts my followers, as few they may be , to new photos I have uploaded. If I can not find that I may go your route.

Me too. I wish RSS feeds were more popular. Like I said, a newsletter is the best I’ve come up with so far. You could make a blog (like on wordpress) that has an email signup and/or RSS feed feature and post your photos there, perhaps?


From within all your good points, I’ll extract one and add insights.

The biggest benefit of a newsletter will accrue to you personally, but only with one primary commitment: Set yourself a deadline and STICK TO IT. Never fail to meet your deadline. Sure your readers will need it to sustain their own interest, but YOU will need it to keep your commitment fresh and force yourself to work through some tough creative patches. Let the deadline slide and your own interest will flag right along with your readers.

I’ve been a pro writer for most of my adult life. I could probably prepare and interesting chart on the publications that have come and gone, as well as my own interest and productivity through the maze.

The one and only that’s persisted is my weekly newspaper column. There’s a fixed non-negotiable deadline and I have to meet it, like it or not. It’s forced me through any number of periods of low productivity and time conflicts. My record to date? I’ll reach my 30-year anniversary in a few months. I’ve missed exactly one deadline in all those years, that due to the unexpected death of close family members.

Purty darned good. The other writing commitments without deadlines? Gimme a few minutes or a few hours and I’m sure I could recall some of them.

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Thank you Hank. That is really, really good advice. Setting a hard deadline for yourself builds discipline and helps cut down paralysis by analysis so I am all for it. What you said about not letting my own interest waiver is really the core of it - I’m doing this stuff because I need to do what I need to do to keep going. It’s pretty amazing how you’ve stuck to the weekly column for 30 years, bravo! I bet that has really paid dividends over time.

I am usually pretty good about making a plan and sticking to it. My plan here is to send out the newsletter 4 times per year, each on the last day of a season. The December solstice is this Friday, so my deadline is tomorrow! I am ready for it, and I’m already working on the March equinox edition!

At that rate, I bet you too will be celebrating a 30-year anniversary. Keep it up!

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Hi Brent,

An interesting topic …

I haven’t joined any of the social media sites you are referring to (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) so my question may appear strange. What is it about them that makes one feel exhausted? I mean, are you expected to put in some minimum amount of time? Just curious that’s all.

What is it about them that makes one feel exhausted?

Not a strange question at all, I am happy to discuss it. I’ll start by saying lots and lots of people think and write about this that are better thinkers and writers than I am :). I strongly recommend reading the very digestible pages on https://humanetech.com/ if you’re interested. The people behind that site have been all over the news lately.

It’s a bit hard to unpack because it’s subtle at first and doesn’t seem harmful. It’s exciting to see what others are up to, and to get tons of positive feedback on what you post. After a while though, it’s easy to start comparing yourself to others and start to wonder why your life isn’t as awesome as others and you don’t get as much attention as them, and then lose site of why you started in the first place. People tend to just post the best parts of their lives and it can make it seem like no one has to struggle or endure hardships like you do (which of course is false). Rather than really bringing people together, it’s pretty common to see folks out and about staring at their phones scrolling endlessly without putting much thought into the world around them and what they are consuming. Fast food for the mind.

Strictly for photography, I think it tends to make images homogeneous and uncreative. If you want to get the most out of these sites, you have to post a lot and engage with others a lot, which seems to end up making most interactions extremely superficial and more or less meaningless (“Nice shot!”, “Beautiful!”, etc). Sometimes people seem more concerned with quantity rather than quality, and attention from others rather than finding intrinsic fulfillment in doing something awesome and creative.

Those sites are designed by huge teams of very, very smart people to keep you on the site as long as possible to generate ad revenue. They use targeted marketing that sneakily makes the information you consume on a daily basis cater directly to you, which results in people only experiencing a very narrow slice of the world; a “filter bubble.” This in turn strengthens extremism, tribalism, and an “us vs. them” mentality that can very isolating for an individual or even destructive at scale. I feel exhausted at the thought of supporting such a system that I feel is psychologically manipulative and has some pretty unfortunate consequences on individuals, communities, and societies at large.

I like communities like this that you have to pay for with money - if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product being sold :slight_smile:

SIGH. I just want to take pretty nature pictures. I don’t like that I think about this stuff so much.

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I confess I don’t get social media, the allure of it. I have a FB account that I have not updated at all since I opened it years and years ago. If I want to share images, I will create a hidden gallery on my website and send the link to friends. If I want to contact a friend, I will call, text or email them. I don’t feel the need to share my life with the masses on social media. My attitude makes me a bit of a dinosaur, but I don’t care in the least. For me, the whole social media thing is a waste of time and energy. That said, if it works for others, that is great. To each their own in this world and that is the way it should be.

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I appreciate your reply Brent.

And here I was under the impression that Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites are fun and enjoyable (based on what I have heard from friends who use them). I can’t believe that folks take something like this seriously enough to let it affect their lives.

Thanks again.

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I was active on FB for a couple of months. What a crock of BS, not to mention all political rants. I deactivated the account and couldn’t be happier.

This is very true! That is another reason I quit. I have never used Twitter, Reddit, or any other social media site except for a very small number of forums.

This should scare all FB users: https://www.foxnews.com/tech/facebook-gave-tech-companies-intrusive-access-to-users-private-messages-and-personal-data-internal-documents-reveal .

Facebook reportedly gave other big tech companies “intrusive access” to the personal data of its 2.2. billion users — in some instances to private messages, usernames and contact information — raising questions about whether the company ran afoul of a 2011 consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.

This is scary stuff!

Like Harley, I am an older dinosaur than he is, and prefer a phone call, or e-mail when I want to reach my friends. Also, I am a rather private person who has no desire to put the details of my life out there.

NPN is the only photography I am a member of, and it fills my needs admirably.

We have a local photo club that’s mostly on facebook. I decided to give it a try. My first post was a bear pic, and I said I’d shot it with a 500. First response: What’s a 500? Second post: Yeah, what’s a 500? Third post: I didn’t know anyone made a model 500 camera.

Dunno about subsequent posts. Never been back.

Hank, I read your reply and experience and the first thought was that someone would have ask what is a 500 rifle? seeing how you “shot it”! If they had then that whole conversation (said tongue in cheek) would have gotten totally out of hand. you did the right thing…never look back

I have an active Facebook account and am hating it more and more. I may have earned one sale of a print through my account so it is not worth it. I also avoid getting sucked up into political rants and there’s way too many of them. I am trying Instagram, but have yet to successfully place images up on my site. I just don’t do phone stuff with ease…Jim

Hey! Congratulations! You’re the first I’ve heard of who actually sold a photo through Facebook. Maybe… :rofl:

I have a Facebook account, but it only has the minimum required information in the profile and I only use it because an environmental non-profit I volunteer with posts their updates on it. Even then I doubt I look at it twice a year. I’ve never posted anything on it.

I do have a Flickr account where I post images for sharing, but I don’t let it take major chunks of my time as I’ve never seen a constructive criticism on it. It’s strictly attaboys. The only reason I bothered was that’s where our local camera club posts and I finally decided I wasn’t interested in making money at this, so I shut down my Zenfolio account.

I will admit that there is a thrill when an image on Flickr gets picked up by one of the self anointed recognition groups and you start getting tons of “likes”, but I’m not going to let that change what I do.

I got lucky on that one. For some reason, my major group of customers are comprised mainly of photographers…Jim

What I find exhausting is avoiding the social media, not the social media itself.

I worked in Silicon Valley for 40 years. At the start, in the 1980’s, I was very concerned about how computers were affecting our lives and what they were robbing us of. However, none of that really added up to much and I’ve been much happier embracing our new technology age. Either way, it’s here to stay. There is too much value in social media for people to turn their back to it as a group. As far as photography is concerned Facebook is good for sharing images among personal friends. I don’t expect any great insights from them. But you don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate a good image. They appreciate seeing an image now and then and it makes me happy that they do. It has nothing to do with enhancing my ‘career’ nor is it a ‘shallow’ experience.

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This is going to be long, but please try to get through it:
I am active on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I also have my own websites and a newsletter.
Besides being a photographer, I am a news paper columnist and podcaster, focusing on the subjects of outdoors recreation. I also do appearances on one of the local TV stations when they do a story on outdoor recreation. I am heavily involved in local government, as the chair of my county’s Parks Advisory Board and a member of the city’s committee that recommends how taxes dedicated to open space acquisition is spent.
My use of social media for all of that is to expand my reach into the communities that I represent and to better get a feel for what is going on out there. Without social media, I would be losing one of my methods of staying in contact with the public at large.
So, lets talk about being “exhausted” by social media. Social media is a two-way street, and a lot of what you get out of it is a result of what you put into it. If you’re looking for “approval” then post on your own page and stay off of others. If you don’t like what someone is saying, block them. If you don’t want to see hateful, overly political comments, don’t look at other peoples pages. I rarely look at anything other than my own pages, and I’m far less stressed than people who read every stupid comment others post. I post on my pages to let my “followers” know what I’m doing, whether it’s to let them know that my latest podcast or column is out, or show the results of one of my latest hiking or photography trips, or to let them know what their government agencies are doing (pro or con) with their parks and open spaces. And, oh yeah, I also let them know how they can view and buy my photography, books and other associated merch or services.
I have one of the most frequently read columns at my paper, and my podcast has very broad reach. Much of this wouldn’t have happened without smart use and expectations of social media. If you eliminate social media, you may not be reaching a lot of potential customers.
Social media is one part of a bigger promotional puzzle. If you just want to use one platform to get your photography out there, then I would suggest sticking to Instagram.
Regardless, don’t be afraid to use the “block” feature that’s available on all social media outlets. And, be a bit thick-skinned. You don’t have to take any crap from anyone, but don’t let a little constructive criticism get to you.
You might think those people on social media are less sophisticated when it comes to viewing your work, but they are also potential customers. Listen to what they say. Don’t give up your standards or your artistic integrity, but listen to what your potential customers are telling you they want.


Thanks for the perspective, Bob! I appreciate the reminder that social media is not always a bad thing. One place you and I may differ is that I’m not so sure I am interested in the business side of photography and having a lot of customers.

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