#594. The Monday Post (15 May 2017) – Photography and Social Media

By pascaljappy | Monday Post

May 15

Jonathan Crossfield recently published an interesting article titled Is it time to abolish social media ? In it, he makes the point that using the term social media to name what is really a huge variety of interactive venues (online media / blogs and comments, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and dozens of other platforms) is misguided in two ways :

  • It uses a buzzword that no-one outside of marketing circles cares about. We post photos of our vacations to Facebook, we don’t update social statuses.
  • It supports the “… flawed notion that social interaction is a product of the tool & not the person using it.”

Couldn’t agree more !

However, that’s examining only one side of the coin.




The reality, on the user’s perspective, is not so undifferentiated. Who can deny the existence of two very different attitudes between actual users of these platforms :

  • Those who want to socialize (read, our kids, snap’ing in class …)
  • Those who want to profit (those who have no interest in us other than to sell us something) ?

In Instagram created a monster, photographer Sarah Melotti describes the unsavoury world of social influencers, and the lengths to which the Instagram Mafia are prepared to go to maintain dominance on the platform. There’s money in it and there’s a huge dose of animal nature, fear, jealousy, … Zero-sum-game worldview meets primate mind.



More than at any other time in Internet history, I believe we all face a choice between (yes, good and evil, but more specifically) ego and community, between sharing and grabbing, between learning and shutting out, between emotion and numbers.

Not that everyone out there is as evil as the people described in that article. But, still, photographers and social marketers in the photo world seem to follow the rules dictated by that unhappy lot and actively maintained by the social platforms themselves. Most publishers seem to go for vanity metrics and forget about the truly social component. Here’s something interesting, for example :


It’s a screen grab from the bottom of a photo article on a very famous photo blog. Two. Thousand. Facebook. Shares. One comment !!!!

This is as diametrically opposed to DearSusan as can be imagined. Readers, here, rarely share anything anywhere (there are buttons at the bottom of each article, and I, ahem, think they work) but the comments we receive are numerous, interesting, packed with information … Sometimes, you agree with the author, sometimes you don’t, sometimes you talk among yourselves without the author being in the loop. New authors are invited in whenever they feel like starting a thread. To my mind, that’s just perfect ! We’re basically a tight community having fun talks. The Internet hasn’t invented the virtual beer yet, but this is getting close to a discussion with pals at the pub.



So I guess all of this was just a lengthy preamble to this : Thanks Guys and Gals ! We appreciate that and feel very fortunate. Please keep’em coming.

(ps: for those wondering, the photographs on this page are from Nimes. A small extension to Philippe’s lovely little article on that gorgeous city. And I like to think they are not totally unrelated to the topic … )

(pps: oh, and, for the record, all shot with my old smartphone 😉 )


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  • Adrian says:

    I think much “social media” reached it’s zenith a few years ago. Now, platform owners have to invent new ways to “share” merely as a vehicle to maintain engagement levels (I.e. Use) to satisfy advertising revenue goals and sales growth. I rarely look at my Facebook news feed now as it’s full of “live” videos of inconsequence as everyone tries desperately to get attention. There is nothing “social” about it at all, as it’s entirely one way – and I haven’t even touched on the modern process of selling a self aggrandising faux perfect lifestyle for everyone else to see but which doesn’t really exist.

    I wish I was better at promoting myself and my work on social media, and see it as a necessary evil, although as you mention so much is now controlled by influencers and paid for content that it’s hard for anyone else to get a look in. I also find it mostly demoralizing as mostly banal content gets thousands of likes or shares whilst other quality content gets overlooked. I need to play their game.better but frankly it’s too much like hard work for what seems like zero gain.

    The lack of discussion and interaction on much online media is indeed disappointing, and it’s nice to be able ton”chat” freely here aboit things that mostly (hopefully) interest us, without having to agree all the time. Some brand specific forums I frequent become so defensive at any dissenting voice, so its nice to be able to speak freely (but reasonably) and have intelligent discourse. There is a growing list of things I think it would be interesting to write about, but lack of time and lack of focus prevent me!

  • Dallas Thomas says:

    Firstly thanks Pascale for such a thought provoking article.

    Social media is a place I have tried to promote my photos by using Facebook and lately Instagram after some urging from a close friend of mine. I am not a professional so why do I need to promote my photos?

    Is it to gain adulation from my “social media friends” the large majority of whom I have never met to what end? An increased ego?

    Rarely do I get any worthwhile comments, or heaven forbid constructive criticism. So why do I share my images via this medium?

    To take this to the next level, why do I get up early in the early in the morning, or go out late in the afternoon and in between to shoot and create something that appeals.

    Who should it appear to; my social media friends or photographic judges well in fact it should be me.

    Yes, I want to improve my output, but how do this social media is a failure. The only other way is to get CC from trusted friends who are prepared to put in the time and energy to do so. How many of these do we all know?

    Well these are my thoughts.

    • Adrian says:

      Your comment about posting photographs online for the “adulation” from others you don’t know is insightful. Liking, sharing etc have become an end to themselves, largely devoid of any constructive comment or feedback. Most internet forums and sharing sites just encourage an in critical group think of cooing at mediocrity or self-justification cia group think (every says lens X is good, so.it must be). Any “negative” comment that may dare to offer constrictive criticism or feedback is generally shouted out by the Orwellian crowd as unacceptable. I must admit I do share a sunset of my photography online in an attempt to get a reputation for it, because I would like to commercialise it om the future. However, many social media platforms make it so easy to pirate photographic work and repost without credit that they don’t work in the interests of content creators. Since the platforms themselves are commercial, they generally work in the platform owners best interests, not their users.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I feel I’ve strayed into a parallel universe in my odd forays into any of the social media sites. Twitter seems worst – it encourages D*n*ld Tr*mp, and in case nobody noticed, those are both “four letter words”.

    Healthy internet sites bring a pooling and sharing of knowledge and experience (s). Unhealthy ones have outbursts of unquenchable bigotry, self-opinionated bores and vicious trolls lurking in the shadows. The ratio of the latter seems to be infinitely higher on social media sites, so I refuse to have anything to do with them.

    Btw, Pascal – you had better light than Philippe. Using a cellphone doesn’t make it a level playing field. But you can both keep posting photos of Nimes – j’adore Nimes, and if it wasn’t completely impractical to do, I’d cheerfully relocate and live there for the rest of my life.

  • idreamedof says:

    I often share links to your blog posts to twitter as @idreamedof but your twitter button creates an empty post with only a hashtag appearing. I haven’t tried the other buttons.

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