Chris Leskovsek had one of his images go viral, and after the initial thrill came a deeper reflection about the value of a “like”.
it has been said/written many times before; ever since social media started a few years ago and cameras were included in our phones, everyone has become a ‘photographer’, and with that, the ‘Like’ culture has been born. A culture or behavior that makes us believe that the more followers and ‘likes’ we get for our photos the ‘better’ we are at what we do. Well, that’s what most people have thought of at one point.
Personally (as some of you reading this), don’t have thousands of followers on instagram nor I get hundreds or thousands of ‘likes’ on my photos. But that doesn’t mean I love to get that ‘approval’ or ‘pat in the back’ everytime I click on the app and see the orange hearts pop up. After all, that's the whole point on instagram isn't it? It's there to share our work with the world and with our audience, hoping to get some ‘likes’ in return.
But this, the ‘world of likes’ -how I call it-, is very misleading, because there are some people that have hundreds of thousands of followers just by uploading ‘cat pictures' and photos of their food. All of that has nothing wrong, but on the other hand you might also find some very good photographers, uploading their (serious) work, and barely getting a few dozens ‘likes' or followers (I know there's some exceptions to that comment, obviously). Does this mean that one is better than the other one? No, of course not. Yet, an example of this, is something that just happened to me a few weeks ago, which made me think in this article.
I personally treat my instagram account as my everyday photo blog, perhaps, a more loose version of my photo diary that I keep on tumblr. On occasions I would upload photos of upcoming projects i'm working on, or new photo books that I buy and like to share with my followers. All in all I have something like ~800 followers and my photos usually get something around the 40 ‘likes' on average (that's a ‘good one' for me by the way). Anyhow…
Back in March, I uploaded the following photo, which got 82 ‘likes’. That was great for me. A few weeks after that, it got reblogged or re-posted (how they call it) on this other streetphotography account I have no relations to, and it got 999 likes through that account. How is that even possible? Same photo, same subject, same photographer, yet different accounts show such a radical different response?.
Sure, the obvious one is, I have less than a thousand followers and they have tens of thousands. But if having more followers per se is the reason, why noone even bothered clicking on my name and followed me? Afterall they just ‘liked’ my photo right?
I did ended up getting like 10 more followers that day (which it did felt like an avalanche of people), and though I'm just another passionate ‘snapshot' photographer in this sea of ‘photographers' that instagram carries, I wonder, what is the real ‘value’ of a ‘like’?
To me a ‘like' is worth nothing. Zero. Nada. In my experience, I learnt a bunch of stuff, for example: Were ‘my' 82 likes better than ‘their' 999 or vice versa?, Nope. Is the photo any better after those 999?, No. Am I a better photographer for getting 999 instead of ‘just' 82?, definitely not.
Did I win or get anything in return? Nah huh. Did I sell some of my prints or books because of it? I wish! So what does it mean to get a thousand ‘likes’? Well, to me, not much really. Sure, I got an ego boost that lasted one afternoon annnnd, that’s it really.
Having said that, ‘likes’ won't ever decide nor ‘tell you' whether you are a good or a bad photographer. So keep at it, enjoy the great subcommunities that instagram has to offer, which are great. I’ve met some extremely talented people in there. Keep shooting and sharing your vision, after all, this is only instagram, right? Only a handful of people amongst the millions of users have made any money through it, so dont expect too much from it, dont be too serious about it.
Not like myself, i just wrote a whole article thinking about it, im surprised you made it to this point. After All, nothing changed in my life with a thousand ‘likes'.
Keep up the great work guys,
About the author
[userpro template=card user=chrisl]