For Love or Likes

I read a quote on Facebook recently which really got me thinking and put into words something that has been in the back of my mind for some time.
The quote simply read,

“Imagine voicing your opinion on Facebook and not getting any likes…”

‘Likes’, that little blue thumbs up icon which makes us feel validated; that we’re doing ok at life or that our work, opinion or contribution has value. If I’m honest, sometimes I feel embarrassed for people. I see them post images or opinions and get no reaction and I wonder why they do it. Surely the reason we share on social media is to get a response right? As I write, I don’t have a conclusive opinion rather more questions as I consider why I take photographs and create images. Do I take them because I have a love for it or do I take them for the likes and public validation? Don’t get me wrong, it feels great doesn’t it? I love it when I post images on Facebook or Instagram and see the number of likes increase daily and the positive feedback people give. It affirms that I’m doing something right and am on the right path.

As much as I like it on Facebook, the real rush comes from Instagram. Whereas Facebook is full of people I know and have ‘followed’ by work for some time, my Instagram account is full of strangers; people I’ve never met and who’s work I admire from afar. Their little red affirming hearts beneath my images become like little red pills giving me tiny shots of adrenaline, making me feel great about my work and sometimes about life in general. I love the rush as my number of Instagram followers rises but also get anxious when the number starts to drop.

“…taking photographs is as natural part of self-expression…”

It goes without saying that I believe critical feedback is important, as is the need for encouragement. We all need it. I guess I’m exploring this for myself. I can get disheartened when an image I post doesn’t get the likes and recognition I feel it deserves. I find myself getting discouraged and on occasion, wondering if I should bother posting at all. I post because I like ‘likes’ and recognition but I want it to be more than that.

I want to shoot and post because I cannot help it, because I am passionate about it; because taking photographs is as natural part of self-expression as singing, writing, painting or dancing. I want to reach a point where my love of photography is not so affected by the little blue thumbs or tiny red hearts handed out by strangers.

Simply, I want to shoot and post for love and if the likes come too then that’s an added bonus. Until then, I’m going to go and ween myself off those little red heart pills.


Until the next time 

NB: I fully believe that if you’re shooting for someone else then their opinion matters because they’re employing you to do a job.