Using Instagram Differently (at least to the way I did)

A couple of months ago, in the nature of an experiment, I decided to make some changes to the way I used Instagram as a consumer. I realised I was scrolling through a whole load of rather samey content, I was seeing a lot of images from people I’d followed because I’d seen a photo I liked, but a lot of it was, just, when I put my hard nose on, repetative.

The first thing I did was, rather ruthlessly, prune the people I followed based on two criteria:

  1. Was it somebody I was ‘actually’ friends with, and so wanted to keep in touch with?
  2. Was it somebody whose work I enjoyed seeing, or more to the point, would I care if I stopped seeing their work?

The thing which surpised me after doing this was that I had pretty much pruned my list of people I was following by half: yep, half of the images I was scrolling through were from people I didn’t know and to which I was pretty indifferent. Immediately, I was having a much more enjoyable experience because I was only seeing people I cared about living their lives, or photos I was enjoying.

This then

The next thing I decided to do was to abandon reflexive liking – ‘scroll, that’s an okay photo, double-tap move on’. Because I realised that in most cases, if I liked it or not didn’t matter a damn. For the ‘group 1’ people of course I was doing it because they were going to see I had and think “oh, Andy liked my photo” (or I hope they do), but for most people it’s just part of ‘x number of people liked this photo’ and really, what does it matter? It’s no use to me because, unlike Flickr, I can’t easily just see all the photos I’ve liked. So now, apart from my actual friends, I only like an image I really like, something which catches my eye as especially striking.

That’s then cleared up ‘scroll space’ for me to discover new photographers with work I like, I’ve been using the adorama createnomatterwhat hashtag which is getting be new viewers and I’ve been going through every day and looking at their work (which was the idea behind the tag) and finding a number of photographers who pass my ‘do I want to see this stuff again’ test.

Overall, this has markedly improved my user enjoyment of Instagram,

New Year: New(ish) Flickr

I’m a very long term Flickr user, going all the way back to when it and Photobucket were about the only games in town for online image hosting. I’ve stuck with it through what can only be called the horror of the Yahoo years (and briefly something called Oath) and now it’s in the SmugMug family I’m still there. Actually I’ve got real hopes for it now as SmugMug do have a background in image management so they at least ought to have some idea of what they’re doing. While there have been a few obvious effects, not least the weekend where they moved the entire content (100 million + accounts and literally billions of images) from Yahoo hosting to AWS – which I’m in awe of as a project, I’ve noticed that using it seems, well, smoother these days. There was, predictably, an uproar when they said that only people who paid for Pro level would get unlimited hosting, but to be fair, unlimited add free photo hosting for nothing just really isn’t going to work these days (and free users still get, I think, a thousand images…). I found a lovely post from one person wondering how it was going to get his, get this, 40,000 photos off Flickr! Who the hell needs to cloud store 40k images, and who realistically wants that for free?

Going along with this, I’m sort of becoming a bit disheartened by Instagram. Okay, I’m a big user and I really enjoy seeing the images from the folks I follow. But the number of ‘sponsored’ posts seems to be going up and the number of people who are now tagging their content as paid in some form or another goes up and that’s detracting from my enjoyment. Okay, I’ve never suffered from InstaEnvy, though I know a lot do and the idea that you can’t be a photographer these days unless you’re on Insta seems to have taken a hold. I’m not giving up on social media in general, or the ‘gram but for me 2020’s photo motto, or one of them, is going to be use more Flickr.

So I’ve spent today, yes, all of it, revamping my Flickr account. When I signed up I used it to share photos with people so there were loads of albums of family holidays and the like. Some of these go back to 2007 when I was using Picasa (which you may remember) for image management according to the data. I was pretty sure I’d got all of the images but to make sure I downloaded all the ones I didn’t want to keep on Flickr and removed them. Currently I’m in the middle of a massive exercise of tagging, re-albuming, and making sure the permissions are what I want as some of the photos on it are still private. But I’m getting there.

So if any of you are Flickr users, or have an historic Flickr account you feel like digging out and trying again, or just feel like signing up, feel free to friend me there. And of course you can always look at my public images without an account, I promise there aren’t 40,000 of them 🙂

This link should take you there..

Sticking it to the Man (but generally not)

I began following somebody on Instagram years ago, when she was a college kid who bought cute outfits and took photos of herself wearing them with a budget camera. The quality was variable but pretty much they were worth looking at and you could sense the fun. Now years later she’s an Instagrammer (I think it’s her only source of income) and churns out photos several times a week of her wearing something she’s been gifted, or sponsored to wear, or in somewhere she’s sponsored to visit. She’s got a much better camera now and the photos are technically slicker, but the sense fun is missing from a lot of them. She’s now a woman being paid to be a human billboard by companies rather than somebody producing work for fun.

I’ve been racking my brains to find an alternative to the phrase ‘selling out’ for this sort of Instagramming, but, really I can’t. She, like loads of other Instagrammers, are like a band who after their interesting first album, and the hard to produce second, have settled into churning out albums with a direction decided by the P&R and marketing departments who are really opposed to them changing direction with new material. You can see it in the ones who post requests in their caption of ‘what sort of weather do you guys like?’ when you know full well they don’t really want to know what several thousand people enjoy climatologically, but they do know Instagram likes to prioritise ‘engagement’. I saw somebody a while back posting a stories request for action because their last photo got less engagement than usual and they wanted to know what was wrong. There was nothing wrong with it, I thought it was quite good (so did a metric shit tonne of other people, just not as many as normally like their images). But they need engagement in the form of comments and likes to get advertisng revenue and post priority and sponsorship and alarmingly I think self validation. They’re following all the Youtube (and youtube is just as bad for engagement chasing) videos, and blog posts on how to increase your follower count and how to double your engagement. Then they start saying they’re thinking of quitting because their numbers are dropping (though they never do).

Ultimately, they’re in thrall to THE MAN. And in the shape of Instagram it’s a seriously big and influential THE MAN

Now I’m going to draw a distinction here between Instagramming and commercial photography. Commercial photographers are being paid to do jobs; they get paid to photograph ball gowns, or houses, or food or whatever. They take the job, they deliver the photos, they send the invoice, they go home. It’s not the same thing. They’re not selling what used to be their lives as a crafted advert under the guise of it being their lives. I think it’s interesting that so many of them never try to translate this into commercial photography, to rather than photographing themselves in a hotel ‘having a super amazing time’ to offering to do a photoshoot for the hotel, for a fixed price and with paid models. As an aside, I fail to understand the people who suffer from InstaEnvy or whatever it’s called now, who the hell thinks any of this stuff is real and people live like that?

For what it’s worth, I think they’d be better off working filling shelves in Tesco four days a week and then spend the rest producing work that matters, without a time framework of posting three times a week to maximise engagement. Though I stress I’m not necessarily advocating the W Eugene Smith model of spending years in quest of perfection (though that mightn’t be a bad thing). It would be entirely their own vision (like it used to be) and they can change direction if they liked without getting on the wrong end of ‘consistent feed appearence’, and it wouldn’t matter a damn how many people liked or engaged with it.

They’d be artists. They’d be sticking it to THE MAN

Insta-Envy – not sure why I don’t have it.

I was watching the latest video by Amy Landino on Youtube, she’s all about efficiency and stuff – full disclosure because I’m going to tell her I’ve writtent this, I don’t watch all her videos all the way through because, well, I’m not really driven enough (sorry, Amy), but she is fun and has interesting stuff to say. So in the latest one she talks about Insta-Envy, which I think may be a new linguistic coinage. The idea that if scrolling though Instagram makes you feel envious rather than motivated, then stop doing it and be more careful about whom you pick to follow. It’s good advice. Instagram is famous as a giant highlight reel, full of people picking out (or setting up and photographing) the best moments of their lives to appear beautifully lit and post-processed for the enjoyment of their followers. Or sometimes to generate followers who can then, if not enjoy them, at least keep following and producing that all powerful thing…..ta da…engagement.

Ohhhkay Amy, I’m with you. But this led me to wonder something about Insta-Envy; why don’t I have it?

The thing is, I follow a number of folks on my Instagram accounts (yes, I have two), people who take photographs I like on one and people who take photographs of gardens I like on the other. I can lose time scrolling both of them which Amy would almost certainly, and correctly, tell me I could be using more profitably. But I never find myself envious in the sense that it upsets me or gets me down. Sure I wish I had that greenhouse, or a witch hazel like that, or could photograph in that location, or in that light. But never in the sense that I feel less happy with my own work or lose motivation. I mean I do feel unhappy with my own work, but I’d feel that without social networking to help me, every artist, photographer, musician, whatever feels unhappy with their own work, it’s the nature of the beast.

So I’ve been thinking about this, first off it’s not that I’m unusually self-confident and robust I’m sure. I think it’s down to three things, and one of them is pretty much in line with Amy’s idea of who you should follow. I follow people on Instagram because I enjoy their work. The thing which links everybody I follow on both my accounts is that I scroll through and think ‘great work on that photo’ and my choice of words here is important, it’s not the place, or the model or the other stuff, it’s the work. It’s the thought and effort which went into the image which impresses me. Some, ok much, of it is work on a level to which I just will never aspire, and I’m happy with that. Some sparks ideas of places or techniques I’d like to try out, or lets me (and this is one of the best bits) connect with other people because I like to make new online friends. The second is that I think as a photographer, I’m very aware of the fact that what I’m seeing is a crafted image. I know it’s not somebody living a wonderful life, I know it’s somebody who picked that window for the light, or that dress because it works with the colour palatte they wanted to achieve. I can tell a photo which didn’t just happen. The third thing I think is age, I come from before the Internet, and even before people had computers – heck when I was at school we didn’t even learn what a computer was and then when I left school I spent years in public-facing roles. I’ve met a lot of people, some of whom did live in lovely houses, and go on great foreign trips and the rest of it, but I also know they took their bins out, walked the dog and shouted at their kids. They had lovely cars, which broke down. They lived in lovely places and their neigbours were snobby gits. Deep down I know that nobody, but nobody actually lives the showreel life.

So, my suggestions for avoiding Insta-Envy, because well I’m allowed my brief excursion into being a self help and motivation guru am I not?

  • Follow people because you like their work, because their photos make you happy / impressed / inspired / whatever
  • As a photographer, you know that the camera never tells the whole truth
  • Be as old as dirt

UK Thrift Stores – less good for snappers than their US counterparts

I’m a big fan of the ‘thrift store challenge’ YouTube channel, where they go into ValueVillage (or somewhere of that ilk), buy a camera for less than $5 and see what they get from it. Always watchable and good fun – and if the photographer in question is good enough, the results are somehow comforting inspiring in among the latest gear videos. Mind you they can also be deeply depressing when they do better than I can with a camera which cost me a metric shit tonne more than $5. This example is working at a higher budget, but it gives you an idea and Joey from Awesome Cameras is always worth watching.

The thing I have noticed however, is that in the US and Canada thrift stores seem to generally have a reasonable selection of cameras. Go into a UK charity shop and at most they might have one strange and unbranded digital camera, generally they don’t have any. Said camera might also be significantly overpriced by the way; I saw a digital camera in one yesterday for which they wanted fifty quid, when something at least as good is available from leading online retailers for not a whole lot more. I shop in a town which is both a well heeled area and has a plethora of charity shops, so I’m working off a decent sample here.

I’d love to say I’ve got an insight into this, but I really don’t. I’m not sure if they won’t accept them, and UK charity shops are very picky about what they’ll accept and try to sell. I once asked in a charity shop if they had a pair of jeans they couldn’t sell as I needed a bit of denim for a repair, and the pair they gave me were in better nick than the ones I was wearing every day; there is a bit of a pulled thread in one of the legs which is why they felt it wasn’t saleable. So maybe it’s because they don’t want to take the risk of being saddled with something which they’ll need to dispose of as ‘faulty small applience’ rather than just chuck in the skip? Maybe they’ve got a deal with somebody who pays a flat fee for any they have and resells them through a well known online auction house? Maybe the good people of the UK just don’t ever think that anybody might want them? If anybody works in a charity shop and can shed any light on this then I’d love to know the reason.

I’ve decided that Snapchat is the worst thing for photography…like everrrrr

I’ve got a snapchat account, I don’t use it but I’ve got one because I like to experiment with all these things; I’ve got accounts on pretty much everything (apart from the Chinese social media platform WeChat which my son has so he’s beating me there). But I like to find out how these things work, some like the twin pillars of Empire Zuck I use a lot, some like Flickr I want to use more and some like Tumblr and Snapchat I hardly use at all. Putting this out there now before I get deluged with irate hate mail from Snapchat users, which actually would be nice because it suggests that real people rather than just bots read my blog, for what it’s for then I get snapchat. Somebody and their friends, at a party, quick photo, few filters, bit of text, all their mates see it. Job done. With the added bonus that the photo then disappears unless somebody screenshots it, and I understand it lets you know if somebody has? That last one is one of the great strengths of Snapchat for what it is…and the great curse for photographers.

Let’s face it, teenagers do things they really, really, really don’t want to come back and appear later in life, perhaps at a job interview. I know of one very successful woman with a great career who dimly remembers being patched up aged 18 by St John’s somebody later on than being in Trafalgar Square and new year and possibly before the copper explained she couldn’t sleep in the phone box. But at least there aren’t photos of this, genuine tangible evidence isn’t going to rear it’s ugly head now on somebody’s social networking. For things like passing out in Trafalgar Square Snapchat is definitely the way to go. Totes (down with the kids, me).

But that’s where I think it loses out in so many other situations, because you don’t have the photo. With all the others you take the photo, it’s saved on your phone, then you process and post it. If it’s no good then sure you can delete it from your phone afterwards, I’ve done post and delete loads of times, but the option is there. You take that photo with Snapchat and you can’t revisit it, you can’t look at it the following morning and say “hey, without the rabbit ears Auntie Flo would like a copy of that”, or “I don’t have any photos of me and friend x at event y”, or the organiser of the party realises they don’t have photos of something. With snapchat you’re condemned to the death of that image; it’s taken away choice and actually I think, no app should do that.

I know that it’s possible to take the photo, then put it via Snapchat later on, which would seem to me to be the best way to go as it gives you the best of both worlds. But in what I’m going to term ‘the snapchat moment’ who thinks that far ahead?

Hanging on in the Flickrverse (aka ‘blows against the empire’)

Back in the olden days, before the advent of the mobile phone camera and the invasion from planet Zuckerberg, if you wanted to share your photos online the game was Flickr. For me, somehow, despite all the things which have happened since, it still is. Before we go any further, I’d like to say two things clearly. The first is that I’m in no way sponsored or otherwise rewarded by Flickr and/or SmugMug, the other is that while I’m joking about Instagram/Facebook a lot here, they’re both platforms which do what they do well, and I’m happy to use them. The sci-fi imperial comments are just for rhetorical effect…

I’ve got Instagram, and Facebook and enjoy them both hugely, especially Instagram (yes, the invasion of the pods from the Zuckerberg Galaxy has got me to). I’ve experimented with 500px and even something called ClickaSnap, which somehow left me totally cold despite it’s frequent claims that somehow people were going to pay me. I know people use it and love it, but it’s just not for me. Images uploaded to my instagram also go automatically onto 500px and when I remember to check occasionally people like them. Nothing gives a snapper a warm glow like some random stranger feeling motivated to double-tap one of my photos in a vague form of quality acknowledgement. As Flickr lurched from one crisis to another and users haemorrhaged from it faster than body fluids in an Ebola outbreak, I hung in there despite a vague feeling that maybe I ought to cancel my Pro subscription and just go with the gram, but I never quite did. Right now, I’m feeling more Flicker-Positive than I have for years. Because the new owners SmugMug decided to make it less attractive for free users and the roadmap shows they’re thinking about new features for Pro users.

So why does somebody deciding to risk losing further shitloads of their user base (i.e. the ones who aren’t paying) on top of all the ones who’ve just given up over the Yahoo Years make me feel positive? Because it suggests that they believe that there are enough photographers out there prepared to stump up their pennies for a decent online platform, and making the revenue to fund that independent of advertiser revenue might give them the security to deliver. If you think about it, in the world of free hosting funded by the adverts the folks from Planet Zuck have nailed it, they’re like the empire in the original Foundation Novels, they’re everywhere, if they could have offices which covered a planet to the point that nobody could see the sky like Trantor then they’d get there. People rave about ‘The Algorithm’ affecting their viewers (and do I hate the algorithm ranting), they express concerns about their personal data, but they stick with it because for free it’s a bloody good service. Pretty much unlimited storage and sharing options in exchange for your personal data; a devil’s bargain perhaps, but one loads of people are happy to strike.

SmugMug clearly believe that there are enough people who are prepared to go down the route of just paying for a service with money rather than with data, and I think they’re going to be right. After all despite the outcry over the Adobe subscription model there are still hundreds of thousands of people every month who pay up because, well, they get a quality product in exchange. Interestingly, I don’t remember quite so much furore when The Beast of Redmond quietly slipped into a subscription model for Office, but again it’s about a company taking a pretty much guaranteed monthly revenue stream to deliver a quality product. That’s what I think, or at least I hope, SmugMug is doing here with Flickr. To be fair, offering free users space for a 1000 images isn’t exactly mean either – and to my mind anybody who has over 1000 quality images to share is probably going to be a keen enough Flickr user to want to pay for the features it offers.

And that brings me to the final reason I stick with Flickr, because actually the quality of the images is overall better, because it’s always been a platform entirely for photographers, while Instagram is a platform for anybody who wants to share some photographs. When I surf on Insta I find a lot of images I like, and often new people to follow, but there are also a lot of photos where frankly I find myself thinking ‘seriously, why did you bother?’ – well they bothered because it was fun, and their friends will find it fun too, and it will help people remember the experience of that birthday party / wedding / stag do / weekend in Benidorm / whatever. Those are all great things, and most of us do them, but that’s not the user base who are going to go for Flickr – that’s what I think Yahoo etc missed, they thought they could compete with The Zuck Empire on it’s own turf, and they couldn’t – not with a user base into Sagan numbers, quick easy upload from the phone and immediacy of sharing. I think SmugMug have realised this and refocussed onto photographers, who care about the quality of the image itself as much as the context.

The thing which I think would be a good add-on to the Pro Flickr roadmap would, oddly, be a quality print on demand service. If they partnered with print labs in various countries and you could order a print from inside Flickr, billed to the same card which pays your subscription, with all the options for size and quality built into the platform. There’s a lot more interest in printing our work now among photographers. If you’re listening SmugMug? That would be nice.

If you want to give Flickr a go, then the free option is worth trying out. This is mine, and if (or when) you have an account I’d love you to let me know so I can see yours.

What makes me like your Instagram

I’m a big fan of Instagram, I follow a lot of people and I’ve been thinking about what makes me follow somebody, and then keep following them. The following comments are my thoughts, they will not allow you to overcome ‘The Algorithm’ or ‘get 5 million new followers in 10 minutes’ or any other such things. I don’t even know if anybody else uses the following criteria. But hey, citizen journalism and all that, it’s my blog and I can express my views on it 🙂

First off, no filters. Yes, I mean it, I can unsubscribe from somebody who takes a nice photo of themselves or somebody else and then sticks a dog tongue or rabbit ears on faster than shit slides off a shovel.

If I’m following you because your’e my friend then yes, I love to see what you and your family are doing, I love to see the antics of your cat, and what you did on your holidays. Go for it. But if I’m following you because of your content, or because of your photography, then frankly, sorry, I’m not that interested. Maybe run two accounts, one for ‘your life’ your friends can enjoy and one for ‘your content’ (all the remaining things refer to content channels…)

For me, I don’t care if you don’t post every day, or even every week, I’d rather you posted when you’ve got a great photo of whatever it is to post. Quality for me trumps quantity, every single time…

Oh, and related to that, I’m not a fan if essentially you post the same photo every time. You know, the photo which catches my eye is the one of you in the vintage dress in front of your back door, you’ve got a vintage dress channel, great I like those, then I look at your feed and all of them are you, in the same pose, in front of the same door. Live it up, do different things around the garden, show off those vintage dresses while drinking tea on the patio, while pruning the roses, while feeding the fish, keep the theme but make very photo that bit different, and always a great photo.

The next one is something which always makes me head for the unsubscribe button, the one where somebody takes two almost identical photos of themselves and puts then in one frame (it’s usually related to the above single-location issue). There’s a better solution…learn to compose for the square frame. Thats’ where the different locations come in handy, you’ve got more to work with.

Well, that’s what affects my subscription choices anyway 🙂

Why are ‘photographers you should know’ always on Instagram

Quite often on Youtube, and I do watch a lot of Youtube photography videos, you get a video called something like ‘5 Photographers You Should Know’, or something along those lines, and they’re always interesting to watch. However one thing I do find myself thinking is that these videos, generally by younger photographers with social media accounts tend to feature other younger photographers with social media accounts. Okay, let’s be clear on this one, there is nothing wrong with being a younger photographer or with having a social media account, both of them are admirable things; I’m not a younger photographer but I do have a social media account so I’m ticking a 50% of the boxes myself. But over the decades there have been many, many great photographers who date from before the time when social media accounts even were an idea, let along an actual thing. Why aren’t they featuring in these videos, why aren’t the 20 somethings suggesting that it’s really good to look at Adams, or Bailey, or Duffy, or Avedon; even Rankin seems to have slipped off the lists. I think it’s down to a simple thing: they’re in print.

I’m not buying into the idea that young people don’t read, that’s reactionary rubbish which too many old fogeys like to peddle, usually I suspect because they don’t actually understand the 21st century and like to be sniffy about things like social media. But what I am saying is that there is a tendency, and I can’t prove this, for younger people to not go looking for things outside their preferred media. Conversely, I think there is a tendency sometimes for older people to do the same, that dividing river has steep banks on both sides (wow, that’s an impressively pretentious metaphor). I’m lucky, and it is luck, to work in a school so I’m surrounded by teenagers, which really keeps your brain young I can tell you. We offer digital photography as an exam subject and lots of kids take it. The subject head has made a reasonable investment in nice books over the past few years, and I do like a browse on the office shelf and borrow a couple over the holidays. Well we got to the end of the Christmas break and I said on our return that I was sorry but I hadn’t got her Ansel Adams book back, to which she replied “hang onto it for as long as you like, I can’t get the kids to even open them”.

The course requires them to produce work ‘in the style of’ a photographer of their choice, and I found myself the other day looking at the exam work and thinking that if that were me I’d be getting out the plain white background and trying to do portraits in the style of Bailey (who I admit is my photographic hero), and then realised they’d never have heard of Bailey, or probably seen his work. Or Avedon’s “American West”, or Edward Weston and his peppers; if I could photograph vegetables like that I’d be totally a happy bunny. They’re not crossing the divide, they’re not seeing these photographers. Don’t blame the teachers, they can show them the work but they’re not engaging with it. There’s no colour, no filters, no effects and no sense that in 30 seconds you can flick off it and forget it existed.

None of them are going to get one of their classmates to kneel on the floor with a stuffed squirrel, ever.

Influencers and Brand Builders: not the Instagram for which we signed up

Bit of a polemic this post, and I’m not taking a pop at anybody in particular here, just in general. I also accept that there is no way this genie is going back in, because too many people now depend on rubbing this particular bottle.

Instagram used to be about sharing photos you’d taken which you thought other people might like to see, and that was fun; that was a social network. Then, from somewhere two new trends appeared. The first was that visual creatives found that Instagram was the way to get noticed (and photo editors decided that it was a great way to find photographers, models, etc without all that sitting down with people and taking about their portfolios). The second was the appearance of a strange new entity called the Social Media Influencer, which as far as anybody can make out means people who get paid or get given free stuff in exchange for plugging it on their social media channels. Eva Wiseman in The Guardian wrote a rather good piece taking apart the whole ‘influencer’ idea a while back. All of a sudden Instagram became business critical for some, and the entire business model for others. There were now channels on Youtube (which used to be for people to share bits of video) devoted to building your brand on social media. Blogs appeared exhorting us to do things like ‘post daily if not more often’ because that was what our brand audience supposedly wanted, and insisting that you remember to link you various bits of social media to ensure that as many people saw them as possible. Advice on getting five thousand new followers in a week appeared, and keyword tagging became a dark art akin to voodoo; there are probably social media tagging consultants out there, I haven’t looked as I worry I’d be too depressed by what I’d find. All of a sudden Instagram became a job, and you were told by various experts that if you weren’t treating it like a job you were doing it wrong. All of a sudden we were supposed to stop being people who took photos and wanted to share them with people: we were now supposed to be A Brand.

There is always an endless amount of railing about The Algorithm. I feel it needs capital letters because it’s always spoken of as though it’s some strange dark hearted mythical beast controlling everything from it’s lair: kind of like Cesare Borgia crossed with The Gruffalo. The complaint is that changes to The Algorithm decrease your engagement. Why by the way is that ‘a thing’, is it just that saying ‘the number of likes I get is smaller’ sort of sounds a bit narcissistic while discussing your engagement sounds like you’re a powerful professional presence doing serious things? A part of me thinks that actually the reason there is The Algorithm is that the tonnage of posts with which you’d be faced every day, if you followed the advice to follow everybody and every hashtag you can think of, would be almost unworkable. Of course, if you only follow a few folks you like, rather than follow the advice to follow everybody in the hope of increasing your engagement you’re not going to be affected. Generally I see most of my favourite user’s posts all the time. If you did everything you were supposed to do, posting daily, replying to all the comments (not because that’s polite but because The Algorithm is supposed to like it), checking your statistics and worrying about your engagement it would take all the fun out of it. I tried taking this attitude to blogging for a while and you know what? I hated it. I lost any enthusiasm for writing as I planned my posts and put things on twitter and linked like crazy. I didn’t write for months afterwards.

My strategy is to ignore all the advice and just use this, easy to follow, process: if I take a photo I like, and I think other people will like, I post it. Sometimes I post daily, sometimes I don’t post for weeks. I follow people who post photos I like, regardless of it they follow me back or not. I have a set of tags I use for my images which I know will put my photos in front of people who might enjoy them. I have, usually, somewhere between 100 and 120 followers on each of my channels at any one time and my engagement sucks. The people I interact with and I have a good time

Works for me.