I had every intention of sending out this issue yesterday, but my conversation with Sean Tucker on Clubhouse (we’re doing them weekly on Tuesdays, if you’re interested) actually inspired me to bump what I had started and write something new. The topic of the conversation was “What do you have to do?” — and just to be clear, we were coming at it from the perspective of creativity, though some people shared non-creative things as well. I think one of the hallmarks of a great conversation is when you end up thinking about or seeing something in a different way than you did going in, and that’s exactly what happened yesterday.
Just as a means of reference, the format for these conversations is that Sean and I begin by talking about whatever the topic is that we’ve chosen for a half hour or so and then we open the stage up to listeners to share responses, ask questions, etc. — and so far the format has worked really well. Not having a bunch of people on stage potentially talking over one another has allowed us to really hear listeners and it allows them to feel heard, rather than just being off in the wings. We’ve only done two so far, but the conversations have gone on for more than two hours and listeners have been generous in sharing experiences from their own lives and thoughtful in the questions they ask. The format is actually similar — call it an evolution — to the conversations Sean and I used to have on Instagram Live but with the added component of offering listeners the opportunity to actually be a part of the conversation in real time rather than simply posting a comment or question that, more often than not, scrolled by too fast for us to see it. I’m hesitant to admit it, but even this early it feels like something special, which is why I wanted to write about it while it is fresh in my mind because I think that it ties into the last issue of Create & Release, which is all about my love/hate relationship with social media.
I think social media in one form or another is likely here to stay, but it’s important to find the platform or platforms that work for you and a way to use them that makes sense to you, rather than simply looking at numbers and building a strategy around that. For me, the size of the audience has never been as important as cultivating authentic connection with an audience. I feel like this is something that I’ve been pretty consistent about, especially lately. In addition to writing about it in the last issue of Create & Release, I’ve mentioned it in on various podcasts, and even in the most recent Clubhouse conversation. You have to figure out your motivation — your why — before you think about how or where. For example, I have been encouraged for years to do a proper YouTube channel because “that’s where everyone is,” but I have never had the desire to be a YouTuber. Bravo to those who can, but I find the notion of being on camera as a “personality” a massive source of anxiety. I do have a YouTube channel where I post my podcasts (which get limited attention) and soon I’ll be adding a series of video reviews/overviews of books by various artists, photographers, designers, and filmmakers who have inspired me over the years. The first proof of concept for the idea was a review I did of David Carson’s book of collages. The response to that video has been terrific (especially relative to the podcast episodes I post) and I really enjoy the process of making them. So while I am using the platform, I’ve decided to use it in a way that works for me, regardless of how much or how little traffic I get.
I feel the same way about Clubhouse. I have several friends who have been on since the beginning and would routinely encourage me to join because it’s based on conversation, rather than posting photos or videos. They also seemed certain that I could likely find an audience. But at the time there were a number of reasons that I just didn’t want to add another platform into the mix. However, several months passed and I kept hearing more and more about the terrific conversations going on (and Clubhouse changed the requirement to upload your entire contact list), so I took the plunge and signed up. Within a few days I was visiting rooms and getting into conversations with some really interesting people. Of course there are the now-standard click-bait “get rich by following my program” types of rooms, and there are still way too many people talking about how NFTs will save us all (spoiler: it’s not true), but overall I think Clubhouse has potential and is an interesting platform — especially for the type of connection and engagement that I’m looking for from social media.
The point of all of this is that there is no objective right way to approach social media, there is only what works for you — and I think that’s regardless of what your goals are. For example, I would love to have a larger audience, but I know I’m not going to play the game that the algorithms want in order to make that happen. And even if I did, what does more really get me? I much prefer Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1,000 True Fans, at least in theory. I’ll take a smaller, more engaged audience that feels genuinely connected (my why) over a massive anonymous following every time, which means I’m not held hostage by an algorithm that I know I’ll never really satisfy.
What are you looking for from your social media platforms? Are you holding on to platforms or accounts without really knowing why?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or, if you prefer, click here to email me directly.
As I am slowly getting back into film photography with my recently purchased Nikon F2, I’ve been gathering resources for the type of photography I’d like to pursue. I found this post on the 35mmc blog that shows the results of developing film at hotter-than-recommended temperatures and using a much less diluted solution. The results are a grainy abstraction of the otherwise tack-sharp world. I’m not sure that I’d want to go quite this heavy-handed, but it’s definitely giving me some things to think about.
Dynamo Dream is a new short by filmmaker/vfx artist Ian Hubert that’s been three years in the making. I won’t give away too much, but it’s a little Blade Runner, a little Fifth Element, and a whole lot of terrific. I loved it and am looking forward to seeing more from the series. Be sure to check out the VFX breakdown to see how Ian put it together and while you’re watching, realize that he’s done all of the CG work in a piece of free software.
There has arguably never been a better time for photographers to produce books of their work. The tools are better, the printing is better, and the number of collectors seems to be growing. I know that I’ve purchased more photobooks in the past year or two than I did in the previous ten. In 2016, photographer Martin Parr participated in a talk for the Tate Modern around the importance and cultural significance of photobooks. Parr goes so far to say that his biggest photographic education has come from looking at photobooks from photographers like Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander.