The Internet Can Be a Waste of Time for Many Creatives

I have a question for my fellow photographers, videographers, and creatives. Do you feel there is too much of the same content on the Internet and it is continuously being rehashed over and over again? I do. I see the same content repeated by many people on all types of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, personal and commercial websites, and my favorite, Youtube.

In my opinion, there is really no real content that is unique. The same information is being regurgitated over and over again and packaged as being new. Take for example, if you search on how to take a photo? If you search on that simple topic you receive dozens of links to videos, websites, and pretty famous photographers that repeat the same information. I find it a bit interesting how many hours and days a person invest in reading and viewing the same content and not really producing a unique image. For me, looking over the same content no matter the resource is a waste of valuable time.

I enjoy what the Internet has to offer to me. I have learned a lot of great information when researching a particular topic. I also have caught myself wasting a lot of hours and days looking at the same content hoping to find something totally new. Basically, I wasted a lot of my time when I could have been out producing and creating new content.

Dave Morrow

Dave Morrow

For me, I enjoy studying great creators that provide content that is original. Some great creators understand the importance of being unique and actually get really bored recreating the same old content in a different package. No matter how you present the same material, you haven't produced anything new. One Youtuber I find interesting is Dave Morrow. He is a landscape photographer that ventures into the wilderness on hikes that last weeks. He does not waste a lot of time on social media sites, does little post processing, and provides content that is us unique and very interesting. For him, it is all about the journey and not producing the same old content. I like that.

So, do you find the same information on the Internet useful or a total waste of time? Do you find yourself wasting your time looking over the same old content? Let me know your thoughts. I would love to find out what you think.

Until next time!

Roger

Social Media Platforms Vs Having Your Own Website

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As most people know that read my blog regularly, I am not a real fan of social media platforms even though they are extremely popular in our society today. Just because a social media platform is popular doesn't mean it has real value. Three of the most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In this post, I want to express my views on the three platforms and explain why having your own website can be much more beneficial for one's business and even one's personal life. But first, I want to share my views on the top three social media platforms.

FACEBOOK

One of the biggest social media platforms is Facebook. Facebook has been around for a long time and over the years has had its problems with security issues, privacy issues, content bias, and poor leadership in how the platform was being run. I remember back in the day when the use of Facebook was fairly innocent. Families and friends could post articles and express themselves on a regular basis. It was fun. But today Facebook has become a platform to post content that is, in my opinion, brings no real value to my life, especially if I want to use it for my business or to advertise my content and brand. It is not a place to express one's thoughts, ideas, and creative processes. It is limited and greatly controlled. Post on Facebook is never current. Think about it. Have you ever liked a post on Facebook and went back to find a post a week or later and it took you forever to find it? That can be very frustrating and total waste of my time.

If you are a creative person who likes to express yourself, Facebook is not a great place to do that. You are limited by what you can put on Facebook. Besides, most people are not going to read a long article listed in a post on Facebook. Facebook is not made for that. Thankfully, one can visit an external link on Facebook if Facebook does not block it. Depending on who reviews content, information is routinely blocked by Facebook. They can do that. It is their platform. I understand why content may need to be controlled, but I don't like the idea of someone else deciding what should be controlled and limited when it comes to my content. With my own domain, I get to decide what content can be posted, when it can be posted, and how much. As the owner of my site, I am in control.

Facebook is a good platform if you want to see what others are doing and to be kept updated with friends and family. However, it is also a place to waste a lot of time and energy on mindless content. Facebook is also a place to be bombarded with advertising you really don't need or want. If you have your own website, there is no advertising that needs to be ignored or blocked. Better yet, with your own website, you can put as much advertising as you want for free.

Facebook does have some useful attributes but for me, it is a waste of time, energy, money, and productivity. If I want to hear from family and friends, I can always pick up the phone and communicate as we did back in the good old days. There is nothing truly social about Facebook in my opinion.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is a different beast from Facebook. Where Facebook provides you with the ability to post more content, Instagram is all about photos, favoriting post, likes, and followers. If you have the need to be liked and followed it is the place for you. But not for me. I do enjoy the ability to get feedback on the content I post. When I post a photo on Instagram I am looking for feedback and not likes or followers. I could care less about how many followers I get and I am not going to buy followers and many Instagram user do. Like Facebook, Instagram can present the illusion that people on Instagram are popular and successful, but the reality is many are not. I have followers on Instagram. Do I personally know them? No, I do not. Are they real? I have no idea. Do I care? Not really. That is why I do not spend too much of my time on Instagram. Instagram, like Facebook, provides me with no real value in my business and personal life. However, if you like to spend most of your day looking at other photos, it is the place to be. For me, I would rather be out taking the photos.

As for me posting content on Instagram, I am limited. I cannot post active links to my Instagram post. No one is going to copy a link I post on an Instagram feed to get to my website no matter what click bate image I use for a photo. Having to copy a link is too much trouble and a waste of others time they are not going to do it. However, Instagram is good for posting images. As a photographer, I like that. What I don't like is how the quality of my photos are presented on Instagram. As a photographer, I want to present my images that I may want to sell in the best possible way. Facebook and Instagram are not the best resources for showcasing my images. By using my website, I can present my images more effectively.

Instagram is a better platform than Facebook in my opinion. Facebook, in my opinion, is losing ground in the social media platform arena. Instagram is growing more in popularity for the masses, but I am becoming less-and-less a fan. I can post photos on Instagram, but I can't post my content. For example, even with this post, I would not be able to express myself or provide information the way I would like on Instagram. Instagram was not created to do that. Instagram has limits. Limitations are not a good thing for a creator. That is why I rarely use Instagram today. I prefer my own website with no limitations.

TWITTER

Oh, Twitter. How I hate Twitter. Of the main three social media platforms, I hate Twitter the most. The reason is that Twitter over the years has become a place where a lot of people like to complain, harass, attack others, and post some of the most useless information on the Internet. I rarely visit Twitter or post there. If I do, I post on photography related topics. I do have followers and I follow a selected few. In other words, I don't follow or care about others that don't have similar interest. I don't care about retweets or random followers. I do enjoy blocking followers that want to follow me and really don't know me. Blocking Twitter followers in one of my favorite activities when I do go on Twitter. I do have to give Twitter a couple of thumbs up. Twitter has increased its character length and allows me to use hashtags. But most importantly, it allows me to create active hyperlinks for my website. So I can redirect people to my site. Which is where I want my followers, customers, and future subscribers to go. The goal for me is to redirect my visitors to my website. As I mentioned earlier, I hate Twitter.

WHY I LIKE HAVING MY OWN WEBSITE

There are a variety of reasons why I enjoy having my own website over using social media platforms to distribute my content. One of the main reasons is I like owning my own website. I am the owner. By being the sole owner I get to create my own content. I get to decide what I want to put on the website, how much, the design of the site, who can post to it, when I want to post information, and I can express what information is important to me. I get to share my interest with others and hopeful, over time, meet others who share the same passions. If I want to advertise anything I can do it and it requires no additional cost to me. I can get analytical data, reports, site activity information and even sell my products online. I am the creator of my website and that is very important to me.

Having my own website allows me to build my own brand. I understand that building my own brand takes focus and time. It is a process. If you took a hard look at many successful creators, you will find they have developed there own brand and utilizing a great website helped them do it over time. Building my own brand is a continuing process and over time my brand, views, and photography business may change. That is okay with me. I like "change". I like the journey and looking forward to new experiences over time.

Owning my website allows me to be more creative with no limitations like having to adjust to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter company policies. I get to be creative in what I want to develop as far as information, products, and additional content. As a creator, it is important to have no limitations. Creators who are limited cannot create or express themselves when using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When using any of the three social media platforms, creators can only provide a snapshot of their ideas during a specific moment in time. Over time, their information gets lost within the garbage the social media platforms collect and propagandizes.

Another important reason that I like having my own website is I have the ability to collect feedback on my website. I can collect and review productive feedback for others. I also have the ability to control feedback that is useless. For example, I can review feedback before it is posted to my website. I get to choose if I want the feedback to be public. On many social media platforms you don't have to the ability to remove replies from trolls that love to post stupid replies to get attention. By having my website, I get to decide if the feedback provided within the post will benefit others in their growth as a creator. My goal for my website is to build a great community. I cannot do that on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It may sound like having my own website sounds like having the power to control others. It is not. Having my own website allows me the ability to control what information I allow in my life without being limited by others. Trolls are not allowed on my website. Just the "Cool Kids".

If you don't have your own website and have considered it before, I suggest you go for it. Having your own website can be a learning process but well worth it over-relying on social media sites and apps to share your thoughts, ideas, and views. My advice is if you are considering getting your own website (I use Square Space), do your research, buy your own domain, evaluate your website features, and then get to work. It can be a lot of fun.

Until next time!

Roger

Social Media Can Be a Waste of Time for Photographers

Over the last year, I have been taking a close look at how important social media can be for my photography work. Over the year I have felt that it is important to devote a lot of my time in creating consistent content for my social media platforms. I believed that if I created a lot of content and used social media it would help me distribute my work to others and maybe even help me to make a little money along the way. However, I have started to look at my photography journey a little differently lately. After carefully examining my current views on how I develop content, distribute content, use time management, look at the cost versus reward, and quality over quantity, I have come to a conclusion I need to make a change.

My views changed when I took a look at a Youtube photographer that has a unique view of what helps him to become a better photographer. He approaches his art of photography in a unique way that I really find interesting. He does not use social media in the same way many photographers use social media. He uses it very sparingly and selectively. He is very selective in what he puts on social media, how his content is distributed, and even how much time he devotes to editing his content. In other words, he does not put content on social media platforms for the sake of just posting something on social media. His does not concern himself with quantity. He focuses much on quality and capturing unique images at unique locations. He enjoys the journey and it is important to him and what it took to get a photograph that most people will never have the opportunity to capture or be willing to do what it takes to capture. He is not interested in taking photos of the same locations that thousands of photographers have taken. That is one reason why Dave Morrows spends 9 months out of the year hiking through the country recording his journey's as a photographer. He writes journeys and feels even the art of writing helps him improve his skills as a photographer, communicator, and most importantly, a creator.

So is social media important? Yes, I feel, not at the expense of devoting hundreds of hours on any social media platform. Social media can be useful but you have to ask yourself, at what cost? Today many people, including well-known photographers spend many hours on social media. I am guilty of that as well. I have spent many hours posting new images, old images, sharing others images, and reposting meaningly post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other lesser known sites. Has it helped my photography? The answer is no. It has put me in the same category as many other photographers who really are not growing as photographers.

The importance of social media is an illusion of success. Photographers continue to distribute the same old content with no originality or uniqueness. If you take a close look at social media content by photographers you can see photography information is reposted and repackaged many times. The information is repetitive and becomes very boring. Over time, looking at the same content, even from different photographers (including the ones I admire), becomes valueless. That includes content from Youtube and even photography podcast.

If you want to hear a unique view and perspective on photography checkout Dave Morrow's Youtube Channel. He has a unique perspective on photography that I believe will make you look at your views on photography differently.

Let me know what you think of the video and feel free to leave your comments. I would love to hear them.

Until next time!

Roger

There is Always Something to Photograph

Starting to work on a new area of photography can be a challenge but a lot of fun. I have been wanting to start shooting different types of subjects and I wanted to explore shooting more black and white images. I didn't want to shoot just anything. I wanted to shoot subjects that display a type of mood, tell a story and has a simple, minimalistic quality to them.

This past week I had the chance to visit Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury North Carolina. I wanted to hike to the top of the Hanging Rock and get a photo or two. I wanted to record my trip and do a little vlogging and capture a little B-roll footage along the way. It was a nice day, but a little breezy and brisk. Nevertheless, it was a good day to do a little hiking. My goal was not to get an image from my adventure but I would capture one or two if I could.

The hike to the top was challenging for a guy that is almost 60 years old. But I knew I could still do it. I figured I am not dead yet. As the hike began it was pretty easy until I reached that mass amount of steps, boulders, and the uphill climb at the base of the Hanging Rock. I had to take a few breaks a lot the way to do some vlog recording and rest. I am not a young man anymore.

When I reached the top of Hanging Rock I was in for a little bit of a shock. The winds were gusting over 60 mph. There was a reason I was the only one upon the Hanging Rock. No one else wanted to be there. Once I arrived I took advantage of having the whole place to myself. Normally, I would have to work around the crowds to get a good shot. On that day, that was not an issue. I had the whole place to myself.

I took a look around for a good composition and to try to get a shot that I thought was unique. I located two lone trees at the rear of the Hanging Rock formation. They seem to stand out. Even though I had passed by them on several occasions there was something special about them that day. I knew I wanted to get a unique shot of the two trees. So, I decided to experiment with shooting the image in a 4:3 format rather than my usual 16:9 format. I also wanted to shoot a latitudinal image. I knew from the start I also wanted the image to be in black and white. I was very pleased with the image and after posting the image on my social media sites, I was very pleased with the positive feedback from others.

Family Trees

Family Trees

It is always good to experiment with new techniques as a photographer. I feel creative people need and want to challenge themselves. They know the challenge makes them a better creative. It can be very easy to become bored as a photographer. You have to get out of your comfort zone and remember there is always something to photograph. For me, it took climbing a mountain, hiking over boulders, taking a lot of steps, and battling 60+ winds to get the shot. That made the journey fun.

Until next time!

Roger

Go Ahead and Shoot Yourself

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Isn't the title of this post catchy? When I say people should shoot themselves I am referring to photographing or shooting video of themselves. Why? It is simple. Because today in our society recording your life is so easy to do. We see people all the time doing selfies, taking video, uploading videos to Youtube and other social media sites. Of course, most of the videos and photos are trashy, meaningless and have no real value or real purpose. However, shooting video can be very important and can serve a real and meaning purpose when it comes to recording your life.

Shooting video is a lot of fun and is pretty easy to do these days. Everyone has a camera and shooting all types of videos. However, most people don't seem to understand how shooting stories of their life and special events can be very important for future generations. People fail to realize that if they take the time to record themselves they can leave a part of their life's story and legacy behind for others. Think about it. How much do you think your family and friends truly know about you and your life? I would guess very little. Do they know when you were born, stories about your childhood, where you went to school, how you met the love of your life, your friends, historical events that affected you throughout your life, the birth of your children, precious photos of family and friends, your plans growing up, your achievements, your failures, and even your regrets. All that can be told "BY YOU" through video and on a simple little device called a camera.

The good thing is today we all have the ability to record our life and create a biography of ourselves to pass on to others long after we are gone. We can tell our own life story in our own words. Those words and visuals can be shared with our children, grand children, extended family members, and friends. All it takes is the willingness to take the time to sit down and record yourself or have your personal biography professionally done. I remember when I researching how to create personal biographies for my customers a gentleman made an important statement during a testimonial that I will never forget. He said he wanted to have his story told so he could share his life story with others long after he is gone. The biggest statement that touched me was when he stated that his grandmother was Native American and would have loved to had the opportunity to see her and hear her life story in her own words via video.

Today it is so easy to shoot/record yourself. It just takes the willingness to understand the importance of leaving a piece of your legacy behind for you those you love. Forget how old you are, how you look, if you can speak effectively, or how you may sound in a video. No one will really care. All they want is to hear is you telling your own story. Recording yourself can make that happen and it is not that difficult to do today. The bottom line is, we can all record silly or worthless video to put on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Or we can record video that is meaningful and priceless. It just takes the willingness to do it.

Until next time!

Roger

Absorb, Discard, and Add to Your Photography

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One of my favorite quotes was by the legendary Bruce Lee. His quote was “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own" The quote can apply to so many things in life and even in one's photography. When I look at the quote I see three elements that are very powerful and meaningful. When it comes to photography I like to break down the quotes into each specific element, studying them, and apply them to my life.

The first element of the quote states that one should absorb what is useful. In photography, there are so many things that a creative person can study and obtain for his or her art. However, the question is, what is useful? Of course, the answer to that question is different for each individual. I see so many photographers that fail to absorb what is really useful. They feel everything is useful or important. The reality is, not everything is useful or even important. Many times we do not need the latest and greatest equipment, gadgets, and spend money on things that do not bring true value. I have seen some photographers spend so much time and energy on nonproductive adventures and materialist items that are not helpful and bring no real or productive value to their craft. There are those that devote a great deal of money on repetitive activities that bring no real value to the development of one's photography. Some photographers equate being extremely busy and spending money on what they believe will improve their skills as a useful benefit, but in reality, it is a waste of valuable time and energy that could be used more productively. 

The second part of the quote is disregarding what is useless. I actually love that part of the quote because I am all about ridding myself of things that I find useless. Useless things could be how I spend my time and money, ineffective communications, wasteful research, interacting with unsupportive people, and trying to revive worthless past practices that really are not productive. One of my latest productive actions involves Facebook. Using Facebook as well as Instagram to market my photography products and services was a waste of time and money. I was able to see that there was no value in continuing to use the social media outlets for my business and advertise my brand. Using Facebook and Instagram was a waste of time and money. I decided to discard Facebook as a marketing tool and unpublished my Facebook page. I actually deleted many other posts about my photography business, because I realized that many people were never really interested. Of course, I don't need to waste my time on such people.

The third element consists of adding what is specifically your own. Bruce Lee was a master at that. In his martial art practice, he studied all he could from others, hacked away the things he found useless and used what he determined was useful for him.  He made his martial art practice and study uniquely his own. The art of photography is somewhat similar. A great photographer studies other artist and works hard to improve his skills. Over time, a great photographer will learn what is useless and what is useful. He or she will eliminate what is not needed and focus on what will help him or her improve their skills. By doing so, he or she is free to create more effectively. Their work becomes a part of who they are and is uniquely their own.

Bruce Lee's quote has always been a great quote I that feel it can be applied to not only in photography but in life itself. I personally do not like wasting my time, energy, money, and life on useless activities. I do enjoy ridding myself of things and people that do not help me grow. There is nothing wrong with making things in your life uniquly your own; even in your own photograpy. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger Younce

Measuring a Photographer's Success Using Social Media

If you are like me you probably spend a good amount of time following and watching other photographers on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, and other social media channels. But have you really wondered how successful some really are when it comes to having a successful photography business? 

The use of social media creates an illusion that many photographers are very successful. The measurement of success is commonly measured in the number of likes, followers, retweets, clicks and other unreliable methods. The question is, are the numbers correct and do they really mean anything? I use some social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to post some of my images and blog posts, but I do not trust the statistical data they provide. The numbers of likes, followers, tweets, and repost are worthless to me. That is why I limit my posts on the sites today. To me, much of social media is a complete waste of time and money. Let me give you an example. I use to have my own Roger Younce Photography Facebook page with over 500 followers. That sounds great, doesn't it? The reality was. I had no real connection with all of the followers and having so many followers did nothing to help me build my business. Many of the followers were inactive on the page. When I posted an image, many would like the images or messages and I had only 2 people out of over 500 followers that would leave a comment. So, who question is, who is really following my page? After 2 years of posting on Facebook and advertising on it, I realized it was a complete waste of time. The use of Twitter and Instagram is not effective either for one with a photography business. Advertising for me was very ineffective. I received a lot of likes, clicks, and retweets, but that does not help me build my business. Anyone who has their own business knows that having a lot of likes and followers does not pay the bills. The goal for any business to make money. It is frustrating to spend money and not truly know if the money I was spending was being used effectively. I have never really trusted Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for marketing. From my experience, it is a total waste of money. 

The use of social media for photographers is a great way to create an illusion that a photographer is very successful. I watch a lot of videos of some very popular photographers that are full-time photographers and I wonders how they can afford to take trips all over the country and other parts of the world. Many times we seem to measure a photographers success by the number of trips one takes or the locations they visit. We think those photographers are so lucky.  I would like to how they can afford the latest and greatest gear. I actually believe that some of the most well-known photographers are probably broke. Of course, you would not know it by their social media posts. I actually would not have a problem with watching a photographer that was honest with what it takes to be a full-time photographer with his or her own business. I would like to hear the pros and cons of being a photographer in business for themselves. That would be refreshing.

Below is a great video of a real estate photographer that is totally honest about what it takes to be a successful photographer. He explains how much time, money, and work goes into being a full-time photographer. Check out Understanding What Full-Time Looks Like 

Most photographers that I follow on social media are very entertaining, have nice photos, and seem to have large audiences. My question is, are they truly successful? In my opinion, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites are useless to build an audience and market one's images and services. What I feel can be more effective is the use of one's own photography website. I would much rather spend my time building my own website and using the analytical data provided by great websites companies such a Square Space to monitor my visitor's visits, visitor's geo-information. and visitor's comments. Yes, creating an active website can be a challenge and a lot of work but I find having my own website provides me with a home to post what I like and my customers and clients want to see. I am not restricted by the number of characters I can use, the subjects I want to cover, and the images I want to post. 

I found an entertaining post from a photographer on Youtube. Photo Tom used satire to illustrate how photographers can present an illusion of what makes a photographer seem successful and how many photographers, including myself, waste a lot of time and money when it comes to a photography business and measuring if we are successful. To see the video visit The Secret of Great Photography - A Photographic Satire

So, what are your thoughts about using social media for your photography business? Are you successful? Do you find the number of likes, followers, and retweets really represents a measure of true success for your business? Do you have your own photography website? I would love to hear your comments on these topics. Feel free to leave a comment. Since this is my website, I can promise you I will read them. 

Until next time, keep shooting!

Roger Younce