I’ve been thinking about the time spent on the Internet regarding my photography. For those of you who are pursuing Photography as a business, this may be something that you ponder also.
“How much of your time is spent at the so-called, “Vanity” Photography Sites?”
I looked up the etymology of the word “vanity” as I am interested in the origins of words.
c.1230, “that which is vain, futile, or worthless,” from O.Fr. vanite, from L. vanitatem (nom. vanitas) “emptiness, foolish pride,” from vanus “empty, vain, idle” (see vain). Meaning “self-conceited” is attested from c.1340. Vanity table is attested from 1936. Vanity Fair is from “Pilgrim’s Progress” (1678).
After considering the history and meaning of the word “vanity“, I thought again about the use of time spent on vanity photography websites, and I had to ask myself the question, “Why the hell am I doing this?”
There is so much wasted time slipping by putting up my photographs at these sites. And for what purpose? To gain praise from other photographers; so in turn, I will traverse the ‘slow-assed ‘ broadband service here, to visit other peoples’ galleries, and to give them the obligatory “Atta’boys“.
For me, after some careful consideration, and knowing that time is relatively short, it didn’t make much sense.
After all, if you want to make photography part of your “income-life”, then the majority of time spent on your photography should be networking with “Art Buyers”, not other “Art Makers”. Marketing your work to art buyers is where the majority of your marketing time should be spent.
Sure, it is good to get feedback from your peers about your photo work. These vanity photography sites do serve a certain purpose in that instance. However, very quickly, your time spent adding photos, adding “friends”, getting comments, sending comments, etc., can quickly suck the marketing time out of you, time better spent in other places.
I might as well mention it here because all kinds of people will have all kinds of different criteria when labeling photography sites as “vanity sites,” or “otherwise.”
That being the case, I won’t mention the ones I consider vanity sites because I’ll probably get at least 50% of my readers saying: “You’re Crazy! That’s not a ‘vanity’ site, I don’t care how many people comment on my photographs with statements like, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘What a hot babe!’, ‘Incredible Color’, ‘Amazing!’ , or, ‘Your focusing is spot-on!'”
But come on…Most people love to be praised for their photography, even if comments don’t say much about the technical details and intricacies about making a photograph.
And I’m fairly positive that most people probably don’t like comments like, “Wow, that’s a CRAP Photo!”
You don’t often see those types of comments at the vanity sites unless if the “CRAP Photo” commenter wants a “CRAP Photo” comment given in return, or being barred/blacklisted by the other person.
The funny thing is, however, that sometimes, “Wow, that’s a CRAP Photo” is so much closer to the true description of a photograph, rather than, “Wow, that’s really a swell photo!”
So, what’s the point in giving inflated, and/or, false comments like that at these vanity photography sites?
What is important, is that if you spend the time at a vanity photography site, that you get something in return. Learning something new about photography from more learned photographers would be the most obvious benefit from these sites. That would be gained through constructive conversation about photography.
That does not always happen…
AT THESE VANITY WEB SITES…It is obviously no fun to be a selfless giver of good will and a constructive commenter to other photographers, and then in the end, you get NOTHING in return from all those “friends” you give nice, and or, actual constructive comments to.
There should be some sort of “reciprocal commenting:”
1570, from L. reciprocus “returning the same way, alternating,” from pre-L. *reco-proco-, from *recus (from re- “back” + -cus, adjective formation) + *procus (from pro- “forward” + -cus, adjective formation). The verb reciprocate “to return, requite” is recorded from 1820.
This thing that I term, “reciprocal commenting” happens quite regularly at these vanity photography sites, and that is nice.
Ye giveth, and ye shall receiveth!
HOWEVER, you will see many people at these vanity sites who love to receive comments, but rarely give return, reciprocal comments.
You will soon become fed up with these types of people, as it quickly becomes apparent that the ‘balance of commenting‘ has become overly side heavy in favor of those who don’t return the favor.
And you know, this can’t be tolerated in terms of Physics, or the stability of the world, because for every action there MUST be an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, I see these people who love to receive comments, love the attention, and rarely, if ever, return equal comments, as being like black holes: comments are eagerly sucked in from all parts of the universe, or at least, the vanity photography Internet universe, but no comments ever escape and return to the givers.
So, this post has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous all too quickly. Nevertheless, there is a point here.
Be very clear on where you want to spend your valuable time regarding your photography. If you only want to pursue photography as a hobby, then perhaps sharing photographs on photo sharing websites is an ideal way of pursuing and sharing your interest in photography. There is a value received by seeing multitudes of photographs from thousands and millions of photographers from all over the world. It is an interesting way to see the world, to comment on other peoples’ photographs and to learn new things through an incredible amount of visual input. There’s nothing wrong with that!
However, if your goal is to earn money and become a working photographer, wanting to channel your marketing time more effectively to network with art buyers and potential clients, then perhaps networking websites (on the Internet), and ‘real world’ distribution of photo samples would be a better use of your “free time,” which should be considered an oxymoron – there is no such thing as free time – your time is something that you can never get back, so use it wisely!
Here is a partial selection of one of my Marketing Portfolios at Facebook. This is a site that I feel is worth some time if you are a photographer. The results are not coming fast, but you have a considerable chance of hooking up with photo buyers, or someone who may know someone who may want your imagery. AND, you can search out people strategically who you could connect with and form a mutual, beneficial alliance.
There are a few details I could mention about Facebook, but will save that for another time. I’m going to leave these ideas behind for my readers to ponder: To agree or disagree. The important thing is that you decide for yourself where your time is best spent.
I’m not in any way saying that Facebook is lacking vanity from its content. There’s plenty of vanity to go around in the Internet world. However, it’s HOW you structure your profile at Facebook that makes the difference between if you are there to gain attention, friends, fans…or, if you are there to network and improve your business, no matter what business you are doing.