Have been spending time working out where I fit in this world called Instagram. I've been completely disheartened with many aspects of how the platform operates, its model. But I also love it for various things. So rather than disappear I've needed to work out how to make my presence here represent who I really am and what my work is about.
I've managed, as hard as it was, to dissociate myself from the 'likes' drug. I found myself waiting on likes, all the time, wanting more.
This ain't healthy and it ain't me.
I've managed to disassociate myself from the 'followers' drug. I found myself wanting more followers and comparing myself to those who had many more than me.
This ain't healthy and it ain't me.
Like for Like?
Like for like and follow for follow. Sorry, no. Like means like last time I checked. The best arrangement is if we mutually appreciate and like each other's work, then we really have something precious.
Social Media Porn
Looking at the stats of my followers on Instagram was revealing. You don't need to be a data analyst to see what's going on. Essentially, the work I do that involves nudity is being consumed as porn. The overwhelming majority of my followers are from countries where porn is either restricted or banned.
No artist can control the way their work is interpreted, or consumed. Often when people don't get your exact message, they have their own interpretation which is fantastic - it provides further depth and is one of the great things about art. But when the interpretation of the material is purely porn, it just bothers me.
I have zero problems with erotica and with sexual freedom and expression. Some of the work I've done falls into the category of erotica. I do commercial work connected with the sex industry and sex workers and have met the best people in that world. But I'd prefer my artistic work to be interpreted in any way other than purely pornographic.
On this point there is the boundary between art-nude and erotica - or more of a 'transition zone', but that's for another post :)
The above points are the heart of the Instagram operating model. So without that, what's left for me?
Quality of Work
There is barely any relationship between numbers of followers and likes, to the quality of your work. Previously to Instagram, and still now, I post my work to one particular art forum. I've always valued the opinions and critiques of my contacts in there because I know they're both genuine and they know what constitutes a good photograph, irrespective of subject matter. So lately I've looked up my contacts from there on Instagram. Most have fuck all followers. I've connected with them on IG and am now discovering a more meaningful and more artistic Instagram world.
I love sharing my work with people who appreciate it and can connect with what I do. Folks who can look beneath the covers and surface physicality of a photograph. So you peeps who do this and form part of my followers - I would hate to lose contact with you - and I appreciate your genuine 'likes' and comments. Sharing and being part of a creative community whose scope is international is a very special and cool thing and I could never under estimate its importance in my life.
Having said that, I won't be posting all of my work on Instagram. For photographs it's visually the worst platform to use. Size, resolution, presentation and… cropping. I've always posted non-cropped because that's the way I shoot - I rarely crop images after they come out of the camera as when shooting I try to compose with the whole frame in mind (of course). So why would I allow Zuckerberg to take out his own artistic license and crop my work?
Lately I tried doing what most folk do - posting cropped images which allows you to get a nice square feed look. Sorry, can't hack it.
Not only that, I don't think releasing all of your work into the endless conveyer belt of Instagram is the way to go. So some will be held back, maybe displayed elsewhere (my website mainly but also artlimited.net, deviant art maybe - but not Patreon), and some hopefully exhibited (watch this space).
Nothing needs to be said.
Pffffft. Tagging is mainly to attract attention to yourself. Make it easy for people to find you. Fair enough I guess if you're running a business on Instagram but for this account of mine, that isn't important. The positive aspect is that it can connect you with communities and people with similar interests. So currently I'm not tagging - but hopefully I can arrive at a suitable set of tags that covers that last aspect.
I also network extensively via Instagram. Most of my shoots are organised through there and I've met some amazing people here who are important in my life for various reasons.
With that said, I'm confident you won't leave me. Those that do, and there's already been around 1500 over the last few weeks due to my efforts (which involved posting pictures of nude men and mainly clothed women), well that's fine. I don't care about numbers now and it's actually such a relief. One beautiful artistic connection is worth a few million meaningless ones.