“No one likes my photos.”

Sharing our images with an audience isn’t always easy. It can be heartbreaking, bruise our egos and can make us feel like giving up. After a recent discussion about putting our images out there for the world to see, it led me to make these points about the whole process. I hope you find them useful.

We are told to shoot what we want, photograph for ourselves and create what we want and how we see it. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Why? It’s the only way to create authentic images that speak to what you as an individual want to do and what you want to photograph. I also believe we should create with intention in the first place, which is a whole discussion on its own.

Give your audience context

When posting images on social media, your own blog or sharing in other ways, you may need to add context. Many times it helps the viewer understand what you saw and why you were compelled to photograph it. On social media, the general public has no idea what your intentions are, what you are photographing — especially in the case of abstracts — and why you were drawn to create a particular image.

Think back to when we used to share slideshows of our vacations or photo albums. The majority of the time we talked about each image as it flashed up on the screen. We told our audience what we saw, how we felt and what happened when we recorded that moment. Or in photo albums we (mostly) wrote captions for our images, at the very least we wrote on the back the date and place. Even when we show people our photos on our phones or tablets, we tend to talk about what we are showing them, letting them know what they are seeing.

Educate your audience

When a business is trying to sell something they typically have to educate their audience first (well that is after finding their audience). The majority of the public (Facebook audience) has no idea what you are doing. They love sunsets and pretty flowers or scenery but straying from those leaves them confused and having to take the time to decide first what it is and second if it is something they like or can relate to. Social media is immediate — yes or no — like or move on. We are overstimulated with so many posts that if something doesn’t just jump out at us we move on.

The more you educate your audience the more they’ll start understanding your intentions with your photography. 

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Why are you posting/sharing images in the first place?

  1. Ask yourself, why are you posting? For the likes? Validation? Reactions? Again, adding just a few words about your intent can help your audience understand more.
  2. In a particular image, the photographer feels like no one else sees what they saw. Well, they are not you. We do not all see the same. We don’t share the same experiences, backgrounds, opinions, etc. People have told me for years they never saw what I saw — I had to explain what I saw and how I allowed myself to find those types of scenes or things. Your own feelings as you walk upon a scene were those of fascination so you took the photo.

    Great. Now, can you explain why it fascinated you? What was it about the location or scene that pulled you in and compelled you to photograph it? This is not always easy to explain. I really struggle trying to explain to someone why I shoot the images I shoot. It takes digging deep sometimes to understand what it is that draws us in to create what we do. Especially when it’s not just a pretty scene/flower/sunset, etc. 
  3. This is all a lot to consider. The process of learning and growing in our photography goes beyond creating better compositions, learning camera settings and post-processing techniques. We also need to consider our thought processes and figure out our why. This is what informs what and how we create. That is the hardest part.
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If you are struggling to gain an audience who understands your work, try starting out small when posting. Some people find a relevant quote that, to them, defines the image they post. Or song lyrics. Something that connects the image to thoughts when the audience reads it. If you don’t like writing about your images try using someone else’s words for a bit. It will also help you think more about why you took the shot. It might only take a sentence to explain to your audience what it is and why you found it captivating.

P.S. No offense to floral, sunrise/sunset and pretty scene photographers. :)