The photos no one will ever see

I struggle with social media. I talked about it recently, here and on my own blog.

It’s been over a year now that I’ve had trouble finding the motivation to keep on with the various social media platforms I use(d).

Social Media Tiredness

I’ve been struggling with being active on social media as a viewer.

After a few years, a part of me feels like it’s always the same. I often find myself scrolling through Instagram, simply double tapping a few photos that caught my attention for more than half a second, and then directly jumping to the next one.

There are still many photos that amaze me. At the same time, there are so many photos out there that it’s hard to truly enjoy everything. It takes too much time.

Social media has become to me the fast-food of photography. It has nothing to do with the quality of the photos, but rather the way we consume it. Like fast food, social media is made to be consumed quickly and it doesn’t encourage you to spend enough time to truly enjoy someone else’s photography.

(For enjoying others’ photography, I find meeting with them in the real world, exchanging prints and hanging them at home to be more effective.)

Social Media Burnout

I never had a fixed schedule for posting on social media. I used to simply post photos as soon as I had taken some. It’s a habit anchored in me: as soon as I’ve created something, I want to share it. And the Internet allows doing this to a large audience so easily.

When I moved to the North, I started taking so many pictures that I couldn’t get everything out. I was posting daily, and yet my backlog of photos to share was growing instead of decreasing. By the end of 2017, I could have stopped taking pictures and still have been able to post daily for almost a full year.

But before the start of 2018, I had some kind of social media burnout. This daily posting made no sense. I stopped posting anything for a while. Because of #SiPgoes52, it didn’t take long before I came back on social media… But I set a totally different pace. Instead of posting (almost) daily, I decided to limit myself to only a photo once a week for our little project.

Less was more. I was done with trying to post every photo I take. Posting less photos meant I could focus more on the ones that matter.

The photos that matter

A big part of the time I spend “working” on my photography is about finding the photos that matter. From the photos I took, which ones are the ones that I really want to share? Which ones are meaningful enough? Which ones express sufficiently my vision?

2018 has been a strange year. I took more photos than ever before. Yet I posted less. So far, it seems 2019 could end up with even more photos taken. Many of the photos I took (and take) are for a few series of photos that matter and match my vision. #SiPgoes52, #ElvesDay, #SiPgoes53, and a few others.

They are the ones that come from deep inside of me, from a need for expression.

But then there are the other photos.

The photos that don’t matter

There are photos I take because of a practical goal. For example, the ones that illustrate a blog post. Or the ones for a LEGO assignment. I usually don’t have any interest in sharing those. They don’t come from that big deep desire of expressing myself, but from a very practical need. Once they’ve been used as part of a blog post or by LEGO, I don’t have any desire to share them on my own social media accounts.

The photos for the fun

And then there are the photos that don’t come from a need. They are the ones I take because I’m just enjoying being outside, want to play with toys and have fun taking photos. It might be because I’ve got a new toy and want to play with it. Or I want to try something different. Or I’m meeting with some fellow toy photographers and want to enjoy the moment. Many of these include photos of non-LEGO toys.

I took them because it was fun to do it. But I don’t plan anymore sharing these publicly. Still in many ways they are among the most important photos I take. The ones that make this hobby so fun. The ones that prevent me from becoming crazy in this mad world.

There are now many of these photos on my hard drives. Many of them that might never be seen by more than a couple of people.

The idea of taking photos that I don’t plan showing to anyone is new to me. Maybe someday I will make something out of (some of) them. In the meantime, I consider them as part of the photos nobody might ever see.

This leads me to wonder why people are taking and sharing photos online. Am I the only one who has photos that are not intended to be shown? If you are in a similar situation, how do you deal with it?

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Tomasz Lasek
5 years ago

Why am I taking pictures? For self improvement, for fun, for having a look at the world from different perspective. It’s so great to find such element of reality which becomes completely different place or even world. And what sharing? Definitely not for fame and money. I think that in many people, that are creative, there’s a need to share their creations with others. I also count on feedback, what I can do better etc. Sometimes to speak on some matters with picture. Some doesn’t have this need and that’s fine too. I also take pictures that won’t be shared… Read more »

5 years ago

Great blog post that has many discussion points. I’m relatively social media shy. IG is my only main source and I dip in and out of sites such as SiP and Brick Central as I enjoy reading more than discussing. I try to interact when possible. As for pictures, I have never had an abundant of library pictures and could never post daily. Yes I have pictures that I’ve taken but will never see the light of day and for good reason, they are just not good enough. So my output is small. Still it is a hobby, one I… Read more »

5 years ago

I used to post my photos almost immediately after I took them, I didn’t process them, and I hoped for most likes. After going to Paris and talking with people and all the discussions you and me had, I stopped posting the photos so quickly, I just save them to one place, the ones that I like the most, and post them whenever I feel like posting. And I don’t really care about likes (though they still give me the dopamine shot), I’m more interested in comments and, most of all, the fun I had while taking the shot. For… Read more »

5 years ago

Not all pictures I take are shared, but most of them (in fact, the best of the 3-10 tries of a single scene). 2 or 3 years ago, I decided to immediately erase any picture with something that makes me have doubt on the interest for keeping it. This lead to a drastic choice when comes the time of editing RAWs, and a lot of hard drive space saved. In the end, there’s not a lot of pictures that remain with the to share or not to share question. Most of them are shared, wether be it LEGO or landscape… Read more »

5 years ago

I have felt the same way. I love setting up my scene and taking photos but have often felt “what is the point of posting this to Instagram?” I doubt my 200 followers will notice my absence. I want to connect with other photographers that care about the science/technique vs the superficial like on Instagram.

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