Jan 6, 2016

Why I still don't have a Facebook Photography Page

And will never have one, not in the near future at least, to clear things out first and foremost.

It's become a trend lately for anybody who's reached a certain level of progress (both technical & artistic) in photography, to seriously consider promoting their work in order to, out of oh-so-many reasons, possibly earn a buck or two on the side, or it could be simply to create this one point where "fans" can follow their most recent work.

Photography has always been a breath of fresh air to me, no matter how cliche it might sound, but it definitely is. Photography has definitely taken me to places I would never even imagine myself being if it weren't for my camera. I was doing pretty well at some point in the past (and still do, hopefully) when a few friends approached me to launch a Facebook page, some even insisted I'd do so. Most of these calls were turned down eventually, me thinking that it's an absolute waste of time.

"I'm not even close to being good enough to having my own Facebook page" - I thought to myself repeatedly.

But was it really about the fact that I'm not up to the challenge? Here are some of the speculations I had been noticing on other photographers' (repeatedly underlining the word "photographer") Facebook pages, the speculations that I had used over the time to build a pretty solid list of things that keep me away from running one of my own:

  1. Niche: I simply can't make the commitment of keeping a non-niche page alive (cf.2). A normal all-around type-o-photography page will not attract any viewers other than the 1st level friends and their friends too, to a max of a few hits/views a day on the long run and probably a few likes a week (cf.4) from people we never heard of, or that don't live in the same country. And hence the question: What's my niche? What am I really good at? God only knows..
  2. No.1 being said, a page that acts as a magnet for new viewers has to have a niche. In other words, the photographer in concern has to be dedicated to one type/style of work, and one only. The general formula could be: success/uniqueness grows reverse proportionally to the breadth of the photographer's style (the less your styles are, the more unique of a photographer you become).
  3. The Audience: a major factor each Facebook photographer has to think of: Who are my audience? Do I have the tools to reach a circle wider than my surrounding and the ones that already know me? Am I up to being able to grow and interact with a challenging audience in order to improve? How am I going to be able to surround myself with unbiased critics and professional viewers? Questions I don't have answers to (yet).
  4. The Scale: I can't really imagine myself getting to a point where my success is measured by the amount of likes my page has, and therefore comparing it to other pages with more or less likes. It's a totally false representation of the value of my work as a photographer: I bet posting a photo that received over 10K interactions (likes, shares, etc..) in the past on some artist's page prior to a concert won't get anything beyond 100 being re-posted in a page.
  5. The Bad Stuff: In continuation of No.4, and in moments of despair due to lack of new likes (or worse, the loss of some previous likes), I might find myself doing the following:
    • Sharing to my profile each and every photo that I post to the point where each photo has only one share, and that would be me.
    • Liking my own posts
    • Tagging some friends
    • Posting a manual on how to see my page's feed, believing in the conspiracy that Mr. Zuckerburg has dedicated a few of his minions to bring my page down.
    • Resharing some of my old work in the sake of some new likes from newcomers
    • Inviting old-time school friends to like my page, with whom I haven't had a decent conversation since, well basically, school!
    • The worst of all: sponsoring my page as a last resort.
  6. The Squeezing: I'd be put under a tremendous amount of pressure to issue new (and regular) work, whether in stories or in individuals, the thing that I hate the most, and that I constantly run from when it comes to photography. I like the pace I set to myself.
  7. The Captions: I might be a good photographers but that would be for a very good reason: I suck at expressing myself. I suck even more whenever it comes to writing something below my photo, something that I had run away from a long time ago. What's with the captions you say? I have learned down the road how important the accompanying text may be, and how strong it is to the point that sometimes, in some cases, a bad caption can ruin a darn good image.
  8. Picking A Name: How can I even put it to words? Can you imagine? "Natheer Halawani Photography Page""The work of Natheer Halawani"? No. Then what? Probably settle for some out-of-the-box ingenious yet low-profile name. "NH Photography" ? Gosh no, I'm never going that way.
  9. A Helping Hand: The fact that I'll be needing the help of my Facebook friends to share and promote for my work kills me, plainly kills me. Not because they're my friends doing me a favor, but it's basically a sign that I've reached a point of despair. It might get so hideous that I might back away from the thought of it only because of the promotion. 
  10. The Compression: Do I even have to elaborate? How many of you were ticked off by having their photos compressed to trash quality on Facebook when initially they were thought to be a masterpiece on your laptop? Even major photoshop artists seem to stay away from Facebook only because of compression, which might turn their artwork into garbage.
  11. The Censorship: Even though I haven't really done anything that needs censoring, but Facebook is quite famous for its unreasonable censor guidelines, whether that be violence, nudity, profanity, etc.. Last thing a photographer/artist needs is some more limitations.

It all seems, however, so easy and even pleasurable too for some of my photographer friends, and I do salute them for all the work that's been done, in any means possible, to promote and preserve a fully functioning page that doesn't just pass away in time. However, and you might be asking yourself this as I type, what is the alternative? I'll throw in some of what I had thought of:
  1. A Website: Dear old 2000s technology will always remain alive. On top, it's totally professional if done right, and highly customizable too, rather than the blue tint vomiting all over my "page". In fact, I might as well dare and call a website a "Silent Facebook Page", where the absence of any sort of visible/readable human interaction is actually a bliss. I might add actually that I'm indeed running my own website, which had quite a blast of support the moment it was published, and up til this day the website is doing absolutely awesome in terms of stats, even without me pulling any SEO strings.
  2. Flickr: What's that you ask? Probably one of the oldest -and best, to be frank- tools any photographer can find online. Not only does it well secure your work against online theft, it also provides a major exposure to a huge audience of amateur to senior photographers. That's of course in addition to the immense storage offering (1TB/account as far as I remember) and the absence of any image compression.
  3. My Personal Facebook Profile: and yes, why not? The audience is already there, in fact my audience is growing with me. Their perception to my work is changing as mine is, which is splendid to be honest. They get to see my normal life, my music tastes and my travels, all while being reminded occasionally that my photographs are getting better and better. Something that a mere page doesn't come close to.
  4. Other Photography-Related Social Networks: Such as the famous 500px, 1x.com, and many more, with services available entirely for free and of course in addition to some limitations here and there.

It might be irrelevant at this point to clearly state Facebook has not been built to suit the needs of photographers all around, well at least not at this time. Facebook has been (and will always be in my guess) a social network, not more, not less.

Disclaimer: Whatever is mentioned above doesn't necessarily have to be true or false, neither does it apply to anybody but me, the author. Any point stated above might stand the total opposite to somebody else, and for that, I would really love to read your inputs.

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