I don’t think I’m ever going to go back to the toxicity that’s Instagram.
Back in March of 2020, I made a pledge to leave Instagram for a year. The platform can be incredibly toxic on many levels. It’s designed to do just that, in fact. Now, you could say that it’s all about the way you use it, but Instagram is a very invasive platform. The ads creep into your life and it can often make you way too anxious. So, inspired by many other photographers’ stories that continue to get work without Instagram, I did the same thing.
Behance is what I feel is Adobe’s best gift to photographers. It’s a fantastic place that’s well keyworded and easy to find work to be inspired by. You can also message other creators to collaborate, find gigs, etc. For years, we’ve used Behance to find photographers around the web. Best of all, there’s no riff-raff on there. The platform is genuine: truly made for people who are serious about being creative. All the work there is from people who care more about creating great photography and not about posing models to gain followers on Instagram.
Seriously, give it a shot.
No, I’m not crazy. The new Tumblr is a much more polished and grown-up version of the older platform. The hashtag curation there is always on point. It’s a place to discover the work of photographers in bite-sized portions. Then, if you’re interested, you can easily delve into a whole history pretty easily.
Further, if you want to communicate and talk to the photographers, you can choose to do so. The new Tumblr has ads, but it’s nowhere as chaotic as the version before the WordPress purchase.
We used to use Tumblr all the time to find and feature photographers. These days, I use it to find some of the most creative ones. It’s arguably the best platform to find work from photographers that’s far different than most of what you’re fed daily. And that can lead to new ideas of your own.
Organic Networking Through Contacts
Did you forget how to talk to people? Well, maybe you should change that. When people say something like, “I hope you’re well,” it starts to sound monotonous. How about changing to something like, “How’s life?” It fosters genuine conversations, and people become more interested in talking to you. Better yet, asking your colleagues for introductions to other people is usually safer too. When your current network vets someone else, you’re bound to have a better time working with that person.
During the pandemic and in my time away from Instagram, I sent a lot more emails. I checked in with photographers we haven’t interviewed in a while. We saw what they were up to, and we saw how they evolved. The key is to keep things on a schedule; follow up with intent and try to carve out time for everyone. Sometimes it means you respond slower, but at least you respond!
Lots of us forgot how to talk to one another on the phone too. One of my excellent friends is photographer Brooke DiDonato. And I’ve tried to call her and other photographers that I’ve known for years. Most of the time, you’d follow up with your friends and colleagues by using Instagram. But it’s nice to dip in very quickly, see what they’re doing, and then actually talk to them about it. If you do that, they will speak in a totally different way than they do on the platform. It’s the same thing as interviewing people in person.
Zooms and Hangouts
This is the same idea as the phone calls. But somehow or another, phone calls still feel a million times more genuine.
Still Using Facebook
Facebook is a great way for me to connect and talk to my network of friends and colleagues. I’ve gotten rid of lots of folks who are toxic on that platform. Purging is huge. And it feels like the impact is a lot larger on Facebook than it is with Instagram. I personally unfollowed everyone on Instagram except for under 100 people. When I did that, it felt a bit liberating. Then I decided to just take a break.
Reddit should not at all be discounted. There are various creative subreddit channels. People are also delighted to talk about their work and collaborate/network with others.
Now, you may say I’m replacing one platform with a bunch. But that’s untrue. I’ve just become more invested in these other platforms instead.