In my last post I wrote about my digital detox – tl;dr: no trolls or algorithms manipulating you. “Free your mind,” Morpheus says in The Matrix. A digital detox does exactly that.
What then does my post detox photo work flow look like. Let’s talk about an old way first: grow an audience on socials to market to by making digital photos. Make a physical zine. Sell it on socials. Rinse and repeat.
During my detox, I saw this work flow as problematic. Photography became reduced to marketing and the world reduced to a photographic resource. I’m not saying this is evil but the world is more than just a resource and great photos are more than just marketing. A photographic work flow like this could and often does produce interesting work, but the artistic integrity of it from a Gadamerian sense is compromised. “Seeking to be liked or admired—this is the surest way to fail as an artist.”
What is my new work flow? The physical image is the basic unit of my work. This means that any social media is an after thought or a hint of the actual work, and not the work itself. This means a photo I make doesn’t even touch social media. The new work flow is photograph, develop, print contact sheets and/or prints, and then edit photos into a collection. I won’t be bothered with scanning, unless there is already a print. My social media use is merely meta commentary on work & life, but not the commentary itself.
This new work flow could also be fitted with digital tools as long as it’s all about the print.
There are some disadvantages. I’m basically saying no to growing my audience on social media. But this is ok, because as Gary Vee says, “You don’t determine the quality of your creative; your audience does.” Whenever Garyvee sees an influencer close to missing a deadline because of perfectionism, he’ll tell them something like, “You don’t decide if it’s perfect; your socials do. It’s definitely & objectively on you, if it’s late.” I would rather set my own standards rather than be distracted by an audience. If I need to get the message out, I can always work with an influencer.
Some might say, “You’re leaving money on the table.” Honestly, only new apps like TikTok are leaving money on the table since it’s where exponential growth is without an algorithm gimping you.
Others might say, “You seriously do not get that people want it now.” This is perhaps the most valid concern. We live in a 24/7 news cycle and the value of an image drops precipitously the further in time it is to the newsworthy event. Sure there are still long form, photo essays, but the money is either in breaking the news or a book. I would say that having habitually been “late to the party,” there is still room for stories that cover in a deep and thoughtful way, the aftermath.
What’s your photographic process? Is print first like I’m doing the way to go? Let me know in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.