Here Today. Gone Tomorrow

You’re a proud photographer. You work your ass off being the best photographer you can be and learning everything there is to know about your craft and niche.

You joyfully share your work with a sense of reckless abandonment.

And since your work is, mostly, shared online, in return, even on a good day, you get a handful of likes, comments, and followers.

It doesn’t seem fair or equitable?

Here today, gone tomorrow.

Your prized creations get assigned to a lonely existence on your camera roll or office hard drives, most of them, never really to be seen again.

Photography is a powerful medium of communication, expression, and art. It can capture the essence of a moment, the emotion of a person, the beauty of a scene. It can tell a story, convey a message, or inspire a movement. It can preserve the past, document the present, or imagine the future.

But, let’s be honest, photography is also a fragile medium, especially in the age of social media. With the advent of smartphones, cameras have become ubiquitous, and so have photos. We snap, edit, and share photos with ease, without much thought or care. We scroll, like, and comment on photos with speed, without much attention or appreciation. We consume, forget, and delete photos with frequency, without much reflection or preservation.

Social media photography, at its best, is here today- gone tomorrow. It is not the most transitory and ephemeral photography of all history, but it is close. It is not meant to last, but to impress. It is not meant to endure but to entertain. It is not meant to be remembered, but to be replaced.

Why is social media photography so fleeting? There are several reasons.

First, social media photography is driven by quantity, not quality. The more photos we take, the more options we have, the more content we can produce. The more photos we share, the more followers we gain, and the more engagement we receive. The more photos we consume, the more informed we feel, the more entertained we are.

Quantity is the currency of social media photography, and it comes at the expense of quality.

Second, social media photography is influenced by trends, not originality. The more photos we see, the more we are exposed to popular styles, filters, and hashtags. The more photos we emulate, the more we fit in, the more we belong. The more photos we follow, the more we are influenced, the more we conform. Trends are the norm of social media photography, and they come at the expense of originality.

Third, social media photography is affected by attention, not appreciation. The more photos we post, the more we seek validation, recognition, and approval. The more photos we like, the more we show support, interest, and feedback. The more photos we comment on, the more we express opinions, emotions, and reactions. Attention is the reward of social media photography, and it comes at the expense of appreciation.

These reasons, and others, contribute to the fleeting nature of social media photography. They make us take photos for the sake of taking photos, not for the sake of making art. They make us share photos for the sake of sharing photos, not for the sake of telling stories. They make us consume photos for the sake of consuming photos, not for the sake of learning from them.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to make social media photography more lasting, more meaningful, and more impactful. We can choose to take fewer, but better photos. We can choose to share more selectively, but more authentically. We can choose to consume more critically, but more respectfully.

We can choose to value quality over quantity, originality over trends, and appreciation over attention. We can choose to treat photography as an art, not as a commodity. We can choose to make photography last, not to let it fade.



Jack Hollingsworth