So this morning on day two of this quarantine, I got up like any other day, taught my classes (Yes, I am very lucky and grateful that I work online) and after that I sat for my morning meditation. After that, I got started on my usual green smoothie but I had to pause that to sit and get these thoughts out on the blog before they went away to get stored in my subconscious. And that is my fight with social media.
My instagram has always been my place to post my photographs and collage art. For a while now, I've been going through some transitions in my meandering career path as I am falling farther away from a photojournalism goal and more into... who the fuck knows what but it has something to do with writing and wellness and self growth and all that shizzit.
I'd still love to be a photojournalist and am still in love with documentary photography but maybe that road is not for me and little by little I've been accepting, healing and letting go of that. It's hard, though, because that had been my dream since I was eighteen years old and first saw James Nachtwey's work. I don't know if it's my ego suffering or if it's truly my heart but only time will tell as I move forward to other things. I keep telling myself that I can always go back to trying to make that happen. But for now, I must quench the thirst of other things.
So I find myself reading on self growth like crazy, wanting to help others by sharing everything I am learning and practicing, and find myself writing more often than taking photographs. Because I gotta say, I always felt inhibited when all I did was take photographs. Like there was much more I wanted to share with the world.
And now that I've started this blog, I guess I am sort of confused as to how to present myself on Instagram now. I've tried to just be myself, and do whatever I feel like I doing which is far better than coming up with a strategy, but sometimes I worry I'm doing it wrong. Am I?
I've consulted two people on this. One person says, "Don't worry about that now." The other person says, "You have to meet people with the content they want." I don't want to be a sell out just to get more followers and engagement. I don't want to be an "influencer" either. And I don't want to stop sharing my photography and collage art either. So what is it that I do want?
1. I want to attract more people to my blog who I think could benefit from reading through my shenanigans, reflections, thoughts, and eventually advice and info (I'm working on that. Fighting the Impostor Syndrome bitch so give me some time.)
2. I just want to share what's on my mind with people while also sharing my photographs and collages.
3. I don't want to have to worry about what people want but rather use the platform as my a place for authenticity and genuine content.
So I got on the overthinking wagon and now I am trying to get off of it. I think I will continue posting while I continue letting go of all preconceived notions of what Instagram "should be" because my reflection is this: is my career path defined by my Instagram content or is it defined by my body of work? Should I be worrying about raising my following right now or should I trust that the more I work, the more I do whatever the hell I want and am simply "myself", then slow but steady growth will come.
I only want to raise my following to do what I love more. To have opportunities as an artist. To be able to pay by my bills as I continue to create. Somehow, I think I just have to let some things come organically as I continue to figure myself out and share whatever I feel like sharing. I would be cutting a limb off if I had to follow a certain "strategy" just for the sake of getting more followers. And honestly, as much as we are living in a generation where the bigger the number, the more leverage you have, I do have to say something... Instagram isn't everything. There are still tons of famous and worthy people who are not "Instagram famous." This generation is seriously starting to confuse things and I have to put some perspective into this by asking myself.
What are my values? What do I want? To deliver content that people to want to be "Insta famous" or to have a normal decent following but creating content that really connects with every single one of the followers I do have? And how do I want to spend my time? Worrying about what to post, when to post, what time? Or can I simply share what I want and not let it enslave me?
Of course I want to raise engagement and following, who doesn't? It benefits any business, any brand, any anything... But do I want to be an influencer or an artist who creates and inspires? I'm not a business, I'm an artist, a storyteller and a creator. A number is not everything. When I die, my Instagram account will not be a memorable thing. But the books I make, the photographs I print, and the audios I leave behind will be. A body of work has more value than any million follower Instagram account.
Nonetheless, it is all a balance and I will be thinking on how best to merge all of my talents into a cool Instagram feed that will not be enslaving for me but will also be engaging enough. Millennial problems at their finest.
Can someone please take me back to the times where an artist could be an artist without worrying about engagement on Instagram?