16 comments on 25 likes
2 minutes

I’m still sharing some of my film photographs on Instagram. I follow a whole bunch of other film-shooting Instagrammers and we all seem to be in loose community there.

Some of those Instagrammers routinely get 100 or more “likes” on their photos. I’m doing good when I get more than 10. When one of my photos really catches on, it gets maybe 25 likes.


For a while I thought I was missing the secret to Instagram success. Was I not using the best tags? Was I not liberal enough with my likes of other photographers’ work? Was I not following enough people?

It appears to be all about having lots of followers. When I look at the well-liked Instagrammers I follow, I find that they follow hundreds of people and have hundreds of followers in return. It also seems like Instagram is a reciprocal community – people like being liked, and like back in return. For popular Instagrammers, that must translate either to spending a huge amount of time looking at and liking photos, or simply blindly clicking Like on every photo they see. I don’t have that kind of time to give to Instagram, and I’m going to click Like only on photos I actually like. And so I will continue to toil in Instagram obscurity.

I have to admit, I scratch my head over why one of my photos gets attention and another does not. For example, I feel pretty “meh” about the two photos below. But other Instagrammers seemed to like them, at least relative to my other work.

I can usually count on photos that I tag #architecture to get some good attention. There seems to be a good-sized community of architecture photographers on Instagram.

And people seem to enjoy shadow work, such as these two photos of the same set of arches.

Detail seems to appeal to people, too. These two photos are good examples.

Amusingly, my most-liked photos are some that I took of the cameras in my collection. Maybe I should go all old cameras, all the time.

Eh, nah. I guess I’ll just stay in Instagram’s dusty corners, eking out my daily handful of likes.


16 responses to “25 likes”

  1. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    I suppose when it comes to likes beauty is in the eye of the beholder, another mans poison is someone elses dream, sorry being a bit clique
    but you get my drift. It’s what makes the world go round, individuality, but I’m with you on not being like a Lemin and only liking or faving what I like.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well, apparently what I’m posting isn’t beautiful enough to most Instagrammers!

  2. hmunro Avatar

    I think you’ve hit on the dark side of social media, Jim: If we put stuff out there and don’t get much response, it can make us question the validity of what we’re doing (“Well, apparently what I’m posting isn’t beautiful enough to most Instagrammers!”). That’s why I ultimately gave up on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, and opted instead to focus on my blog. I still sometimes feel a bit mystified — or even a bit lonely — if a post doesn’t get a single “like,” but at least it feels like less of a popularity contest than some of the other platforms. In any case, I really *LIKE* your photos and your blog.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This post going live today has had me thinking that I should consolidate my online presences too. I have accounts on Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and G+. I use many of these platforms as alternative means for getting people to look at or read my work. But I’m thinking that what I need to do is make this blog be the absolute hub of everything, and if one of those other services can’t drive people to this blog, then I should just stop using that service.

      I’m also thinking about my other blog, which is about software development. It just isn’t getting any real readership. I’m thinking it’s time to mothball it. I still want to write about such topics occasionally, but when I post them here they go over like a lead balloon. I am going to investigate Medium as a way of sharing the things I want to write about software development. There have got to be existing communities there I can just tie into.

      And I’ll keep contributing to Curbside Classic, the old-car blog.

      But otherwise, my road trips, my cameras, my photography, my life stories, and my faith stories — I need to double down on this blog for those things, as I’ve already built an audience here and I need to build on that.

      1. hmunro Avatar

        It’s so interesting that you’re addressing this topic, Jim, because so many of my social-media-professional friends are struggling with the same concerns. There are so many platforms out there, and so many potential audiences — but we have only so much time. And the really tough thing is that there’s no single “right” answer or strategy. But for my part, I’ve decided to write *only* for my own enjoyment, and to focus on the platform that brings me the most enjoyment. That means I’ll never have a Twitter following, but at least I’ll have a handful of essays I can look back on with pride. I suspect you’ll say the same, when it’s all said and done …

        Anyway, I’m glad to read that you’re still committed to your blog. You really have built a wonderful community here, and a wonderful record of who you are and what matters to you. What more is there, really?

  3. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Flickr and my blog keeps me busy enough, Instagram would drive me crazy.

    I do think, with social media, there are a lot of people who just blindly “like” away as you say. I am also wondering if there are robo-liking programs out there?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I had hoped to gain some fairly easy exposure for my work on Instagram. It doesn’t cost me much in the way of time, at least not how I do it. But I’m starting to feel like I’ve had my fill of cropping/filtering photos on my phone, esp. for the meager response I’m getting. Like I said in the comment above, I think it’s time for me to double down on this blog. Maybe I can go to five posts a week, adding pure photo posts on Tues/Thurs.

  4. dehk Avatar

    I think that also happens on other sites. Lots of followers and sometimes meaningless likes.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I see that all over the Internet. Some of the other blogs I follow will post some nonsense drivel and get 85 comments, most of which are empty airheaded stuff. I don’t want that – I want real, thoughtful engagement.

      1. dehk Avatar

        I should have got you going by posting some nonsense comments on this post ;)

  5. Mike Avatar

    I’ve had similar experiences, especially in regard to the pictures I post of my old cameras. The whole picture sharing thing is kind of a mystery. People seem mostly to be looking for very brief encounters with photos and the interactions seldom rise above checking a box it seems. My impression is that most photo posters are using Facebook as a platform these days.

    I used to be quite active in some of the photo forums like photo.net and nelsonfoto, but I lost patience with all that and never post now, though I still follow some of the forums. My photo web site and the blog get quite a lot of traffic, but most arrive via Google searches looking for specifics about particular cameras.

    Probably due to the near disappearance of one-hour photo finishers, many of the Flickr groups devoted to film photography have experienced a drastic decline in participation. For instance, the vuws group which formerly saw dozens of posting daily is often now devoid of new picture contributions for days at a time. The tlr and the XA groups are still pretty active. It would be interesting to try to sort out the reasons for the ups and downs.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I had my fill of forums of all sorts about 10 years ago – the signal-to-noise ratio declined terribly across the board. I still follow two road forums, but mostly to read, and only occasionally.

      I think you’re onto something when you say that people are mostly interested in brief encounters. I think that’s true of the Internet period. I hope that I provide something of meaning and value for my visitors, but without turning away those interested only in a quick like. As you know I don’t write exclusively about photography and old cameras. I cultivate a diverse audience. I’ve learned to mix it up — eight film photo posts in a row alienates my road audience, and six road posts in a row probably has the photo audience wishing I’d move on, and so on.

      You may also be right that the death of the one-hour lab has shooed away the casual film photographers, and thus reduced the volume on Flickr. I don’t mind being part of a small but dedicated group, though!

  6. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Quote: “Well, apparently what I’m posting isn’t beautiful enough to most Instagrammers!”

    Well I like your work and it inspires me to go out and try stuff and I think to myself “hey I could do
    that” and go out and try it, especially with old camera’s, so please keep doing what your doing and will
    keep coming back for more.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Christopher, thank you for your encouragement. And let me encourage you to go out and try things! It’s where the fun in all of this lies.

  7. pesoto74 Avatar

    I do remember back in the early days of Flickr I was fairly active there. It was gratifying to be able to share pictures with so many people. I used to get pictures on Explore regularly, and even had the number one on Explore a few times. However after my fascination waned after a few months and I became less active my favs, comments, and views all went down. From that experience it became obvious to me that it is difficult to get much attention on the internet unless you are willing to spend a lot of time giving of your own attention. I have known a few people who seem to take being on social media sites like they would a full-time job. And they do seem to get a lot of attention in return. Still unless they are addicted to attention I can’t imagine what they get out of it. Anyway I’d bet someone could almost keep a blog going for a while looking at this topic.

    I think it is a good move you are going to put your focus on your Blog. I enjoy reading your posts and think you have gotten a good thing going in that you can post about what you enjoy and you have some thoughtful readers and commenters.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have to admit, I am charmed by the prospect of having a lot of people enjoy my work. Perhaps I keep trying these new Internet services in hopes of finding that easy pass to exposure. And I do like the attention I get when people like my work.

      You’re right – the Internet is a reciprocal place, and for most of us, you get out what you put in. I have a full-time job, I’m raising teenagers, and I’m very involved with my church – it’s all I can do to keep up with this blog sometimes. I don’t have the time to put into Instagram and other things like it to get the following that I wish I could have.

      Through luck and persistence I have built a solid following here. It’s not hundreds of people, it’s tens. But you keep coming back and you comment, and it provides plenty of pleasure and plenty of drive to keep me at it. That’s why I am concluding that it makes most sense to put more energy into this blog than to fragment my energy across multiple Internet services.

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