I’ve been a reluctant and inconsistent user of social media. I’m one of those Gen Xers that actually wrote and passed paper notes to friends in high school. I remember when google was just a number. I learned to use a road atlas and not rely on a little blue pin when navigating cross country, had a calling card and used payphones to call home in college. I didn’t use email or the internet until graduate school and actually formed life long friendships in person. I still don’t get why people feel compelled to share every little detail of their lives online, no matter how mundane or silly. “Really, you just cut your toenails, brilliant!” I also find it hilarious that people would actually “like” major corporate brands that sell things like laundry detergent. “Oh yeah, so and so just “liked” Tide, maybe I should too.” Now before you start to get defensive, I’m not saying social media is bad. It certainly isn’t, but I’m not totally buying how great it is for growing my photography business (the consensus is still out on this one and I’m not going to weigh in on it now). I tend to waste more time in a day posting to and checking Facebook and Instagram than I’d care to admit.
When I started down this path I was extremely lucky to meet and ultimately develop a friendship with someone that was equally passionate about photography. And fortunately for me he was a lot further down the path and readily shared his knowledge; ultimately becoming a true mentor in every sense of the word. Back then if you didn’t live in a major town or city and have access to a camera club or organization then you were likely on your own to learn this craft and certainly on your own in the field when shooting. Perhaps that’s how nature photographers got the reputation for being hermits.
Fast forward to today. As much as I poke fun at or waste time on social media, I do firmly believe it has benefitted me, mostly in a social way. And after all, isn’t that the point? I recently met a couple of photographers online that live in my general area of Vermont. We share a common interest in nature photography, comment on each other’s images and now occasionally meet up to shoot. The nice thing about meeting and corresponding online is that by the time you actually meet in person you feel like you already know each other and it’s not nearly as awkward. We recently met again for an evening/sunset shoot on the shores of Lake Champlain. It was fun to be out with a few other like-minded crazies. I didn’t even feel self conscious about my waders and tripod as we all descended on a local waterfront park full of barbequing college kids celebrating the first warm day of spring. After sunset we spent another couple of hours tailgating in the parking lot, long after the college kids had left mind you. My side still hurts from the laughter that ensued over beers; I don’t know what was more enjoyable, the sunset shooting or the parking lot antics.
I’m not sure when photography got to be such a social event but I’m glad it has. It’s made shooting a heck of a lot of fun again and helped get me motivated to explore some new areas in my home state.
“Artist’s Palette,” Lake Champlain, Vermont Canon 5DII, 21mm, ISO 100, f 22 @ 15 sec., Polarizer, 3 stop grad ND