Today marks one year since I joined Youpic and started posting images there. A year ago I started out by saying I would give it a try and see how it went. So how has it gone...
A few stats seems a good place to start. I have so far posted 573 images on youpic which collectively have had 445,131 views (around an average of 776 views per photo), over 20,000 favorites (35 per photo) and over 10,000 repics (or what other would call shares). Around one in five of my images have been tagged by youpic as inspiration (a special curated list for what they consider the best images on youpic). I have nearly 900 people following me and am very thankful for their support. Some of my more popular images have had 10's of thousands of views and over 200 likes individually.
Social media definitely has its pitfalls and downsides which everyone should be aware of and sites like YouPic are no different. There has been a lot written about this and the dangers of comparison. The truth is with hundreds of millions of people enjoying photography, expensive marketing campaigns and people only publishing the best of their lives, it can knock you down if you let it. There will always be someone better than you. I am sure we have all done it, looked at great image after great image and then compared it to our own images of the last week or month and thought a negative thought or two. It can lead to frustration and stagnation. But with a bit of work and thought, by defining our goals and understanding why we are doing this we can maximize the benefits and reduce the downsides. Why did you get into photography, was it to be the best, now that is very unlikely. I got into photography because I enjoy it, it's a great hobby, you meet great people on the way and it deepens my enjoyment of the world around me. I love sharing the images I create and I love seeing others grow and helping them when I can.
For me there are few things better than being at a great location, as the light begins to illuminate the landscape before me, the clouds light up, and for those brief few minutes and hours enjoy the beauty of the world. No politics, no frustrations, just that rather stupid yet fun notion that you are one of the privileged few who get to enjoy this beauty and that in some way this special display was put on just for you. Truth be told the images I share with you of these moments are just poor facsimiles of what I saw, and my aim is to get better at capturing it but I doubt it will ever be as good. It is a privilege to witness such amazing moments, not just the sights but all of the other sensations as well, and it is also a privilege to share these moments with you, to bring you a little joy and maybe for a few seconds you can imagine yourself there too, enjoying the beauty of the landscape as seen through my lens.
The way I approach YouPic is based on these goals. I see it is as a kind of test bed, an opinion, a community to interact with. A source of ideas and encouragement, a place where I can see how different versions of the same image are received and from the feedback look at where further opportunities lie. A chance to look at the same image in a different light, I suppose in some ways as a tool in my workflow, similar to other tools we all use when we are looking at getting feedback. Where you can help me fine tune my images and play a part in the creative process, that is the great thing about communities, together we do achieve more. In the end, what we all want is for our images to look the best, and we all have our own ways of achieving this. No approach is right or wrong it just depends what suits us and how that benefits or impedes us. I wonder what your goals are with social media, how does it fit in with your creative process?
YouPic itself has changed over the year too, they now have a paid option with the standard promises that they will boost your exposure, double the points you get with each of the ways you earn points or to put it a slightly different way, make it easier. In fact a lot of the marketing emails I receive from them says something like "Imagine if you your account had a million views", a promise of "success" if you just pay them a little bit of money. I do understand, they have costs and backers and in the end their goal is to make a profit on the effort, resources and skills that they have invested. But for me, the reward of success based solely on the payment of a fee feels a little wrong, a little too much like stroking the ego for cash. I guess what I am saying is that success not based on merit, well what is it really worth, after all in the end it's by our images we are judged, not views, likes or anything else.
So that negative aside, how have I found my first year. To be truthful better than I expected. The community has been great so a special thanks to them. I like how the images look and the way they present the images. I like how the stat's are displayed and how that can assist in understanding how an image is being received, and how lightroom works with the site to make it easier. Like every photographic site on the web, there are lots of images that are posted up every day which are run of the mill but lets be honest we all had to start somewhere. There are also great images which are beautiful to see and enjoy, which give us all food for thought and inspiration. Now that I am nearing my half millionth view, my goal of a million views doesn't seem that far away. I look forward to seeing where the next year will take me.