As of Aug 1, I’m off social media (for now)

Cliff Etzel - Documentary Photographer

“Social media use has been linked to depression, anxiety and loneliness. Recent studies referenced by The Child Mind Institute and The National Center for Health Research suggest people who frequently use social media feel more depressed and less happy with life than those who spend more time on non-screen-related activities.”

Today marks the first day of an experiment – to see whether I can maintain, even build a larger audience for my documentary photographic work using no social media platforms.

The Catalyst For This Decision

Photographer David DuChemin is the catalyst behind this decision on my part to try and create a more authentic connection with my audience of followers that elected to sign up for my email newsletter when I announced my departure from Instagram in July.  Some of you are past clients I manually added to my subscriber list since we have already corresponded as well.

As David states at the bottom of each of his newsletters I receive:

“…as I’ve stepped away from social media, my blog is the place to interact with me…”

David DuChemin – Photographer

My personal experience and why I’m making this decision

I personally went through withdrawals from Facebook when I deleted it 3 years ago. Anxiety, fear of missing out (FOMO) and the physical reactions were very real for me.  It took me 6 months before I felt like I was semi back to normal.  In the process, my outlook on life improved dramatically.  I kept Instagram as my only social media platform because at the time, it catered to photographers.

That is not the case any longer.  

Now it’s become a TicTok clone with more ads than relevant content in anyones feed and given the ongoing privacy issues with it’s parent company Facebook (Meta), along with the ever increasing bad to mediocre images posted purely for the sake of “likes” (“Whatever a like is worth” – Photographer David Burnett), I realized that I needed to take a new approach – which is actually an old approach – by reaching out directly to those people who have a genuine interest in my photographic work through an email newsletter.

A Boy And His Wagon - Family Documentary Photography

Why ditch all social media and opt for email outreach?

I think it comes down to reconnecting, instead of disconnecting. Being real and authentic with people, treating them as something more than a profile in cyberspace.  It’s about creating a community and interacting with them one on one when they have questions or comments.  It’s how we use to interact with each other pre social media days.  Maybe it’s time to get back to that.

Riverfront Park - Eugene, Oregon

Recently hitting that milestone of 60 years of age, I’m at that point in my life where I’m probably too old to change and I pine for the days when things felt less complicated.  So I’m giving this a shot and see what results.

My newsletters will initially be infrequent and when you receive one, I hope it will be of interest to you. I’ll try to keep each newsletter short and to the point, covering what I’ve been up to lately, random images I captured and a short story behind them.

Sisters Saloon - Sisters, Oregon

For example, the images in this post that I used in my first newsletter are from various times I was either traveling or walking around where I live in Eugene, Oregon. These images aren’t in your face showstoppers, but they do speak to me in a sense about color, emotion and that decisive moment.

Spencer Creek Grange Hall Dance - Eugene, Oregon

You might have seen some of the images on my Instagram feed but I have no idea if anyone truly saw them due to their ever changing algorithm, and I want to showcase what I see with my cameras to my audience.  

My blog is where I’m posting images I capture and writing about them accordingly.  I understand that life is hectic and feel honored when someone makes the time to visit my website and looks at what I’ve been up to.

“In my 35+ years as a working photographer, I prefer capturing the everyday moments that make up life.  Those moments are more authentic to me than what I see today as stylized photos on social media.  The moments I capture with my cameras are real.”

In closing, I leave you with my personal philosophy for the work I produce:

“MY ROLE IS TO BE THE OBSERVER, THE CURATOR OF VISUAL MOMENTS.  I’M NOT THERE TO CREATE MOMENTS, I’M THERE TO CAPTURE THEM.”

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