What is this business of Likes and Liking?
I’ve been doing a lot of liking lately. I’m a big liker to begin with but lately I’ve kicked it up a notch. I had surgery about a week ago and so while I’ve been healing up these past few days I’ve had even more time than usual to hang out on the Lomography site and keep up with current pictures. It’s hard to keep up with so many amazing rolls considering the tremendous volume at which they are posted but I have certainly enjoyed myself trying to do so.
With much leisure time to reflect on Lomography and the site in general, I have made some observations on the role of liking.
What IS a like anyway and why did I press that little gray button? Does it mean that I looked at the photo and decided it was the best one on the roll? Maybe it was one of many on the roll that were really special or maybe the whole roll blew my mind. Or perhaps the picture wasn’t one that I was in love with but the artist deserves kudos for a job well done. Or maybe the image is simply one that epitomizes my idea (whatever that is) of a classic Lomograph.
There could be other reasons too why I hit Like or Like and Next. Maybe this Lomographer is someone who has liked so many of my own images and I feel as though they are my friend. Because they always support my own humble efforts I need to give them encouragement and keep their spirits lifted as well. This liking business can be subtle and complex indeed! But it is often rewarding for both parties.
Some people are stingy with their likes, but I’m not like that. I prefer to give praise liberally and often. Is that what a like is, giving praise? What is this business of liking really about? Is it me just wanting others to like my own stuff, to validate myself, to feed my ego, to show off? Or is it more altruistic and genuine than that? Do I simply want to be a member of this fine and generous community and make my contribution so others can be entertained? Maybe it’s all of those things at various times.
So why do some people give out likes so freely while others only choose one or two photos out of a roll that you know darned well has many other wonderful shots on it? Of course I can’t know what other people are thinking but I can take a few guesses…some people have slow internet connections so it takes a long time to download the pictures. That means they only have time to view a few. Maybe they have distractions at the time and give up before they see the whole roll. Maybe they are at work and really should pay attention to what they were supposed to be doing instead of goofing off in your Lomohome! :)
Or maybe they view five or ten shots and then get bored silly and move on, a “been there, done that” kind of thing. Also, the site sometimes gets the hiccups and is slow to deliver images. I would imagine that Lomography’s bandwidth and programming needs are insane so little glitches here and there are understandable and frankly, it’s remarkable that everything is as robust as it is.
Other issues influencing amount of likes might be that the viewer is someone who feels that while they may have enjoyed the entire roll that they should only reward your efforts on the very best images of that roll. I think that is sometimes a good approach for some folks as it shows that the viewer has discrimination and also maybe they wish to help you become a better photographer by only highlighting the best of the best.
Speaking of the best, isn’t it just great to receive a bunch of likes on a particular roll and then also receive nice comments on certain special pictures from that same roll? That is most gratifying and there aren’t enough thanks in the world that I can give when that happens. It really is a good feeling to know that people appreciated your efforts enough to be moved themselves and take the time to make a special note.
Since likes are so gratifying that brings up the question of how to get more of them? There are many ways…
Well, it helps to GIVE more of them. Giving likes means that people will then be more likely to go and view your stuff. That means spending time on the site going through hundreds of rolls and thousands of images from other people. Not only is this wonderfully entertaining and inspiring but it also serves a vital purpose and that is to educate your eye. The free education being offered here is truly one that we should savor. I have spent countless hours marveling at the skill and artistic vision of other Lomographers. Sometimes I just enjoy the ride and other times I spend a good deal of time trying to decipher how they achieved the shots. I have learned so very much by spending time studying the images from my fellow Lomographers. Consciously or unconsciously important techniques and clues are being assimilated into my own developing style. So, giving likes is not only a nice thing to do for others but it’s also educational and will inform your own work.
Another great way to get more likes is to hit the Follow button for people whose work you admire. Doing so will bring up their recent uploads in your Notification stream and then you can more easily keep up with their work. If they then start following you pretty soon you develop a whole network of fans and friends. Hitting the Follow button also might make the recipient pay a little more attention to you. Just be aware that there are thousands and thousands of folks who post stuff here either frequently or occasionally and many of them are very busy, so time is always a factor for all of us in how many things we can view.
The last thing you can do to get more likes is to take what you learn from seeing and go out there and take fabulous pictures! The better your own pictures are the more likely it is you will get more likes… but more than that, the more proud you can be of your own increasing skill and the more confident you will become. There is nothing better than this creative process. I think it is the most addictive drug in the world and extremely rewarding on every level when you are able to find the creative groove. So learn by doing and keep trying to get control over the medium and the tools. Like any kind of craftsmanship, through sheer repetition we begin to achieve better and better results. Even if that means Letting Loose from time to time and shooting from the hip. ;)
So there’s a few of my recent ideas and observations. If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. Happy Spring and here’s a toast to the fantastically talented people of Lomography!