Chasing Likes

Over the years I’ve wondered how much potential harm we do ourselves when we focus on ‘chasing likes’ from others around us. How important is it that people like what we create and approve of it?

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge. Photographs have been added as visual breaks.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm efov 810mm, F/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1250

Obviously there is a practical business consideration involved with this topic. If we’re doing a paid photo or video assignment for a client we need to do our best so our clients love what we do for them. Paid assignments by their nature are all about meeting the specific needs of individual clients. If we don’t meet those needs we’ll never build a loyal client base and our business will wither and die. Or never even get off the ground.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 35.3 mm, efov 95.3 mm, f/5.6, 1.6 sec, ISO-160

By ‘chasing likes’ I’m referring to living our lives focused on obtaining the approval of others. By allowing our perception of our worth to be defined by the evaluations others make of us. As children we are often consumed with garnering the approval of our parents and other authority figures, such as teachers.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-360

Then, as teenagers, many of us rebel against authority. The funny thing is that many times we just end up ‘chasing likes’ from a different source. Rather than from our parents and teachers, we can get consumed striving to be accepted and liked by our peers. One way or another, we’re still ‘chasing likes’ from others. All we’ve done is change horses early in this ride we call life.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 54 mm, efov 145.8 mm, f/9, 1/250, ISO-800

Often there are multiple horses ridden throughout a lifetime. Sometimes they’re the opinions of neighbours. Coworkers. Family. Friends and associates. Or, even complete strangers on social media. It could lead us to seek validation by the brand names on the clothing we wear. The make and model of car we drive. Or some other material badge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 183 mm, efov 494.1 mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-3200

It is easy to get caught up in how many ‘likes’ that a photograph garnered in an Instagram posting, or on some other social media platform. It is easy to enter photography contests, and willingly submit ourselves to the judgements of others. There can be feelings of accomplishment when awards are won.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 100 mm, efov 270 mm, f/5.6, 1/15, ISO-1600

Does any of this actually help make us better photographers? Or, does it limit our creativity and visual  expression to what others deem to be worthy?  Staying within the accepted parameters set by others is an excellent recipe for mediocrity in life.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikkor 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110 mm, efov 297 mm, f/7.1, 1/25, ISO-1600

There is a fundamental difference between accepting the accolades that we may happen to receive, and living our lives actively pursuing and yearning for them. Obsessively ‘chasing likes’ is a symptom of something bigger. It shows our emptiness. Our lack of self esteem and self worth. Our lack of confidence and trust in our own talents and inspiration.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-640

Creating can be a life altering experience for many people. There is a feeling of deep, inner joy that comes from the act of creation. It could manifest itself as a photograph. The written word. A painting. Some pottery. A sculpture… or some other project.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 27 mm, efov 72.9 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-3200

When something that we create emanates from our core, it moves us. When it is not impeded by senseless comparisons with others, we are free to experiment. And, when there is no upfront monetary goal attached to it, we can follow our creative impulses wherever they may lead. When these factors align we can begin living moments of our authentic, creative selves.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 31.9 mm, efov 86.1 mm, f/5, 1/15, ISO-3200, extension tube used

Being able to lose ourselves while creating is its own reward. Surrendering to our inspiration and intuition is liberating. We become a conduit of shared human experience. In these moments of pure creation we are living as our essential selves. Even if these moments are fleeting.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-320, 20 fps

It is a worthwhile exercise for each of us to examine our behaviours and the motivations that drive them. Understanding our motives for action is at the core of self discovery and personal growth.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 53 mm, efov 143.1 mm, f/5, 1/1600, ISO-1600, extension tube used

Every morning when we rise, we are faced with a fundamental choice. Are we going to live our lives ‘chasing likes’ from others? Or, are we comfortable with who we are… and what we create? If we are… then we can follow our own unique path with a sense of wonder and adventure.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 30 mm, f/5.6, efov 81 mm, 1/500, ISO-160

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

Herbertville, New Zealand, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 17 mm, efov 45.9 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-400

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6 thoughts on “Chasing Likes”

  1. Thanks for the good advice. It’s all too easy to be trapped by “likeaholism”. This reminded me to take more risks to express my inner sense of beauty.

  2. Tom,
    I could not agree more with John and I am in year 74. Tom, your posts educate, inform, challenge and present a balance and perspective not often seen today.

    Thanks for this.

    One question, have you ever posted a link that outlines your present camera system, bodies and lenses including any future purchases?

    1. Hi Ron,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion… much appreciated!

      I have an article rolling around in my old porous brain… an update to ‘what’s in my camera bag’. Although in this case it would likely be ‘what’s in my three camera bags’. 🙂 I’m still waiting for my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS to arrive. After that is in hand and I’ve been able to do some field work with it, I’ll likely put some kind of article together about our Olympus system.


  3. Tom,
    Well said my friend; it’s the very same way I have tried to lead my life, and it’s served me well as I approach my 83rd year of life on this old planet. More’s the pity that this message is not presented to more folks when they are at a younger, more impressionable age. John

    1. Thanks for the supportive comment John! I am optimistic about the future when I observe many young people being concerned about the world around them, and pursuing lives that are in tune with their essence.


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