some thoughts on photography and community

by Krystal Bick
April 4, 2018

Let’s talk about content and community here for a moment, shall we?

If you recall, a few months back in our 2018 reader survey, I asked you all to weigh in on whether or not you preferred seeing more relatable, every day content, seemingly snapped on an iPhone (for a more candid feel) vs. perhaps more editorial style content, seemingly snapped on a DSLR camera of some sort. Unsurprisingly, the results were overwhelmingly in for more iPhone photography, and from a consumer/reader standpoint, I can definitely see how you guys were hungry for that. As a content creator who has seen bloggers go from the girl next door to the model who walks down the runway (and I’m by no means shaming any of this, mind you), I think there’s something to be said about being relatable in this space and it’s something I acknowledged at great length, including my own shortcomings, here in this post.

Essentially, I wanted to make more of an effort to incorporate both — aspirational/editorial AND relatable content — still focusing a lot on high fidelity photography for the blog, but making a point to capture more on the go, iPhone snaps, mainly for Instagram and other social media platforms. And I’ve loved the mix so far — I get to stretch a lot of different creative muscles along the way and I think it’s helped you and I connect better, in more meaningful ways.

Perhaps quite appropriately, since then, I’ve seen this debate pop up a number of times, on other influencer channels, and it usually becomes so divisive that I wanted to start the discussion here today with you all. The underlying sentiment that I’ve seen thrown out there a lot is that iPhone photography is somehow lazy and that true content creators should shy away from it — that it encourages a lower common denominator sort of effect when it comes to what gets prioritized and shown on Instagram, and subsequently, who gets clicks, likes and in the long run, business.

I have two thoughts here, but would love your input as well! First, is this idea that iPhone photography is lazy, which I find actually quite ludicrous — lazy photography is lazy photography, regardless of what device, camera or phone you snap it on. And furthermore, lazy photography is actually quite subjective to each content creator and their respective audience — if it’s getting a response from followers, then it’s getting a response. Who am I to knock it, especially in the large influencer market we now find ourselves in?

And that brings me to my second thought here, this mindset that we need to constantly critique what others are doing with their channels has gotten a bit exhausting — and if I’m being completely honest, it feels like we’re just trying to throw each other under the bus, for the sake of, well, throwing each other under the bus. I sometimes cringe when I start to see the underlying phrase or sentiment of “well, I’m not like other influencers/bloggers because I don’t do X, Y and Z” or “I’m so real and here’s why” because it automatically implies we have this disdain or distrust for our own group — and that’s what I find the most damaging about all of this. It’s fracturing and divisive behavior, which quite frankly, defeats the whole purpose of a community in the first place. Again, as I’ve found in most all other aspects of business, in this industry and outside of it, if YOU do YOU, you’ll be fine. Stop worrying about what that person is doing in their lane. Focus on your lane.

Anyway, just a few random thoughts for you on this Wednesday — apologies for it being a bit rambling and at times, preachy. I hope none of this comes across as hypocritical, although I can see why it might come across that way — my intention isn’t to call anyone out. It’s mainly for us to examine how we ourselves are fostering this community and how we could do better by each other to support. Does that mean we need to be everyone’s pseudo best friend? Of course not. But I’m not sure it means we need to be their watchdog either.

Would love your thoughts on the above, from fidelity of photos to how the influencer community fosters itself. Or how I could do better by you guys!

OUTFIT DETAILS: Hellessy top and skirt (borrowed) // Zara boots (sold out, similar style here) // Vintage Lewis bag // Vintage Chanel earrings

Photos by Nora Varcho

14 thoughts on “some thoughts on photography and community

  1. Thank you for this post. For sure iPhone pictures are not lazy. What is published on blogs is always connected with hard work. Therefore I neither understand why people critisize other people in that way. Love your outfit btw!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  2. The issue I’m finding lately is that Instagram was created to be this fun outlet and influencers, bloggers, content creator just drained the fun out of it. Now it seems like mostly everyone doesn’t want to stand out and would rather just be cookie cutter. It has quite frankly become a bit boring when you can stroll through Instagram and see a million and one pictures all the same.

    I think a mix of dslr and iphone photography is fine … all dslr is fine, all iphone is fine … just stand out and like you said, do you. Everyone needs to stop worrying about what the next person is doing.

    To be honest, I think you’re doing right.

  3. Loved reading this post and it was such a pertinent one too. I actually discovered your blog and instagram last week so am a new follower, but followed IMMEDIATELY as I adore your photography and style. I’ve been blogging since 2011 and have found myself in the exact same position regarding everyday snaps if you will, versus the more curated and perfected DSLR shots. I personally love the latter and am passionate about photography, but have tried to mix in much more of the ‘everyday’ to my instagram especially but also my blog too occasionally … i can’t say i’ve succumbed to my phone, i actually bought a Fuji TX2 to capture more daily life in a less ‘editorial’ manner. The problem is though i love the more editorial shots, so whilst readers are loving the mix, i have to grapple with the quality of my images and worrying they’re not good enough when they’re not a proper ‘shoot’ photo. So funny isn’t it. I’ve netted out that you just have to do what’s right for you, and we’re our own worst critics so i’m trying to assure myself that my ‘bad shots’ aren’t all that bad haha!

    Really enjoy your work & glad to have discovered it.

    Mel x

  4. Have to be honest and say I do judge influencers who partner with brands and sponsor content on their site that feels off brand for them. Despite the constant touting of “authenticity” I truly can’t/and don’t see influencers turning down a brand who wants to pay them even if it doesn’t actually align with their own personal brand. And to be fully transparent, I do share that POV with clients when recommending influencers for their strategy.

  5. I LOVE this, Krystal!
    As an influencer, I’ve always loved how well you did editorial/creative shoots! As a consumer/reader, I always love seeing the behind the scenes, less curated (for lack of a better term), and every day looks from you. I love that you’re doing both. And for the record, I’ve always admired how encouraging you are to everyone. It really shows your character, and I love that you brought up these points about people being quick to throw others under the bus. Great post!

    The Champagne Edit

  6. Love that you did bring this up and it’s not rambling at all but something that needed to be addressed!
    I also 100% agree that lazy photography is lazy photography no matter with which device it’s been taken.
    I have witnessed quite crapy photos taken with the Canon’s Mark 3D and absolutely astonishing images taken
    with the iPhone 7, so… Also, instead of building a great, supportive and inspiring community I don’t get it why people
    need to micro discuss absolutely everything somebody else is doing and just point out the flaws? Why not get hooked on the
    positives and good stuff but bash everything somebody else is doing just out of boredom or pure envy?

  7. Love this post and couldn’t agree more. Right now it feels like everything is the same on instagram due to the need to get likes and follows. You do You is the best advice! What I love most about all of this (and photography in particular) is the creativity people show and bring to their sites. Whether that’s with an iphone or a DSLR, it really doesn’t matter to me, it’s their perspective and what they are doing with it that matters. I feel like all I see today is a sea of the same thing and it depresses me. Where is the originality? Is it just for likes and money? Shouldn’t we celebrate all of it? Keep doing You Krystal!!

  8. Love this post! At the end of the day, it’s all about creating content that is authentic to who you are, and supporting those who do the same! Also, that outfit is everything – obsessed!

  9. Randy Varcho says:

    The argument as to which image is preferable (DSLR or smartphone; staged or candid) is moot. The bottom line is: does the image ENGAGE the viewer? If yes, then a wondrous thing happens: a genuine connection has been made.

  10. I really loved this! Grace’s end of the week roundup led me to your site, as it has before with these types of posts. I’m not a blogger, but I’ve always found these pieces really interesting because everyone can take something from your words, no matter the field they’re in. I think authenticity and community are in so many people’s minds as social media totally dominates everything we do, so I appreciate that you take the time to reflect on this big phenomenon so thoughtfully!

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