To be fair to our ancestors, social networking isn’t exactly a new-fangled phenomenon belonging solely to the bright young hipsters. No one in Ancient Rome lived in isolation after all. It’s more that the internet has made it easier for people to connect: you don’t have to wait for your letters of introduction to cross the Atlantic by sea or learn how to dance a Lady Shaftesbury anymore. Now it’s down to Web 2.0, and all about generating your own content and sharing on the internet.
When you micro-blog a statement on Twitter, upload a photo to Flickr, update your status on Facebook, or share a link on Google+, you’re generating your own content, and people being able to share it onward or tell you what they think of it is all part of the interaction that makes it social. These so-called ‘social networks’ are just places to meet new people and catch up with those you know already, not so different from a 17th-century coffee house really. Except with photos.
Social networking is definitely about the photos too. Every network makes it easy to share images, whether by choosing a photo from your smartphone’s camera roll or taking one straight in the app.
The global reach and proliferation of social networks can make signing up and getting involved a little daunting, though. What you need to remember is that you don’t need to be a trend-setter, and you don’t have to commit yourself exclusively to one network at the expense of the rest. It’s about being where your family is, where your friends are, and where the people you want to hang out with hang out. You can be as promiscuous as you like with your social networks, and to get the most out of them you probably should be.
At the same time, don’t feel you have to save your loyalty for just one social network. As different platforms attract different types of users, the more you join the greater your potential reach will be. Try not to get carried away though, especially when you’re just starting out. Keeping all your social networks up to date can be a full-time job!
You’ll likely find that you’re connected to or followed by different types of people on different networks. That’s just as it should be. You don’t see the same people at home as when you go to work, as at your yoga class, or as at your book club: Social networks work similarly. As a consequence, you’ll probably not want to share the same photo across all of your networks, but it’s not hard to figure out what belongs where. And when things are meant to be cross-posted, it’s normally fairly easy to share from Flickr to Twitter or Instagram to Facebook!
Social Photography is Daniela Bowker’s fresh new guide to smartphone photography. It tells you everything you need to know to get the most of your smartphone camera: all the tricks of composing a great photo – and the pitfalls to avoid. Find the best platform for sharing your photos, discover the apps that will expand your creative horizons, and be inspired by fabulous examples from masters of smartphone photography.
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