Professional landscape photographer Dave Morrow had thriving social media accounts with over 1.5 million followers. Last year, he decided to delete those accounts and give up his huge followings there. The decision changed his life and photography.
Morrow spends 9 months out of each year living out of his van and traveling the wildness on foot for an “endless” photography trip. With a background in aerospace engineering, he’s constantly performing experiments on himself in order to optimize his life and work.
In 2017, he had the idea for an experiment that most popular photographers would probably find unthinkable: completely quit social media. But since Morrow is a self-described “all or nothing” type of person, he couldn’t just stay out of his accounts. Instead, he decided to delete them completely.
At the time, Morrow had about 1 million followers on Google+, 500,000 on Facebook, and 15,000 on Instagram. 1.5 million followers — gone.
“My theory for quitting these was that even though I didn’t notice it, I felt like all the input of being on those platforms, I would always have a bunch of background static, or conversations going in my head,” Morrow says. “What would happen if I took all the energy that I spent on social media and devoted straight towards what makes me feel really good: photography and traveling to new places on foot.”
One of Morrow’s biggest concerns with the experiment was that it would cause his website traffic and business to plummet. But what he actually found was that focusing more on the quality of his work increased both of those things. Overall, there has been a gain in the number of people exposed to his work.
“A year out, my long-winded conclusion is: that I can’t believe I wasted three, four years of my life posting to social media every day,” Morrow says. “I would highly encourage you, if you’re an artist, if you’re a creative, to shut down all your social media accounts. Turn them off.
“Devote every single second of that energy to creating that one or two things that you have a long-term vision, and that you love doing consistently. If you do that, I think all that extra time that you devote to your art, your craft, whatever you’re creative at, will exponentially increase and trump anything social media could ever do for you.”
P.S. You can find more of Morrow’s words and work on his website. He has also been regularly sharing an inspiring video series called “The Landscape Photography Journals,” which you can follow along with by subscribing to his YouTube channel.