All of us from the fast internet era have learned at least something from YouTube. Of course, photography is no exception – just remember all those tutorials and other videos you’ve watched. However, this approach has certain pitfalls, especially in this day and age when content is getting shorter along with our attention span. Photographer Scott Choucino shares some of these downsides in his latest video. Yes, I’m aware of the irony, but it’s still worth a watch.
When Scott embarked on his journey into the world of photography, he, like many of us, turned to YouTube. The platform offered countless channels, and it still does.
However, the first point Scott raises is about the length of YouTube videos, especially in more recent days. Most of them are tailored to be under 10 minutes, catering to the short attention spans of modern viewers. Sure, videos like that can be entertaining and provide bite-sized information. However, they often fall short of delivering comprehensive knowledge on a certain topic. “I can offer valuable information within that short window,” Scott points out, “but my workshops, even when highly condensed, span at least 2 hours.”
Thankfully, this is something you can override. If you get interested in the topic, rely on those small chunks of information as guidelines and dig deeper into learning more about each.
But the lack of depth in YouTube tutorials is just one side of the coin. Scott emphasizes another significant concern: misinformation and misinterpretations. If you’re new to a particular topic, you’ll probably misunderstand and misinterpret the information from the video (which is perfectly normal). Scott recalls a situation from one of the workshops. A simple emphasis on “shooting in manual mode” led to a participant misunderstanding it, resulting in an entirely out-of-focus shoot.
On the other hand, some content creators aren’t unaware they’re sharing wrong information. This can lead to giving wrong info to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. This is why I suggest you find and follow reliable content creators and/or check the information you get in YouTube videos on several places.
A more profound issue Scott highlights is the illusion of success many YouTube photographers create. Some YouTube photographers might portray a lucrative career in niche photography, while the reality can be different. “The photography industry is very specific and traditional,” Scott mentions, emphasizing the structured and established ways the industry functions. In fact, not all successful YouTube creators are successful photographers. There’s nothing wrong with it, but you need to know that photography and creating YouTube videos are two different fields. Success in one doesn’t necessarily mean success in the other.
Scott also talks about the challenge of staying authentic while catering to YouTube’s algorithms. To remain profitable and engage viewers, creators must constantly be on your radar. This means they need to create content that is good for the algorithm but does not necessarily reflect the realities of the photography world. Scott himself challenges to find a balance here. He admits that he creates one video for YouTube, and then one more authentic, deep video for himself. I’d personally place this one in the latter category.
Finally, remember that YouTube is still a fantastic learning platform for photography and many other fields. For example, I learned embroidery and crochet solely from YouTube videos (and lots of practice)! However, it mustn’t become your only source of knowledge. If you want a balanced and successful learning approach, combine YouTube with workshops, real-world experiences, and lots of practice!
[The Dark Influence of YouTube Photographers | Tin House Studio]