My YouTube channel has allowed me to connect with photographers across the globe, to share my passion for landscape photography and the Lake District and to impart the little knowledge that I have built up over the years.
When you start a YouTube channel it is easy to use the number of subscribers as a measure of success. The more subscribers you have the more successful your channel, right?
I learned very quickly that it is not that simple and that when it comes to subscribers quality wins over quantity every time!
I Learn Stuff
One of the most unexpected benefits of being on YouTube is the feedback that I get about my work. A prime example of this concerns a recent image that I took of the tree at Otterbield on Derwent Water.
Many people made the observation that had I set my tripod a little lower the tree would not have cut into the mountain in the background creating a more pleasing composition.
This sort of feedback is invaluable. Where else would an amateur like me get such constructive critique without having to dip his hand into his pocket.
I Get Support
Many of the people that watch my videos are incredibly supportive. They watch every video that I release and always leave a comment to let me know how much they enjoyed it.
Most of the time I try to receive praise in the same way that I receive criticism – not to take too much notice. For me the fear that the attention that I receive will at some point go to my head is very real indeed.
But occasionally, when I am at my lowest, it is the messages of support that keep me going.
Back in the summer, when I burnt myself out and had to take a break there were times when it looked like I wouldn’t return to YouTube.
But so many people took the time to let me know that I would be missed that very quickly I realized that my return was inevitable.
Right from the start of my channel I knew that I wanted to treat my subscribers in the way that I myself would like to be treated. If I take the time to leave a comment on someone’s video then I am disappointed if they do not take the time to reply.
Today I spend almost as much time replying to comments as I do filming and editing my videos.
And it is here where relationships are formed.
I have come to know some of my subscribers through weekly interactions in the comments section. I know what they do and do not like, how they will respond to certain topics and I notice if they miss a week.
Eventually come the invitations to meet up. Some I have accepted, others I haven’t been able to make. When I have it has always been thoroughly enjoyable.
So far I have spent time with Mike Hutchinson, Les Ironside and Gordon Melrose and they rank in the most memorable times that I have had with my camera. Not for the quality of the photography but for the quality of the company.
We Hang Out
Right from my very first collaboration with Julian Baird, almost exactly 1 year ago, I knew that I enjoyed the social side of photography.
Jules and I hit it off immediately and remain great friends. I have embraced almost every opportunity to meet my fellow YouTube photographers: James Burns, Andrew Maguire, Gareth Danks to name but a few.
The king of the selfie became the king of the collaboration.
More recently I have had the opportunity to meetup with a few of the people that subscribe to my channel. Each time I have enjoyed it immensely.
There are people out there who enjoy what I do and have been inspired to the extent that they want to hang out with me. This is something that never occurred to me and something that I was completely unprepared for.
Most recently I got to spend some time with Geoff MacDonald an his charming daughter Sophie. Geoff is one of the kindest, most generous people that I have met in a long time. I like him immensely.
We met up for a shoot at Tarn Hows on the morning before they hiked up to Sprinkling Tarn for a wild camp. We spent a few hours chatting and mucking about with the cameras. The photography was poor but it was one of the most enjoyable shoots of the year.
Thanks Geoff for a wonderful morning.
I Have Guilt
For me YouTube is not a one-way street. I do not expect people to consume my content without at least occasionally returning the favour.
But as I become busier and busier with work I am finding that I have less and less free time. I have also been guilty in the past of not setting aside enough quality time to spend with my wife. Striking the right balance continues to be a problem.
As a result I find I have less and less time to watch other people’s videos, to read their blogs or even check out their photos on Instagram.
This has had an impact on my channel. Other YouTubers who used to watch my videos don’t any more and I can’t say that I blame them.
The guilt in not being able to ‘return the favour’ as I would like has become my greatest cross to bare.
The greatest fear that I have is that as my channel grows I will have less and less time to interact with the individual. And that makes me sad.
I have a few ideas for ways that I can give back to the people who have given me so much. I hope to announce a few in the coming months.
But if you have any ideas of how I can say thank you to the people who have supported me on my journey so far please leave a comment below.