Clubhouse Delivers an Evolution to the Online Photography Conversation

Break dance go-go party at Black Lives Matter protest

Clubhouse is the new hot social network, focusing on audio conversations between peers and large rooms where panels or speakers discuss topics. It offers interested photographers an evolution away from gear-centric blogs and vlogs towards more creative and business-oriented conversations. In addition, Clubhouse offers access to other genres of interest, too, from business best practices to lifestyle rooms.

Peer-to-peer interactions drive the conversational change in the photography space. Conversations offer participants support, collaborations, genre-specific tips, creative jams, and even just rooms to chill in while they edit and work. Gear conversations still happen on Clubhouse, but there are many rooms where such conversations are barred or minimized.

Show Me Podcast 3.2 with Dakota Lee discussed Clubhouse for photographers.

I get exhausted with an almost always gear and vendor-centric conversation via most photography journals and vlogs.  The online conversation seems dominated by vendor announcements and gear-heavy social media influencers. 

Comparatively, Clubhouse offers peer-to-peer interactions without a swordfight about which camera brand or lens is the best, or what the best technical execution actually is. Also, it’s nice to have conversations without necessarily shooting with others. Plus there are diverse subgroups based on gender, race, and location, literally offering room for any interest possible.

Other Benefits of Clubhouse

Derby Wharf Lighthouse

The down-to-earth Clubhouse conversations can be very helpful and enjoyable to photographers who enjoy more creative dialogue. Here are my top five benefits of Clubhouse:

  1. Networking: For the past two months, I have met more amazing photographers and business professionals on Clubhouse than I have in the prior two years. Yes, a pandemic basically voided one of those years, but still. I have gained access to national and internationally renowned voices who probably would not have paid attention to me prior to joining Clubhouse. And they are super willing to chat.
  2. Insights: The non “judgy” best practices and information shared has been extraordinarily helpful, improving some aspects of my online presence and photography.
  3. Diverse views: Since Clubhouse is so diverse, I enjoy hearing about how individuals from different walks of life use their photography to interact with their worlds. 
  4. Support: The commonality of trials and tribulations in photography is really helpful. Instead of getting swarmed by commenters offering their correct solution or worse berating the poster for a how-to question, photographers use shared common experiences to help conquer challenges. 
  5. Access: Another plus is the ability to access other topics such as business or even Marvel fan clubs that are extremely enjoyable. Just like photography, there are some phenomenal people and conversations in every Clubhouse genre.

Negatives of Clubhouse

Dark skies over Baltimore.

While less gear-centric, Clubhouse is not a panacea for all the ills of social media. I have spotted some negatives with the audio social network, too. Here are some of the things I can do without:

  1. Influencers: Starting or moderating a Clubhouse offers a false sense of influence. Some would-be influencers use Clubhouse rooms to platform and assume expertise. That’s a very old and increasingly tired game on the social Internet.
  1. Bullying: In their efforts to platform, some use a room to put down others. I have literally had my bio and Instagram feed criticized by moderators and speakers who publicly take them to task —  uninvited mind you — telling me I don’t understand how social media works. Um… Now, I am thorny and old enough to push back or just leave. But I have seen newer photographers get shredded in these rooms, and I think the criticism can be absolutely devastating for some folks.
  1. Big rooms kind of suck: The above abuses seem to happen more in big rooms. And it’s hard to have a real conversation with a panel of talking heads and hundreds in the gallery, many of whom want to get on the “stage” and speak, too. Not all big rooms are bad. Well moderated rooms can be very enjoyable, much like a good talk show. But more often than not, I don’t enjoy them.
  1. Groupthink: There’s lots of it on Clubhouse. My favorite common myth on Clubhouse is that to be successful on Instagram you should only post one type of content — for example, lifestyle portraits. Then I look at some of these advice givers’ lifestyle accounts with 3x my following and ⅓ of my engagement. My minuscule portrait account on Instagram (another rule I broke, two accounts, the gall of it) garners a healthy fraction of a xx,000 follower account’s engagement even though it only has 300 followers.  
  1. Audio-only: What makes Clubhouse strong, also makes it weak. Unless you are an audio junky (hello, podcast friends) audio gets boring after a period of time.

Whether this wave of social audio, lasts remains to be seen. I do think it has a ceiling, much like radio and traditional podcasts. Some will prefer less interactive media forms, and others want more visual media outlets. 

Still for people who prefer strong peer-to-peer interaction, you won’t be able to beat Clubhouse.  And if you are in the online photography community and want less-talk about Sony versus the world and mp sensor sizes, get on the app as soon as you can.

Are you on Clubhouse? What do you think?