A classy and inspiring example how to be someone of high reputation yet very down to earth in social media…
It might be 10 years ago that I was fortunate to take a photography workshop co-lead by famous professional photographer Bill Frakes. Much came of the experience- I got back into using my DSLR after a few years of using a pocket digital camera and also developed a photo organization strategy still in use today.
Bill was soft spoken but so calmly confident in his ability to “see” the photo before taking it, and the lessons he shared stayed with me (one of consciously choosing a light or dark background for a shallow depth of field shot). I got the lessons of organizing photos in a scheme of originals stored on external hard drives, yet managed from a single Aperture library- I think he said he had something like 7 million? 70 million? photos in his (and yes, I still use Aperture).
But this is not about photography per se. I was pleased, and maybe a bit surprised to find a year or so ago that Bill was active in Instagram. I did not imagine him posting from a mobile phone (my hunch because they are so damn good photos that he uploads from that vast archive).
His photos are utterly amazing and fresh, but I love even more they way he adds prose (often with inspiring quotes) and back story to them, how they show his love of his native Nebraska, yet finds beauty wherever he travels, and also shows such humanity in his portrait photos.
But what jumps out more is how voracious he is at responding to comments, many to people he knows, but he seems to humbly thanks and acknowledge almost everyone, in a genuine, down to earth fashion. He often responds to people by first name (when it’s not in their handle)- it’s like listening to friendly banter on a small town street. It does not seem about seeking Instagram fame (he has enough without it). It seems more like… who he is.
A few times in his western landscape photos he’s pulled the Willa Cather quote about the sky that I always have loved since my first trip west.
And one that caught my attention recently was a stunning photo that had a story of “I messed up” (how much more human can you get than that?”
Bill has stunning photos, and is worth following for them alone. But there’s a lot to be said for studying the low key but personal way he converses in the Instagram space. Having met him in the workshops, it’s just the way he is.
People worry much about Fake News and Deep Fakes online but honestly, we could use more Frakes there.
Featured Image: Casual shot of Bill at the photo workshop I met him, along with co-leader, Don Henderson. Among the great teaching they did was a playful interchange because they had almost opposing ways to their approach. The big lenses were intimidating, they were not.