What if?

What if there were no social media sites?

What if there were no online ways to share images at all?

You could show your images to friends and family.

Find a like-minded community.

Post them on the walls of abandoned buildings.

Drag them from gallery to gallery hoping for interest.

Show them at art fairs hoping for sales.

Scatter them about the park or mall for a random stranger to find.

Stack them at the coffee shop counter.

Hang them on café walls.

Keep them to yourself.

What if there were no social media sites for us to post to instantly and hope for follows and likes?


Would you still create?

Would you still share your work?

What would change for you?


I don’t mean this as a critique. I mean this as a thought piece. It’s not bad if this would change things for you. In reality, it would change the way all of us create and share. It would have to. But, if you’ll humor me, and if you care to define them, use this as a jumping off point to think about your goals.

I think the more we know ourselves and what we intend to make, the better pieces we create.


Jennifer Nichole Wells

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”

-Ralph Hattersley


  1. What a question!!

    Ok – Im old enough to have done most of this already. Ive taken my work to galleries and I have the rejection notices to prove it. Ive hung my work in coffee shops. Ive even done the art fair circuit. Ive thought about stickers of my work but Im against graffiti so I resist the temptation.

    I will freely admit that the work I create is a by product of my social media experience. But would I create? Yes absolutely! Something tangible, something pretty, something that satisfies me. Even without social media I would create.

    Im actually happy that my social media world is pushing me away. It’s forcing me back out into the ‘real’ world. So far my experience has been pretty awesome and I will continue to pursue these real world experiences.

    Am I a creative? Yup and I cant escape it. I will flow into whatever outlet that makes the most sense at any given moment in time.

    Thanks for this post Jennifer, it helps me to realize this is who I am and who I’ve always been. I wonder what others will say?

  2. Reiterlied

    Interesting question. I guess my answer would depend on what you exactly mean by “what if there were no social media sites”. If you mean if they would have never existed, then the question for me is “would I have ever become a toy photographer?” and the answer is most probably no.

    Now if the question is what if social media were to disappear, then it’s very different. If it’s just social media which disappear for whatever reasons, I guess the impact would not be so important for me. I’d still continue to share my photography online, just to a less broad audience.

    But if it were to happen because the Internet would disappear, then it would have a bigger impact on me. Not because of the disappearance of social media itself, but because I would have no easy way to share and communicate with the people I met thanks to toy photography, and who are scattered around the globe. But if this were to happen, then maybe toy photography would not be the first of my concerns…

  3. I second Reiterlied’s comment in that it matters a lot whether social media never existed, or stopped existing.

    If it stopped existing I would still create just as I have been these last few years. Most of my inspiration comes from other places, and I am now comfortable with the idea of being a creator.

    If social media never existed I’d likely not be a creator, and what a frozen wasteland hellscape that would be for me.

    You see I have had a creative spirit my whole life, but I could never find my medium nor my muse. It was a quiet frustration eating at my psyche for 35 years of my life.

    It was only when I connected with other photographers on G+ that I started on a journey of personal artistic discovery. That journey has been a huge blessing to me,

    Now that I am far enough along that journey and I know what I need to feed my soul, I can seek it out in other places besides social media (in fact, I already do).

    But if it did not exist, I’d not be creating, and that would suck.

  4. Jennifer, you gave me food for thought!
    Following other comments, let’s split this in two.

    What if social media never existed?

    Well, i would have taken toy pictures anyway. My “driver motivator” has never been sharing online, but “it would be great to give some life to all this plastic!”, so i would have created.

    On the other hand, without social media, i would have lost a lot of connections, and with them i would have lost confrontation, feedback and inspiration.
    I would have lost some friends, a chance to improve faster and a sense of belonging.

    If social media stopped existing, probably i will still take pictures, showing them to family and friends, because now i am addicted 🙂

  5. Miss__Feklista

    It’s a great question, Jennifer!

    As for the toy photography, nothing would change. The toy photography started acquiring its shape when I didn’t have any social media page, this hobby didn’t depend on the external motivation. All the SM pages have the mechanical system of evaluation and we don’t need it. We just exchange our emotions and interests without any influence on what we show.
    You suggested very creative alternative ways to present the art, Jennifer. 🙂 Sometimes it’s really interesting to make an experiment with time epochs and put ourselves in absolutely new conditions.

    Kind Regards,

  6. Interesting questions you pose. I’ve been wondering the same considering the oversaturation I find in social media.

    I’d still create, I have many things I must admit no one has seen yet. Sometimes I wonder who is really looking when I do post images, then I remember it starts out with my decisive moment to create a photo (toy or not) and it’s not about impressing anyone.

    What if there were no likes/hearts on social media? Does that mean you suck if no one comments? 🤔

    • Art is so much more evocative when created authentically and not for social media likes – or at least I think so. And I definitely don’t think the number of hearts is equivalent to how good the photo is. Likes tend to be based on pandering to your audience and using the correct hashtags, something many of us are not very good at or don’t care to try to be.

      Thank you for your comment and I’m so glad to hear you’d still create. The world needs creators.

  7. Being a creative is something of a human trait – we have discoveries in every aspect of life. The combined knowledge that we have such easy access to, is a cumulative of those creative beings that discover. To create is to discover. So as to social media it is always changing and morphing, in fact change is really the only constant. I am sure it will morph into something entirely different than what we have today. I will always be creating whether it be music, design, or toy photography. I remember the good ol’ days of the photoblog and I really enjoyed the atmosphere before social media. If the internet suddenly was gone due to some massive EMP, then I suppose I have have so much more time on my hands to create!🤓👍

  8. Great question, Jennifer! I too have to side with Dave and Reiterlied; my “origins” as a toy photographer were very dependent on social media, but now that I’ve been in the swing of things a while, I think I’d find a way if those tools disappeared.

    I’ve often wondered about this – I used to post every single shot I took on social media as soon as I was done with it, but find myself holding onto shots a lot longer now. At first it felt strange, because they lived on my hard drive but not online, and therefore didn’t feel “real” or “complete.” Now I don’t have such a problem, I like holding onto some shots and getting the chance to sit with them before posting them.

    I do think that if it weren’t for social media, I would find myself pursuing other outlets more than I am now. I love your list of examples (I’ve been all too tempted to just drop a pile of prints in coffee shops or pin them to community boards here and there, maybe I’ll try that!) and hope to play with more of that stuff this year and beyond.

    • It does feel so much more final once I’ve posted an image. And I used to, before I got more into social media, just have my photos to myself and a few peers, and yet it felt just fine then. I’ve tried to retrain myself to hold onto pieces for awhile, especially because sometimes I end up not liking them and finding ways to improve if I’m not so hasting in sharing them to the world.

      It’s funny, in making this odd list, I considered making some small prints and dropping them somewhere too. If you so decide to do something like this I’d love to hear the story.

      All in all, I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s thought about this and happy that you’d still create.

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