After Twitter: Mastodon For Photographers

I have been using Mastodon for nearly three months now, and I can certainly say that it is very refreshing. I’m really glad I made the move and can easily accept the platform’s limitations and quirks because in exchange, I have a very positive experience.

After the other you-know-who bought Twitter and ran a faux poll to reinstate you-know-who, I really didn’t feel like contributing even one more thing to the site, with my content, presence, and attention. While I still have my Twitter account, I locked it down and deleted a good part of the content. But let’s leave all the crap that Musk has done aside here. (if you really must know, visit

If you clicked on this for the photo — well, here it is! I’ll mention something about it later on. :)

Just from a photographer’s perspective, as someone who’s looking to share photos with an audience and connecting with people, I can honestly say that Mastodon has exceeded the wildest expectations. The amount of engagement that many of my photo posts are getting on Mastodon is, compared to Twitter, really quite astonishing.

Engagement Is 🔥

Just a third of the followers on Mastodon create a lot more interactions. As I’m writing these paragraphs, this extremely popular post has been re-shared (“boosted”) 120 times and received 263 favorites. I am not alone in these observations. Which is also an expression of just how shitty algorithm-based social media feeds really are, not just “for the rest of us” who have low and moderate follower numbers, but even for accounts with many followers.

Going back to the photo above: out of curiosity I shared it on Mastodon Friday night at 10:46 PM PST — which, based on my past experiences on Twitter, is pretty much the worst day and time to share perhaps anything, but certainly, a photo. As of writing this, it has received five “boosts” and 22 “favorites”. That would not happen at all, with more than three times the followers I had, on Twitter.

Part of this is of course because I rarely shared actual photos on Twitter. I always found the broad license that one needs to grant Twitter (or any other social media site) when sharing content to be a problem. But Mastodon is entirely non-commercial. It is clear to me what happens to my photo when I share it there: it’s propagated across the network, to the servers of users who are following me. I’m not granting a “sub-license to partners and affiliates” to use my photo, including commercially, as I would when sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Another reason is that Mastodon is way more popular in Europe, so posting at (for me) odd hours means reaching people when they browse the Mastodon feed while sipping their Saturday morning coffee. :)

There’s no algorithm, so I don’t need to pick some photo that I think might do better, or not, or whatever else, just to perhaps get my work to be seen by the people who are already following me anyway, because I’m at the mercy of “the algorithm”. We are humans, and we’ve become so programmed to feed algorithms, the machine, it’s bizarre! Sharing photos on Mastodon brings back this strange element of “fun” — of taking whatever photo I like, because I feel like sharing it, whatever, and just putting it there.

Mastodon is how social media ought to be and used to be, before algorithms. What’s great about Mastodon besides the fact that there are no algorithms and no ads is that, thanks to hashtags and users that “boost” (aka retweet) posts, older posts continue to get attention for a longer period of time. For example, on January 19th, I saw over 20 new notifications on a photo that I had posted ten days ago, on January 9th! Nothing like this has ever happened to me on Twitter, in the ten years that I’ve been using it.

On Twitter, I felt like I was mostly connected to other photographers, and while that’s nice of course, it’s also… limiting, in a way (which is also the reason why I’m less interested in Vero, Glass, and other photo-sharing-only sites). On Mastodon, I’m connecting with all kinds of people. In that regard, it feels more like Google+ to me — except that Mastodon is not in the hands of a profit-driven Silicon Valley company that can pull the plug on it, or sell it out.

The Mastodon software is developed by a non-profit headed by Eugen Rochko in Germany, and Mastodon servers are mostly run by individuals. It’s up to the users to support them. I’ve said for a very long time that I’d happily pay for an ad-free, privacy-respecting, algorithm free social network. And now I do, by making donations to “trumpet“, the person that runs the server I’m on, Which feels a lot better than adding the corporate accounts that are pestering me with ads to my blocklist on Twitter. 😜

I am excited to connect with other people who share my passions, for photography, for the environment, for flowers, for Shiba Inu dogs. :) Mastodon users are excited to connect, to see beautiful, funny, thought-provoking things, I think they are less snobbish, and are more generously sharing with their own followers.

I’m mentioning all this because I see so many photographers still holding on to Twitter — they have a bigger following than me and I know, it’s painful to find people again, and re-build a following. But I’ve made new and interesting connections there already that I would have missed on Twitter, entirely. It’s such a great chance to shed all the dead and inactive accounts on Twitter, and more importantly, leave all the other crap on that platform behind, instead of continuing to contribute to some rich-man-with-a-megaphone who is seeking attention.

Posting photography on Mastodon requires a bit more time. The community there can be quite adamant about so-called “alt-text”, in other words, adding written descriptions to visual content, for the visually impaired. I have found that quite interesting actually, because it forces me to look at all the elements in the photo, and describing them in words makes a connection to my inner, more intuitive “feeling” way of seeing.

To get some traction, it is helpful and important to use good old hashtags on Mastodon, like #Photography, #LandscapePhotography, and the like. Doesn’t have to be many. The weekly, alliteration-based photo themes like #MountainMonday, #TreeTuesday, #WaterfallWednesday and so on have also seen a revival on Mastodon, and certain Mastodon-specific themes like #Mosstodon are hugely popular*. If you post quality content, it will take off. And I enjoy browsing the hashtags after posting a photo! :) There is SO MUCH talent out there. It’s fantastic.

As a photographer, if you feel like Twitter is turning into a ghost town because you have 5000 followers and get less than 20 interactions when you post something… give Mastodon a try. To make it easy, here’s an invite for the server I’m on, Join and I’ll give you a boost! 🚀

Join me on Mastodon at

There is one downside: there’s a lot of really good, positive and interesting stuff shared on Mastodon (I should mention Don Melton’s firehose of boosts — fun to read, but if you follow him he’ll take over your stream!😅). I have to carefully limit my time on Mastodon — which is a much better problem to have than getting sucked into yet another round of doom-scrolling on Twitter. :)

*) if you like donkeys, #Asstodon is for you. I kid you not!

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6 thoughts on “After Twitter: Mastodon For Photographers”

    • Hi! No, this isn’t from last night — we got skunked by the incoming clouds! This photo is from early January; I went there after an appointment with a nearby client, in early January. :)

  1. Glad to hear Mastodon’s been working for you. I’ve heard of it but have to admit I knew nothing about it. So far I’ve avoided having social media accounts. One reason is the fear I’d spend far too much time there, so until I feel like I have a little more free time I may continue avoiding them. But it’s good to know there are better places than others. And #Asstodon? Who wouldn’t be curious about that?! :-)


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