Craig McCormick is a landscape photographer currently living in China. Originally hailing from the UK, he grew up in Hong Kong and has spent most of his life either living or traveling in Asia. When not out shooting he can usually be found filming or editing videos for his growing YouTube channel.

This article originally appeared here, and is being republished on 500px with express permission.

Last week was by far the most surreal experience I’ve ever had. An image I posted on 500px went all the way to the number 1 most popular image in all categories on their site.

Needless to say, I kind of freaked out. In more ways than one.

Now I don’t say all this stuff to be all “look at me and how awesome I am!”, but because I think it’s something actually worth talking about as the experience was something I never really put much thought into.

I want to start by quoting something from a blogpost written by fellow F Stop Lounge contributor, Matthew Maddock:

If we are totally honest with ourselves, when you post up an image it isn’t primarily an altruistic desire to share the love, it is because we want other people to appreciate our work.

I have this saved in a Quotes folder in my Evernote to give myself a reality check from time to time. I’m not trying to say we all have ulterior motives when putting our work online, but we can’t kid ourselves by telling ourselves that we don’t care what other people think about our work. We like people “liking” our work; we all do if we’re honest.

I say all this because as my image started to get more and more views, I started to get a bit panicky. You see, it’s not the views or the admiration that you receive that’s scary. It’s the domino effect it has on all your other work.

Your other images get a boost in views. Your website gets a spike in traffic that you haven’t witnessed yourself unless you’ve had something go viral. You get a 300% increase in your followers on said platform.

And if you’re like me, you receive a sudden influx of eyes on the YouTube video (embedded at the bottom of this post) related to said image:

The clicks for the vlog.

The clicks for the vlog.

As all this started happening I began feeling a wave of panic rush over me:

“What if they see my other work and they don’t like it as much?”

“What if they watch that vlog and hate it or hate me?”

“Why did I forget to put the image preview in that damn vlog, I’m so stupid!”

“What if they then check out my other videos and they learn that I know so little about being a real photographer?”

Wave after wave of fear, self hatred and self doubt quickly filled my mind. Again, I don’t say this stuff to be falsely self deprecating or to fish for praise. This is just how my brain works!

At the time of writing, the image had been viewed 26K+ times. As of this repost, that number is now almost 35K. (Eeeek!)

At the time of writing, the image had been viewed 26K+ times. As of this repost, that number is now almost 35K. (Eeeek!)

While the popularity and praise I received was overwhelmingly lovely — and believe me I’m super grateful for ALL of it and appreciate the compliments — there was a part of me that was scared by how many eyes were suddenly on my work. It makes you second-guess everything.

Ultimately, I knew that the views and my position on the Popular page would slow down quickly. That’s just the way 500px works. Everyone gets their 24 hours to shine and then on to the next. There was a number 1 image the day before me and there would be another number 1 image after me. And I’m totally cool with that!

Looking back there’s a part of me that feels like I was unprepared, not just emotionally but content wise. Having that many eyes on your work as a whole is a great opportunity to capitalise on.

Not to sound seedy but so much great stuff is posted on the internet daily that it’s easy for us to have no idea it even exists and having someone like your work enough to want to go check out what else you have to offer is a great opportunity to let them know that you’re not just a “one trick pony”; or in this case “one good photo”.

The likelihood of having another image hit the number 1 spot is unlikely at best, but whenever I post content in the future I will think twice about what implications it can have on my other work and try to think ahead about ways that I can use that piece of content as a stepping stone for something else. I already do that with my YouTube videos, so why not apply that to other things I do?

Editor’s Note: We’ve included the above-mentioned YouTube vlog about how Fairy Glen Gorge, River Conwy was captured. Enjoy! And thank you to Craig for allowing us to share this awesome story and lesson with our community.