What I've learnt about Photography...

...and online sharing sites and communities.*

For either of my readers who MIGHT have been living under a rock, there's been controversy a plenty of late on flickr. This has given reason to ponder my flickr future.

Recently, flickr internationalised it's site. Bringing more language options into place. This turned out to be a double edged sword. It appears that flickr.de** imposed a level of censorship that put quite a few noses out of joint. As a consequence some of flickr's best European photographers have moved to ipermity.com. Censorship is not the only issue that has been bugging a few people, I know of one former flickrnaut, who was starting to get broken links elsewhere on the web because flickr was changing uri's. I personally recently suffered a minor irritation of the censorship variety. I also feel the 'sense' of community has been slowly declining over the past 15 or so months.

So while I ponder the future of my flickr account, I checked out ipernity.com, found some contacts in there and have been poking around blogging and generally getting a feel for the place.

In one of my blog posts over at ipernity, I mentioned how I'd learnt a few things about photography and online sharing community sites. So I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts about my time, nearly 3 years, of hanging around in the flickrverse. [Please bear in mind flickr is the first community that I've gotten involved in and felt I understood it machinations.]

  • Less is more. Only upload what you consider your absolute best. If you are chasing some kind of notoriety, the quality of your images needs to impeccable. However, if you have an idea or pre-conception about your own work in a cyberspace context you may never be 'found' . If your ideas are not about what the hoi poloi consider to be a 'good' photographs, read sunsets, babies, macros etc here, attention will be scant. If you are not interested in some level of notoriety then upload at will, eventually all the right people will find you.
  • Sex sells. Some of the most popular images on flickr are by women of themselves in flirtatious poses, often scantily clad. Erotic photography of women by men rates well too. By rates well I mean 1000's of views per image within a week or so of them being put online.
  • Put Out. You only get out what you put in, unless you are gifted photographer with an eye that appeals to the hoi poloi. Again if you want interaction and dialog, then you've got to put out so to speak. This can ultimately be a double edged sword. There are only so many hours in a day you can view and comment on photos and get involved in group discussions. Unless you work in IT and are expected to sit at a screen all day everyday.
  • Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. People may or may not have thick skins. As with any text based online community subtle nuances of language are often lost, be prepared to put noses out of joint if sarcasm or irony are your main tools of choice in an online community. On the flip-side don't be afraid to jump in and get your feet wet, it's all just letters on a screen anyways.
  • Never ever take yourself seriously. Bit like life really, and only help when you are asked for it, help that is.
  • Play have Fun. These places are one big game, a game for adults, play have fun, maybe learn some stuff on the way, but don't expect to become rich or famous. Flickr particularly will never lead to much in the way of opportunities, getting published etc, other than the odd image here and there. The sheer volume of images makes it almost impossible to offer anything unique and universally appealing.
  • Geeks first Photographers 2nd***. These kinds of places are invariably inhabited by Geeks. Said Geeks may or may not have an appreciation for the finer points of photography and it's nuances, of technique, history methodology or rules and rule breaking, don't expect any form of appreciation if your motivation for making images goes beyond the best lens and having the right amount of your image in focus
  • Be open and receptive. You will make contact with fantastic people.

*Based on my limited experience with flickr.

**Of course Germany isn't the only place to impose this kind of censorship, but for some reason this time around the ripples ran a little deeper. There was a similar furore over the UAE's censorship of flickr back in around 2005, I think?

***I'm speaking here in broad generalisations.

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This page contains a single entry by s2art published on July 2, 2007 7:44 PM.

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