As a result of having a number of other personal commitments, not to mention the pending LRPS assessment day on the 2nd December, I have not been out with my camera of late but that doesn’t stop me thinking about other aspects of my photography.
Back in June of this year I started this blog about my photography. Prior to this I had been following a number of other blogs (Steve Huff, Robin Wong, Bruce Percy to name but three) and I guess they inspired me to start my own. I thought this would be a satisfying way for me to document and chart my progress as a keen but very much an amateur photographer with an awful lot to learn. Now several months later I have posted 27 entries (plus this one) and its hard to resist the temptation to look at the ‘stats’ and see how many page views I have had during this time. When I first looked I was delighted to see various hits from different parts of the world, only to be disappointed when I found out these were ‘spam’ and not genuine page views. Over time the page views have increased and I now believe the majority are ‘true’ visits.
About 2 months ago I decided that I would regularly upload some images to Flickr, make contacts with other photographers whose work I admire and in so doing I might be added to someone else’s contact list. In a small way this has happened and as my expectations are not that great, its pleasing when someone posts a positive or constructive comment, plus the ego boosting favourite tag!
Rather like the stats for my blog, a Flickr ‘pro account’ provides details of how many times a particular photo has been viewed or your photostream visited. Again these numbers and the associated graph can make for compulsive viewing in the vain hope that today’s figures are greater than those from the day before.
I started to wonder why these ‘stats’ mattered; if indeed they mattered at all? As these thoughts went around in my mind I came across this blog entry by Eric Kim, a very well known street photographer. I had been following his blog for some time as I enjoy candid ‘street and people’ shots. It’s entitled ‘How many favourites or likes are enough’. Its quite a long entry but I very much enjoyed reading it from beginning to end as it helped to explain many of the thoughts and feelings I had been experiencing myself. Having talked about the addictive quality of ‘likes and favs’ and how this can impact on the quality of your photography, Eric goes on to write about one or two solutions or alternative approaches. It talks about uploading to Flickr just once a year with the ‘best of the best’ images taken in the previous twelve months. This is in direct contrast to a daily upload just to satisfy the number of views and comments you might attract.
No sooner had I read Eric’s latest post, when I came across a blog entry posted on Nov 6th by Kirk Tuck of The Visual Science Lab called ‘What’s trending in photography’. This raised more questions than it answered but he considers the impact of the digital world on what is after all still an art form and not an endless discussion about the technological advancement of digital cameras; the proliferation of photos on the net, now that everyone with a mobile phone has a camera 24/7. He goes on to talk about photography blogs which have morphed from being a way of displaying your work, to one review of the latest camera only to be followed by another, and in the process having little discussion about photographic techniques, education and the creation of an image which is a work of art and not just another technically ‘very correct’ photograph.
The combination of these two thought provoking entries, by two very well respected photographers, has really got me thinking about my own work. How should it be displayed and shared? Do I have a style or does a style develop over time in a natural and unforced way? Twelve months ago I would not have believed that the vast majority of my work would be in black and white, uploaded onto the web and here I am writing about my own blog, not just reading someone elses! I also have a Twitter account to alert my few followers when I have taken what I think is a half decent image. None of these actions were planned a year ago; its simply how things have developed.
Given another 12 months where will my photography be? I don’t want to know the answer, as its fun and inspiring just to be on a path, which I find creative and satisfying. In the process if others take pleasure looking at my images or reading my blog, then thats a bonus. It’s important to take stock, to review the past, as it is likely to influence decisions made in the future. What doesn’t matter is whether or not I have had 5 or 500 page views today, but its still very tempting to take a quick look and find out!