It’s all in the delivery…..


With increasing internet access comes increasing availability of information. In fields such as photography, this has definitely increased the number of pictures available for viewing online as more people inform themselves on the basics of photography and set out to fulfil their visions. I am sure that this has increased the absolute number of images available but less certain about the relative increase in quality images available. Likewise, the amount of interaction with particular images has increased though quality interactions such as meaningful critiques would still be at a premium.  The delivery of images and subsequent interaction is constantly evolving and in many aspects, not necessarily for the better.

At around 30,000 views it is one our most viewed images yet not personally one of our most precious.

Increasingly, the online photographic world seems to be caught up  in lay-consumerism where popular images are not necessarily those most artistically valued by either the photographer or so-called expert critics. Popular methods of commenting with monosyllabic acronyms far outnumber well considered responses.  By stark contrast, many forums exist which encourage ‘proper’ opinion and discourage any ‘like’ or ‘fave’ type of comments.  In this setting the opposite may well occur as described by a previous post regarding the issue of the ‘armchair critic’ . The unfortunate result of such extreme variations of feedback is that the creator of the image may have to spend time fending of spam or taking on unnecessarily caustic and unhelpful remarks.

This image drew all manner of accusations of falsehood which were incredibly unfounded yet convincingly delivered!

 From the artist’s perspective, it is increasingly difficult to achieve recognition for producing something which stands out from the crowd. Some go to the extreme lengths of deception to do so, while others are so caught up with protecting ‘industry secrets’ such that precious little information is provided about the photograph with its initial presentation or  on polite request.  Let’s face it though, there are more ways than ever to generate appropriate complex masks and achieve high dynamic range and most of these methods are available in some form for free on youtube or vimeo. Who can blame photographers for this self promoting practice though. Everyone needs to make a living somehow and if landscape photography is your sole source of income, it’s going to take some originality of work or marketing to sustain your profession. I do however get despondent after viewing an inspirational image, only to read a caption that states ‘please buy my tutorial /attend my workshop’ with no other descriptors of the image.

Believe it or not, images of Kirkjufell were once relatively rare even as early as 5 years ago.

What is common then, with all of these varying , sometimes drastically opposing points of view? Communication. I feel that in this current day and age, communication has never been easier nor more accessible yet these factors have ironically been its downfall. How many times have you written an email or a tweet in the spur of the moment which has ended up with regret. How many times has it  been easier just to click a button (‘fave’) rather than to express why you like an image.  How many times have you seen critique that was assumed to be provoking in nature when it need not have been? How many times have you seen an artist spin a tale of wonder and intrigue regarding certain images in order to win an audience ? How many times have you wanted to find out more about an image only to find that there is no accompanying caption nor a reply when asked about details for an image. Finding the middle ground between these extreme examples is a difficult one but one that I feel is important.

I tried to make it clear that the swirling trails was done in post processing for this scene.

What’s my approach then?I like to keep things simple.  I ‘like’ or ‘fave’ an image when I truly like an image enough to view it again for inspiration ; either to one day visit that location or to study what makes it  a successful image in my eyes. I may like an image to support artists who I feel are underdone with exposure but I don’t do this in the hope of a return favour. What’s the personal point of having a favourites collection that spans 50000 images (as many users of 500px do)? When giving critique, I try to make sure that in some way there is something constructive to be gained and that it is clear that my critique is just opinion. I try to give an honest account of my experience with creating individual images (where it was taken, the conditions, if it is a multiple exposure blend or composite). I create links to our various sites and tutorials but as an adjunct to some actual useful information about the image itself. But remember this ; I do not rely on photography to make a living. I do not have to do the hard sell to keep my family off the streets. Would my delivery of images and interaction with the wider wold change if I did become a full time photographer? I could not hope to answer that until the pressures of this theoretical lifestyle erode at my current principles!

This image is our top selling post card to date but its earnings might support us for a week!

Your thoughts in the comments below are more than welcome!

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Posted on March 14, 2014, in How we..., Photography, Random Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Ingrid Van Streepen

    I have to say, this was a very thoughtful post and great for me to read. I don’t make a living from photography either, but those that can make their passion into a livelihood are lucky as well as talented.
    There was a forum that I contributed to briefly, until some well meaning professional said my images were point and shoot, (which I thought unnecessary) so I no longer contribute to that one. :)
    Keep doing what you do as long as you enjoy it.
    Cheers,
    Ingrid.

  2. Excellent thoughts here… it raises the point of what is our very motive behind our art. To me, sharing my feeling about the sheer beauty of this world is my primary motive : once you know it, you’re not the same anymore and you dare to confront any opinions, even those ill-intentioned. Because you don’t care about the idiots and selfish of this world : you’re targeting the ones with mind openness, which are ready to accept the gift you offer them and the dialog that is suggested. This is the true joy of photography as far as I am concerned. Thanks for your great and meaningful work !

    Claude Dumas
    claudedumas.com

  3. The hardest part about even being a hobbyist photographer these days is the self-marketing, through whichever platform you choose to use. I would surely die of boredom for being a fulltime professional in my chosen landscape field – I still have much to aspire to and I know I’m not ready. I seldom participate in forums these days, it’s just too much of a time drain to trawl through attitudes that will inevitably make me angry about the advice being given out.

    Sadly 500px is slowly descending into Flickr. You only need to browse the Fresh pages to see people putting entire albums online at once, not even abiding by the original “your best work” motto. Soon the images of cats or semi-naked ladies will take over and we’ll be off looking for another forum in which to present our hard-earned fine art imagery. I know that I don’t fully flesh out descriptions anymore, it’s not that I’m secretive, more lazy.

  4. I enjoy reading your commentaries and viewing your photos. Thank you.

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