MMORPG review : World of Photocraft


With the advent of social media, displaying a photograph to the world has never been easier ; or has it? It sure is easy to set an image on its internet maiden voyage but will it sink or swim and who’s going to notice? How is that prized photo you took ever going to transcend the hearts and minds of complete strangers around the world? It seems that the pure merit of the photograph these days only gets the photographer halfway to being noticed. The other half  requires more cumulative time than the actual process of taking the image and processing it, often much more.  Some people do it out of joy, some have no moral qualms about shameless self promotion. Marianne and I aren’t the most effusive , enthusiastic participants in social media but we have made an effort to meet a halfway point between our natural introverted tendencies, and the level of extroversion often required to make a mark. Incidentally, since we stopped playing World of Warcraft, we have been able to devote much more time to this pursuit.

I thought I might share some experiences about some of the available photo sharing sites we have trialled. These are purely our experiences and heavily biased by our own experiences and are in no way meant to be taken to heart by those who would disagree with our opinion.  My personal interpretation of these experiences however may seem a little paranoid but I will leave that up to you to decide! The sites listed are in no particular order.

1.       Smugmug:

  • Purpose: hosting for our website www.everlookphotography.com
  • Community: I really don’t know as I’ve never tried to participate in discussions on smugmug.
  • Positives: Allows tremendous customisation to allow the user to create all sorts of unique home pages. Sharing of galleries at various sizes of images and sorting of galleries is also very easy. We’ve been able to set up private online galleries for our wedding clients to view their images as well.
  • Negatives: It took Marianne literally years to accumulate the code from  ‘dgrin’ forums in order to create the final look of our site. Consider getting someone who is well versed with web languages to help you design your site if you would like to fast-track this process. One of the reasons for not using this site for discussion and sharing is that I have found it quite unintuitive to do so compared with the other sites listed below.
  • Exposure: This is difficult to gauge as our stats page includes outgoing image links to other sites like this blog in its final hit count. This month alone, our site is up to 55000 image views which has been steadily growing over the years.

Port Willunga Jetty is apparently our most ‘popular’ image on smugmug . Don’t know how though!

2.       Flickr.com

  • Purpose: Sharing photographs, interacting with photographers all over the world, sharing a little of the backstory behind images.
  • Community: Having been on flickr for years, I have developed a set of contacts  whose work constantly inspires me either to improve or to go to some of the places displayed on their photostreams. Through flickr, I met Orvar in Iceland ,Jordan from Malaysia while on the road in Iceland, Hillary (hillsee) while hiking around Cradle Mountain. I like the sense of community and used to be much more heavily involved until work,  parenting and doing the ‘work’ side of photography took up more time.
  • Positives : The sense of community. The picture quality when sharing also seems to be better than through smugmug. It is through flickr that Marianne and I have received most of our requests from magazines for publication so I’m making an assumption that flickr images somehow end up being shown on google image searches more readily than other sites.
  • Negatives: Due to the popularity race to get on to flickr’s ‘explore’ algorithm (an algorithm which generates the supposed top 500 pictures for any given day) – there are many groups which have been set up to generate as many comments and ‘faves’ of each group members’ new images.  The rate of commenting and ‘faveing’ is apparently part of the algorithm which gains one ‘explore’ immortality.  As a result, there is a distinct mentality of those who would not care to look at an image for more than 1 second before either writing ‘great! Please  come and visit my photostream’ or pressing Ctrl-V for a generic comment which will be spammed as ‘feedback’ across all of their fellow flickr contacts’ images for the day. Very little real critique is given for images. Images can literally be completely unnoticed unless you invest some time in doing the ‘flickr’ interaction thAng.
  • Exposure: If you manage to hit a high position on explore or reach their front page, you will definitely get many contacts following your work and browsing your photostream. I must admit, I used to game in order to achieve this back in my photographic infancy. It was admittedly to compensate for the lack of quality of those early images. I like to think that we have progressed from crawling, to taking a few steps with much more development to occur in the future. Thus far, the page has had over 700,000 views.

This image apparently is our most viewed image on flickr. Once again, don’t know how!

3.       Deviantart.com

  • Purpose: Showcasing images. Sharing stories.
  • Community: I feel kind of guilty for my presence of deviant art. I literally tried it out after Marianne achieved some popularity there and found that people are much more liberal with ‘liking’ of images. With my flickr habits taking precedence, I never really spent the same amount of time getting to know people on dA.
  • Positives:  It’s a really friendly place to be and there are a lot of ‘deviants’ (members) who will go out of their way to link your ‘deviation’ (picture) as part of a feature.  There are some truly astounding images to be found on deviant art and it is not limited to photography. Marianne has found many textures to use for photobook design through this site too.
  • Negatives: I can’t really think of many off hand. I was asked to be an administrator for a nature photography group and tried my hand at it but constantly knocking back images and giving critique on the reasons why was something I didn’t have time for on an ongoing basis.  There are some who make the effort to give well thought out critique but this is rare unless specifically asked for. The interface is also not as intuitive as flickr or 500px.
  • Exposure: Once again, if you hit the ‘front page’ equivalent by earning a slot in the ‘daily deviation’ showcase, your followers and page views will go through the roof until the dust settles.

This image was Marianne’s first daily deviation. We wondered why she was getting so many new ‘watchers’

4.       500px

  • Purpose: Showcasing best images only.
  • Community: I have not really participated in the 500px community and discussion to date. I follow a bunch of photographers whose images inspire me to improve. I have a collection of favourites of images I would like to one day emulate, or of places I would like to visit one day.
  • Positives: I love the layout and its presentation of images is probably the best of all the sites. Simple, sleek and unobtrusive. It was what drew me into the site after a few people had recommended it.  The image rating is a fantastic concept and allows for a fresh group of images to be seen every day due to the ‘decay’ of scores over time.
  • Negatives: the DISLIKE button and growing gaming of the front page.  In a scoring system where votes and favourites earn images a better score, surely the penalty for not liking (vs an active dislike button) an image is simply that it does not receive any further advancement in score. Not only does the dislike button reduce the score, its weight is about TENFOLD that of a positive vote.  Our images have been fortunate enough to hit the front page frequently but as time has gone on, we have found that shortly after hitting the front page, 1 or 2 dislikes has knocked the image’s score so much that it will no longer appear where people are looking (the first few pages of popularity).  I have nothing against cats but when a picture of a domestic house cat in front of a coffee cup is scoring higher than a work by Marc Adamus, you know something is awry. A plea to 500px : either remove the dislike button , or at least reduce the penalty, or introduce a mandatory response required for disliking an image.  Do a google search for  ‘500px front page manipulation’ and you will see a certain site forum promoting the exact type of ‘gaming’ behaviour which 500px editors are vehemently denying.
  • Exposure: We cannot complain at all. With 4 images given editor’s choice status, our images are gaining exposure through means other than the ‘popularity’ contest of its front page.

This image managed to stay at the top of 500px’s popularity. Clearly, a day off for the dislikers.

5.       Facebook

  • Purpose: Fun & Sharing!
  • Community: I can say that most people that follow the everlook photography facebook page are males , 30-50, from Australia though with a smattering all over the world. It’s a site where I feel I can give back by sharing the back stories behind the creation of images either in the field or at the PC. I am after all, quite against the secretive attitude many photographers harbour regarding locations or technique.
  • Positives: As above. It has many methods for interconnecting and sharing sites which allows exposure to become viral! If you are a fan of statistics, it certainly serves up a swag of numbers which may aid your ‘marketing’ ploys if that is your facebook aim.  There are rarely any negative comments and most of the facebook sharing community are doing it entirely for fun and exposure. It’s all about feeling good!
  • Negatives :  Interface for photo sharing is a little clunky and definitely not up to the standards of 500px, flickr or deviant art. You definitely don’t get any meaningful criticism here and because of the ‘fan’ based nature of the page, you’re likely to get a mauling from other fans for suggesting negative aspects of an image!
  • Exposure:  We’re approaching 2000 likes on the page now which has occurred far more rapidly than we could have anticipated. Some viral ‘infections’ such as a feature by QANTAS and Discover Tasmania boosted those numbers significantly early on.

Sharing the making of pictures is a regular feature on our facebook page

6.       Ausphotography forum

  • Purpose: Sharing, getting some ‘real’ critique, developing my own critical eye, engaging in competitions.
  • Community : There’s a great sense of community in this forum here but I sense that I don’t take full advantage of this in that my working and shooting habits don’t allow me to get to the many photographic meets arranged by members of the forum. As such, while people see me online, it’s still more difficult to relate to a forum member you’ve never met before!
  • Positives: The site moderators are constantly looking to improve the interface, competition rules, a sense of ‘fair-go’ for beginners. I have received a lot of great criticism here which has altered my workflow for many images. For example, an image I was going to print huge had some very noticeable chromatic aberration which I had to correct. Some images have been improved compositionally or converted to monochromatic based on constructive criticism given. The competitions are probably as neutrally judged as you can get for a relatively small community too. There are also sections on post processing help and a fantastic ‘New to Photography’ forum which takes any new comers through the basic technicalities of photography. Overall, I’d say that if you live in Australia, check out the site at http://www.ausphotography.net.au and join in the fun! There are even some overseas members too though you won’t be able to join in the real life social aspects of this forum.
  • Negatives: These are really minor gripes. One of the disadvantages (if you call it that) of enforced criticism is that it often invokes criticism for criticism’s sake. As a result, it seems that there are sometimes ‘grumpy critics’ who may give criticisms which to me, often seem unwarranted (a topic for another thread). As good as the competition system is, there are some peculiarities.  They run as a two stage process. For the first three days, voters assign a score out of ten. The images with the top 4 scores are then voted off against each other in the final stage.  I’m finding it rather strange that some images which are clear leaders in the first stage, are then beaten in the second stage.  Do we have a microcosm of the 500px / flickr explore problems happening here? The prizes are usually just kudos but it would be a distinct problem for the competitions with material reward.

One of my images which topped first round competition voting and lost out in the final washup.

There of course, many other sites that I haven’t touched on such as redbubble.com , 72 dpi, 1x. This is because I have limited experience with them. With time, I think you will find that your best images eventually do get the most exposure you are after but if you are thinking of playing ‘World of Photocraft’, you’d best invest hefty amounts of time for the long haul! The benefits are certainly there but they don’t come easy. Playing this game also serves you a slice of humble pie. Before you start playing the game, your basis for judging the ‘awesomeness’ of a photograph is based solely on comparisons to your own previous work and feedback from others who may or may not have had a wider exposure to the talent that is on show on the internet. When you play the game, you come to realise that there are always rungs of the ladder to climb, ‘levels’ to gain; both in image quality and social competency. You can be rewarded by the occasional ‘Ding’ of a reaching a new level 🙂

It has been a long read but my message today has an add-on to previous ones. Get out there and shoot! But if you want recognition, then there’s no choice but to get out there and SPAM yourself better than the next person out there!

ps. the title is based on MMORPG = massive multiplayer online role playing game. I’d like to be a wizard please!

-D

Advertisements

Posted on June 25, 2012, in How we..., Iceland, New Zealand, Photography, Random Musings, South Australia, Tasmania and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Thank you so much Dylan! This post came just at the right time! I was contemplating on how to build up my network now that I’ve got more time to spend, as all my previous attempts at rolling a high enough need roll to win that much sought after gear failed (yes I was a WoW player too few years ago :P). I just didn’t know where to start and was feeling a bit disappointed and your post certainly did inspire me a lot!
    Hopefully one day I can get my name out there, and get people other than close friends to “like” my photos but it will be a long time then.
    Also, you should try out Google+. There’s a HUGE community of photographers there, and I’m sure with your skill you’ll build your own empire over there too. 🙂

    • haha Ken – I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent of a ninja looter in the photographic world 😛
      I had tried google + but for some reason, the interface didn’t sit that well with me and so I had to choose to stop one of the networks I didn’t have time for! I might try it again at some point – started doing albums based on natural themes rather than location there.

  2. A really interesting read Dylan, it is all a bit of a game. I think you spam yourself well. You put your work out there in the various forums and sites but without the arrogance that I see from many photographers (with significantly less talent). Fabulous images, always look forward to your new shots.

    • Thanks Shirley – glad you think so – if there is arrogance sneaking in, I need a boot to the backside because photography for us shouldn’t be about ego but a visual way of ‘spreading the word’ about nature 🙂

  3. Great post. I’m not sure why you didn’t include redbubble and google+? I have often wondered about some of these sites, mainly 500 pc so joined a few months ago and while the images are amazing I have found it very ” clicky” for the lack of a better word.
    Love your images great work. Feel free to check out my site if you like. 🙂

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and opinions on all these sites Dylan. I totally agree with Shirley too. Being a girl I have found a lot of the male landscape photographers are very arrogant and are all about having there ego stroked. Of course there are a lot that are completely lovely also like yourself. I have being wondering for a while now how to get my work into Australian Photographic Magazine as this would be a big achievement for me one day. You have answered that question for me! Thank you! 🙂

    • Hi Larissa – thanks for reading! I think may have misled you a little – the ausphotography forum is actually separate from Australian photography magazine! In order to be considered for that , you’d need to correspond to their editor Robert Keeley (I don’t have contact details on me but it is usually on the inset of each issue)

  5. I thought the main purpose of Smugmug was the store functionality – not sure how 500px store is as I hear they had a fallout with Fotomoto some time ago, and I’m not active there (I can’t stand that you can’t replace pics like Flickr – I like to tweak!)

    Although not familiar with Smugmug and how good it might be, if you put your main URL on WordPress you could integrate your blog all in the one URL. That’s what I do (gavowen.com) with Bluehost/Wordpress and I set that up with no HTML/JS/PHP hacks – it helps to have a good theme template though. 🙂

    BTW your website is getting trashed by my corporate firewall at the moment (Websense-based). All resources sourced from *smugmug.com* are getting blocked. If everything was sourced from http://www.everlookphotography.com/* it would work fine. Other corporates would probably be having the same issue, as Websense is very popular. Cheers, Gav

    • thanks Gav! never knew about some of those issues about linking things in – might get look at it when you get the chance. One of the good things on smugmug is that if you move pictures around galleries, the original link still stays (so places you’ve linked images don’t all of a sudden go blank)

      • That’s a good feature. When you publish a domain on WordPress, (as apposed to having “.wordpress.com”) you can control the outward presentation of URLs separate from the directory structure, as most if not all resources have what’s called a “slug”. The slugs default to unique names directly under the domain. For instance when I set-up my “landscapes” gallery it was showed up initially under /landscapes as the slug was “landscapes”, but I changed the slug to “galleries/landscapes” so that now it renders as gavowen.com/galleries/landscapes, to fit with my graphical menu hierarchy. I’m pedantic like that 🙂

        You can change all the underlying directories around, but as long as you keep the slug consistent then links won’t break. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a WordPress plugin to add redirects or multiple slugs, if the initial slug has to change.

        Also you left out tumblr, although that’s not what I’d call a serious photography site! Not bad for iphoneography though – direct from the iPhone 🙂

  6. Thanks for the thoughts Dylan. One day I hope to have enough time to invest into the social media world of photocraft myself…

  7. Hah! I was addicted to World of Warcraft for years and just picked up my DSLR a year ago. Your work is truly inspirational, I will be following your work and hope to learn from you through your blog and YouTube videos. Unfortunately I live in the US and will not be attending any of your upcoming workshops; hopefully you will have something on DVD or online Pro tutorial to share with the rest of the world.
    Wishing your family best of luck!
    I was an undead Rogue!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: