It’s all in the delivery…..
Posted by everlookphotography
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Your thoughts in the comments below are more than welcome!