Long-time readers of the blog will know that this blog, closing in on a year old, has changed quite a bit. It went from showcasing some of my smaller projects, to having daily posts of my daily goings-on, to having longer breaks lately. I have shifted both the things I photograph and the manner in which I photograph them. The first few months I posted mostly photos, usually 3-6 at a time, and didn’t write much. Since then, I have begun writing more. I am always torn, since this started out as primarily a blog about photography. Or rather, not about photography so much as a blog simply of photographs. After all, who would really care too much about what I had to say? I am not a professional photographer, nor do I have a wealth of experience or knowledge to impart in these posts.
Then again, blogs are pretty informal spaces for sharing. So why not? After all, some of the best photographs and photography insight that I have found has been through other bloggers who are also not professionals, or only marginally so–this could lead into a discussion of what a professional photographer actually is anymore, and if we need to adapt that title to the times in which we live, but it won’t.
If I continue to write, and don’t post photographs, will people still visit the blog? If I cease posting images, will all my followers abandon the blog, and stip visiting? Will anyone care about anything I’ve written, or do people only come here for photographs?
Here are some of the platforms for sharing online that I have sampled or used in the past:
- I used to put a lot of photographs on flickr, years ago. I have stopped that to a large degree, and almost abandoned flickr altogether a while back, if it weren’t for someone’s advice that is essentially, at its most basic level, really cheap cloud storage. So I kept it. Five or six years ago, I thought flickr was great; I can’t tell if it has gotten worse, or if I have gotten better (photographically speaking). I don’t like the way it relies on a photo-stream, which focuses on single images at the expense of a larger, visual, thematic narrative. Yes, you can create sets of images, but the platform is still essentially set up to focus on one image at a time. The community aspect has also let me down. Rather than getting any meaningful feedback, people rely on the quid pro quo approach to commenting–that is, you give me one, and I’ll give you one–and simply saturate long lists of contacts with banal comments ranging from “nice shot” to “congrats on explore!”…these are not helpful. In fact, they aren’t designed to be. It’s simply designed to get someone to comment in return, thus increasing the exposure and likelihood that one will have an image selected for flickr’s explore (a daily selection of images chosen by a computer algorithm). This becomes the goal. Beyond using flickr to store images and have access to them on other machines, I have grown tired of it.
- I have never really used facebook for sharing photos other than what facebook is useful for: sharing snapshots of friends, family, or people one has become acquainted with on some level and has been saddled with the “friend” label by facebook. Facebook is really not designed to share work of any kind, unless it’s with instagram and involves one’s pet or baby. I exaggerate a bit, but you get my point.
- Tumblr takes flickr-style photo-sharing to its natural conclusion for the generation of people who have grown up with zero attention span. It is momentary, and anything beyond a single shot is wasted on an audience. It’s more about re-blogging someone else’s content that actually creating your own. I tried it, hated it, and got rid of it.
Then we have my blog and my website. My website is mostly reserved for my best work, and projects that are finished. The blog, then, has become the de facto place to share images that I am working on, to try to get feedback on portions of projects that are not yet finished, as a sounding board for ideas, and a platform to share my views on photography and the photographic process.
Which brings me back to the initial question: if I stop posting images, will my online presence evaporate?
I’m not sure. I prefer to let my images gestate for a while anyway (I generally let my film sit for 3-4 months before processing it, and my digital images are similar) so posting less is helpful. That helps me to not get caught up in a series of single images, and allows me to focus on medium- to long-term projects. It also puts the emphasis on shooting, and not editing or posting or sharing.
So I’m toying with the idea of no longer posting images online, other than snapshots that I share with friends and family via the social network of my choice. I think that this may help me develop and progress as a photographer. My website would have my very best work only–completed projects and street/documentary work. It is important, I think, as a photographer to only show your very best work, which means heavily editing to ensure that artistically I’m always putting my best foot forward. The blog would be reserved for select images, or snapshots of what I’ve been up to lately; news of my comings and goings, thoughts on my latest ongoing projects, announcements, or essays on various topics.
This is part of a comprehensive re-thinking and re-imagining of my ideas of myself as a photographer and artist, and what I need or want to do to get myself to the next level with my photography. I’ve become frustrated with what feels, at times, like stagnation in the development of my photography.