Friday, 5 November 2010

Flickrtine patches

I want to raise an observation about flickr. Now, I will sound like a hypocrite because I do use flickr. And I'm not out to criticise any other flickr users. There are lots of good things about flickr, period. However, I have weaned myself off once before and I am acutely aware of urges reminiscent of the last time!!

In essence, I don't like what happens to me. The more I learn about the art of photography, the more I appreciate the value of an image for more than its aesthetic qualities. Even for myself, more recently when I show friends and family my photographs, I don't get the instant gratification and I can see they're underwhelmed. Whereas my landscapes were always crowd pleasers, so to speak. I have to have the confidence that this is fine. However, Flickr, in my opinion, flies in the face of this. My problem is I start to believe the views of the mass anonymous (btw, I do not include the views of fellow students, bloggers, tutors, friends and family in this). So what is wrong with feedback of the mass anonymous? Nothing. Of course I like it when people like my images...and conversely I question why a certain image is lost in cyber oblivion.

But for myself, I noticed last time a subtle shift in my thinking and the views of the flickr community became my 'guage' as to whether the image was 'successful' or not. Going forward my images are unlikely to be crowd pleasers so should I really be seeking the opinions of the crowds?

In my view, you can lose sight of why you're taking pictures. You become too aware of what others think and there is a danger you shift from internally motivated images to populist photography. This bothers me - there is arguably an underlying mass standardisation of what is acceptable or good. Maybe I'm saying this because I want more views, comments or favourites and am just 'chippy'... maybe so.

However, I would contest this. Going back, I uploaded dozens of images and my photostream began to resemble a landscape portfolio. In time, I had a good idea which images collected views, comments, favourites, and were 'explored'. Consequently, I started to believe the stats and ended up making more and more aesthetically pleasing, colourful landscapes that did well on the stats front. But creatively, I had careered up a dead-end!

I'm happy using flickr for the SPN project but I've been here before and I don't intend to fall back in to old habits! 'Ha, she says that now...we'll see'. Where are those patches again...


  1. Penny

    On Flickr there is a tendency to praise the good and ignore the bad. If that environment was a genuine place for comment we should see more "poor composition, poor this etc" but we dont. You are right that by pandering to an opinion your work will change. I experienced this in camera club competitions, where the voting system allowed one man one vote, and thereby a popularist opinion pervaded and good won but the very best never did.

    I think your judgement on good photographic work is obvious from what I have seen and I wouldnt bother what Flickrites think.

    I dont.

  2. Thanks for posting Nigel, the club competition thing worries me a little too, not that I know anything about it yet - but from what I've heard I can imagine. Constructive criticism positive and negative is definitely the way to go.



  3. If nothing else Penny, you know how to get my old grey matter thinking. I can see where you are coming from and have to agree with you, especially with the "comments" I've seen on the SPN project. I have come through the Art College system and witnessed what you say first hand. Students who did as they were told and were good at "middle of the road" subject matter, ultimately passed. Those who pushed the boundaries often received harsh criticism which sometimes affected the students confidence. I also suffered at the hands of the "camera club"! After harsh criticism of my prints for being "un-pretty!" and "poorly composed" and not fitting the bill as pretty landscapes or nice portraits, I just stopped going and vowed never to join a camera club again - a vow that I will maintain till the day I depart this earth. On the other hand, as long as crticism is constructive I won't take offence, so I apppreciate a respected colleague recommending how I could improve my work, these are the type of comments I would look forward to on flickr. I have always given you an honest opinion of your work Penny and the fact that I keep returning to your blog to see what new work you are producing shows that you have at least 1 appreciative fan.

  4. Aah thanks Adey. I'm glad you keep popping over, the banter is great - and I need some reinforcements here in West Cumbria. We need to show them hardcore metropolis dwellers we can do 'street' too!!

    I am also quite tentative about the camera club thing. It's all pretty new to me and I don't understand the salons/competitions culture yet. I'm also not quite sure if my style (or lack of it) will contribute! However, they're a very welcoming group and I don't want to pre-judge. I believe it's not a conventional camera club so we'll see. But yours and Nigel's experiences do concern me!

    ...thanks for the honest feedback and oh, toast and jam over on flickr sometime!!

    Good luck with the cliches, think it could be a tough one...for a change...rolling eyes!

  5. Hi Penny, only me...

    You certainly make some points that resonate with me, things that I have thought about in the past, even discussed them in private but never openly stated...

    When I first started Flickring, I went through the stage of posting things that attracted comments. I think that's almost a rite of passage in many respects. These photographs are really quite "normal", but as I started to think more as I progressed through my first L2 (PwDP), comments dropped off. Perhaps the photographs became more challenging, and the "average" person (as opposed to art luvvy or someone just on the same wavelength) doesn't know HOW to comment. My roundabout series on Flickr is an example of this - the only comments are from a roundabout appreciation group; but my tutor got quite excited about it as contemporary art. I discussed this commenting conundrum with Chaotic some time ago...

    Another thing from the Uni of Cumbria talk I went to - John Darwell is currently doing a personal series on discarded bags of doggy doo. Not the sort of thing that would attract much comment from the average Flickrite (and I include myself here), but as contemporary art he obviously sees the point...

    Anyway, catch you later...

  6. Hmmm, food for thought, thanks Rob for sharing your thoughts. Very funny about the roundabout appreciation group!! It's nice that you've found a unique take on landscape. I guess as we develop as artists, our work becomes a little more obscure or oblique but I do wonder how we'll all be thinking five years from now and the type of work we'll producing then. No doubt comment and favourite free!! I find this journey entirely intriguing more so for not knowing where it will end up!!