365 Days of Instagram

Generator Photography is finally on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/generatorphotography

It’s where all the popular kids are.  And, if I’m honest, that is part of the reason I wasn’t on it.  I’m that kid who likes to go to parties, but also likes to stand in a corner alone and feed my superiority complex by smugly judging everyone else.  Yes, I’m that kid.

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By now Instagram is THE conduit for sharing your work, your life, your art.  Which is a shame, because as a photographer, I actually think that flickr is a better platform over Instagram.  Here are some things flickr has that Instagram doesn’t*:

  • Albums & collections: very easy to create and organize, makes finding things later on much nicer, just wish more people used collections though.
  • Tagging: Works very much like Lightroom and can even pull LR tags automatically. The ability to search my own tags and narrow down by tags, flickr even adds its own ones and you can search by predominant color in a photo. I can go to a list of all my tags when trying to find all photos from a particular camera, film, place etc. very useful.
  • EXIF: If photo has exif data it’s clearly displayed on the page and i can click through for extensive exif data as well. If a photo has GPS data in it there is a world map there and you can quickly drill down to where it was taken.
  • Privacy settings are varied enough and useful, public/private/friends/family, change who is allowed to comment or add tags.
  • Select what kind of copyright (or lack thereof) i want on photos, flickr has 9 different options to quickly select from.
  • Stats page for each photo with graphs and even where the viewers came from, there is also a summary stats page where i can see various things about all my photos. The Recent Activity page as well, lets me see if anyone has commented or favorited any photos so i can quickly respond.
  • Photos just look better on flickr.  There, I said it.

But while flickr is not in the death spiral it once was, sadly it is highly unlikely it will ever reach the level of popularity that Instagram has.

But, then again, Instagram isn’t just for photographers.  It’s for celebrities, and people who want to photograph their lunch, and their puppies, and their kids, the books they are reading, and sunsets. And a whole lot of other stuff.  It’s actually pretty cool, and I’m sorry my patronizing attitude stopped me from jumping in.

The question was how, exactly, should I jump into the pool?  I have many years of work behind me.  Do I post a large chunk of it all at once?  Only the best shots?  Or just make a clean break with the past and only post new work?  It was a puzzle.

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The answer I came up with was 365 Days of Instagram.  What I will be doing is posting one photo on Instagram every day for 2017.  This will be in addition to the regular work I will be posting throughout the year.

365 Days of Instagram will accomplish two things.  First, it will mean I have fresh content every day. On social media, it seems like you are only as relevant as your last tweet.  Or your last post.  Usually, because of my 9-5 weekday work schedule, I can often go long periods without posting any new pictures. By guaranteeing one post every day, I know that my Instagram page will not be quickly forgotten and end up covered by dusty, internet cobwebs.

Second, even though this turns every day into Throwback Thursday, it will give me a chance to really go through my back catalogue and post stuff even regular, faithful followers of Generator Photography haven’t seen for a while.  And, after one year, all will have a wonderful, complete picture of my work and my art.

I couldn’t be more excited about this upcoming year.

Soon, I will post my thoughts about 2016 (sort of sucked…but not?), and what’s coming up for 2017.

Stay tuned, friends, good stuff is coming.

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*This list is directly quoted from a Reddit thread in /r/photography, “Thought’s on Flickr’s Future?”  I would have given the author due credit, but they have since deleted their account.

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The Desert Companion “Focus On Nevada” Photo Contest

Suburban Mailbox 2

Our local NPR Magazine Desert Companion is holding their 3rd Annual “Focus On Nevada” Photo Contest.

Contests in the arts are weird things.  In a football game, you pretty much know which team scored the most touchdowns.  In soccer, it is usually cut and dry about who scored the most goals.  In a drag race, it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.

But how can you really judge who has the “best” piece of art?

Don’t get me wrong, there is a strong history of artwork being judged.  Funny enough, it was a specific show of works deemed not good enough that ended up setting the art world, and most of the rest of the world on fire. And where would the world be if the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts had been a little less judgmental to a young applicant from Austria?

As I’ve written many times before, I come from a fine art background, and so this concept of judging  and, more importantly, ranking artwork is not new to me.  But that’s never stopped it being an odd concept to ponder.

While the nuance of artistic contests can be considered and debated for a long time, the practical result of entering artwork into a competition are pretty straightforward: exposure.  Other people get to see your art.  Hopefully, many people.  Much more than would normally see your work.  And exposure, usually, is a good thing.

And God knows I’m all about getting more exposure.

What bothered me about this specific contest, however, was not the idea of “Art As Competition”.  No, the concern comes from the fine print of the Official Rules.  Specifically, the clause which states

Entrant grants an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide non-exclusive license to NVPR, and its related companies to reproduce, distribute, and/or display the Submission 1) in connection with the Contest and promotion of the Contest, including, but not limited to print publishing, terrestrial broadcasts, web, and any other platform now known or later developed, 2) in connection with NVPR/DESERT COMPANION and promotion of NVPR/DESERT COMPANION, including, but not limited to print publishing, terrestrial broadcasts, web, and any other platform now known or later developed. No additional consideration or approval is required for any such use. Further, as a condition of accepting the prize, the winner of the contest will be required to assign to NVPR/DESERT COMPANION exclusive rights to the Submission for a period of one-hundred-eighty (180) days following the date of its selection as winner.

And then:

d. The Winner will be required to assign to NVPR/DESERT COMPANION all rights to the Submission as a condition of winning the prize.

So, basically, if I win, I lose all rights to my photo for 180 days.  Even by entering, I am agreeing that they can use my photos however they want, without notifying me at all, from here on out.  Word like “irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide” license freak me out.

But, to be fair, they state very clearly, “If you do not agree to these terms, please do not use the web site or enter the Contest.”   Fair enough.

The bottom line is that I weighed the pros and cons, and then entered five photos into this years competition.  Did I enter by best I’ve got?  Absolutely not, I’m not giving up my rights that easy.  But I didn’t enter dogs either.  I mean, I literally didn’t enter pictures of dogs.  Or kittens, which I’m sure would win any contest known to man.  But, also, figuratively I didn’t enter any dogs.  Or purposely bad photos.  I tried to choose pictures that would be good enough to compete, but not so good I’ll miss them when they’re gone.  It’s a tightrope, Spud.

Grand prize is a Sony Alpha a7 camera with FE 28-70mm Lens.  B&H lists that combo at $1,598.00.  Not too shabby.  Plus, everyone I know who shoots the a7 loves it.

That said, I seriously doubt I’ll win the big prize.  Past that, there are five different categories, and I certainly wouldn’t mind either first ($250 gift card to B&C camera) or second ($125 gift card) prize in any category.  I could always use more gear.

But, as I said before, this is mostly about getting exposure.  I believe it’s worth the contractual commitment.

I entered the above pic, Suburban Mailbox.  Man, I love that shot.  So many great shapes and lines.  Plus, it’s just another testament to how great my new Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens is.  If I was single, I would marry this lens, I love it so much.  It could make an honest woman out of me.

I think the above pic might have a shot.  Who knows?  There are two other pics that also should be in the running.  And one that, hot damn, if it doesn’t win something, anything, then I’m going to walk down to NPR with a baseball bat and personally teach them some art appreciation.

And the 5th pic I threw in just for fun.  I have no expectations for that shot.

Which means, obviously, that’ll be the one that wins something.

We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Albums

Haley Jason

These are my friends, they came to visit me and my family here in Vegas.  I showed them around the Arts District here, where I took this picture.  This shot is slowly becoming one of my favorite shots I’ve taken of people.

They are old friends and part of the ritual with old friends coming to visit is to break out the photo albums and reminisce about old times.

I haven’t looked at our photo albums for a while. I’m sad to say they have been buried at the back of our closet since we’ve moved here.  One thing I was immediately struck by was how abruptly I stopped putting photos in these albums.

I’m extremely proud of my photo albums.  I have spent years collecting old photos of my parents and my immediate family.  The beginning pages are little treasure troves of black and white shots, some dating back to the 1930s, and then moving forward though early color film, Polaroids, and a lot of stuff from the 1970s, all drenched in those warm hues that Instagram and Lightroom plug-ins so desperately try to copy but never really get right.

My wife and I were married in 1995, and we have lots of shots from around that time, up to when my first child was born.  And then, it just stops.  I mean stops dead.  Nothing.  You can almost hear the grinding of the brakes as that train screeches to a halt.

What is weird is that this stop pretty much coincides with the time I went back to college to finish up my degree in Art (long story).  Part of that was taking photography classes.  I was even shooting film with my classic Pentax K-1000.  In short, there was no excuse for me not to be taking some snapshots of my kids, my wife, my family, my surroundings.  And putting them into an album.  And I have no reason why I stopped.

The old adage is that you should never buy a car from a car mechanic.   I think it’s the same for us shutterbugs; photographers seldom settle for simple photo album snapshots.

My lack of effort on maintaining my photo albums feeds into a larger concern I have with photography today.  I have talked before about “What Is Truly Wrong With Photography Today.”  The problem I wrote about in that blog was about presentation.  I don’t believe we can truly appreciate great photography on little tiny smart phone screens.  Photography is a medium where great presentation reaps great rewards.

But presentation isn’t just about luminous mats and luxurious frames.  Presentation should also be about collecting and presenting photographs in some sort of context.  This is me at my first birthday.  This is the Christmas I got my new bicycle.  This is us before we were married.  This is us at the Grand Canyon.  This is my mother holding our first child.  This is us at the hospital.

I believe that photography is all about narrative.  We are all made of stories.  And if we aren’t saving and sharing these stories, in some sort of context, then what is the purpose?

Which means, it’s not only about presentation, but also about preservation.  With smart phones, point and shoots and inexpensive DSLR’s, everyone is a photographer.  And everyone is taking loads of photos.  Every day.  Every hour.  I can’t hardly keep up with the photostreams of my flickr friends, or everyone I know on 500px.  Then add Twitter, Instagram, facebook, Pinterest, and so on.  And, no doubt, I am contributing to this glut as well.

But, honestly, where will all these shots be in 10 years?  20?  100 years? Really think about what we are saving to share for our future gatherings?  For our family yet to come?  In the future, will we simply have electronic photo albums that just gather dust in the back of our closets?  What will we share when old friends come over in their hover cars?

When was the last time you printed out a snapshot and put it in a photo album?