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Monday, 08 August 2022


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I feel sorry for photographers and other creative artists chasing 'likes' on social media. They've sold their souls for nothing. You have a million 'followers', or so you say, and what does it get you? A group of people that will complain when you follow your inner vision and produce something different than what your followers like.

A fascinating and disturbing read to be sure. I have to confess that I find such a compulsive desire to please and to court audience approval incomprehensible. The whole point of art (any form) is to share ones' own very individual way of seeing the world with others. Praise or approval from consumers of your art may be nice, but basically misses the whole point of the endeavor.
Commercialized art, where the entire point is moving product and making money, is a separate enterprise. Peter Lik's photography or Thomas Kincade's paintings come to mind. The extreme 'audience capture' phenomenon substitutes 'likes' or clicks for dollars, but the process seems analogous.

The article is interesting, but he still sounds captured in his own way, bragging about being so vague as to be inconsequential after he carefully crafted his “brand.” Today’s Lenswork podcast discusses this, to risk being foolish. Art requires that you are willing to be perceived as foolish, according to Jensen.

What an incredibly insightful and well written article. I found myself nodding in agreement to everything Gurwinder wrote. Thanks for the link!
BTW, I think his entire blog is a must-read.

Reminds me, in a less extreme sense, of photographer Joe Edelman’s transformation from his early to his later YouTube persona.

The link to "The Perils of Audience Capture" was pure gold. I thank you profusely for the gift.

[Navin gets the credit for that. I'm merely the passer-alonger. --Mike]

Maybe looking at numbers - like pageviews for example - is the root of all evil? Isn't just being you enough to have *some* people love you? And isn't that the greatest gift of all?


These people who chase viewers, not to mention do everything they request without being able to say "No!", have got to have some mental illness.

What we "oldsters" call common sense, appears to be lacking in the youngsters who grew up with digital media.

One more reason I'm glad I don't belong to any of the social media sites.

Thanks for that link, Mike.

I'm sending it to my nieces.

It's all about the difference between "more" and "enough".

In our competitive e-culture, where everything can be measured, a high score makes you a winner and anything less makes you a loser.

"More" can never be satisfied, but "enough" is happy with sufficiency. That seems to describe your situation.

The photos of the young man descending into mental illness is macabre. I see it as one of the many diseases the internet has unleashed.

The many 'Mike editors' and quality commentators of TOP keep its river flowing clean and healthy. The voice of this blog expands, but does not change, and has proved to be a stable blip on the internet's radar screen.

Was there no one in that poor kid's life that saw what was happening to him?

Well Mike, I will continue to read TOP and recommend you to my friends and acquaintances if you continue to take care of yourself and eat healthily, and continue to be the caring, decent person we all know you to be. So no reason to go off the deep end! :-)

In that spirit, congrats on your family reconciliation, and may it continue to grow and flourish.

I sometimes think of how many platforms I would be banned from if social media had been around in my youth, how many apologies (sincere and otherwise) I would have had to make.

I also once thought that saying what was really on one's mind was infinitely preferable to speaking in code (ie- politics)- people would finally be held accountable for their very own words and proclamations. Well, the last few years have shown me just how wrong I was on that one- people simply downplay, deny or just double down on what they said... it NEVER gets addressed honestly or thoughtfully. No one ever takes responsibility.

Finally, dangerous juggling act balancing the desire to be popular with your financial well being. Guaranteed formula for disaster, particularly when you throw in a young, fragile and immature sense of one's own identity and self worth.

Robert Roaldi- "Was there no one in that poor kid's life that saw what was happening to him?"

Each and every one of his... 'fans.'

moving ads are an abomination.
The Luminous Landscape had the first one I remember seeing. I complained to Michael Reichmann and he took it down. I was surprised and eternally grateful to him. You too.

The need of human beings to be popular and accepted by others is as old as Mankind. Internet access only compounds that to "infinity and beyond". We all have this trait, some much more than others, and can result in sickness.

Hmm. I can't see any correlation between the gentleman in the article, or the points raised later in the article - and you?

You moderate your word for your audience. That's just good manners, no?

I've been around. And to my visual ear, I hear no signs that you have ever moderated your 'thoughts'. It's what you think that matters. Think on that sir.

It's not just individuals, I feel like Leica (for example) has to some extent fallen victim to audience capture. The basic M design was so revolutionary, and attracted such a loyal following, that they're condemned to repeating it forever and ever with only minor tweaks allowed.

Rest assured, we WILL let you know if you have a problem, but I really don't think it will ever happen.

Thanks for introducing Gurwinder to me. Your audience might be interested in a second piece on his site - The Intellectual Obesity Crisis. It' relevant to me personally, since I find myself "gorging" on photograpy-related sites and articles. Very little of this stuff makes me a better (whatever that means) or a happier photographer. Why did I just spend x minutes watching a video evaluation of the autofocus capabilities of a new Canon? I don't own a Canon and I'm not likely to any time soon. Even encountering other people's very good work is only "nutritious" in moderation. How often, on a long museum visit, have I seen so much that I might as well have seen nothing?

I'll never recover any of those lost hours (days?) of mis-allocated attention; can I have the discipline, restraint and judgment not to lose too many more?

(None of the above applies to TOP, of course. Love ya.)

It's not just the internet. I can quickly think of two famous twentieth-century writers, Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson, who became prisoners of their public personae. The alcohol and drugs didn't help either. Despite their real literary accomplishments, fame and fortune, both were suicides.

The article on "Audience Capture" is so insightful. Thanks for posting it. Audience Capture not only affects internet influencers but also performers, actors, celebrities, CEOs, artists, heck everyone in one way or another. It appears to be an example of what might be called "social behaviorism." It's how we become addicted to certain behaviors that are reinforced by outside conditions. The article reminded me of the following quote by Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
We are all subject to audience capture, but fortunately, most of us have very small audiences.

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