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Sunday, 19 May 2024


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Getting your work out there to be seen is obviously easier than before the internet, if that is important to you. The old "tree falling in a forest..." thing, if no one sees your images, did you take them?

The big downside to me is the "brave" (read anonymous) critics that rip apart everything to feel powerful in their own mind. I quit putting anything up on-line 20 years ago for that reason. I guess that I don't really do photography based on the criteria of no on-line presence. But something keeps filling up my hard drives.

Better or worse isn't really the right question, because really, what does better or worse actually mean, and for who? Is it easier to get a photo in front of a great many eyeballs? If instagram is a method of displaying photos (which some would dispute)then yes, it's easier. But how many of those people pay attention?

Nobody really knows how many images are out there competing for eyeball space. It's a lot. What makes one photo stand out more than any other? As far as I can tell, it's that someone famous took the photo, or is in it.

You mention that some commenters have gone away. Even on my modest blog, I know that's true. Interests change, demands on time increase. Maybe I'm just saying this because it's my situation, but I'd rather have a small but apparently loyal readership, than a supposedly large readership of "followers" that pay little or no attention.

My take on your question is-as always-"it depends". Speaking of myself, I'm an older guy and I believe I know by now what makes me tick and what matters to me. I started with photography in the 80's and mainly had the photo books in the local public library as inspiration. The rest I had to figure out on my own. Nowadays, I read the very very small number of blogs by authors who write well and which I find interesting and insightful. Apart from those, my only use for the World Wide Web is to purchase things. I avoid social media like the plague.

And the latter-social media-is the flip side of the coin. The algorithms foster some kind of herd mentality; for a young person starting with photography this can make it hard to impossible to find one's own thing. In addition, if one strives for success on social media, this creates stress to permanently upload pictures and disappointment from permanently comparing one's own work to other's work. I think one must be extremely resilient to development one's original photography in such a situation.

I still always read, but my new job takes up so much of my energy that I often only comment inside my own head.

As far as I can tell, photographers have it better, but photography has it worse.

Greetings Mike,
I am still here, read every column, perhaps not every comment but most.
I read you and Ctein in ye olde magazine days, sadly in a cross continental move I had to trash my collection of photo magazines but kept the books and my paintings and my prints and my negatives.
Life as a picture maker in these years of interactive screens is more interesting, possibilities are greater but the challenge is the same.
For me Art is about creating images of heightened awareness through peaceful contemplation.
Today there are so many more paths to that goal.

In a macro sense, IMHO, what we have lost is privacy and what we have gained is pretty much everything else. No point pining for the past, though, it won't come back. If, as I believe, the only constant is change, then our well being depends on ability to adapt.

Mike wrote...
"...commenter names that I no longer see is always a little sad. I wonder what became of those people, and why they don't come around any more..."
When I read old TOP posts I invariably follow the links of commenters. Some of their sites are not active and I usually think those people have 'passed' and feel a little sad that that is eventually the way of ALL TOPpers.

Re: Do Photographers Have It Better or Worse in the Age of the Internet?
It can work both ways, with some things worse and some things better. There are many aspects to consider. One thing that has affected my work is the rise of digital photography which is connected to the age of the Internet. As a former newspaper photographer, I am convinced that there would be longer-lasting and more work for photojournalists like myself had digital photography had not come along. However I was happy to abandon my old film cameras for digital photography, it made my job a lot easier and easier for others, unfortunately.

In the days of film photography, my job (along with other photographers) was more specialized, we were responsible for developing all film, including that from the reporters, we had to maintain a darkroom and keep chemistry up to date. Once digital photography came into play there was no need for a darkroom, which was closed down at our newspaper, and I have to admit that I was happy to see that as I disliked working with colour chemistry.

However with the rise of amateurism in photography, there were more amateur photographers than ever with expensive camera gear, I started seeing this when attending concerts or sporting events while on assignment for the paper. Some of those photographers would submit "free" photos to the paper. That along with better cell phone cameras was the writing on the wall and the eventual elimination of my job. On top of that there was the decline of print media, readers were now getting their news online. Advertising was also in decline as a result of the Internet. The irony is that much of my work often appears as "file photos" on the day-to-day pages of my old newspaper (which still publishes) that I once worked for, even though I parted company with the newspaper well over 6 years ago. I smile when I see that.

Re: John Camp's featured comment from "My Somber Day Yesterday" John's advice is spot on. I wished I had taken that to heart years ago, it has taken me a while to accept that I will never be a fine art photographer, even though it has been my dream for decades. I once had a fellow who bought one of my prints and he said to me, he said that my photography was just awful, but every once in a while I get a good photo. So very true! Best to enjoy the ride so I photograph for myself.

"There's a natural attrition in blogging—some readers—maybe "many"—come and go."

It struck me when I read these words that, of all the photography blogs/websites I used to visit, TOP is the only one I still rely on to make my life brighter.

Thank you, Mike.

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