Rikk Flohr © 2015
Rikk Flohr © 2015
One of the things I do, as a photographer and teacher, to keep current on trends in photography is to look at a lot of photographs. Every night, I sit with my 500px App on my iPad and peruse a thousand or so images. Those I like, I favorite. This list of favorites tells me a lot about the subjects I enjoy, the styles I admire, and the color palettes to which I gravitate. Using Flipboard, I decide to create a digital magazine of nothing but photographs and thoughts about photographs (coming soon) that have been curated by me, Rikk Flohr.
The magazine is called Fleeting Glimpses and is available for viewing today. The magazine is rated 13+.
Enjoy what I enjoy - and appreciate the amazing work that photographers all over the world are creating! Use Flipboard to follow me and subscribe to Fleeting Glimpses today!
Rikk Flohr © 2015
I’ve noticed a progression seemingly common to the photographers with whom I come in contact. As they grow in their art, their craft, and their passion (Note: Not everyone grows in all three), there seems to be a few obligatory stops along the way.
“I like taking pictures!”
Most of us start off in Photography because we find it fun. There is an innate satisfaction in holding a camera and taking a picture. Seeing an image you’ve captured yourself is extremely empowering. Memories are yours to capture. You are taking pictures for you, documenting your experiences, bottling memories and linking yourself to places and times past. But then something happens: Enter the “other”.
“Everyone says I should be a photographer!”
Perhaps by chance, perhaps by deliberate intent, one of your images is shown to someone else. Encouragement ensues and you might become a little inflated. Inevitably somebody tells you, “You take great pictures, you should be a photographer.” This is the worst thing anyone can tell you. What they, and you, don’t realize is that you already area photographer. What they reallymean is you should start charging for your photography. (Unless they want a picture) You might laugh it off and merely walk off with an inflated ego but in the back of your mind something has changed. Suddenly the approval of others is paramount. You start to share your pictures more, show them to friends, and, eventually, even – dare I say… strangers? Approval, likes and stars suddenly become important. Comments, shares and pins start to intrude upon the reasons for your photography.
“I took second place in the year-end judging!”
When you venture out seeking adulation from the world at large, you learn, either abruptly through some harsh but well-meaning curmudgeon on the internet, or through the examination of your own work next to others that you have some photographic chops to earn. You start to attend classes, go to photography clubs, take workshops, and grow both your craft and your art. You begin to read manuals in-depth, subscribe to magazines, you, dare I say it, submit your images for critiques and photographic contests. You are still in your sharing stage but now you do it to satisfy your peers instead of your friends, and their urgent need to help a budding photographer along the path as they see it. The uncontrollable desire of some photogs to mentor a protégé is intoxicating.
“I made 250.00 for shooting that wedding that cost me nothing and only took a week to process!”
Either concurrently, preceding or following Step Three, you take the plunge, hang out your shingle and attempt to charge people for your skill and knowledge. Here a lot of people hit the wall. Now they have to produce on-demand, repeatedly and satisfy a paying customer. Photography ceases to be fun and becomes work. The euphoria of easy money passes quickly and the hard reality of just how difficult quality photography can be hits you. Passion wanes and your photography stagnates as you struggle to find a middle ground that satisfies your need to create and your need to monetize your craft.
“I used to enter contests too but who needs another ribbon?”
One morning you wake up, grab your camera and head out more out of habit than desire. Something happens: Bigfoot appears, an eagle grasps a fawn right in front you, a giant meteor streaks across your sunrise or you take an exquisite photo of a dew-covered flower. A spark inside is rekindled. You decide to continue to grow your skills and stretch beyond your limitations. Your images improve. Though you know it, you don’t feel the need to share as much-unless it is your knowledge.
When you started on the journey you began by taking pictures for yourself and ended up in the same place in spite of all the distractions of adoring – yet ignorant fans, well-meaning camera buddies, rabid clients, and the rest that comes with your wanting to be a photographer. Once you’ve come full circle and returned to taking pictures for yourself is the moment where your true adventure with photography begins.
Rikk Flohr © 2012
Just a quick rant today.
The proliferation of poor stock photos or stock photos used poorly has reached its culmination.
Someone figured out that people are drawn to pictures. Those same people figured out if they wanted their text read by casually browsing readers, that a photo could grab some attention. They started sticking stock photos at the top of their blogs. Sometimes the photos actually have something to do with the subject matter, sometimes they are only peripherally connected. I believe a cat has little to do with Extended Warranty but the desperate-to-be-read folks at the Consumerist blog seem to think so.
Or maybe they just hope the cute will buy them an extra look.
Lately there has been a more disturbing trend. Pictures that have nothing to do with the article – even peripherally. Sometimes they just take a sticky note and write a word on it – a word that will provoke a reader – hopefully.
Yesterday, I saw the best effort yet.
Yes, the story is about bathroom vandalism and a disgusting read too. Rather than even find a useless stock image of a restroom, or a door, or a sign, they left this stupid graphic. The graphic, however, is full of implications:
Was the story so provocative that no picture could do it justice? Not likely. They put cute little pigs on slaughterhouse stories and other incongruities. Inappropriateness of a graphic has never stopped them before.
Was the graphic carefully crafted to titillate the reader and get them to read an ‘inappropriate story’. Not likely. It isn’t that titillating a story. And the graphic just made me wonder about their convoluted design process.
Do the Bots that build their articles and posts (or find them in syndication) not understand the story well enough to pick a keyworded graphic? This belongs in the realm of conspiracy theory. But, it begs the question – are automated processes picking the graphics? Not likely but it could happen…
Are they just phoning it in at this point? I tend to think this is the real reason. Laziness or apathy resulted in a placeholder graphic that fails to add to the story but it does say something about the state of photography today.
Photo editors used to choose meticulously from a small palette of imagery. If nothing was right, they commissioned it. Then stock came. Large numbers of ‘close-enough’ images were available for cheap. Next step in the descent was the remotely-close-for-free group of images. Now, it is splash anything with color or contrast to attract attention – content be damned.
The world of photography is somewhere in between those last two stages. It will be a poorer world soon.
Rikk Flohr © 2012
In my next-to-last post, I showed you the 12 monthly images deemed worthy in my mind to hold a special place. They were the watershed moments, flashes of insight and fortuitous circumstances that melded into an image of unique meaning to me and perhaps, me alone.
You can view them here.
I also like to look at my image metadata to glean simple wisdoms about the photographer that grew into the 2011 iteration of myself. The data help me answer questions when I am teaching about things to which I don’t give a thought during the heat of the capture. Namely, “What settings are you using? Which lens do you have on?” Though I likely know where I am set without looking, it is less important to what I am doing. But, because people insist upon knowing, I thought I would give you a glimpse into my settings-for what they are worth.
Here are some statistics of those images worthy of hard drive space from my 2011 year’s shooting:
This was the data I found interesting as it showed me more about my evolution as a photographer. Key points my data taught or reminded me.
What does it all mean to you?
When I am teaching a workshop in the field one of the most basic (and less useful) questions I am asked by my students is: “What are your camera settings? What are you shooting?” If you look at my statistics, you can tell that – unless there is a special circumstance – I am shooting:
A Canon 5DMKII with a 24-105 MM F4L IS lens at F8. My ISO is at 160 and I am shooting Raw. If there is a flash connected, I am in Manual mode-if not, likely I am in Aperture Priority.
Whether that helps you or not, it answers your question.
Remember, a camera’s settings are only the beginning. A golfer selects a club, lines up his shot and swings building on talent, practice and experience to make a successful shot under the given conditions. Likewise, your camera/lens/setting choice is like pulling the club out of the bag-the rest is talent, practice and experience.
Swing away in the New Year!
Rikk Flohr © 2012
Apparently, as evidenced by this example, Google’s new Social Media darling, Google+ loves to censor photos based upon certain keywords.
I posted a picture on September 1st titled “Full-Frontal Hummingbird: Yesterday’s best capture.” A few days later it was replaced with this black graphic and an international no-entry symbol. The only thing I can conclude from this is that Google+ is censoring photographs based upon keywords in the metadata or the description or both. Certainly the picture isn’t offensive and no reasonable person would report it as inappropriate.
Now, I have listened to pundits-especially in the photography world- proclaiming Google Plus to be the best image experience in the social media realm. Scott Kelby has been ballyhooing this on his many media outlets. Read a blog entry or two by him and you will see (and rightfully so to many points) that there is high regard for the new sharing site. Watch an episode of The Grid and you will hear and see much more about the greatness (or aptness) of Google+ (or Google Plus if you prefer).
Many prominent photographers are jumping on the Plus bandwagon as a salvation from the sins committed upon their images by Facebook and the like. Even I wrote about Facebook’s horrid thumbnail cropping on the Holy Crop! blog recently. But there is still this one nagging problem: Google appears to censor your images…
… even this harmless frontal image of a hummingbird. A few quick refreshes and playing around and eventually Google Plus will reveal the benign image. I hope you covered your child’s eyes if they were near the screen.
You might say, “Rikk, why not just rename it?”
I might reply, “Why? Does it not describe the shot? Is the shot not ‘G-rated’?” I chose this name because after a couple of days getting profiles, I finally got a front-on shot. Perhaps, I also thought it clever. When I shared it with non-public circles and not the general public, its content should be irrelevant in any case. To date, I’ve found no setting that will repair this erroneous designation.
As long as this type of oops is possible, can Google+ really be considered a photographer’s social medial alternative to Facebook ?
Rikk Flohr © 2011
The answer this burning question with which so many struggle, I have devised these three perfect laws:
Else you are using the image illegally and, if I choose, you are mine-or as much of you as the court deems just!
Respect the artists’ copyright.
Rikk Flohr © 2011