Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photography news and thoughts

Photography news! 
As you all know, I am a bit smitten with photography. I truly believe God has given me this hobby as a way to relieve some of the stress in my life. I'm always super surprised and flattered when anyone notices my photos, so when I was contacted by the Assistant to the City Manager of a nearby town about using my photos, I was literally overcome with emotion. Yesterday I signed the Release of Copyright giving them permission to use my photos of their rose garden. When little things like this happen (okay, a big thing to me!), it makes me wonder if I should pursue photography as a business. But I'm convinced that it would take away my joy when it becomes tied directly to my checkbook.

Thoughts on Flickr commenting
Maybe this should be a separate post, but I'm going to let it fly anyway. I need to get this off my chest, and hopefully you'll have some words of wisdom.

When I first joined Flickr a few years ago I cared not a whit if anyone viewed my photos or left comments. It was simply a repository for my photos to be viewed by those whom I wanted to share my photos with. I had two contacts: my daughter and our mutual friend Jay. And it stayed that way for a long time. If they commented or favorited a photo, great; if not, no biggie. I was free to put anything I wanted out there with reckless abandon.

Then I started Project 365 in 2010. I decided some of the photos were worthy of a group or two. That, in turn, caused a slight surge in comments and people adding me to their contact list, which I happily reciprocated. In addition to being a joy, commenting also allows me to see some beautiful photos that can also inspire.

Going through so many contacts every day takes a lot of time. And when weeks go by without reciprocation, I feel let down. This commenting ritual, while a joy, is also a huge time commitment. To me, it's lazy and disingenuous to leave a one-word comment like "Pretty!" or "Beautiful!" Someone in my contact list started doing that to me (and to others) so I removed her. I can understand every once in a while having to drop a quickie, but every single time? She was obviously using her commenting as a form of currency to get a lot of comments back. I just have no respect for that. Or time or patience.

Now don't get me wrong, I love giving and receiving comments; however, as of today I have 116 contacts on Flickr, not to mention I follow at least 50 blogs. Since the middle of last year I have religiously commented on posts and photos nearly every day. The only time I haven't done it, I was out of town or in my bible class.

I actually look at every photo and leave a heartfelt comment, pointing out all the good things. Lately, I have been sneaking in time during working hours so that in the evening I can do my own photography and post processing work. But this makes me I feel like I'm stealing from my employer even though there has not been enough work for me to do the last couple of years with the economy in the crapper.

I'd like to know if any of you have these same thoughts or feelings. If so, can you offer any suggestions? I've actually considered turning off comments completely on Flickr, leaving me free to only comment on the really great photos or those of my close contacts. I've also thought about paring down my contact list to a more manageable level. I've already pared my group participation down.

I'm not really sure what to do, so I'm enlisting your help. Any words of advice? Should I even be discussing this? 

11 comments:

Jillsy Girl said...

First of all, my eyes popped open when I saw the rose garden! WOW! I can see why they wanted to use that image...absolutely gorgeous!

Now, for Flickr. My feelings about flickr is this: I consider it a totally different beast than a blog. I see it as eye candy for photographers with comments coming in a far second. I've had many people make me a contact and I'm honored when it happens because it's totally based on my photography and nothing else. I don't expect comments from the majority of my contacts. I'm just thrilled they want to see my stuff coming through their homepage. Now, for those smaller intimate groups I belong to, those I take more time with by going through the pool and making comments, and in turn, I'll receive some comments in return. But, for the most part I'm much less chatty on Flickr than I am on blogs.

Jillsy Girl said...

BTW...Congratulations!!

charlottes web said...

Gail,
First of all, congratulations on your being asked to use your gorgeous photos of their rose garden. You deserve it , girl! You are good! Not sure if you would like it if it were a business...you have to put up with people telling you what they want and not want. it might be restrictive to the joy you feel now. But pray about it...it may be just the thing.

About the commenting...I feel the same as you do i think. In fact, Hootnonny has taught me to be a little more polite and kind in at least leaving a nice commment to my contacts. I used to not leave a comment unless I was really moved by something. So I commented on just about everything...to encourage. But it has become a chore with so many people as contacts. It is not fun anymore. I think that is one of the reasons I gave it up for lent. LOL Maybe it is a selfish reason but I have so much more peace. I have dropped out of a number of groups that I used to post to and have also dropped a lot of contacts that I never, never heard from. I still get inspiration though from look at others photos but for now, I am concentrating on my photography and learning how to change out things on my blog. You know, the HTML stuff.

Blessings, my friend!

Jay Gunn said...

First, congrats! That's awesome to get that kind of recognition :D

I'm kind of in the same boat, that I think I'd like to pursue a career in photography, but I'm also worried it might ruin my love of it.

As for the Flickr comments, totally agree! Here lately I've been feeling like I need to A) cull the groups, and B) chisel away at my contacts and just stick with people I actually know, and/or want to follow. I'm all too guilty of the reciprocal adding of contacts when someone adds me.

I've also been thinking, yet again, about moving over to SmugMug. Apparently my account auto-renewed earlier this month (I got a notice about a week before from them, and I just never got around to taking my card off my account to stop it). This time is a little different though. I think this time I want to bring over only my personal favorite photos, photo projects (like 365), and actual shoots that I do. And use Flickr as more or less a "post whatever" place. Not really a dumping ground, but certainly a lot more volume than I'd put on SmugMug.

Henrietta said...

Congrats:)
I'm quite new in Flickr but I consider that is the second place and I go there if Im bored and too much time, the blog is in the first place. Here I try to answer to almost everybody if I have time but I'm not "killing" myself if it is busy at work and have no time. If it starting to feel like work being in Flickr stop that because it is not FUN anymore or stop answering:)
You just have to be harsh.

Michelle said...

Gail,
I struggle to find time to comment or reply to comments (and I don't have near as many contacts or comments as you!) I am guilty of one worders at times just because I feel hokey saying something off the cuff that may sound fake- though I mean it- but don't have time to think too much about my response. If I had as many as you, I couldn't respond or check everybody's streams. I figure when I don't hear from someone for a while that they are busy or just taking time off of Flickr. That might be a good thing, so I hope they understand the same about me.

I do feel guilty listing photos in groups that I don't comment in very much. I guess I just automatically list them as if catagorizing, but I don't think people like that :( so I try to put words to what I think about their photos. And if I can't I don't post as much.

I agree with Jillsy Girl that blogs are different, they feel more like a personal correspondence, so I reply to all comments unless I miss them. But, then I don't have tons of comments their either.

Don't know the answer, but I think you've established yourself as a serious photographer and encourager on Flickr and if you gave the comments a rest no one would think any less of you.

Speaking of serious photography, you could go pro and pick and choose your projects to suit your interests. I've been thinking you should for a while now. Congrats on your Rose garden photos!!

Barbara said...

First ... gorgeous photos and I'm not surprised at all that they wanted to use them! Congratulations! Second, I know exactly how you feel about comments. Like Jillsy, FlickR is nearer the bottom of my list - I like to get helpful feedback, I learn from seeing other photographs, and I'm always curious what the reaction will be, but many of mine are just to use for link-ups, or like last year, for the 365 group (and I wasn't very good about that!) I'm very limited on time and it's all I can do to keep up with my favorite blogs, and blogging comes first. And full confession, I'm trimming back on the ones I follow because of that lack of time. If I were you, I wouldn't turn off comments - just don't feel you have to reciprocate to them all, and only reciprocate when you have time. No guilt!

Starla said...

YOU GO GIRL! I just beamed at your news! I so want to walk down that path in the rose garden! And your close up shot is just stunning. Makes me want to sniff the compter, haha!

As for comments.........do what feels right for you. When I comment, I try to make it meaningful. There are days when only one word comments come to mind (because I am speechless at the art I am viewing). And days when I only have time for one word comments. Don't make it a burden. Comment when you are moved.

Louisiana Belle said...

Thank you all so much. I have the wisest followers ever! I am taking a little bit from each of your pearls of wisdom and using them starting today. I have already trimmed my Flickr contacts down to 98 and will be much more selective who I add after that.

Just a side note: my commenting rant was not directed at any of my blog followers, or in any way a ploy to guilt anyone into commenting. No, I have simply come to the realization that certain folks are gaming Flickr to get on Explore. I mean, really, how in the world could one possibly keep up with 1500+ contacts? I will avoid those gamers like the plague so that I can get back to enjoying Flickr!

lisa said...

Congratulations Gail, and I must say that this wonderful news comes as no surprise to me. Your work is wonderful.

As far as FLickr, I think much depends on who you frequent, and who your contacts are. I owe much of my work today to a wonderful group of contacts, who thoughtfully comment, and give criticism and help when it is asked for. I whole-heartedly agree with Starla in that you have to do what feels right for you. In many respects, blogging has the same "downside," especially time-wise, but it also has some most wonderful benefits, like being totally "over the moon" when a blogging friend receives the news you've received!!!

Truly so very happy for you Gail!!!

lisa.

jo©o said...
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