The online community of Photographers is vast. Instead of having a showing of prints as our first meeting with work it is the online presence, a place where you can see everything they do, from their thoughts, exhibition and publishing news and their latest project. Its almost as if you do not have an online presence, you cease to exist. Looking for Photographers before the online boom, their presence is less, the most famous especially, however coming from someone who has embraced the nature of online communication since I began to be serious about picture taking, I get the feeling they are so famous a website would purely be a resource for college and university lecturers for presentations.
The modern day Photographer is first judged on their work online and second, more critically in print form on walls or publication. Online design is the make or break element. If a website does not work, takes too long to load or has an awful font the work is not even considered, in many scenarios. And the importance of making a site that captures the spirit of what you do, and what you have achieved is as a much to do with your HTML and CSS knowledge or how much you forked out for the site. It is a shame this is such a way, but it is the type of industry Photography lies in where every detail counts to make a splash in the large pool of Photographs and their aspiring makers/takers.
This article does not aim to talk about the artist site so much, but more to consider the nature of image distribution in Photography using blogs, twitter and social media tools. It is almost worrying. A majority of Photographers opt to have a blog, to post their works in process, their news regarding their career and act as an aspirational figure for the aspiring Photographer. And to my mind it functions in such a way as the popularity contests at school, college and universities. Where you sit at lunch time determines the people you associate with, and nothing changes when you enter the professional environment. Where you sit is a stage of success earned by good work, good effort and good communication and general usefulness. You cannot sit on the important table straight away, oh no, it has an exclusivity about it and the table of important thinkers and visionaries is usually a group working together for sometime and most of the great work is peeking through on the table in the other room, looking to their right as if to suggest they are here. This has as much to do with the cut throat Industrybut I feel they do this gently and always with a smile on their face or a ‘yours sincerely’ at the end of the said ‘cut throating’. The Industry has the appearance of a friendly individual inviting people in as and when they have gained the right of entry, and this is by making great work. They have no choice but to notice you then. This is not an us and them situation, and in fact, it is a relationship you are really only ready to take this ‘step’ if you know yourself and your own practice, otherwise there is nothing to discuss on the lunch table.
The nature of blogging, as someone said to be today, to show you are doing something independently, can be taken in two different routes. And the first route is more like white noise, the latter has substance full of original material. It is fair to say, that 50 percent of blogs are most probably run by 16 year old girls/boys jumping on the latest thing. They may post about a million cat pictures, pictures of their aspiring footwear or a jumble sale of photographs that have no owners. Ownership disperses if we are not careful, as original makers of material for the youth to enjoy as their own. In the context these blogs takes them far away from the Photographs original plan, it can almost become a monster. If we come across an image we like, see a number of 16,901 notes and I am left baffled and frankly shocked. That means, 16,901 people have looked at it and either liked it or reposted. This is where the popularity side of it comes in, for if the teenage blogs do not exist this widespread garbage is not distributed. What I am intrigued about is when a decent image, made by a photographer as part of a series gets blogged time and time again it reaches an incomprehensible audience. Its over popularity gets almost infected and appears on the virtual walls of the lost youth of today. And this concern is from a real example, the above picture made my a friend of mine. This image holds as a key in the series, the heart of if you like. And when I begin to see it crop up in the feed over and over, I am both happy and concerned. I am happy as people are looking at it, but I look at the content it sits next to and its not right, to be frank. It becomes an image about a life time aspiration that the blogs are all about. A kind of ‘this is the stuff I want’ mentality. This context it now lies in is untrue to its original intention. As I write this article, I am sure my title has become outdated as it reaches another figure and I begin to think where it will ever stop. The dignified pictures pick up notes in the hundreds, but when it reaches such astronomical figures I am left a little worried in the misuse of the online tool blogging has become a part of.
The monstrous nature of the online image source takes on a long chain of links, from one source to be scattered aimlessly with its eyes closed, some posting at 4 or 5 posts a minute. The increased pace of image distribution should be something we are all happy with as the opportunity for the wide spread audience has reached new heights. We can contact anyone we wish to, via these online presences. Just to consider facebook as a tool of distributing information on our lives, we have never been so public about what we do and how we do it. And, to conclude a thinking surrounding the nature of how we see pictures on their first viewing, to think long and hard how we treat the blogging network, the artist site and how we use these astronomical figures to our advantage as Photographers trying to make our name to someone important.