I uploaded a clutch of photos to Flickr on Sunday evening and as I hit the big pink button it occurred to me that using Flickr furnishes me with some seriously retro credentials. While Flickr used to be the place to hang out around 2008, its growth has stalled and the consensus is that Flickr used to be great–it could have been brilliant–but owing to a failure to develop it is a social media has-been. For some of us, this isn’t a problem; but it might become a problem in the not-too-distant future.
Last week, as I walked from Liverpool street station to meet some friends, I idly started to muse ‘Where is photography going?’
As a medium, photography has enjoyed a remarkable trajectory, from heliographs to hypo, roll film and Brownies, colour film and instant cameras, and SLR to digital in under 200 years. And the last 30 thirty years have seen a tremendous advancement in photographic technology, from the release of the first commercially viable digital SLR camera and a transition through terrific cultural changes associated with the medium. But it now feels as if we might be stuck in some form of holding pattern. This is especially true after what I felt was a particularly disappointing Photokina last autumn.
It was one of those moments when two articles collided in my day and struck a chord. The first was JP Danko’s here, on whether or not it’s ethical to use photos of your children for stock. The second was by Lucy Dunn, on The Pool, where she raises the question of ‘over-sharenting’. (Sharenting, for anyone who hasn’t yet encountered this hideous portmanteau, is the tendency to share your parenting experiences on social media, from potty-training successes to supermarket meltdowns.) In particular, Dunn is concerned about how little guidance exists for parents who are navigating the social media seas themselves.
Do you recall Flag? The app that wanted to take your photos and print them for free, funded by advertising on the reverse of the photo? If you do remember it, it’s likely that you were one of its Kickstarter backers. If you don’t, you’re forgiven. January 2014, when Flag launched its first Kickstarter campaign, was a while back. And it hasn’t exactly been delivering on its intended business model of ad-supported photos for free, and disrupting the photo-printing industry, since then, either.
So why am I writing about it, you might ask? The company hasn’t delivered anything and three Kickstarter campaigns and an unsuccessful Shark Tank pitch later it drifts on in a zombie-like state of unfulfilled promises, disgruntled backers, and belligerent entrepreneurs. Think of it as a cautionary tale.
Last week Target announced that its forthcoming swimwear advertising campaign will be Photoshop-free. It’s an approach that I endorse, and I was intrigued to see some of the comments on the article here on DIYPhotography. Don Barnard suggested that having a traffic light system, a little like the nutritional content warnings on food packaging, showing how much manipulation images had undergone would be a good idea.
All I want is a simple pie chart symbol in the bottom corner of every commercial image that indicates the extent that photoshop has been used to alter the models appearance. Food has labelling, so should the images used for health, fitness, food and beauty products.
It’s not a bad suggestion at all, but I have my reservations about it.
A dog is for life, not just for likes.
It’s a variation on the nearly-40-year-old slogan that’s impressed on us every Advent by the people at the Dogs Trust. But now it is becoming ever-more pressing as research conducted by the Blue Cross–another animal charity–suggests that there’s a chunk of people who would predicate their choice of dog or cat on the number of social media likes it is expected to garner.
Just let that sink in for a minute. One-in-seven of the 1,000 people questioned in the survey (carried out on behalf of the Blue Cross by OnePoll*) said that they would choose a specific breed of dog or cat based on an assumed arbitrary approval rating casually meted out by a gaggle of people, most of whom are likely strangers.
That’s not the pet which, practically, best suits your living circumstances, activity levels, or family circumstances, or the pet that, emotionally, you are going to let into your home and your heart and will love you unconditionally in return, but the one whose photos are going to prove most popular on social media.
How do you feel about the prospect of appearing in a selfie with an avatar of someone who’s not there? Maybe just someone who couldn’t make it to the party. Or perhaps a deceased loved-one?
The ability to do this is something that Elrois, a South Korea-based company unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
With Me was developed by Eun Jin Lim following the death of her grandmother. She realized that she didn’t have any photos of her and her grandmother together and would like to be able to rectify that.
Have a guess for me would you? Guess how many unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, there are in the US? Go on. Toss out a number.
Got a figure in mind? Fabulous!
Well, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) latest figures, released at CES in January, there are over 670,000 UAS on its books. That’s a number which considerably outdoes the number of registered piloted aircraft, which stands at 320,000.
A few weeks before Christmas my best friend’s husband rang me:
Daniela, I want to buy M a camera. What should I get her?
I asked the standard questions: how much does he have to spend and what sort of photography does he think she’ll be doing. He tells me there’s £500 in the kitty and she’s been making murmurs about taking more landscapes and getting better photos of the dog. I suggest that maybe he wants to look at an Olympus PEN. They fall well within his price bracket; they’ve a good frames-per-second rate and lots of AF points for capturing their off-his-rocker dog; and they’re pretty light. Given that my best friend lives close to the Alps and walks a lot, this is a bonus.
However, I add my usual disclaimer. ‘For that money, no one is going to sell you a bad camera. It’s more important to find the one that best suits your specific needs.’