This blogpost could have been titled; “Out of the mouths of babes” or “Kids say the funniest things”, more about that in a moment and I’ll also post some shots from my recent Bristol Street/Life photography jaunt at the end.
I’ve been banging on for years about how “Likes” don’t matter and therefore you shouldn’t allow yourself to be swayed by the amount you receive as a photographer. If you like the image you’re presenting then that’s what counts. I know it feels good to receive them, but does it make for a good or better photograph? Will it make us better photographers? I see so many fantastic photos from hugely talented photographers with very few likes. For example my friend Juan Francisco Hernández, a truly wonderful photographer and writer with a sharp mind. On Instagram he calls himself The Sysyphus Myth, which is genius because it pretty much sums up his and many other photographers view of Social Media and photography. I’m sure you know the Sysyphus Myth, just in case you don’t simply put it’s about a man who is condemned for eternity to roll a boulder up a hill, once at the top he watches it roll all the way down again, he then recommences this meaningless and absurd task of rolling it up the hill, over and over and over. Torture, but in the end he stoically resigns himself that it is necessary for him to do so. Something like that, I hope you can see the connection as I did; Replace rolling boulders with posting images, they’re there for a brief moment until it’s time to post another one and we resign ourselves to it because as photographers we want to be seen . Anyway, take a look at Juan’s work by clicking that link above, it’s impressive, I promise.
Back to my alternative titles mentioned at the beginning of this blogpost, a conversation about “likes” with my wife (Sam) and youngest daughter (Amélie) who is 8 years old. I was delighted when Leica Camera contacted me and said they’d selected one of my photos to be featured on their Instagram account. It really is nice to have some recognition from them and quite an honour. However, it did draw my attention to this old “Like” conundrum; The same photo also appeared on my own Instagram Feed and was picked up by a Leica based group, again I feel humbled that they should choose it. So, here are three screenshots, the same photo, nothing changes, it doesn’t get any better or for that matter any worse. On my own feed 61 likes, The Leica Club feed 1,787 likes and on the Leica Camera feed 19,912 likes;
What I’m trying to show is that whether your photo gets 10 likes or 1000 likes it makes no difference. As long as it gets one like from you. So here’s the conversation from yesterday morning. I love how my wife gets excited for me, her enthusiasm about everything actually and how proud she is of any achievement I manage (let’s face it there aren’t that many!). She’s sat looking on instagram and specifically my featured photo;
Sam: “Wow Harps, that’s brilliant, you’ve got almost twenty thousand likes!”
Me: “I’m not sure that means very much”
Amélie “Does it mean that you’ll get a better photography job now daddy?”
Me: “No sweetie, I doubt it ”
There you have it. My life hasn’t changed, the photo hasn’t changed and I continue to photograph for myself as we’ve discussed here so many times before. On which subject let’s move on to yesterdays trip to Bristol and how I don’t heed my own advice. What happened to my “Waiting to make the photo” mantra? I don’t know Bristol that well and for some reason I feel compelled to walk aimlessly around looking for a moment to capture, something new possibly around every corner. My iPhone told me that I’d walked 4.2 miles, I’m going to knock off 1.2 miles because I’d walked the dogs across the fields before setting out. Here’s some shots to begin with;
You can see a lot of clichés. Some gestures, a failed attempt at some layering with a camper van, people in a coffee shop as I walked past, a woman smoking and some kind of “deal” going down outside Domino’s…I expect they were just exchanging pizza recipes! Okay, time to stand still and see what happens;
A girl with her hand on her head, a bicycle made for two and a sleep walker!
Nope, lets keep walking, get some action in;
A skateboarder not impressing his seated audience and a lad performing a wheelie not impressing a pigeon! I can tell you this, I really enjoyed being out there yesterday. Watching, Waiting, Anticipating and actually Walking around. Street Photography and in fact any photography is good for the soul. Here’s another walk by shot, “Rise & Shine”;
In the end I decided to head back to my motorbike, but firstly I’d stand in a virtually empty street to see if anything happened. Honestly I enjoyed the rest of just being still for ten minutes. I was eventually rewarded to see a girl walking along on her telephone. I know this kind of photo is overdone, visual pun and all that, with the eyes and the telephone booth. I liked the building geometry too and I also like to shoot “scenes” or as much as a whole scene as I can. I know the Street Photography Police may frown upon it, but I don’t care because I like it. In fairness they won’t like my opener either; it’s no longer “candid” because the wheelie boy is looking at me, so is the pigeon I think! The downside of shooting scenes are that they sometimes need studying to see what’s going on and don’t translate very well to Social Media or a small screen. At the end of the day we photograph what catches our eye, we review it on our computers and post it if we like it, which we should because that’s why we took it in the first place. No point hesitating, I know photographers who worry about what to post and fear what others might think. My advice is don’t, if we don’t shoot and post what we like then we may as well pack it all in.
I am planning some trips further afield, however I’m concentrating on Street Photography at the moment and staying local. In other news and another reason for not travelling too far; I’m having a new front tyre fitted tomorrow, the front end of my bike has got a bit “skiddy” lately on corners, I’m virtually running on “slicks”. Safety first…
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with Summicron 35mm Lens fitted.
As always my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read this blog.