Too Much of Nothing?

Pat og Otto foran den slående vakre pyramiden El Castillo

These days we are run over with images. They attack us from everywhere. On billboards, on internet, on print, on TV, they come in every channel and on every corner. They come from you next door neighbour, your friends, you family – and from people you don’t even know, whether marketers or the dude from the other side of the globe who needs to share a selfie. Sharing is it. We share them on social networks, such as Flickr, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – to mention a few. And every one of us has a camera, whether it’s one of the billion or so iPhones or a stout digital SLR. And of course we use these cameras, take pictures, ever more pictures, and send them into the noise of the already saturated universe of imagery. These days sure seem like a golden age of photography, don’t they?

But is it really so? When did you last stop up and really look at a photo? When did a photo last move you? I am not trying to imply that there aren’t many excellent photos out there – on the contrary; just look up all the blogs I showcase in my section of best photo blogs – but they disappear in the unstoppable attack of pictures that do no more than make us num. Photography has almost become a form of neurotic masturbation, fuelled by endless possibilities and everyone’s desire to be seen, whether a private person or a business. It’s all screams and attention seeking – and too often without any content, a more profound intent.

Maybe it’s harder to be moved by a photograph these days because there are so many of them. The numbers are inconceivable. Photography has always had its cheesy side – by the 1960s, 55 per cent of all pictures taken were of babies. But there are roughly 6 billion camera phones on the planet today. Facebook alone has been known to upload six billion photographs in a month. We snap as many pictures today, every two minutes, as were taken in the entire 19th century, another boom time for photography.

The volume alone guarantees that most are forgettable. So why do we take them? The acclaimed author and feature writer for the Canadian The Globe and Mail Ian Brown, based out of Banff, has one answer: «For the same reason addicts are addicted to anything: to kill the pain of awareness, the uncomfortable difficulty of actually seeing. I admit that this is just a theory, but I watch tourists take the same four photographs minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day in downtown Banff, and it’s a strangely upsetting experience.»

Do we take pictures for some kind of approval? Saying; look, I was here, I exist, I captured our moment, look at me. Maybe it’s as simple as that. We crave the instant gratification and collective approval that the Internet deals out to us and photographs are the fastest way to get it. Surely these pictures are never going to be put on a wall. The reality is that we seldom look at them again, because that isn’t the point. They aren’t memories of where we were, who we were and how we felt, so much as certificates that we physically exist – at least until the certificate expires, and we need to take another photo to re-establish our corporeal existence.

This isn’t to say all digital photographers are forgettable. Look up the work of Paolo Pellegrin and Peter van Agtmael and Christopher Anderson on Magnum Photos’ website. Better still; read The Online Photographer, the blog of Mike Johnston, a digital photographer who writes about his attempts – his successes, but more often his failures – to tell cogent and moving stories in pictures. It’s the struggle that makes visual work interesting.

Human beings have taken an estimated 3.5 trillion photographs since the first snapshot, of a Paris street, appeared in 1838. As many as 20 per cent were uploaded in the past two years. Why are most of them so forgettable? What is your thought? Or do you disagree with the statement in the first place?

About Otto von Münchow

Photographer based in Norway
This entry was posted in Challenging Yourself, Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

164 Responses to Too Much of Nothing?

  1. Reggie says:

    That is a hard-hitting blogpost, Otto. I agree with you that we’re inundated with photos, and that many of them are instantly forgettable. I think the same applies to blogging, and in fact, many of the social media platforms. Just because it’s so easy to share our thoughts, our words, our images on global platforms, does not mean that we *should*.

    And yet… sometimes, there are treasures to be found… words that will touch your heart, and photos that will take your breath away… That’s what I’m aiming for, even though I may fall short quite often. Very thought-provoking post, particularly given that we’re doing this photo course with you at the moment!

    • I am hope I don’t seem too harsh here. Anyway you are so very right in that many treasures are to be found. They can sometimes be hard to find in all the noise, though. Thank you for your input, Reggie. Taking my workshop I think only shows that you are aiming for what you say. It’s shows willingness to learn and develop.

  2. suej says:

    Interesting that you have posted this, Otto, because I have been thinking along similar lines recently and one of the reasons I want to ‘up my game’ photographically. There are so many forgettable images out there. But amongst all the dross, with images as with words, there are gems to be found.
    I like your points about why we take photos, or as Reggie says, why we blog… is it a statement that we exist, we are here? And also, does it matter to many people that their images are forgettable?? I’m off to check out Mike Johnston’s blog…

    • Does it matter to many people that their images are forgettable? I don’t know, but I have a feeling many don’t care. It’s like entertainment, it’s a moment of joy and excitement – and then on to the next kick. Thank you for your thoughts, Susan.

      • Vicki says:

        I think many don’t care (that their images are forgettable), to be honest, Otto.

        People on social networking sites share photos of themselves, where they are and what they’re doing as a form of exposing that particular moment to the rest of their circle. It’s all about that very moment in their lives. I genuinely don’t think its about Photography as a creative art – to be viewed and re-viewed like a Book or Gallery.

        I agree about the “It’s like entertainment, it’s a moment of joy and excitement – and then on to the next kick.”

        My WordPress PhotoBlog is merely a diary of my walks – I don’t feel its represents my Creative or Artistic ability – that, will be in my next Blog (when I find time to set it up, that is).

        • You have very good point, Vicki. I am maybe asking too much when I want more people to look at their shared images as some kind of creative expression. Thank you for your viewpoints.

  3. Michele LMS says:

    Insightful and profound! Thank you for sharing, Otto!

  4. What you say here is very true. What you point out in the second paragraph forth sentence pretty much sums it up.

  5. If toddlers only have blocks to play with, they happily play with their blocks and find new ways to play with them. If they’re inundated with computers and tv and a chest-full of toys, they lose interest with all of them quickly and need more and more stimulation. Our society has become like a kid with too many toys. And since people know their hard work will only be looked at briefly, why put in so much time to make it in the first place? So the general quality of everything goes down. But… I think excellence is always noticed, therefore it’s worth doing it, even if the rewards ought to be greater for it.

  6. Viola says:

    Very good post, Otto, and very wise words. The sharing of pictures on social media platforms is something I’ve been thinking of and wondering about a lot lately, especially after spending a couple of months on Google+ which is often called the perfect platform for photographers which is not actually true. Everything just seems to be about quantity and popularity not quantity or even a personal touch. People just seem trying to fit pictures into drawers, daily or weekly themes somebody else made up, there’s nothing personal about them, no words added, no title given. And then the exactly same content (a picture) is shared on multiple platforms. I think it’s only about getting attention and comparing with others. On a private basis, I do enjoy seeing pictures of friends in social networks though as most of them don’t live nearby and it’s nice to stay in touch like this.

    I take different kinds of pictures for my blog, some are just documenting what I’ve seen or experienced, others are attempts to visualise what I felt or thought. So, the pictures actually show where I was, who I was and how I felt, or maybe it’s the combination of pictures and words that does it. I’m also using it to keep me busy and sometimes feel there are just too many of them even though I’m doing this for less than three years. At the moment, I’m trying to make some photo books to have analog copies of my captured moments in an easily accessible format and find it a bit overwhelming, not really knowing where to start.

    • I think you have a good point in that there is a difference between the public sphere and your private circle, but with social media this separation is more and more blurred and all mixed together. Maybe we don’t see that any more – and don’t do as you say you do, take different pictures for different use. I think your approach to the issue is a very healthy one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience, Viola.

  7. angelinahue says:

    A case of information overload – not just visually, but also just in terms of the amount of content (be it interesting or complete rubbish). I sometimes find the Internet a little overwhelming as I’m very curious and often get distracted trying to learn about this, that and everything else in between!

    Photography is primarily a means of communication for me, to express my thoughts/observations/experiences. Previously, it was mainly for documentation and I continue to use my photos as a visual journal. What I would like to do more of these days is to work on photo projects that would allow me to focus on thematic subjects and incorporate more content or tell a story.

    I also want to use some of my photos to discuss certain topics that interest me – e.g. http://angelinahue.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/facing-windows-voyeurism-or-art/

  8. It had to be said, Otto! I am glad you took the initiative!

    I wonder if people take photos, because they are restless and always feel like they are under time pressure. So, instead of lingering at a beautiful spot for a while to experience it with their whole being, they take a quick shot of it with the intention to look at it later on at home, and off they go on to the next thing. It could also be a drive for consumption. If not too much time is spent at one beautiful sport and a photo can be taken instead, then it frees up people to cover so much more. It’s a consumerist behavior. That’s one reason.

    The other reason might be that people want to feel that they matter. Everyone is seeking answers to the tough questions about life and death. Life is so short. It’s a dreadful feeling to be one in millions; to feel so insignificant! Perhaps sharing our thoughts put to paper in prose of poetry, the music we hear in a catchy tune, or the world we see in a photo well done may give us a little validation that our life matters. At the very least, there is the hope that it might connect us with others.

    Then there is a third, much simpler reason, and that is that we are born to create. Some create paintings, some music. Others create hand-carved items or pouches and shoulder bags. Or others yet create stories or photos. But what good are our creations if we do not send them out into the world? The only problem we are facing today is that creations are often done hastily and with little thought or skill. Sort of like mass-produced products that are void of any character. Life has indeed become quite superficial in all areas, and, unfortunately, that is reflected also in photography.

    • Thank you for elaborating on my question, Andrea. You have some very poignant thoughts. Consumerism is definitely part of the issue here. As well as the desire to stand out from insignificance and connect with others. You might be right about the desire to be creative, too. But I find it a little hard, then, that all these uninteresting images hardly show any traces of creativity. If you want to be creative, I would – at least speaking for myself – go all the way to make something I can at least stand for.

  9. I agree, we are inundated with all sorts of presented images coming at us continuously. But, some do stick. I suppose I don’t make a distinction between photography or any sort of visual art in this regard. The images that speak to me, stay. I particularly agree with you final paragraph. Great post Otto!

  10. David Hall says:

    A great post Otto and oh so true. Especially with regard to social media sites, people posting 75 photos of their day trip to where ever and nearly all of them the same. The same people updating their profile picture with another face pulling/pouting image. It is good that we can still take time to look at the excellent digital photographer sites that you mentioned and glory at their talent.

  11. I agree completely with what you’re saying, Otto. We live in an age of unrestrained narcissism, and over the last several years in my photographic travels I’ve seen far too many examples of that, one of the most egregious being the number of people who visit the gorgeous, iconic spots during New England’s fall foliage season, don’t even stop to admire the beauty of the scene but just line up (with their backs to the scene, of course) while one of their number photographs them — obscuring most of the scene, of course! (Thank goodness those types aren’t up and out early enough to interfere with the work of most serious photographers, who are out of their motel rooms and clattering down the road before dawn to get to, e.g., Lake Chocorua in time to set up for that magic hour.) And now, with the advent of the “selfie,” can the narcissism get any worse? :

    • I guess you put the finger on white elephant: Narcissism. At least it’s part of the problem, but of course many think it’s not a problem. Thanks for sharing you thoughts and experience, Nancy.

  12. ninagrandiose says:

    Photography has the potential to be art. Snapshots are just that; they are taken in a snap without much thought or regard.for their artistic potential. These days they do reflect, ME, ME and who else? ME.

  13. Angeline M says:

    Wow, quite the post, Otto. It is so true that we are all inundated with mass media, social media, you name it media. It’s a sticky wicket, isn’t it, to try and escape the tsunami, yet want to create (via photography in my case), and be creative. So one creates…and then what does one do with it? Not wanting to add to the flotsam and jetsam in the sea of internet garbage piles, but yet tell a story of some kind. Is all photography narcissism? I believe the story goes that he fell in love with his own image.

    • Yes, Narcissus did indeed fall in love with his own reflected image – and died because he couldn’t leave it. But, no, all photography is not narcissistic. If you put effort into being creative, then of course you want to find a way to get it out to an audience. What I am talking about is all this thoughtless and superficial imagery that serves no other purpose than saying “here am I”. This tsunami you are talking about that we can’t escape. If you have a story to tell, you should definitely tell it!

  14. The most memorable and unforgettable photos are the ones with people in them, the people we know, we love and we connect to as humans, those matter most, those evoke the emotions inside of every human and breath life and feelings to the surface. It’s not where you were, but who you were with and who you love in those photos. Hold up the Eiffel Tower alone, then hold one with your loved ones in it. Which on to treasure?

    • Yes, you right. We cherish the photos that brings up memories of time spent with our love ones, our friends, our family. But they might not be very interesting for others, and that’s part of the problem with the flood of pictures on the social media. And at the same time, many pictures that aren’t showing our loved ones, are also able to move us, but on a different level of course. Thanks for your thoughtful input, Martina.

      • Then, people just love taking photos and love to share, i share more photos w/o people in it, but it seems at least from my side, i get more comments & likes when i show family. its that distance thing, they like to see my kid grow when they cant be near. Your post is always food for thought. Some spend too much time posting these photos you are mentioning, yet it also feels good when someone else acknowledges you, a dopamine rush.

  15. I don’t disagree with you at all Otto. On the contrary this was a very effective and thought provoking post. I’ve often wondered if I’m adding to the photographic “noise” that’s clearly abundant in social media today or am I creating images that are unique and can stand on there own. Sure as photographers we all want the opportunity to travel to far off lands and capture those iconic images that have already been captured. I think all photographers should if this what they want to do but certainly I do try to provide my own “spin” to a scene/landscape/icon that has been photographed so many times before. I sometimes think that I do contribute to the noise but then I look back at my work and see an improvement over time in composition and execution that is a result of practice and feedback that I receive from other great photographers out there, yourself included. Maybe in some way this is part of the creative process.

    • What you point to, Edith, is definitely part of the creative process. Just the fact that you ask yourself whether or not you add to the noise, is a clear indication that you are not. Being conscious about your creativity means stepping out of that soup of noise. Besides judging by your great blog, you are absolutely not adding to the noise. Thanks for your thoughts, Edith.

  16. G.L. Jackson says:

    I take photos to remember what I’ve seen. Sometimes I take them as reference points for things I’d like to write about or include in a story. The vast majority of my photos are never shared, but I keep them and refer back to them as I would any other sort of reference material. When I find ones that speak to me in specific ways I share them, but those are few and far between.

    For me, photography is as personal as writing. There is an overload of photos out there. Some days I can barely bring myself to look further than what I see on the surface of a post here in WP’s reader, even though I’m a devoted fan of that particular photographer. There’s only so much time in the day, and I guess in some way my eyes have learned to discriminate between “more of the same” and “something special this time.”

    • Great feedback. Just to make a point: I think all good photos are personal, meaning you invest of yourself in the process of making or taking them. But not all personal pictures are necessarily meant to be shared, as you point out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  17. a ferreira says:

    So right! And you’re not harsh, you’re accurate.

    Why are most of them so forgettable?

    Because most of them are meaningless, without any purpose except to exhibit some foolish appearances… I guess most people don’t really want to mean anything, they just want to show off. Too much of visual pollution…

  18. janechese says:

    When our mind is overloaded it filters things out, such as sound and visual and there is a lot that I don’t see because I just can’t take it in, like watching scenery pass by from a car window but there are a few shots that grab my attention.The shocking ones but thank goodness also the ones of beauty with great light. I have kept a few that are terrible but .they have intrinsic value, a special memory attached to them. Because I have read your blog I like the one you have posted because I am curious about you and your life, not just your photos which has happened a few times with fellow bloggers. Yes, there is narcissism but also relationship between the photographer and the audience.

    • What you say makes perfect sense, and, yes, there is always a relationship between the photographer and the audience, which of course many of us want to cultivate. Thanks for the comment, Jane.

  19. Gunta says:

    Back in the 70s, my aunt and uncle retired and began doing a great deal of foreign travel. They had many albums filled with pictures of those times. Always one or the other (rarely both) standing in front of some famous landmark. Nearly all interchangeable. I’ve often looked at those pictures thinking they were some sort of trophy to show… yes, indeed, we were there. I can’t say that I understood that. Their kids tossed all those careful collected albums when they died.

    I suspect the motives for taking photos differ with the people taking them. I suspect that many are memory making (keeping) images. Not all of them aimed at being art.

    • No, of course the motivation for taking photos differs, and certainly not all are about making art. The question is why the rest of the world needs to see them? In a way I feel sad when I read about your aunt and uncle’s photos being tossed away. At the same time I would probably have done the same. Thanks for sharing your experience, Gunta.

  20. Definitely a justified set of questions, but this and some other blogs already are part of the answer: Besides the waves of share’n-forget images there are photographs worth a second and third look, worth of contemplation and discussion. (A not so small difficulty is to find them…) Photography as any other means of expression means work, learning, doing, considering, re-working in a relentless way – just the opposite of a quick selfie, shared and forgotten in the same moment. And I, I do enjoy the blogs (mainly) I’ve found, set aside time for looking and learning and improving my own work as something important for me. Only time can tell if the results are good, not instant gratification.

  21. Dave says:

    You sounded concerned in your first reply that you may have been too harsh. I found your comments refreshing and judging from all the comments, you have certainly struck a cord among many other photographers as well. Artists shouldn’t have to apologize for holding civilization accountable for appreciating art.

    I was deeply struck by your 2nd paragraph in which you referred to “everyone’s desire to be seen,” and how “photography has almost become a form of neurotic masturbation.” I had never thought about the latter. Narcissism? Voyeurism? I think those who love photography, as you and so many of your followers do, view it as an art form and desire to see it in its most elevated form. We should defend that.

    Ian Brown mentioned how difficult it is to truly see. How true! Thank you, Otto, for prompting us to take a deeper look at our art!

    • I think photography can hold many forms and needs, and there is nothing wrong with using it for capturing memories for instance. But it’s this bombardment of images of no value for others that sometimes get a little painful. But yes, I like to see my connection with photography as an art form. Thanks for the encouraging words, Dave.

  22. restlessjo says:

    There are certainly plenty of forgettable photos out there, Otto. To some extent I think the “challenges” encourage this because it’s all about ‘more’ and the ‘next one’. But there are also some real beauties. Just looking in my Reader today I’ve seen a couple that I could live with. 🙂
    And for myself, there are some very special memories when I look back at my photos. So not forgettable for me, but probably unremarkable to someone else.

    • With all have pictures of both categories. That comes with growing as an artist or being creative. And of course what we were very happy with maybe five years ago, we don’t think much of any longer. One thing I have been thinking about while this interesting discussion has been going on, is that my viewpoints stand in danger of being elitists, which I think is a danger as well. More to think about…

  23. viveka says:

    Very interesting read ….. don’t have a smart phone, but my little camera has taken nearly 17.000 photos since 2008. Somebody has said that we don’t take photos … we borrow moments. Love that quote.

  24. Phil Lanoue says:

    I think photos in many ways (possibly due to the advent of the relatively recent camera phone) have become a disposable ‘product’. Now there are sites where comments and images are transmitted, looked at, then almost immediately erased.

    • Unfortunately I think you are quite right about that. It’s like with the rest of the consumer society. Everything is disposable. Thank you for taking part in the discussion, Phil.

  25. LensScaper says:

    What you write is so very true. I believe Photogaphy is at risk of being dumbed-down by the vast vat of mediocre rubbish that is posted on the Internet. Sadly – as I have written myself – rubbish is what happens when you make image taking free. When you do not have to count the cost of each frame you shoot (as many of us used to have to do), then people take pictures without consideration of issues like value, quality or even content. Connectivity makes it all far too easy to Post to social media. Images are now a disposable asset. Photography is becoming for many just another aspect of a throw-away society. It’s all very sad.

    • Is photography too easy today? It does make sense that films slows you down and forces you to be more conscious. And the cost per pictures was much higher, so you couldn’t afford to waste many frames. At the same time it’s a little sad that the new and easier to use technology inherently and in itself makes us not better but worse photographers. At least there are still some good photographers out there. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Andy.

  26. “Neurotic masturbation”? Love it! And you’re absolutely right and your thoughts are thought-provoking. While reading this, I was reminded of the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and the dubious meaning behind them. Back when cameras were coming into their own, there were those who feared their potential for causing harm to the truth. After all, a snapshot can tell a story the same way a string of words – taken completely out of context – often does. And in this day and age, we are so bombarded by moving and still images, and the control and flow of them has become more democratic than ever, but also more anarchistic.

    • So the question now with all these pictures; what is the relationship between a photographs and words. Is a picture worth 10 words now? Or still more? Thanks for you input, Matt.

  27. So, why are so many photos forgettable? because it is “too easy” to make and put them in the socials. And being easy many photographers do not make the effort necessary to communicate something. No effort no durable result. simply like that.
    When was the last time I stop and really looked at a photo? When I had in my hands a print made by someone who made a selection among his snaps and invested his time in working and printing that photo.
    Sometimes I feel to have an overdose of images and many are even good (in my opinion) and I feel the need to slow down in both process, looking at and making photos. This is where shooting film helps 🙂
    robert
    PS: maybe a photo fast for a few days in a month could be useful…idea from Sabrina Henry blog
    http://sabrinahenry.com/2014/02/28/the-image-fast/

    • I like the idea of a photo fast – not only with regards to shooting, but looking at photos as well. We do indeed stand in danger of getting successive overdoses. But yes, you are right, the touching photographs takes effort. Thank you, Robert.

  28. YellowCable says:

    I agreed with Vicki that most pictures that are uploaded to be share are just for sharing the event or of particular moments. I think human nature want easy digest of information. The visual representation is much easier to consume (I am not talking about completely get useful information out of it) than reading or even hearing.

    As you pointed out and have been collecting blogs that use photography for artful or as complex way to deliver contents. There are others who use pictures as visual supportive for other contents they want to share.

    I also think the sharing experiences with others is also part of human nature. We like party… I think 🙂

  29. robert87004 says:

    Hi Otto, I’m not sure how much or little I agree and disagree with all written above. I have to think about this some more. I find writing infinitely more precious than photos, yet I spend more time with photos than writing.

    If I didn’t go for walks, I would take very few photos. My photos are small windows into this one aspect of my life, and my walks are for health and celebrating nature, both. No headphones, no cell phones, no off-road bike required, I don’t even need the camera, but it does help me to really see what is there.

    I don’t live and breathe photography, yet I find immense enjoyment within it. So where does this put people like me?

    Yes, we must filter everything, as there is too much to do, to see, to hear, all the time. I guess I’m comfortable with all this, and I can walk away from this as needed. I understand that for you, it is serious business, and I find it hard to think that so many others believe they are professional because they learned some mechanical skill, learned a software program or learned some rules of composition. I’m an amateur and have no problem saying so.

    Have I confused myself, yet? 🙂

    • At least you haven’t confused me. I certainly don’t believe or mean to say that only serious photographers should post pictures. But I think maybe the massive amount of not always very interesting pictures for those who don’t relate to the moment, is saying something about where our society is going. And I think it’s good to have a healthy debate about it. But getting inspiration while walking as you do and wanting to show the photos is very legitimate. Thanks for you input, Robert.

  30. After reading the last comment I am a bit dismayed. This attitude of superiority exists way too often. Everybody is the expert photographer now. Amateur only means you don’t try to make a living off photography. When you try to make a living off photography you are forced to come up with creative images that stay in the mind if you don’t you will not survive. As a professional you also have to work hard at the business aspect which takes time off from the joy of taking photo’s. This gives an amateur an advantage.

    • You have a good point. And I don’t think this is a discussion that draws a line between professionals and amateurs. The latter may often be just as good or better (whatever that means, though) as the former. Thanks for your comment, Jo.

  31. thesmittenimage says:

    I take pictures for the pure enjoyment of capturing what catches my eye. I don’t mind .. don’t care if they are forgettable for others because I don’t snap images with others in mind, though I do share. Some like it and say so. Many don’t, I’m sure. Snapping photos does not necessarily make me a photographer any more than typing words makes me a writer. But if I have something to say with words or with photos, I’m going to say it. Feel free to forget about it. 😉

    • We should all take pictures for the pure enjoyment. The question is really what we do with all those pictures afterwards. And I agree with you, anyone who has something to say, should say. But many times I find they don’t have much to say… Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hilary.

  32. girlexpat says:

    Photography has almost become a form of neurotic masturbation (Love that quote, can I borrow it)? It’s true, many post photos for the mere sake of posting them, possibly attention seeking, or approval (I think, if I’m being honest, I do seek some type of approval from my fellow photographers) but I’m a Novice, I have been so for six years, but I do hope through experience that will change. I often wonder, should I post words, of a personable nature in my posts, or keep it strictly photos, I want to share some of myself, and hope to find a medium between explaining the photographs I’ve taken and actually getting them uploaded, edited. I just shoot what catches my eye, to be honest, it could be the most mundane of things too. I agree with one of the commenters, writing is precious, I just wish I knew how to find the time to do that, and get the photos up and edited at the same time, but I often wonder, by some of the comments I would get a few years ago when I used to blog (now I just started again, but still working on the design aspect of the site), do folks REALLY read what I wrote or just view and scroll and take in all the photos?

    • I think you have a healthy attitude. You want to improve your skills – and the only way is really through practise. And don’t we all want some kind of approval? Your last question is quite interesting. I think the answer is a combination, some do read the post while others scroll through it. As for neurotic masturbation, of course you can use it – I took it from somewhere else as well. Thanks for your comment.

  33. Jackie says:

    Thank you for another well written and thought provoking post, Otto.

  34. Rondje says:

    Great post, Otto!
    I guess looking at a photo on the internet is something different than seeing one in reality, just like an mp3 or stream of a song isnt the same as listening to it on a cd or better even on vinyl! Its much more hasty and superficial in my opinion…
    I always differentiate between a photo that ´documents´ what people see or where they were and want to share that and a photo that wants to be seen on its own merit.
    Cheers, Ron.

  35. Elina says:

    Such an interesting subject and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts Otto! I can relate to it all really well. I think because it is so easy for anyone to take photos anywhere they are, then they just do it.
    Last week at my son’s kindergarten there was a concert. All the parents were watching it with mobile phones in their hands… taking photos and videos while watching it. I too had my camera and phone with me, with a thought to save some special moments to watch later on. In the end I took a couple of photos and put my phone and camera away because I started to feel quite silly. I wanted to actually concentrate and be in that moment, not to watch it through the screen. Strange life.

    • I think what you point to in the end, is quite important. With the need to document everything and everywhere we are, we lose the awareness of what is going on. It because more about capturing instead of participate in what is going on. Thanks for sharing your experience, Elina.

  36. Just like usual..
    You make another day with that awesome picture.
    hope i will come to visit too soon 😀

  37. Pingback: In The Grand Scheme Of Things | finisterre

  38. I am J says:

    This is a thought-provoking post, Otto, well researched and well written. Thank you!

    I agree with much of what you say in your post. And I agree that this new “selfie” thing is indicative of an image-addicted culture!

    I know as a mid-lifer, at times I feel “lost” in the tangle of so many people and so much information. Life has become more and more complicated and I can’t help but wonder sometimes if I have become invisible to the world. Maybe others feel invisible too and taking pictures grounds them in the here and now – whether the pictures mean anything to anyone else or not. I think that’s part of why I take pictures. They ground me in this moment and in this space.

    I think so much of our modern life has become diluted – watered down by over-exposure and over-stimulation – and our cameras have become personal lifeboats of validation that at least to us, we matter. Perhaps that’s what it is all about for most picture-takes- validation of their place in this world and that they matter.

    To a real photographer, however, I’m sure their intention is much different. They want what they photograph to matter. And perhaps that is the difference.

    • Thank you for bringing a new perspective into the discussion, J. Maybe it’s at least partly about feeling lost in a complicated world. And I think you are right about it having become diluted. “Lifeboats of validation” – great expression.

  39. fgassette says:

    I admire you as a photographer, but I have to admit that I had to really reflect on your words. They seemed to me judgmental at first. Then I realized why I follow your blog. Although I take photos as a hobby and share them as a look at life through my camera. I find that I am inspired by your posts and they make me try harder to be better at what I photograph. As for what I do with my photos afterwards. I make photo books of my travels to leave for my grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren. Thank you for challenging me to be the best I can be.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    • I see that this post and its words can be regarded as judgemental. I am also aware that my view is a bit elitist, which bothers me. But my intention is to raise a debate about the issue – which I think is valid – and not to make people stop taking pictures or stop sharing them. What I really want is to raise some awareness. Anyway, I am glad you feel inspired by my posts – and I do try to encourage all of us to become better photographers, no matter what level we are at. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Francine.

  40. Paula says:

    Just yesterday I had the same thoughts, but if I were to put them in writing they wouldn’t be as eloquent as yours. I can’t but agree, Otto. It is a shame that photography nowadays is much less art and much more a consumerist habit. I started taking photos to preserve my memories and later on I noticed it gave me an opportunity to capture the world the way I see it or even the way I want it to be. I see it as fun, and intend to keep it fun, and learn more in the process. I will be back to see what others have to say…. Thank you for this article, Otto 🙂

  41. Paula says:

    P.S. Is this one of Teotihuacan pyramids? That’s a great interpretation of a tourist snapshot 🙂

  42. Hi Otto,
    Thanks for the very thoughtful post and I couldn’t agree more. I am happy to see that most of the discussion agrees-so maybe all is not lost!?

    I am a professional photographer that learned on a Yashica twin lens reflex camera and a hand held lightmeter….photography was much slower then.
    As a photographer that has felt the crunch of ‘everyone’ being a professional photographer I have been teaching for about 10 years in addition to shooting. I have my own school on Long Island, NY and I am trying very hard express the art of photography to my students. A snapshot is not a photograph, and iPhones are not cameras.

    Photography takes time, and just because we can take thousands of photos without any ‘cost’ doesn’t mean we should. The other conundrum is that people are taking such an excess of images but they hold onto all the junk and don’t delete them The result? Libraries of photos that are unorganized and on the risk of hard drives crashing due to overload. So even the gems that everyone has are buried in the mass of images and subject to be easily forgotten or lost.

    Thanks again
    Yvonne Berger

    • I actually think on some level we who grow up with and learned analogue photography have an advantage. We know that quality is more important than quantity. At the same time there is no denying that digital technology has its advantages. Even with cell phones you may take excellent photos.

  43. Awesome smiles!! Excellent shot!! (I see your post as a call for quality and content; coming from a passion for photography. I appreciate that. I don’t think that this diarrhea of empty pictures (I would not call it photography) can be stopped; some day it will fade away. The only thing I can do, is sharing my photo’s with my story/content/meaning/beauty. And in blog-land I have found; and still find other people who are interested in serious photography. They inspire me and I hope I inspire them. Some are really good, but not so close; others are on the same wavelength and have become some sort of friends. So, I focus on the passionate ones; and let the empty ones produce their diarrhea.) (and thanks for your search for ‘Best photo Blogs’; led me to some new ‘friends’.)

  44. Tina Schell says:

    Well Otto, you certainly opened an interesting “conversation” with this post! I purposely waited to comment because I wanted to see what others had to say. First, I loved your questions which were wonderful food for thought. For me, I think of the plethora of photographs much as I think of the reams of books or poems or paintings that are out there. The responsibility belongs to the reader/viewer to find those pieces that appeal to them and to support the artist with their patronage. There are varying degrees of excellence, just as there are varying reasons for creation. Some simply want to see themselves online, others want to share with friends and family, some hope to express thoughts or emotions, some hope to create lasting art. The internet is vast and I suppose there is room for everyone, no matter the reason or the quality. For me, I work hard to continue improving my photography and my writing, and greatly appreciate the feedback I get from my blog, my website and the patronage of those who purchase my work. It gives me great joy to know that my creativity is valued and to think of my pieces hanging in someone’s home or office. As long as the creator is getting what they personally are looking for from their creations, who are we to judge it unworthy?! Finally, I’m with I am J – “wanting the photograph to matter” . Now there is a worthy goal!

    • Very good points, J. I certainly take to me that nobody is in a position to judge what is unworthy. I still think it’s valid to discuss trends and tendencies in arts or expressions like photography. Thanks for your viewpoints, Tina.

  45. I am not on any social networking sites except for here, WordPress. Even sharing my novice photos here on my blog is difficult for me because they are forgettable . The pictures I take are for my memory. Hard to explain..Uploading my pictures for our class has me tense as I am aware technically they are forgettable but I also am aware in order for at least a handful to be memorable I need to grow and develop my senses more..
    I agree we are overwhelmed with images yet I continue to peruse them in hopes I view someone’s unforgettable shots 🙂

    • One thing to keep in mind is that technical proficiency doesn’t guarantee a good photo. What matters is their ability to move. And many not technically well executed do so. Keep shooting and enjoy it!

  46. themofman says:

    I thin about this ALL-THE-TIME. I’ve become acutely aware about the dichotomy of how our faddy but low attention span modern civilization actually takes photography for granted while the field still has some potential to move at least the most deeply receptive to the messages and stories reflected in well composed images.

  47. I agree that photography and photographs have exploded. Many of them I gloss over because they look the same as the next, but I do find myself catching my breath at many of them, at their beauty or creativity of catching something common in an uncommon way. They also bring other parts of the country or the world to me that I’ve never seen, and I don’t have to wait for the next issue of National Geographic. I can’t speak for everyone, but from the time I was small I’ve been snapping photos. Maybe not good ones, but my purpose was to capture a moment in time or a face, to help my memory hang onto a special time in my life. My photographs are souvenirs of my life. I have snapshots from a trip to Europe in 1976 that are terrible, but they trigger and help me hang onto those memories. And rather than keeping me from seeing, photography has awakened me to the world around me. I notice things that I wouldn’t have seen without my camera. So I think mostly I disagree. 🙂

    • What you point to at the end is one of the beauties of photography. You really start to notice your surroundings. Another beauty is the possibility to capture and keep images for you memory. Thank you for the comment, Barbara.

  48. ehkstream says:

    I too love finding things in the photo that didn’t register to my “normal” everyday vision, and a photo of the long past is a treasure. I find that the modern day barrage of data and photos has been subconsciously filtered out, only when I see something that I have interest in do I notice. The weird behavior of a modern wired human continuously looking into a screen to the exclusion of the actual surroundings is sometimes a source of amusement but most often alarm. (Watch where you’re going!!!)
    The “selfie” is simply disgusting, in it I see a symptom of a deeper malaise…

    • I think finding something beyond what is obvious in a photo is what makes it stand out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • ehkstream says:

        Thanks to you and all the excellent commentators for this post, enlightening… and no offense intended regarding my ‘selfie’ observation. After some thought I have considered that an impromptu self-portrait could have value in finding things less obvious about oneself…
        🙂

  49. Dalo 2013 says:

    Such a timely post… A few years ago, the increase in the number of photos were incredible ~ and it was a beautiful thing as while there were many “soulless snapshots” there was also an infusion of talented and emotional photos.

    Today, however, it has gotten a bit insane. I love photos, I love the meaning that lies within photos, but I hate “soulless snapshots” (I have taken a few myself). I believe people travel to tourist points to shoot & check it off the list…and less to get the experience. With a i-Phone always shooting away, it can take away from the simple experience of what is in front of the eye.

  50. Where photography is concerned, I would never disagree with you Otto. For myself, I take way too many pictures. Most are just for myself; memories of a trip, family dinners, weather shots. But occasionally one stands out as a spectacular capture where more than image is portrayed – mood, setting, emotion, art. Those are few and I cherish them.

  51. Roland Theys says:

    Cool portrait shot!

  52. “to kill the pain of awareness” 🙂 hello, sir Otto…

  53. Truels says:

    During the last 6 months I have made ​​a small contribution to limiting the incredible amount of information and photos on the net ;-).
    But I’ve missed your thought provoking posts here.
    One can be completely crazy thinking too much about the amount of photos, that we billions humans produce. I even think, that it’s weird thinking of my own few hundreds of photos just hidden and forgotten somewhere in cyberspace without anyone (almost) ever looking at them again …..
    Well.
    Now I have returned to blog-world after a long break:
    http://truels.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/ive-missed-you/

  54. Louis says:

    I share your views wholeheartedly,Otto. Much of the problem seems to be attributable to the rapid advances in technology. Our schools and colleges teach reading, writing and numeracy but give lttle attention to visual literacy at a time when it is most needed. In too many cases the ease with which images can be ‘snapped’ and broadcast has not been accompanied by acquiring the ability to be selective and discerning..
    I am reminded of Kees van Aalst’s comment: ‘A picture is ABOUT something not OF something’.

    • Yes, teaching visual literacy has never been on the agenda, but more than ever it’s need, now that we more and more express ourselves through images – or try to. van Aalst’s quote is right on, indeed. Thanks for your comment, Louis.

  55. I don’t believe all photographs are unforgettable. I see photographs everyday that leave an impression on me. I may stare at it for a lengthy period of time or I may just come back to it over and over. Perhaps I won’t remember exactly how the shot looked but I will remember how it made me feel. Many of your photos have haunted me that way, Otto.
    The problem is we are being overwhelmed. When we are overwhelmed relentlessly we become desensitized. I hope I never get to the point that I do not have an emotional reaction to an amazing photograph.

    • I hope I am not coming across as saying all photographs are unforgettable, because that was not my intention. I feel pretty much the same way as you. There are still plenty of photographs out there that moves me, but it’s this overwhelming attack of images everywhere that numbs me and my ability to treasure what is so beautiful about photography. Thank for sharing your thoughts, Michelle.

  56. Great post. Although a little depressing to think about because it’s true!

  57. tabularasa88 says:

    I agree with much of your post, but perhaps it doesn’t tell the full story. We had fewer photos generation ago because there was a cost and effort involved in photography. Now that posting an iPhone pic is easy and essentially free, photography has an immediate social aspect (hey, look at what I’m doing!) that it could never have had before. But I trust we will distinguish the ephemeral, everyday snapshots that clog Facebook’s servers from the photographs that strive to art, just as in print we distinguish between InTouch magazine and Dostoevsky. It’s not harder to be moved by a photograph today, it’s just that we happen to see a lot more everyday that don’t, and aren’t trying to.

    • No doubt the technological development and the decrease in the price of taking photos have contributed to the amount of photos we are seeing all over the place. And no doubt we will still be able to distinguish between Sebastião Salgado and some selfie-“photographer”. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Tabula.

  58. Good Evening: You make a large number of valid observations; the funny thing is that I observe the same observations and approve of them. Throughout history, most photographs *have* always been forgettable. At the risk of committing blasphemy, Nicephore Niepce’s View from the Window at Le Gras is not a great work of art. Stunning historical import, yes, not great art. I would dare to suggest that the percentage of forgettable photos today is actually smaller than at any other time in the Age of Photography–perhaps only a little smaller, but smaller. Why? Because we can take and post to Flickr 100 photographs in the time Atget needed to take and print one. Therefore, more people are learning how to take good pictures today if only because they are taking more of them, and learning by doing. And since the number of pictures has grown so astronomically, so has the number of good ones. At least, that’s my theory.

    Now *finding* the good pictures–that has gotten a little tough.

    Vonn Scott Bair

    PS–I too am a huge fan of Sebastiao Salgado.

    • Are the percentage of good pictures higher today? I am not sure about that. But I am just not going to speculate around it, since it’s not possible to prove or confirm your postulate – or even refute it. But your reasoning make sense. More people are photographing and the technology is more easily accessible, which should lead to more people taking good pictures. Thanks for your input, Vonn.

  59. Deb says:

    Your post is exactly true. I also think the viewer has stopped looking at the details between a good photograph and an average one just because they are bombarded with so many images.

    I have spent the past two decades as a professional photographer shooting weddings, portraits and corporate events. I am formally trained in both photography and art.The funny thing is that if I truly want to capture an experience or a view in my memory I switch to my first love, art, and either draw or paint the scene. The camera separates you from the experience, while actively painting or drawing makes you part of the experience.

    Thank you for your post.

    You do have to wonder “why” people take the pictures they take.

    • Oh, I think there are many reasons why people take the pictures they take, as other commentators have suggested. I think it’s an interesting move that you choose painting or drawing over photography when you want to truly capture an experience. For me, I don’t think a the camera separates me from it, but we all have different approaches and that is what makes art so interesting, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Deb.

  60. Great post. Oddly enough I saw a photograph yesterday of a mother and child that I had a negative reaction to. It was actually a GREAT photo; however, I found it to be way too personal to put out there electronically. The child and the mother were inspiring, but for some reason I thought that it wasn’t the type that should be shared with the world. Don’t know why exactly. I just thought it. Perhaps it was due to the volume of photos that are shared and the importance of keeping that line between public and private solid.

    • Interesting experience. It would be great to understand and know why you reacted the way you did. The photo was maybe very intimate or private in its character? But anyway, there is a line that needs to be drawn between public and private pictures – although the line is not always clear and straight. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deborah.

  61. rangewriter says:

    It is true that we are inundated by the sheer volume of images that barrage us. But the same could be said for all content, from poetry to genre fiction and literature. What compels people to hit the shutter release? That’s a deep subject. I think it ranges from the desire for immortality to the more mundane scrap book type of memory markers. For me, a photo album is as or more compelling than a diary or a journal, perhaps because it is more revealing in some ways. We can mince around things with our words, but our images capture things that we are often unaware of at the time we shoot them…like subliminal text. And then there is the whole creativity thing. Some people dream of being creative. (That would be me. 😉 Whether they have a creative crease in their brains or not, the drive to try is always there, like the need to draw another breath. Fascinating topic.

    • You are of course right in that there are numerous reasons for why we take pictures. Like you I am fascinated by the ability of photography to be a gauge of our unconscious currents. Thank you for your poignant input, Linda.

      • rangewriter says:

        You know, I used to have these discussions with my former husband who was a highly talented photo/videographer. He loved shooting street and cafe scenes. But he would be disappointed with them and shove them into a flat file,saying, “They will improve with age.” I always argued that the photos would do nothing with age, only his perspective on them would improve with age. He would be thrilled, btw, that I’m taking your workshop.

        • Again you have a very precise perception and understanding of what really changes. Of course no photo improves by time, it’s all in our mind. By the way, I am very thrilled you take the workshop, too. 🙂

  62. dweezer19 says:

    I agree about the amount of photography out there. I also am unnerved by the whole HD thing. While I truly appreciate the quality and amazing capability of the newest macro equipment to photograph the interior of a flea’s nose in a thunderstorm, I am not certain whether I truly value this type of photography as a whole over traditional 35 mm film shots. Even with my digital camera, I am seeking more of a “feeling” or emotion in a face, a moment, an environment. I guess it is the poet in me waiting to be inspired by a photo to bring its essence to life with words once more. There is beauty of the chromatic kind and beauty of the soul. i appreciate both; but I know when I am looking at soul beauty. Those are the photos that really stun my senses. 🙂

    • I like that expression “soul beauty”. Definitely a good description of pictures that are able to move us. Otherwise I agree, HDR, is use a little too much and uncritical in many instances. It’s a great technique, but if everything is rendered in HDR is loses its strength. Thanks for the comment, Cheryl.

  63. drawandshoot says:

    Great thoughts, Otto. I read this the other day and I’ve been thinking about what you’ve written.
    It’s always good to examine the validity of one’s work and to think about your motivations for sharing it. I guess I’ve been thinking about careful actions in many aspects of life.

  64. Jocelyne says:

    I tend to think it’s annoying if someone doesn’t have anything interesting to show and just puts his pictures in social medias or websites because he wants to be seen. I’m thinking here of people who constantly shares pictures of themselves. That annoys me a lot, it’s as if they’re saying “look at me, me, me”. I understand why people like to share photos of what’s going on in their lives, especially if you have family abroad, it’s a great way to stay connected. I agree when you say it makes us numb, we see so much, sometimes I can have an incredibly beautiful photo in front of me and I’ll hardly look at it. But in this sea of photos I see many that moves and inspire me. This is one important thing, the inspiration, I find great inspiration by looking at other’s work. I also think that all that shows how important and vital sharing is to our human nature.

  65. pelysma says:

    Otto, I came here because you liked my commentary on a friend’s last days and the process of combing through her thousands of slides. There is a definite connection between that post and this one, and I’m amazed that they crossed paths so quickly.
    Photography for me is often a way of expressing what I feel, and it’s also a challenge to capture certain images I see every day but which elude the camera unless the light and time are just right. I agree that quality has become diluted in the flood, but images now are part of the language, like a richer kind of words, and we toss those out every so carelessly in even greater numbers. As people passed out carte-de-visite portraits for special occasions in the 19th century, now we post selfies. It becomes as much a form of literature as art.
    Keep looking for that occasional special photo, and keep appreciating it, but the rest are not necessarily a threat to it. My humble opinion, thank you for yours. Peter

    • I appreciate your humble opinion, Peter, because it holds quite some insight. To what you write, I think the best way photography can reach out to others is when you use it to express what you feel – it’s the only way. And yes, those pictures will rise above the noise of the rest.

  66. Carrie says:

    The subject had come up with a friend recently. I started blogging with photos because I can’t write very well, but soon found I was trying to capture more of what I couldn’t express in words, at my blog gods garden of nature does for me. My every day life blog was to connect with friends on the internet as I lived like a hermit on my ranch and wanted to share the piece of parodies I some times forget I have. Also I have very bad memory problems so my photos remind my of my past. I still am moved by other people photos that touch me somehow. I am in awe sometimes at what some people can capture with their camera. So I hope everyone keeps on clicking.

    • I think your blog shows exactly that; images that capture how you see life as personal expressions. Your personal approach to the photos makes them interesting which again means your readers will keep clicking. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Carrie.

  67. Sun says:

    i didn’t read all the comments here so i may be repeating the same thoughts on too much images going on these days. but really, who can blame the ordinary person just trying to emulate all the glossy cover models and celebrities that, if we don’t personally screen out from our life, come like flood waters on a consistent basis? perhaps some need that type of intense expression and others, well, keep level headed and create wonderful works of art, thankfully. i enjoyed your thoughts, Otto.

  68. Heliona says:

    …”to kill the pain of awareness, the uncomfortable difficulty of actually seeing” – very well said ! I’m not considering myself a photographer, I do it when I feel like doing, and often I “forget” to take a picture, just standing there, watching, with a camera in my hands. Especially in tourist places, sometimes it feels really strange – so many people taking same pictures – and you can think: well, it’s already enough without me. This is a familiar feeling, for sure.
    This is both true and not. Recently I’ve discovered the value of such photos. For example, for somebody who’s not able to travel far – if you have a close person like this – it is an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of his friend, child, etc.
    Hope I’ve made myself clear, I haven’t practiced my English decently since last summer. Anyway, the topic is worth thinking about. And I’d like to say I’ve also enjoyed your writing style -)

    • I do get what you are saying. And it makes sense. Your photography can definitely been something your friends can the the world through. Besides I also believe that all photographers – whether photographers as such or just happy snappers – add something of themselves in any photograph – consciously or unconsciously. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Vickie.

  69. Well said! Enjoyed this.

  70. Pingback: Why We Photograph | In Flow

  71. lifeofbree says:

    I hear what you are saying about tourists photographing the same old thing. When we visit a new place, we have been told about what are ‘the’ places we have to see and sometimes it is worth seeing because you are there anyway. Like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, where I’d happily camp out for a few days, which ended up being an underwhelming experience because I have been overexposed to this image through film and other media, besides it was hard to see because hundreds of tourists crowded it.
    However, some of my favourite experiences travelling have not been/cannot be caputered nor should they be, that’s what we have memories for. And to be honest sometimes if I am photographing something, I am not experiencing it. It’s why it is sad that at concerts now, we spend all the time taking more photos than listening to the music (I too am guilty I trade one or two songs to take a few shots). Many children are also photographed so much now, even they get sick of it. With digital it is so easy. Growing up the camera came out for birthdays, other special events and holidays as you didn’t want to just waste the film.
    But perhaps it is a little cynical though to say we take photos for attention seeking. True for some perhaps but I think a lot of us just want to say here’s a beautiful thing I saw and that my life matters. And most of the images we share are with friends and family, we always seek the validation of those we love. But again I do understand that when young people are doing it to mimic the celebrity crazed world we live in, it’s harmful. I never get sick of looking at family photos and friends’ cute babies. On the other hand how crazy is it that when an uber famous person has a kid, we go online searching for that photo. We absolutely demand to be entertained like that. Yet we are numb to images of children living through a war perhaps because we are overexposed?

    • The last question is really interesting and one that all photojournalists are struggling with. I know I want to change things when I go to third world countries to photograph stories, but do the photos really make any change? Is just all too overwhelming? I think yes and no. I think it’s important to create awareness but I am sure most of the time things go unnoticed – unfortunately. But every so often I notice something comes out of the work – and that makes it all worthwhile. Otherwise I think you are right, most people photograph for their memories, and that is very valid. And, yes, digital photography has made that all so much more easy now. But when all those memories and selfies are shared on social medias it becomes something else, like mimicing celebrities as you point out. You have another very good point regarding the fact that photos something makes us not experience whatever is happening in the moment. That is definitely a danger that I think most of us have experience. Thanks for your very poignant comment.

  72. disperser says:

    Can’t speak for others, and don’t want to . . . What I do on my blog, what I post, is primarily to satisfy my own creative urges.

    I am well aware for any one photo I post I could find hundreds, if not thousands of photos that are technically better, with better composition, better everything . . . but my photos are my own.

    Will I move anyone? Not likely. Neither will I change the world. But neither of those are the reason I blog about my writing and photography.

    Think of it as someone making a nice meal for themselves – they will take care to make it the best they can. With practice they will maybe get better, but at no time will they be opening a restaurant. The satisfaction and reward comes from having dirtied one’s hand with the process . . . that someone else might stop by and say “that’s nice” is a bonus, not the reason for doing what we do.

    Conversely, the reader has only one responsibility . . . to entertain themselves. It’s not their responsibility to validate what I do (they can’t). All they have to do is decide whether at that moment the picture they look at is what they want to see (sometimes, needed to see).

    I don’t know what a reader might want . . . I could present the greatest photo ever, but if it’s not what a reader needed or wanted to see at that moment, they are barely going to give it a glance.

    So, again, because I don’t know or can’t guess what someone else might like, all I can do is present what I like.

    . . . and know it will be only one of billions other pictures that are entering the internet every year . . .

    • I think you touch upon something very important here. That whatever we created in whatever form needs to come from us, not with any audience in mind. If we start to think what would attract an audience we lose our distinctive voice which is in the end what makes whatever we create interesting for others. So in my eyes your approach is the only way. You also touch upon another important point. You say you know that there are many other photos that are “better” than yours, but what you show on the blog is yours. Again because it’s yours it’s different that any other person’s and thus interesting for that very reason. It’s really not necessary to compare one with the other. Thanks for a very profound comment, Emilio.

  73. dianaed2013 says:

    This is so true – everyone seems to be a photographer but do they really look and become selective in their taking. I take out some Improver Photographers and have to encourage them to really look and not just take a quick snap.
    I really enjoy blogging as there are so many wonderful photos out there and I can travel round the world.

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