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How Flickr is different from "great photography"

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I have been reading books this summer on photography, and it's interesting to note how the pics in these books are different from the great pics on Flickr, i.e. high quality snaphots by enthusiastic amatuers. The picture above, of a sunset at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet, Illinois taken with the Vivitar Ultra Slim & Wide and cross-processed 35mm film, is an example of what you would likely NOT see in a photo art book (although you might see in a coffee table book).

Pictures considered "great" in published books...

1. Are older than pics on Flickr. No surprise, it takes time to establish greatness; even to be found and put into print!

2. Are almost all black & white as compared to Flickr's mostly color pics. No surprise here, see #1... but it does make one want to explore what you can do in the more pure medium of b&w.

3. Are more people oriented than Flickr pictures. Most great pics have humans in them, and many have a LOT of humans in them. Yes, Flickr has a lot of people shots, but the percentage is smaller, and you rarely see Flickr shots with hoardes of people. Many "famous" streets shots are candids, which are somewhat shunned in some circles of Flickr.

4. Are more likely to capture the moment. It's what makes great pictures great, and it's probably present in only a percent or two of Flickr pictures. Most good Flickr pics are beautiful, but they're not capturing the essential human moment.

5. Have one (and only one) person acknowledge the camera. Many of the great group pics in books have a single person looking at the camera, while the rest of the group is involved in the scene. Look for it.

6. More likely to show naked woman, and less likely to be humorous. While Flickr has its share of skin, it's minute in comparison to how many naked women are in these art books. Conversely, where the hell is the humor? The art world seems to have shunned the humor present in everyday snapshots.


jacoreflex, Hülya Coskun, IrishPics, and 96 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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  1. Laura Paige 81 months ago | reply

    Gorgeous capture, love the colors

  2. ExeDave 81 months ago | reply

    Wel it's great to me! Interesting observations though!

  3. zhushman 78 months ago | reply

    good contrast and colors

  4. chrisps 78 months ago | reply

    very interesting indeed, specially agree with the one of a person acknowledging the camera. I have just voted on hundreds of photos on the National Geographic Photo Contest and gave a low mark to any that did not. Similarly the B and Ws in the contest seem to have scored well. Capturing the moment is essential for a great photo.

  5. ramparts54 76 months ago | reply

    Hey, I missed this one back in August. Great observations - I'd love to see your photos in a book! I must admit that I'm not keen on taking photos of humans (prefer impressionistic people) and almost never fave a photo on flickr that is people-oriented. Guess I'm where I belong.

  6. Rich. S 75 months ago | reply

    After reading your blurb I can only conclude you must be viewing a lot of different groups and photos than I am...I disagree with most of what you said... weird

  7. lraep2478 74 months ago | reply

    Im jesS_o014 omg i like it sø0 much its so nice

  8. -simplicity.- 72 months ago | reply

    amazing work !
    check out my photostream ! :]

  9. scismgenie 71 months ago | reply

    40 years taking pics and I have learned that if you see it in print, it is 'old" and no longer fresh. Instant media sharing is a wonderful way to establish the cutting edge - and the edge is Sharp, or fuzzy, or anything in between.

    It isn't only the technology that is fresh, it is a viewpoint that keeps looking further, deeper, and with a comprehension of the aspects that can and will emote.

    The Great and gifted Photogs have a sight, they see what the Photo will be before it is.

    It is "vision' and it is competence, confidence, and the audacity to say that "this is my message" with every shot.

    The Spectrum Award

    The Spectrum Award

  10. TatiChic 64 months ago | reply

    Breathtaking!!!! :]

  11. Janey Kay 55 months ago | reply

    I have noticed this phenomenon too and I think 3 and 4 are important - black and white is because of the heritage of photography. Also though because people (including me) like to photograph people in black and white ... so if 3 & 4 are important then 2 is a logical consquence. I like to photograph people in black and white (some of the time) because then you concentrate on the humaness and not all the "frou frou" or fluffiness around.

    IMO the reason then that people are important is not just for their own sake and not just for that particular moment (both of these points ARE important) but because they represent an historial record of a time. "What were people like back then?" "What was life like back then?" This came to me one day when at the bottom of my Flickr home page one of the Creative Commons photos from Brooklyn Museum appeared and it was a photo of the Eiffel Tower in 1901 with people milling around beneath it. I now live around 20 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower and although the structure hasn't really changed much in 100 years, the people milling about beneath it certainly have :)

    Just my 2 (euro) cents!

  12. Jerzy Durczak 51 months ago | reply

    I like your mini essays and your observations. The photos are great too!

  13. Dawn Woodhouse 48 months ago | reply

    Yes. I have noticed it myself that my street shots, which I love personally, are less popular on Flickr.

    I have posted some on Flickr, but not so many.

    While I have noticed the lack of interest in natural shots of people I have not really worked out why many shun giving them awards. Compared to other photographs they seem a lot less well liked.

    I have noticed that a lot of people on Flickr who might take the odd street shot are shy to get up close and personal. It's too confronting perhaps.

    And a few years ago I saw a great humourous photographic calender in a doctors surgery related to hemmeroid's.

    It had 12 black and white candid pictures of people bending over in public in various postures, including one person whose head was buried in a hedge they were clipping.

  14. ΞSSΞ®®Ξ 23 months ago | reply

    Cool and interesting profile infomation you haven Kevin. Thank's for sharing

  15. Marty Bono Carpe Diem 21 months ago | reply

    Nice pic! Interesting info!

  16. Neil. Moralee 21 months ago | reply

    Nice commentary.

  17. Ataylor60 20 months ago | reply

    Nice photo!

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