Monday, May 21, 2012

"Not To 55 in 7 Days"


This post is about a lot of things. Mostly it is about my life on Flickr, and the questions that it raises about the art of photography. It's also a little bit about Black and White photography, so lets cover off on that first, by posting the coloured image from which this picture was made:


Now you are able to compare the two as I enter into a purely artistic, and non-technical (yay) discussion. I took this picture from a Hotel window, to show what a lovely view we were provided. Foremost in my mind was to make the best composition possible from the only position I could possibly be standing in at the time - a challenge to self. So in that I succeeded - I actually took three pictures and trust me, this was the only one that would even qualify as a "good" composition. There is one flaw in it that is distracting, but for this discussion doesn't matter - you can see a dark vertical band down the left of the screen that is a reflection of the edge of the window curtain. I wish I had seen that in my viewfinder and I would have simply moved the curtain over, but I didn't.

This picture is a natural for Black and White. There is no colour that is worth keeping. There is just enough colour to be totally distracting from the wonderful tonal patterns. Finally, in colour, the picture is lifeless, boring and forgettable. But in Black and White, the picture assumes a life of its own - a grand abstraction of tonalities that speaks volumes about man's existence in the natural world. In colour, there is a huge question mark layered on top of all this - by removing it, there is at least enough to make the photo interesting.

How do I know it's interesting? Because on Flickr, it went from "Not to 55 in 7 Days". I very loosely judge the quality of my own pictures by how many people actually want to stop and look at it. Most of my pictures on Flickr take forever to get to "50 Views", and some never get there. This one made it to 55 exactly a week after I posted it. And this is typical for the ones I would call "good".

I've also noticed a pattern. Without exception, it is always my B&W photos that get the most views quickly, and it was a B&W that got the most views ever by far. Compare this to the subject of my last Blog, which after several days is only sitting at 17, and will never make it to 50. I knew the pretty red tulip would not do well, in spite of it's spectacular colours, and the happy feeling of springtime it provides. But, if I were in the business of selling my pictures, which one would you rather have on your wall?

That poses many good questions. Between the two I personally would not want the tulip on my wall, but the question is "why would you want one or the other"? If you simply want to brighten up your room and set a happy mood, the tulip is the natural choice, and if I were to set up selling my pictures at a flea market, I'd probably sell more prints of the tulip. Yet, why is there such a big gap in my Flickr view counts between these two pictures in favour of the B&W, and why is Black and White photography so popular? I honestly don't know. I make some of my photos B&W simply because I have a feel for the ones that "want" to be B&W. But I've also read enough about B&W photography specifically to know that I'm not a "real" B&W photographer, if that's all I'm doing. A "real B&W Photographer" knows how to purposely set forth seeing everything in terms of tones and abstractions, and has probably been shooting with B&W film for decades. That's not me, but I think that's what I wanna be. This all tells me one thing very clearly - that I'm not yet ready to "go pro" and start marketing my pictures. But I'm interested in trying to establish a market for my photography. I feel that what keeps me from doing so is that I cannot figure out what it is that people would buy - I can't quite figure out why Black and White seems to get looked at on Flickr more than colour, and so I don't feel ready if I can't yet figure this out.

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