I went driving looking for things of interest to photograph. I saw a small cemetery on the side of the road and stopped to take a look. I thought it might be a local family cemetery and it was . . . only the family was from much farther back than I thought.
View Snead Cemetery at Edgewood in a larger map
That he was born within 9 miles of Hanover court House on the 23 day of May 1762,
that, he has seen a record of his age in the family Bible, and that he believes it is now in
possession of Benjamin Thomas, of the said county; that when he went into service, he lived at
the place of his nativity, that since the Revolutionary war, he has lived in the same county near
Ground Squirrel Meeting house1 and still lives in the same place; that he served many tours; the
first he substituted himself for his brother John Snead, in the company of Joseph Cross, that
he marched as a private in that company in the fall or winter of 1778, as he thinks to
Williamsburg; that he served at that place and at a place called Rich Neck [in Richmond
County] until discharged after two months; that during this tour Gen’l [Thomas] Nelson2
commanded; that there was but one regiment as well as he remembers, at that place; that they
were engaged in guarding the coast and that nothing material occured. that when Arnold
invaded the state [Gen. Benedict Arnold, 5 Jan 1781] he was drafted, and served as a private
under Capt. John Anderson;
from this source (links/footnote are mine)
Twelve children. Seems more heroic than the whole Revolutionary War thing but also disturbingly like baseball card stats.
There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman.
Letter to Paul Cézanne (16 April 1860),
as published in Paul Cézanne : Letters (1995) edited by John Rewald
As I continue to take more pictures, more consistently, and with a bit more focus1- I find I wander farther afield (both geographically and conceptually) rather than narrowing and, perhaps, perfecting. Or at least improving more rapidly. It seems I follow a path in photography similar to the way I wander in everything else. I don’t really know if this leads to greater or lesser progress. Does taking landscapes influence your street photography? Do macros influence your portraits? Is it all part of a greater whole which shapes how you see the world? I have no idea. I’m hoping for the last one. It seems our society bets heavily on the opposite.
It’s interesting to me to look at how the extrinsic “reward” elements of photography plays out as well. It’s a tricky thing in my opinion. There is this idea of “pure” art for art’s sake versus a kind of “compromised” art for audience. This feels overly polarized to me. Art and audience seem inextricably intertwined. Weighing the value of audience against your own ideas and intent becomes the interesting place for me. It may very well be harder to do that in a time of low-cost likes, favs, and just about anything else you can imagine- all expertly designed to reward certain behaviors/content.2
For example, I consider the image below one of the best photographs I’ve taken. It has been viewed nearly 200 times and has zero “faves” and never saw any action on Explore. Jim likes it. I remain in love with the photograph in spite of the social media feedback.
I also like this photo and feel like it is good work. It has 71 faves and made it to #461 on Explore. It’s also the only one of the six photographs I’ve had make Explore that wasn’t dropped. I don’t consider it a better photograph than the other ones despite all the social feedback to the contrary.
Yet a third example, which has 28 faves and made it to #67 on Explore- much higher than any of the other photos I’ve had in that system.3 I don’t know exactly how I’d rank these photos. I like all three of them. I do know it has little to do with the elements that Flickr makes apparent to me. They do matter some. I do find it interesting. I do, for good or ill, look at that information. I imagine it impacts some of what I do. It’s always harder to say something “sort of” matters. It’s easy to argue that being in Explore can lead to good things for your photography. It brings in new people. You see their photos. They influence you. You make new friends etc. etc. Other possibilities open up. Maybe your photography changes. Maybe. Maybe.
I’ve had three images in Explore in the last two months compared to three in the last nine years and I only know that because I looked. Does this mean my photos are getting much better? Maybe. Are they that much better? Almost certainly not. Does my dramatically increased publishing and interaction on Flickr influence Explore? Maybe. Maybe.
There are certainly many ways to game these systems- both the human aspects and the algorithmic ones. There are tons of posts on how to get your photos “explored” and even more advice on how to build an audience. I’m sure you can buy fav love someplace on the wide world of the Internet in much the same way you can buy Twitter followers.
This is a lot of writing to say very little. My general theme in life is that there’s very little that is black and white despite our best wishes to the contrary and each person tends to have to navigate all the gray based on their own choices and considerations.
Twitter really needs to seriously rethink the *mandatory* & unalterable displaying of images in one's timeline on http://t.co/kklAvPC4K8
— Digital Maverick (@digitalmaverick) July 20, 2014
I saw the post above this morning and thought to myself that this is a problem I can solve. You can still bend and shape it to your desires, even if it’s not technically yours. There are lots of ways to deal with this issue but I figured I would look at removing the image preview entirely using CSS.
Turns out there is a Chrome Stylebot extension that lets you set custom CSS styles for particular sites and it is dead simple to use even if you don’t know CSS. Embedded below is an under one minute example of how to use Stylebot to deal with the image preview issue.