Digital Economy and Pro Status

Just randomly thinking here . . . please pass if you’re busy and looking for direct application.

I’m not a photographer, yet I’ve got over 10,000 images scattered among three flickr accounts. I haven’t bought film recently (or ever that I recall) but I’ve got to imagine that the film combined with processing would have cost quite a bit. Then I’d have to figure out how to store all these pictures etc. I’d also have even fewer friends than I do now as I tried to get them to look at all these pictures and give me some feedback.




Instead the accounts have around 45,000 views -that includes one that’s pretty much totally private – just stuff for family and friends. Strange to see things stack up like that.

Does this matter or am I just indulging my ego?

I think it does matter. The web combined with digital photography has created the right economy for a lot of non-professionals to really improve at a number of skills. I’m talking about photography but it could just as easily be writing, art, music or film etc. Granted it doesn’t work for all things (math would be far different for instance) but that doesn’t mean we should ignore what it does work for.

I’ve now got a free audience (voluntary and various) with different experiences, skills and points of view. That’s basically what I feel college is a lot of times. A place where you pay for a, hopefully enlightened, audience and feedback. I can do without any more student loans but I still want that feedback, that audience.

I can put up huge amounts of work, get feedback and learn from others all virtually for free. Granted there are some comments that are useless and some that are left by trolls (see virtually all youtube comments) but learning what is and is not constructive criticism is exactly that- learning. I can be selective and I can check out the commentor’s work, which either lends credibility or doesn’t. I’d have liked that option for some of the teachers I had in high school (not sure if I should smile or frown about that).

So it seems the economy is in the publishing/media, storage, and audience/expertise/interaction. Cheap, fast and frequent feedback.

Practice makes perfect right? And feedback guides practice. The more frequent and timely the better.

I’ll pretend I’m not quoting Borat when I say “Thattt’s Niccceee.”

Image source YangPing

Comments on this post

  1. J.D. Williams said on December 18, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    One of the first photography websites I ever really used was Each week they put up a “contest.” There are restraints to what you can photograph, then the community votes on (and can comment) the images. Top three get virtual ribbons. I used that site a lot when I had an older camera. People would really give good tips on how to improve my photos, and seeing what other people decided to photograph helped a lot.

    Then I got a Digital SLR, and pretty much stopped taking pictures. Good investment huh? I would say it was because I became a teacher and the time I had to take pictures went down, but now it may be because I’m just lazy.

  2. Tom said on December 18, 2007 at 9:54 pm


    I joined the site. Looks like fun. I like being “forced” into taking more pictures.

    Right now I tend to use the “Hit, Miss or Maybe Why?” group for basic feedback.

    I ended up with a Canon Rebel on loan from my dad in return for lots of pictures of the grandchildren. So I’ve kept up my end of the bargain. I’m slowly building up some lenses.

    Teaching will eat your life. That’s for sure. Looking back, I’d like the chance to go back and work photography into my class. It’d be awfully nice to have shots of some of the kids that really impacted my life (although taking the shots would be awfully hard to work into class time). I think it might also be an interesting way to motivate some kids. It’d be awesome to have a class flickr account but that’d never fly in my old district.

    If you start taking pictures again throw me a link.