RECENTLY I WROTE:
- Dungeness at twilight
- Before I die…
- Borough Market and my old iPhone 4S
- The things you see in London…
- Filming with Gok Wan for NAT
- A photographer’s journey: Niall McDiarmid’s Crossing Paths
- Summer 2013 in pics, part 1
- In pictures: Surviving a thunderstorm in Kazimierz
- Aerial photographs of Heathrow Airport
- Adobe Lightroom 5 – five favourite video tutorials
MY MOBILE EYE:
Tag Archives: social media
By Michal Dzierza | Published
If, like me, you never publish your pictures on Facebook, or you simply want to make your photography more social using other platforms, this post is for you.
This is part of a presentation I made on social tools for photographers during my monthly photographers group meet-up, where I focused on several alternatives to Facebook. The presentation assumed a minimal or no knowledge of these tools, hence the basics.
If you interact with many photographers on Google+ or Tumblr, you’ll be forgiven for thinking everyone knows these tools. In reality, many photographers actually don’t venture out of their safe Facebook zone or post their images outside their portfolios.
There are virtually endless possibilities, platforms, apps and networks a photographer can use. But who has the time to update – in a meaningful, i.e. engaging and not automated, way – twenty or so different networks?
So before you choose a site, app or platform for your photography, answer the following questions to help you decide which networks would work best for you:
- Who is your intended audience? Your peers? Prospective clients? Future models? Or maybe just family and friends? What do they expect? Where are they likely to spend more time?
- Establish your goals – who do you want/need to reach? What or who do you want to promote: yourself, your services or just your images? Are you more about showing off or educating? Or do you just want a simple portfolio? If so, do you want just the images, or do you want to have a blog and a space to sell your images too?
- Are you able to devote a chunk of your time – daily – to manage all this and be social? The old cliche – “It’s called social for a reason” – still applies. If you don’t manage your presence, joining so many networks is pointless. Also, if you don’t engage – talk to people, post comments, reply to others, promote and reshare – you’ll become one of many dull, link-spewing bots. There are already too many of them.
Also, always – always – read the Terms of Service for each site. It’s important. Be aware, but don’t get paranoid about the details.
I need to stress that the following networks, sites and apps have been chosen for two reasons: their popularity and my experience with them. This is a subjective choice, I admit, and if you’re a seasoned social networker your mileage may vary. But for most photographers considering their first steps in the social media maze, this should be a good starting point.
Also, while some of the sites below may be and are often used to create a portfolio, I’ve assumed you already have one central place for your photography and you are using Facebook and/or other sites to promote it.
Launched in 2011 and quickly became popular among high-profile and high-quality photographers. Great portfolio tool. Not really a place for your holiday snaps – creativity, quality and originality are rewarded. (Read my interview with one of the co-founders here.)
- Focus on large, high-quality images.
- Can be used as a gallery, portfolio, blog or a combination of all of them.
- Can link to your own domain.
- Works with Lightroom through a plug-in; also a very good iPad app.
- Unlike many sites, it allows users to ‘dislike’ a picture. Many see this as a redundant feature for trolls.
- Allows image embeds, which has proved controversial.
- The “Awesome” version ($50/year) doesn’t really offer that much more.
One to watch: an emerging platform, barely a few months old, which serves as an online pinboard (or to be more precise, a collection of themed pinboards, where you decide how many pinboards you want and what to share on them). Initially perceived as very heavily female-biased, but as it’s focused on specific interests and can be very granular, many people, including photographers, discover its benefits already.
- Image-led, very little text, very easy to use.
- You can create separate albums (boards) for various types of stuff.
- Other users can ‘like’ or repin your posts, ultimately driving traffic to your site/images.
- An iPhone app.
- Currently cute pets, crafts and fashion do really well. This is likely to change as the platform expands. Persist.
- There’s a lot of content duplication in the general stream, which creates a lot of noise and clutter – can be off-putting at times.
- Potentially bad for image theft, but probably not worse than Tumblr.
- Very new and experiencing some teething problems.
A social networking site by Google, which combines elements of Facebook and Twitter. Quickly adopted by photographers, including some high profile names. Very robust galleries, sharing and permission management.
- You can create and share ‘circles’ of contacts – good for growing your audience and ‘selective broadcast’.
- While many people don’t want to make the switch to G+ (“I don’t know anyone there!” *sigh*), the photo community on there is very active.
- Great galleries, you can share/comment on whole galleries or individual images. The gallery/lightbox interface offers a much better photo experience than Facebook.
- Easy to control permissions and make them as wide or as narrow as you want.
- Integrates with Picasa and can potentially be used a a free, unlimited backup/storage solution (image size restrictions apply); also comes with a basic retouching tool.
- Lightroom plug-in for Picasa; iPhone/iPad apps.
- Google intergrates G+ more with search, your images are likely to surface in search results in the future.
- Unlike on Flickr, you can’t add one picture to several albums, you need to make copies, which is a bit messy and means you can’t have all comments for the same image in one place.
- Google continues to integrate G+ with other services – which may be annoying for some.
- Take-up among ‘ordinary’ users is still low.
A micro-blogging platform that makes it easy to share content and follow people. It combines blog functionality with Twitter-like stream of updates.
- Really simple to set up and manage.
- Can be customised easily, there is a wide selection of free and paid-for templates.
- It has some advanced functionality too, but even in its basic form it’s more than enough for most.
- Hugely popular, easy to reach a large audience – and most people on it reshare rather than create.
- A powerful mobile app allows users to post on the go.
- A lot of images get shared without credits or links – often it’s unintentional (people may drop the original credit while re-sharing), but may be an issue if you don’t watermark images but want to be recognised as the original creator.
- Can be really spammy.
- Audience largely used to quick fixes, looking for easily-shareable, ‘cool’ stuff.
- Not ideal if you want to grow your site and have some flexibility (see WordPress below).
Another micro-blogging platform, like Tumblr, it’s very easy to set up and use. So easy in fact that you can start blogging by simply sending your first post by email to email@example.com.
- Very simple to use – you can post by email and/or online; you can easily import an existing site from elsewhere.
- Emailing several images at once automatically creates galleries.
- Easy customisation, you can set up multiple blogs.
- Daily digest email sent to subscribers.
- Tumblr has probably a bigger audience.
- Not powerful enough if you ant to add e-commerce or have more advanced features.
Both Tumblr and Posterous lack the commerce tools or robustness of platforms like WordPress (see below).
The ultimate blogging platform. Can easily be expanded to go beyond blogging – it’s a content management system, which allows you to build everything – from blogs and portfolios to e-commerce sites. You can manage forums, create robust portfolios with or without blogs etc.
- Expandable, with a huge choice of free and paid-for templates.
- Versatile and suitable for almost all needs.
- Can be self-installed and hosted if you’d prefer to install it on your own domain (wordpress.org has all the files and support) or you can use the managed version (wordpress.com).
- Integrates easily with other social networking sites/tools.
- If you want to host your site using WordPress, you need to have a domain and pay for hosting.
- The managed version (wordpress.com) is limited in terms of its flexibility compared to the self-hosted version.
AND THE REST
Flickr - the ‘original’ photo-sharing site, a bit stale and with limited functionality compared to many newer platforms. But the Flickr community is active and the library is gigantic. Owners, Yahoo!, promised to invest in new features in 2012.
Ephotozine – one of the oldest photo communities (active since 2001) online, still doing relatively well. The usual features are all here: portfolio, photo critiques, forums. It’s UK-based and seems to have a loyal, if moderately-sized, fanbase.
Twitter – great for building an audience and following people you *want* to know, rather than those you *do* know. Good for posting links to own images elsewhere, but stay away from third-party image apps.
InstaGram – a smartphone app which most people use to grab mobile images, tweak them and share with their followers. A lot of users however upload their DSLR images to Instagram and – while annoying many IG ‘purists’ (including me) – get another outlet for their photography.
Have I missed any obvious sites or apps? Let me know in the comments below.
By Michal Dzierza | Published
Should you move your portfolio? Will Google+ kill Flickr? Is it better than Facebook? Well, who knows.
All we know for now is that Google+ has been open to a chosen few for just over a week and generated a lot of excitement – or frustration, if you haven’t been able to join it yet.
Let’s agree about one thing. The service is impressive, but predicting the death of Flickr and Facebook at this stage might be a bit premature. This is the very beginning – Google+ has barely left its starting blocks. Let the service grow and gain critical mass first.
So I won’t tell you whether this is the next big thing for photographers, whether it’s going to revolutionise the way we share images or any other crystal-ball crap. Instead, let me list the things I do like about Google+ (from a photographer’s perspective) after a week of playing with the service.
1. Picasa integration. I never thought I would go back to Picasa, but here I am. I used it ages ago as a desktop application well before it was bought by Google. Then, when it became a part of the Google app package, I used it occassionally, mostly to share some private photos with friends and family.
But now Picasa – soon to be known as “Google Photos, formerly known as Picasa” – has become a very attractive proposition for G+ users. Here is why:
- Unlimited storage. If you are Google+ user, you can store an unlimited number of images up to 2048x2048px in size. Anything larger than that will count towards your standard 1Gb storage. Also videos up to 15 minutes long will enjoy unlimited storage. Anything longer than that will again dent your 1Gb limit. There are no guarantees of course that this won’t change in the future, but for now this is pretty awesome.
- Editing. If you have been using Picasa, you’ve probably seen or used Picnik for basic image adjustments. Google+’s adjustments are even more basic and are limited to rotating the image and applying six basic filters. So you’re probably better off working on your images before uploading them to your albums. But still, compared to Facebook, your editing options are slightly more robust.
- Tagging people. You can tag people, who will then be notified and will have the ability to remove the tag. If someone else tags you in a photo, you can reject or approve the tag, but if you do approve, the image will be associated with your profile, i.e. visible to people in your circles.
- Comments. A simple but smart solution – comments display not underneath the image, but in a column to the right of it, which means you don’t have to scroll down to read them.
- Lightbox. When you go to an album, Picasa smartly redistrubutes the images within it on the page so that they form a nice mosaic. Like it or not, it’s neat. Clicking on a single image opens it in the lightbox (“on black”, in Flickr-speak) and offers a nice clutter-free experience. Frome here you can navigate to other images in the same album and perform all the actions described above.
- Data. Each G+ photo comes with some basic EXIF data (if available), the date the image was taken and a clickable histogram.
2. Mini-portfolio. That’s my name for it. Not sure what the technical term is, but when you create or update your profile, you have the ability to upload 5 images that will be displayed underneath your name every time someone reads your profile info.
Quite powerful if you want to highlight your best work or, say, define your photographic style in five thumbnails.
3. InstaGram. If you’re using InstaGram and wish you could display your images on a larger screen, why not transfer all IG images to Picasa/Google+?
So far I’ve come across two different IG solutions, one which allows you to import your InstaGram archive into Picasa and another one, which updates your existing InstaGram Picasa album with every new IG image you take.
Both solutions are a bit clumsy at this stage, but remember the service is brand new and we’ll probably have to rely on many hacks before a more seamless integration of external services becomes a reality.
I realise that this post will probably feel dated a few months from now. Google+ is very likely to evolve and become very powerful very quickly. It may even become a threat to other photo-sharing services, but it’s much too early to predict to what degree, if at all.
So instead of playing with your crystal ball, spend some time discovering how you can use Google+ to your advantage now.
By Michal Dzierza | Published
This week I managed to get to Thomson/Reuters’s swanky headquarters in Canary Wharf to take part in an unconference called 1pound40.
Some great minds – from journalists to social media specialists – spent the afternoon discussing the impact of social media on politics and news, among other things. Not surprisingly, Twitter became the main focal point of most of our sessions.
Whether we discussed the power of social media in changing politics or whether Twitter and social media in general can curate news, the discussions always became more general as we were all trying to define the influence of Twitter and other tools on our lives.
It’s impossible to summarise all our discussions and thoughts, but I’d like to mention two keywords that cropped up several times during the session and which will be quite important in our future discussion about social media. I list them here in no particular order of importance:
- transliteracy: not a new term, but an increasingly important one. I was lucky enough to share the table with professor Sue Thomas of Leicester University, who has been writing about transliteracy for years. Transliteracy is in my opinion a pre-requisite to a successful engagement with social media – or media in general. The ability to write, read and communicate across a wide variety of mostly digital, but also analogue platforms, and the ability to create value using the most appropriate tools and platforms for your needs is absolutely crucial. It’s surprising how many people who should be transliterate – journalists, for example – are still reluctant to embrace another medium and turn it into their advantage. Such approach is unsustainable and short-sighted. Period.
- curating content: in other words, trying to embrace the wealth of knowledge and information social media offer us. But how? Richard Sambrook asked whether Twitter and social media can curate news and provide a framework for trust. Yes they can, but with (sometimes severe) limitations. Should news companies like the BBC even curate content from Twitter? If so, how do you approach the issue of trust (by sticking to journalistic principles, I’d say – check, cross-check, verify – don’t just republish)? Curating content might be the way forward, but the biggest issue – after trust – is the volume of information. How do you cope with that? How do you filter it out? Twitter lists might be one solution, but Twitter is just one tool among hundreds available.
I’m hoping to explore the issue of content curation over the next few months, but your thoughts on it – or any of the above issues – are welcome.
(There are some pictures from 1pound40 over on my Posterous blog)
By Michal Dzierza | Published
If you’ve ever used your mobile camera to photograph an event – be it a gig, somebody’s birthday party or a fellow passenger on the bus – and then subsequently posted the picture online for everyone to see, you must have asked yourself a question: is this morally ok to do that?
‘Cause if you haven’t, you might want to read this brilliant and rather shocking piece by Paul Carr, “After Fort Hood, another example of how ‘citizen journalists’ can’t handle the truth”. Whether you like Paul Carr or not, he’s made a few very valid points around the issues of privacy and morality of social media – and citizen journalists in particular – with two videos to back them up (warning: one of the videos contains graphic images of the final moments of Neda Agha-Soltan, killed during the Iranian election protests earlier this year). I won’t summarise the post here, please read it and draw your own conclusions.
Just don’t interpret Paul’s words as a sweeping statement which has little to do with reality. It isn’t. And I was reminded of it while reading this article about a man in south London, who brought traffic to a halt by threatening to jump off a building.
The incident lasted for hours and obviously attracted a large crowd. Some people shouted for him to jump. Others, as is obvious from the picture that accompanies this article, were filming or photographing the man.
Even without Paul Carr’s article I didn’t doubt for a moment that had the man jumped, the video would have been uploaded to YouTube within a matter of hours. Do you?
By Michal Dzierza | Published
In all our conversations about how to use Twitter, we seem to forget about one crucial thing – the content.
What you say says a lot about who you are. Granted, not everyone is on Twitter to spread groundbreaking ideas, analyse the world in 140 characters or offer you solutions to your problems.
But some people’s use of Twitter reveals a distinct lack of content. Or at least any meaningful content.
So maybe this totally unscientific list of my observations from using Twitter might give you some idea as tho what to expect – or who to avoid – when the following happens:
- when someone keeps saying ‘uh, oh – another 1000 followers, well thanks, but not sure why you’re following me, I’m so boring’ they probably are. Unfollow.
- then again some people will only talk numbers – numbers of followers, tweets, retweets, their position in the most retweeted charts, etc. Unless you’re an accountant and/or define your life by the number of people you follow, avoid.
- if the person you follow keeps talking about their cat only – perhaps they should get their cat a profile. Unfollow.
- Twitter is full of specialists. Or ‘specialists’. To become a specialist and to gain and share specialist knowledge takes a while. Or at least longer than ‘since last Tuesday’
- if someone follows you and they follow 2,000 other people, but have only one update: “Cheap Viagra/laptop/iPod” – do what you would do with an email with the subject line ‘Cheap Viagra”
- retweeting is useful, in fact that’s what makes Twitter uniquely fast. But retweeting absolutely everything all the time is like reading a newspaper aloud on a packed train. A bit unsocial.
- Twitpic is for sharing pictures. Drunken, fuzzy shots you took with your mobile while covering the lens with your finger make for great content only once in a while. Don’t overdo it.
Totally unscientific, purely empirical. Agree to disagree.