photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Full of stars

in General Rants , Monday, December 18, 2006

Well, time of reflection and all that, so here is a bit of seasonal philosophising. In the last couple of weeks, I've been spending quite a lot of time on Flickr. Previously, I bought into the "old world", i.e pre-2005 Internet, that Flickr was just full of here-is-my-cat, here-is-me-unpacking-my-iMac, and hopeless holiday snapshots from the world of oblique horizons. Fueled by writings such as Mike Johnson's amusing parody, I, and I suspect others, felt a smug sense of superiority over these "newbies". Well, guess what:

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong

There is some utterly fantastic work on Flickr, and the scary thing is, it is almost infinite. It certainly seems that digital photography has opened the floodgates, and brought forth a flood of creativity. Flickr has spawned true media megastars, such as Iceland's Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir, but also countless other wonderfully creative artists. Here's just a few I've discovered, pretty much through random walks through comment trees: Helga Kvam - also from Iceland. Graham Foster, from Wales. James Vornov, from the USA. Whimsical Chris Hawkins, from the UK, or all over the world Agata, discovered through Chris, from the UK The list is basically endless. Every day, new people join, new people upload photos, and new discoveries are made. So what to make of all this creativity ? The urge to be recognised is a strong character trait, particularly evident in creative people. But in Flickr, you can drown in creativity. Nobody has time to recognize you. A few people, like _rebekka, will get huge recognition. It is difficult to avoid saying that the fact that she is female, attractive, and quite exotic does not do her any harm, but at the same time, she's hardly lacking in talent or originality. Compare her work, or that of countless others, with the self-styled "fine art photographers" who's pompous web sites proclaim their various unique visions. Are these "artists" better ? Nope. They're actually quite often dull, pretentious, very boring, and very irrelevant. Ok, so that's another gross generalisation, but to be honest, there are plenty of photos on Flickr I'd rather look at than the average "fine art portfolio". There is also a refreshing lack of gear addiction on Flickr, at least that I've noticed. You get the occasional "did you take that with you 20D" comment, which can probably be translated as "could you post a topless self-portrait please", but in general, the great leveler of (more or less) 800 x 600 pixels sure adds a touch of democracy to the proceedings. There is a real spirit of experimentation, of trying things out in public, which is infective. I've certainly published stuff on my Flickr photostream which I probably would not have published here. Flickr is endless and full of stars, and actually, it isn't even the only universe (although it probably works better than the rest). I feel very diminished in this company, probably at best a very, very dim flicker in a far off corner. But it really feels good to cut loose from the remaining aspirations to "fine art". small_web.jpg

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