Photographers I hate – 1st part, the newbie amateur

He started taking photos about two years ago. He never before imagined that one day he’ll become a photographer, but as it usually happens, you can’t plan for a passion. Because that’s the only way he can describe it now. It all started when he bought his first DSLR ever, a Nikon to be precise. Because usually once you fall for a camera brand you never go back, isn’t it?


Of course, he had to learn everything from scratch but thankfully there were the tutorials on the internet, the photo-walks during the week-ends with other kindled souls – amateur photogrAphers sharing tips, advice but overall the passion. As much as his full-time job allowed him was devoted to photography. Well, being divorced and single he had total control of his free time and now that he has found his passion, his other love of video games has been put aside.


But you see, he discovered that not only he loved taking photos – other people liked his photos as well. Hey, someone even wanted to buy a print of one of his first photos. So his confidence grew and  almost naturally the idea of starting his own Facebook fan page to share his photos took life, and lo and behold his photo page has now 18K followers.


Things were getting serious, his friend, the professional photographer took him along to some sessions where he could take photos of professional models. What an excellent opportunity! He befriended some if these models and he started doing his own photoshoots. He used to joke how difficult it was to be a photographer, surrounded by semi-nude women.


Because you see, he has somewhat specialized in artistic nudes. He has never been prudish, quite the contrary, so when people started reporting his photos as inappropriate on Facebook, he got quite mad. It is unbelievable the amount of people who become outraged at the sight of a female nipple.


But trouble not always came from the prudish, no. There was the woman who told him she would like to do a nude photo session with him, but did want her photos to be published on his Facebook page. He assured him that whenever he was hired to do a photo session, privacy and use rights were discussed and respected as agree. “What, are you going to charge me to take photos of me naked?” was her surprised reply.


This was ludicrous! Did she thought she was doing him a favor? Couldn’t she respect his work enough and expect him to do it for free?! He complained to his Facebook friends about the whole mess, making sure that in the meantime any other woman who expected him to take photos of her naked for free would think twice before daring to do so.


His Facebook creative friends reassured him it was a very so common problem: people expecting them to work for free (photo, video, graphic design you name it) without realizing they had bills to pay, a family to feed. Oh, did he feel the pain! Well, sort of felt it because he still had his full-time job but hey, he also had expenses, like the internet and travel costs and hey, if his photos were professional quality, he deserved to be paid as such.


And soon he will have extra costs – he decided it was enough of Facebook censorship. Which was only exacerbated by the pettiness of prudish, hypocrite and jealous people. Even other photographers had the nerve to report him.


He was sure that his 18 thousand plus fans will follow him. No, it was not out of a morbid, voyeuristic trait that he got so many views and likes, neither the fact that he had a big network of Facebook “friends” to whom their photos were “pushed” continuously. He will show them. Hey he even got a deal for an itinerant photo exhibition. And yet he still was grateful for the undeserved attention, he had been in the profession for such a short time only! Passion plus talent are on the side of the amateur photographer, brace yourselves professional photographers! Don’t be haters! Welcome the amateur photographer with wide open arms!


Well, it’s true that his photographs weren’t World Photo Press material. Nor he hasn’t yet got viral worldwide thanks to those blogs the kind of “divorce thirty-something man creates whimsical self-portraits incrusting himself in silent movies stills” or the like. Maybe his composition skills aren’t great yet. Maybe his photos are on the burned-highlights side, but is a matter of personal style, you see? And his willing to defend his style till the end.


Maybe one day you’ll get to know his work, is a matter of months. I could, of course, link to his FB page or give you his name but truth is, I despise the man. His photos are as vulgar as himself. He’s congruent in that matter, you have to hive him that. Alas, the quality of his photos doesn’t justify his delusional self-confidence.


I hate him.

Could I’ve been losing interest in photography?

There was a time that I would spend a lot of energy and resources around photography – going to exhibitions, reading manuals, tutorials, magazines, websites, taking photos, butchering photos digitally, posting photos, classifying photos. And then somehow the interest has faded away. I realize there weren’t really lots of new things that I could learn about the basics. That doesn’t mean that I came to master them, but that it comes a point that you have to go beyond learning the theory and start practicing the theory in a more rigorous way. Same with keeping up with new gear – if you don’t plan to use or really need it, you just have to settle at some point with what you have. Other interests come and fill up your free time.

I need to make a conscious effort to make time for photography because I do like taking photos, but it might have to coincide with new travels, new settings. There is also a need to find inner sources of motivation. Probably in the past I relied too much on feedback from others, even though I never had a huge follower base, there were always the odd internet acquaintances – some of them even professional photographers – that would give me an eventual comment or recommendation.

But it might be a good thing after all, if I get back into butchering photos doing it without needing or expecting feedback. At some time I did, and maybe I should start again, posting horrible photos with burnt highlights and clipped shadows, with horrible posterized colors and centered subjects, with no regard to depth of field, sharpness or blurriness for that matter. Ah, yes, to be free and careless, a brut artist. Oh wait,maybe someone will find something to praise there. Oh well, you can never win …


“Was it good?” – well, now that you ask

I felt just like a teddy bear, stubby and chubby...

I felt just like a teddy bear, stubby and chubby…

Zumba classes are a jungle, but one where even the least fit can survive

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On ‘selfies’

This self-portrait is an homage to the early 'selfie' using the technique of a mirror reflection. The most recent technology allows mobile devices users to shoot themselves while previewing the image to be taken. No more visible cameras and immediate sharing capabilities!

This self-portrait is an homage to the early ‘selfie’ using the technique of a mirror reflection. The most recent technology allows mobile devices users to shoot themselves while previewing the image to be taken. No more visible cameras and immediate sharing capabilities!

‘Selfie’ – the contraction for self-portrait – was declared word of the year 2013 by to Oxford Dictionaries. But apparently people take the term selfie as just a photo of themselves, not necessarily taken by themselves. I’ve also seen the term used for photos where the ‘selfie‘ is accompanied by other people. Do group photos count as ‘selfies‘?

Looks like it’s enough for a selfie to count as one if you can ‘picture’ yourself in the photo taken.

Interesting how photomaton photos weren’t really considered as self-portraits though technically the subject was the one operating the machine. No one said in a form – attach (self)portrait.

Even weirder is the use of the term unselfie – logically, what is not a selfie will count as a unselfie. It is almost like a zen koan:

What is left from a selfie once you remove yourself from the picture?

Removing "your self" from the picture - what is left?

Removing “your self” from the picture – what is left?

The perfect blog reader

I’ve been thinking lately that I should write more often on my blog, instead of every two or three months or every other time Flickr changes something in its layout. But writing a blog without a focus it’s very difficult! But after a quick search I found a blog that gives you prompts for writing. Today’s look like a good start:

Daily Prompt: Singular Sensation
by michelle w. on January 14, 2014

If you could have a guarantee that one, specific person was reading your blog, who would you want that person to be? Why? What do you want to say to them?

So, instead of actually naming an existing living personal or fictional character, which would also be a good exercise in writing, I would rather think, if it were possible to build my perfect blog reader, what *it* would be like?  (*It* of course being a creature, not necessarily feminine or masculine, but gender-transcendent).

So, my perfect blog reader would be someone that :

  • would appreciate my wit if not my intelligence because I’m kind of dumb.
  • wouldn’t mind my grammar, syntax or usage mistakes because my English is not very good.
  • would still “get” the deep meaning of my blog posts. In fact, given the opportunity, *it* could have written it first.
  • would comment on my posts, if only to say “I could have written it first!”
  • would give me such rich feedback that a subsequent post will write itself right there in my mind. An ever enriching virtuous circle of mutual learning and commenting and learning, and well, you get the idea

After some thought it occurs to me that some of the possible candidates to the perfect blog reader would be:

  • Winnie the Pooh – ever enthusiastic and down to earth. I’m sure he would give me the kind of feedback that would make me feel all warm and fuzzy. That sounded wrong, but Winnie would have said it in the purest way, and see, that’s the whole cat – already a huge fan of my work but not that good at giving feedback if I must say
  • a writing robot – I could feed him with my ideas and he could, after a careful analysis and some cross-checking with current trends based on my social networks most frequently used phrases, produce a short comment that would reflect with a certain degree of confidence what my average “friend/contact/follower” would comment on a given post.

Candidates to perfect blog reader

My final vote goes to the robot, so I’ll need now is to write a software that would analyze my text, conduct a cross analysis of my social networks and produce an intelligible text in English. I would also need to assemble the robot because, though just an interface device would be enough to communicate with the software (think input and display units, processors, network connectors), it would be nice to give a face to the robot to feel I’m really communicating with someone. Still, I might be better off with Winnie. Oh well…

On Marvelous things and resolutions

The white rabbit according to Tenniel

The white rabbit according to Tenniel

Many, many years ago, when I decided to start blogging –back then it was the latest “social craze”, way before Facebook and Twitter, but after BBS forums– I started this blog and called it “Blog of stupid things”, because after all, I’ve never had many ambitions about my writing skills or the merit of my thoughts, unlike many other bloggers I’ve seen back then (and even now). But one of the participants of the forum I was active at the moment commented on how unfortunate it would be to call a blog with such a self-defeating name. I thought about it and decided to include the “marvelous things” as a little inside joke, a reminder of a song that at the time I was listening to all the time.

The song is a Cuban bolero, “Tú me acostumbraste” (You got me used to) and the first “estrofa” goes like this (loose translation by me)

Tú me acostumbraste /you got me used to
a todas esas cosas, / all those things
y tú me enseñaste / and you taught me
que son maravillosas. / that they are marvelous.

If you want to listen to the song, there are many versions, but this is one is a more contemporary version by a Mexican pop singer of my youth days. Enjoy!

In Spanish, maravillosas can be translated into English with “Marvelous” and “Wonderful”. A “wonder” would be a “maravilla” in Spanish. “Alice in Wonderland”, in Spanish, becomes “Alicia en el país de las maravillas“. I’ve always been fascinated by Alice’s adventures, especially the illustrations by Tenniel.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to fill my blog with the intended marvelous things and rather, it’s been a place to rant about Flickr and what not.  But this is a new year, a new life! Let’s fill it with marvelous things! I’ll start with this blog and my beloved Alice and her flamingo.

Alice experiencing marvellous things.

Alice experiencing marvellous things.

On Flickr and photo sharing in general

Flickr is a mess lately. They say they’re putting the emphasis on mobile, like everybody else nowadays, which makes that the beta version shows photos in a resolution optimized for mobile devices, but are too small for viewing on a wide screen. Using Flickr lately has been very frustrating, I can’t opt out of the beta version, and seeing how things are headed, most probably this new version will stay. Also the perm rolling feature of displaying the photos make it very cluttered a difficult to view and sort through older photos.

All this made me think – what’s the point of using Flickr now?

I started using Flickr about the time I re-started doing sketches and taking digital photographs. Nowadays it looks like we have been doing it forever, but 8 years ago digital cameras were starting to get more common and the whole concept of sharing with a bunch of strangers your photos was picking up.

At the time I was part of a group on visual thinking and got some feedback and inspiration to continue to do sketches. I spent a lot of time on Flickr because they had an online photo editor (that was later bought by Google, can’t remember its name right now) before I moved on to other photo editors.

So, basically, my main motivation to use Flickr has been its ability to store, group and share photos, together with the possibility of getting new ideas from other photo collections (mainly The Commons collections). But now visiting my own Flickr photostream is getting increasingly frustrating. Shall I stop posting my photos/sketches on Flickr? After, what is the use of “sharing” for the sake of sharing when you don’t get any feedback? I rarely get “faves” or comments and the views a photo gets don’t tell me much, other than they are directly proportional to the effort I put on “promoting” them, i.e. posting the link to Twitter.

Yet, there’s still the question, if I’m not interested in “promoting” the images I produce, what’s the point of uploading them to Flickr and leave them available to anyone to view them? I guess there’s always a part of ourselves that seeks a certain approval or recognition from the other. And being our “creations” (though too big a word for a simple snapshot or a quick sketch) expressions ourselves, we tend to identify ourselves to them. So if our creations find no liking among our audience, what can expect of our very selves? That is, of course, keeping all due proportions. Still, tiny bits of our “selves” being systematically ignored, can amount to a very demotivating force.

Lots to ponder. For sure I’ll continue doing sketches and butchering photos. I can always share photos with my mother (an unconditional fan for whatever I might produce) by email. And I know that there are a couple of internet friends that might be interested in seeing from time to time one of my drawings or even the odd photo. Just wondering if there’s more people out there that might be interested and I if should care at all. But then again, is not like I’ll get any feedback either from this post. Just thinking aloud. Is there anything like “drawing aloud”?

“Salvando neuronas / Rescuing brain cells” An old favorite sketch done as part of a visual thinking exercise.