social media

The Whole Instagram Culture

Instagram Culture

Ines Perković on Instagram and starting fresh:

I decided to get off the mainstream wagon and search for modest streams with great and unique photos. Not that I think my photos are great and unique but, you have to do things differently in order to get different results. I just want to go back to the basics. Honestly, I’m tired of kayak on a lake and feet sticking out of a van photos.  I mean, it’s all good photography but when you see the same thing over and over again, it becomes boring.

Couldn’t say it better myself.

Look for the unique, the different, and the you.

(By the way, I profiled Perković for my photographer interview series – she does great work.)

The Flickr Photo Bucket

Flickr Photo Bucket

I try to think of my photography as a daily practice. Even if I don’t make a photograph every day, I still do some action involved with the art.

One of those practices is to upload a photo (or two) to Flickr every weekday. Just one will do, although Flickr shows at least five of your recent uploads in the People section. One photo says, this is a thing I do every day.

To keep track of my daily Flickr photo, I have a bucket of photos to upload in Aperture (and eventually, a Lightroom catalog). Each morning, I select one of those pictures, and send it off to Flickr. After the upload, I pick an album, and then add it to a few relevant groups. If I missed any keywords, I’ll add those in Flickr, too.

After doing this for a few years, a few trends pop up.

For one, the best photos seem to get uploaded the soonest. Maybe I’m excited to share them, or maybe the photo follows a theme. Then, the not-so-good photos drop to bottom of the Flickr bucket. Maybe I’m less excited about sharing those. The system is self filtering: eventually, all those photos at the bottom of the bucket get purged.

Two, to keep it interesting for myself, sometimes I’ll assign theme days to my upload. Monday can be for film photos, Friday is for iPhone photos, etc.

And three, while it’s not an end goal, making Flickr’s “Explore” listing is a fun accomplishment. You can learn how to game the system, but for me, earning an “Explore” requires a great photo shared with the right groups. That’s it. Before I upload a photo, sometimes I’ll think, “This is an ‘Explore’ photo,” but it doesn’t make the listing. Other days, a photo I paid little attention to earns “Explore.” Some of it’s luck, but a lot of it is the quality of the photo.

I still love Flickr, and I’ve made it a daily ritual to support the site and share my work. My system keeps it easy for me to keep the daily practice.

Holiday Habits

Holiday Habits

I have two habits around the holidays.

One: I take the last day I’m at work and clean my office. Dust, vacuum,  straighten up – I’m going to be gone for a few days, so it’s good to get it tidy. This is a great thing to do right before a vacation, too. That way, when you get back, everything’s in ship shape.

Two: I take a break from social media. This year, it will be an even bigger break than I’ve been playing with the past few months.

The holidays, and this first part of winter, are a quiet time. I like quiet music, quiet weather (snow!), quiet nights at home watching movies and basking in the warm glow of Christmas lights. Peace and quiet.

Twitter and Instagram and everything else are noise, so they’re not allowed. Not for a week or two. Instead, I spend time with family and make things and share in the season with friends and family.

This is a good practice during vacations, too. Save all your photo sharing until you’re back home, and have had time to process your time away.

Soon, I bet you’ll look forward to these habits. Time away does us all some good.

The Facebook Experiment

The Facebook Experiment

More than two months ago, I became a passive Facebook user. That means checking it only once a week or so, mostly for new messages, and tending to housekeeping. Did I get tagged in any photos? Do I have a blog post or photo to share? Who sent me a friend request? Etc.

Since then, I’ve noticed a funny thing: Facebook is really trying to get me back there every day. So much so that I get random email messages with subject lines like “So-and-so updated his/her status.”

No kidding? Someone I know updated their status? I should check that out!

Or not.

There must be some line of code at FB HQ that says “IF $days without login THEN notify Dave.” So I set up my own mailbox rule to trash those messages as they come in. I don’t see them anymore.

It’s easy to not miss Facebook. All those status updates, all those photos, all that fake outrage and fake news – when you don’t see it, you don’t miss it. And by skipping out on even being on the site, you miss out on not being advertising bait. Just think: no more of those creepy ads showing you something you just looked at on Amazon.

Most of all, it’s quiet outside of Facebook. There’s peace and calm. No drama. I find it addicting – and I’ve taken to cleaning up my Twitter timeline, too, so if I get tired of hearing about something or someone (rhymes with “Dump”), I mute it.

Peace. Quiet. I’m not ready to delete my Facebook profile just yet, but if I can get peace and quiet by avoiding the site, I’ll take it.

Next Great Addiction

Is On My List - Ann Arbor, Michigan

Jason Zook on quitting Facebook at Jason Does Stuff:

But I’ve had one big realization about our relationship, and it’s probably due to my growing older and having more life experience: I don’t enjoy sharing every detail of my life with you anymore. I don’t like the way you make me feel like I have to scream for attention every time I have something to say.

Again, you don’t need a rage quit.

A few months into my experiment, and I feel great. Less Facebook means more of just about everything and anything else.

Enough Is Enough

Enough is Enough

At first, I only checked Facebook once per week (based on a good recommendation).

Then, I quit my photo blog at Tumblr and opened up this one.

Soon, it seems, I’ll want to quit Instagram. That leaves Twitter and Flickr (which is barely “social”), and who knows what’ll happen with those two. Or any other social media platform that has us, as users and creatives, doing all the real work for them.

No, it’s all too much.

This is not a rage quit. It’s the product of a lot of small, quiet frustrations that leave me thinking I can spend my time doing other things.

It’s not a new revelation, and Lord knows I’m not the first to discover social media is a waste of time. But as I get older, and I have friends and family, and projects to do around the house, and little patience for the increasing amount of (mostly irrelevant) ads blinking in my face, the less appealing all these “What are you up to?” platforms become.

I still enjoy my quiet little corner of Twitter, with my Mac nerds and fellow photographers. And I still dig the work people post on Flickr. I’ve set up my social media accounts to show me mostly stuff and people I’m interested in. It’s just that more and more on those other platforms, advertising and “features” are intruding. To what benefit?

As Jörg Colberg writes, “If you’re happy with being a passenger and with having to change vehicles usually the moment you’ve become a bit comfortable, then stick with Silicon Valley’s boom-and-bust cycle. If that’s not what you want, going back to blogging is likely to give you a lot more agency.”

So here I am, with a relaunched blog, away from Tumblr.

Another problem is that marketers and brands have gotten a hold of these sites and used them for marketing. I think a lot of the marketing world is waking up to the realization that social media isn’t the be-all, end-all marketing channel for the modern consumer. If anything, people switch social media platforms to escape the ads and intrusiveness. I should know: I’m one of those people using social media to “engage” with customers and visitors – but I don’t do it with a clear conscience, because I hate seeing all that “engagement” crap, too.

It’s tough feeling like you can’t get your stuff out there to be seen without social media, and yet being uncomfortable with the idea of using social media at all. I’m a pretty private person, and I feel weird every time I try to promote something on Facebook, Twitter, etc. As a photographer, it’s a Catch 22.

I don’t have any answers right now. The trick is finding the mix that works, and that’s a work in progress.



‘See the Moments You Care About First’


You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.

To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.

The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.

If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.

We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way. You’ll see this new experience in the coming months.

Terrible. I’m so sick of this we’ll-decide-what-you’ll-see algorithm crap.

How I Use Flickr

Colin+Maria Wedding: Rehearsal Dinner

I’ve been a proud member of Flickr since 2006.

Back then, it was merely a repository of my photos: goofy self portraits, vacation pics, even stuff with my friends. This was before I got “serious” with photography. It was my digital photo album.

Now, it’s a carefully-crafted showcase for my artsy side. No more mass uploading dozens of photos at once, no more being careless with my tagging system.

I’ve grown and developed (ha!) as Flickr has.



Most days I post three or four photos that I’ve worked on, and I carefully cultivate my tags. I tend to upload from Aperture, because I like its uploading interface better (even if it does have an issue with multi-word keywords/tags) than Lightroom’s.

Once in a while I’ll post an entire set all at once, just to get it out of the way. A lot of those photos will never be seen because of Flickr’s you-only-see-five-photos-at-once-on-the-following-page rule. But some of my sets would take forever to upload at five photos a day.

I keep a folder in Aperture of stuff to upload, and every day I grab a random five images and post those to Flickr. When I add new photos to my Aperture library, I’ll grab a few and queue them for uploading, too.

On and on it goes.

Sparton Plant: Faucet


Tags. Sets. Galleries. Tons of ways to organize images on Flickr. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. I feel like I don’t have my own digital asset management house in order at home, and that often translates into sloppy organization on the Flickr end of things.

But thankfully Flickr makes it easy to correct all that. In the Organize tab, I often grab a batch of images and add more metadata to them.

For Sets, too often I feel like I could have a million variations based on location, color, style, subject, etc. Some photographers do a great job, but I tend to stick to a smaller number of sets until I find an image that doesn’t fit into a category.

Is it a vacation spot? Is it a specific project? Does it fit into a set that already exists? Do I want this group of photos to stand out on their own?

I know myself well enough to know that my lazy organization habits will opt for tucking photos into a group that already exists, so I try to make them as broad as ever. Sometimes, I’ll go back through and add photos to new sets I’ve developed, like my new season-based sets.

As far as Galleries, I’ve only made one highlighting the most gorgeous piece of Apple hardware ever.


Flickr acts as the hub for all my photo sharing.

Every photo I post here to the blog is actually a link back to the Flickr image. That way I don’t have to worry about uploading images, or people grabbing them willy-nilly. Photos live in one place. Period.

And every Friday I do a #FlickrFriday post on Twitter with a link back to (you guessed it) an image on my Flickr account.

The one exception is Facebook. There, I do upload specific albums of family and friends photos that might not be appropriate for Flickr. But often there’s some cross-posting to both, especially in the case of vacation photos.

Also, Flickr’s Group system is a great way to share like-minded photos. I don’t always remember to do so, but there are a few active groups I dip in and out of, adding my images to the mix.

Fuji X100: See-Through


To be honest, I still use Flickr as a backup mechanism.

I’m grandfathered in under the old membership rules and am exempt from the terabyte limit (although I only use, according to Flickr, “0.025 TB of unlimited”). It’s nice not to worry about archive space like I am at home – I can upload to my heart’s content.

It’s peace of mind knowing that most of my best photos are archived up there at Yahoo! HQ. I’m not super clear on if Flickr compresses the photos after you upload them (like Facebook shamefully does), but something is better than nothing.

South Haven: Long Grass


You know what’s super helpful? EXIF data.

I’m appreciative of the photographers who include it in their photos, because it’s a great educational tool. Not to copy, but to simply learn.

I’m also a big believer in absorbing good photography so you know what to look for in your own images. “If you can see it, you can do it,” my college professor said. Meaning: if you can see the logic and skill applied in making good art, you can apply similar strategies.

So, like 500px, Flickr is a great learning space – for what’s new, for techniques, for upcoming styles, and sometimes for what not to do. Especially for when you find good photographers to follow on Flickr. With “Following,” you always have a good stream of quality stuff coming through.

Some photographers I follow:

Zachary Snellenberger
Ken Fager
Jorge Quinteros
TGKW (sometimes NSFW)
Ben Minor
Grant Hutchinson
Anastasia Volkova

So I’ll stick with Flickr for the foreseeable future, past the changes and updates and whatnot, until something happens that’s unforgivable. I get a lot of use out of it. I enjoy using it. The $25/year for a Pro membership has always been worth it.

We’ll call this traffic report the stay-off-social-media-and-spend-time-with-your-family dip™.

I try to take a social media sabbatical each holiday. Better to enjoy and be present in the moment that looking down at my phone.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram. Just: life.

And thankfully, it looks like a lot of other people behave the same way.