In an earlier post I wrote of my five year plan and how an assessment of Flickr, among other things, might be useful.
I signed up for Flickr around that time and uploaded my portfolio. Along the way, my photostream has sucked up the Animal Model Kits project and the Capsules thing I'm working on.
I found the upload process pretty annoying, at first. There is a tremendous volume of crap (photos, comments, tags, private/public 'special icon' comments) you can associate with your photos. Figuring out which colorspace to use has been annoying, and it's clear this is not for professionals; then again, some of the stuff that IS for professionals is usually way more poorly designed and implemented (eg, DPP at first). But you get used to it, and just because it's irritating doesn't mean it's useless.
Is it just another popularity contest? And if so, am I a snob?
Over the four months I've had a couple favorites and group invitations. I get a little sense of 'oh you picked me!' but then I look at the rest of the photos in the group and meh. But I haven't really participated. What I've done is kind of like going to a party full of photo fans, and standing against the wall clutching your photo album. Except the party is at the Superdome and there are 84743965432564356748237 people there.
I used to hang out at this website called photosig, which is like Flickr only cruddier, and with a sort of economy, in that you must critique photographs to accumulate points so you can upload your own photographs. Most of the critiques were as follows "Beutiful cat, come chrck out my photos".
The system requires users to critique 10 photos for every photo I wanted to upload. I'd just finished a project in school, with eight photos in it, so I needed to critique 80 photos. I tried to select photos without cats, and that were at least trying to be artful; I also tried to be more, uh, critical, and gently point out aspects of the photograph that I thought were working and those that were not.
This was 4-and-a-half years ago; I was still in school, didn't have much of a style, hadn't learned much about lighting, and my ideas were really important to me. Actually, they still are...I guess what I mean to say is that I was really invested in the ideas. To make matters worse, I was secretly-yet-actively trying to get someone, anyone to tell me whether or not I was a photographer.
Into this swamp I put my precious new project. The first critique came in at about the 10 minute mark, and was fair, if not completely blown away by my insightful genius as I wanted.
About 15 minutes into it, however, a critique appeared that went something like this:
Why are you posting these stupid pictures this is not an art site maybe you should go to artsig. You are a terrible person and you're wasting your time and everyone else's. I hate these pictures. Also, the light falloff on the right is annoying.
I was stunned. And then angry. I went and looked at his pictures. I wish I could say that they were awesome and he was right - but they were all humdrum pictures of his kids playing sports and some mall-level portraits of the same. I couldn't understand why he was critiquing them in the first place, much less why his critique was so hateful.
In the end, I sat on it for awhile, then, using the site's guidelines for critiquing, contacted an administrator and asked her if she would delete his comment, which she did. If I had to do it again, I would have left his comment there, but at the time, I need to do something, lash out with all the emotion I was feeling about it, and dashing off an email seemed to fit the bill (I guess.).
These days, I can handle criticism. In fact, I could handle it back then. But there's criticism, and then there's jackassery. In any case, I'm kinda glad Flickr has neither an economy, nor a culture, of critiquing. It's just for sharing photos and for being popular. Or not popular.