I’ve been working with my long time business coach, Dennis Bruce, on a recent project to market Sadie’s Eleven, his property out in Leesburg, VA. Part of my strategy in this has been to use a lot of photos, and so when I’m out at his place, I take lots of pictures of a variety of different things. Some of them make sense to him, and many of them don’t. When I emailed him a photo I had taken of something that I was hauling to his garage, he emailed back this question: “Is there any crap you won’t take a picture of?”
Um, let’s see . . . I think . . . ah . . . probably not. I’ve been a photographer since about 5th grade. I’ve always loved to take photos. Lately, however, my subjects have gotten a little more varied and unusual.
There are several reasons for this: First and foremost is the ability to share photos on Facebook. Suddenly I have a much wider group of friends looking at these photos, which means I’m not just snapping pictures of people at special events and sending them to friends and family. My connections to various friends on social media platforms are generally formed around a specific shared interest: the work that I do, the work I used to do, non-profit work, politics, my dog, my neighborhood and the events I attend. I’m sharing things that are of interest to me and to those who are connected to me through various “tribes.” The legendary Seth Godin wrote a book called Tribes that I reference often in the classes I teach on social media. It’s a natural human tendency to come together around things of common interest.
Secondly, I also invested in a new camera in February that’s about the size of a credit card (thicker of course) and I literally carry it with me everywhere I go. Everywhere! I specifically chose a camera that could shoot high resolution photos in low light without a flash. [Canon PowerShot SD 780 IS] Which means I have the ability to capture the moment in ways I didn’t have before. And so I do!
Lastly, I’ve become very interested in storytelling. I’ve concluded that the elements that make up a good story also make for a good photo. Among these elements (as drawn from the book Made to Stick): something simple, unexpected, compelling, concrete, emotional and tells a story. Just like a well told story, compelling photos tend to be images we remember. The web in general has made the use of visual images a necessary part of effective communication. Social media, and particularly the proliferation of blog posts, has made the quest to find quality images that are relevant to numerous wide ranging subjects a necessary part of “writing” on a daily basis.
Some photos I shoot because I’m recording a specific event or there is a specific purpose – like selling a house! More frequently now, I shoot photos that I find interesting, funny, ironic or visually appealing to me in some way. In many instances, I have no idea what I will use them for, I’m just collecting them for possible future use. And in the meantime, I put them out on Facebook for people to look at if they are interested.
Flickr is a platform that I have used for a couple of years now but have not actively grown. Despite the fact I know it’s a better photo sharing platform than Facebook, I still default to the Facebook albums because that’s where all my friends are and sharing is a huge part of this experience called photography.
I read an article in the New York Times last week that Kodak has launched a new advertising campaign that speaks to exactly this point. Their campaign is centered around this idea: “The real Kodak moment happens when you share.”
That’s absolutely true in my opinion! The moment doesn’t happen when you take the photo, the real moment happens when you can share it with someone else. Or share it with many other people! I totally “get that” and it’s part of what drives my photography and the frequent postings to Facebook.
It’s an amazing time that we live in. To know that something can be captured in an instant, immediately shared across the globe, and kept for all time as a tiny electronic file. A photo is a story for the eyes in a language that is universal!
My new found ability to capture a photo within moments of seeing a shot take shape is effecting what I photograph. It doesn’t cost any more to shoot 1,000 photos than to shoot 10. I take more and I share more. It has taught me to appreciate the unexpected along with the beautiful – which is an accurate reflection of life itself!