I've a new addiction, and it's taking me over. Yup, it's Flickr. Why I never took to it before I don't know but I'm certainly making up for lost time now. It's better than FaceBook - and more rewarding too. Don't believe me? Well let me explain...
And then I went to a talk at a Cork Camera Group meeting. The speakers were Catherine "Cat" MacBride and her hubby Scott and they unscrewed the top of my head, dropped in a pile of TNT, screwed back the top, and lit the fuse. The bang that went off has had me jangling ever since.
Cat's story began when someone who was upgrading their equipment gave her the camera they were upgrading from. She didn't have a clue about photography at the time, but decided to give it a go and to upload the results to Flickr to show the person that she really was using the unexpected gift.
She quickly decided that Landscape photography was out - no way was she gonna be gettin' up in the middle of the night to take shots of the dawn, and nor was there any chance of her traipsin' up mountains and along rivers just to take a shot of a nice tree. No, what Cat settled on was doin' "mad stuff", stuff that was funny, stuff that was to hand.
To that end she started taking photos of her son, her hubby Scott, her cat, of her baking results, of her collection of buttons, of sweets, coloured pencils, ribbons, thumb tacks - in fact, anything and everything.
But what made her photos so different was her imagination and her sense of humour. She baked gingerbread men and iced expressions of terror on their faces. A quick bite took the head off one unfortunate cookie, and the others were lined up for the camera with her out-of-focus son lickin' his lips in the background. Click here to see the shot in a new window and explore her amazing photostream while you're there. Don't forget to come back here though!
At the end of the day, Cat is a fantastic artist with a perfect inner eye and a brilliant imagination. She and her family spend nights making stuff instead of veg-ing in front of the telly, and she photographs everything. And photographs them perfectly. She defies critics and judges by getting her work published when those same nay-sayers tell her that her work is "all wrong" and will never sell. It was great to hear her laugh at the things that officialdom have said to her.
She's also very lucky, because after being bugged and photographed and cajoled and teased, her hubby Scott decided to get into photography himself. His approach is radically different. He mainly takes self portraits - but not the type of images that you'd show yer granny. No, Scott's taste verges on the macacbre a bit. It's not to everyone's taste but it is fantastic nonetheless. Click here to see an example and then explore his photostream while you're at it.
What had me rolling on the floor were his images of his "Facedown Tuesday" project. Every Tuesday he lies face down somewhere, and takes a photo! It's a simple idea - and brilliant for its simplicity.
But what has all this got to do with Flickr you may ask. Well, it was Cat who said that when she got her camera she didn't have a clue about photography, not an iota. But she joined Flickr and set about learning from what other people had put up. Flickr includes a shot's EXIF data - information imprinted into photos that tell you what camera was used, what lens, and what settings the photogtapher had chosen. She started learning from this EXIF information and before she knew it, she had licenced her first photo.
And then, thanks to the tie-in with Flickr that Getty Images (a huge Stock Image library) had set up, more of her photos were being licenced. And then more. Until finally, last August, she was earning enough from photography to be able to chuck in her job...
And that was the bomb that went off in my head. Flickr is a way for anyone with enough patience and tenacity to earn a living. With some hard work, imagination, and dogged determination, anyone can make a go of it, provided you have a story to tell.
It was an inspiring night for yours truly. For the first time in an awfully long time, I had an idea for what I could make of my situation vis a vis pain and the turgid world of medication.
I came home with my head buzzing and immediately reacitvated my dormant Flickr account and then set about the long process of revisiting my thousands of images. Thanks to Adobe Lightroom I was able to create a Photostream on my Mac and begin publishing the images I feel most happy with. And now I've a sort of a plan.
Firstly I'm uploading photos that I've already taken, and in the process I'm beginning the business of building up a network of contacts and groups to interact with. And while that's going on, I'm slowly assembling stuff that'll end up being a DIY Photography Studio. When I'm done uploading my existing work, I'll start creating new images that I'll offer for sale. It's time to start creating shots that are more than pretty postcards. It's time to start using my imagination too.
Hopefully the ongoing battle with medication will start going my way before too long. I'm still asleep more than not so I'm not gonna be producing anything on a par with Cat or Scott for ages yet. But who knows, in a few years time I could well have found my photographic "voice", and if that happens I'll be able to sell my work I'm sure.
Even if nothing happens it'll still be great to be interacting and sharing work with the vastness that is the "Flickrsphere". Honestly, if you're not already a member, join as soon as you can. The buzz you get when someone comments on your photos is 110% addictive! Forget FaceBook - there the comments are only about what you say is going on. With Flickr the comments are to do with something you've made.
And it's miles better to get affirmation from that than get a "Like" on some trivia that you've said. It's certainly more addictive...
To see the images I've uploaded to date, simply follow this link to my photostream. According to comments on the photos, it's really rather good.
Til next time