Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flickr Stigma

I have an interview planned for posting shortly with Bryan Formhals, who founded La Pura Vida Gallery. La Pura Vida accepts submissions from its flickr group for online and physical shows.

Bryan recently commented on a post over at DLK, which spoke to the negative reaction of gallerists and those in the art world to blogs. He went further and said the following about flickr:

A similar stigma exist for people who use Flickr which is equally as foolish. It always amazes me that photographers would shun the largest community of photography enthusiasts on the web simply because they don't understand how to navigate the social ecosystem.

Now, I'd been thinking the same as of late. It seems to me that every so often I hear someone dismissing flickr as full of flowers, cats and trees and lot's of crap. Well, true. Of course there is a lot of boring, awful photography on a site so huge but whenever I hear this, I think to myself, "This person has not made the slightest investment in seeking out all of the great photography on the site and is thus not reaping the rewards."

To which rewards am I referring? I log onto my flickr account and view my contact's new postings every day and it's one of my favorite parts of the day. In the time I've been on flickr, I've found 156 photographers whose new work I would like to see as it is shot.

Anyone who thinks there is not incredible photography on flickr - great shots you'll never see anywhere else and which will inspire you - is being plain foolish.

Here is a sampling of shots that my contacts posted in just the last week or so. I've been lucky to see them all and learned a little something more about photography from each:

(For the sake of time, I'm just posting their flickr names and a link to their streams, but everyone's got a real name, of course and usually a website so check them out!)

Salva Lopez

Ulrich Kreuner

Ryan Schude (from his iphone!)


Unknown said...

man i love that Noah K shot, and yeah you have some great choices here....

Anonymous said...

i've been a fan of megan, noah, peter, and dunny for a while now. there is so much great work on flickr, it's overwhelming sometimes.

Ian Aleksander Adams said...

yeah seriously - any kind of snobbishness of this sort is similar to people who say they don't like photographs shot with [insert camera brand name here].

It's just ridiculousness.

Now, I can understand a photographer saying they don't like how groups are organized on the site, certain styles of commenting, etc - but that all is more constructive criticism than broad generalization.

Tim said...

Megan's work is so calming as her pictures are like a stark reality

Anonymous said...

...don't forget your own work !

Unknown said...

wes, you're amazing, so is everyone you have featured, i dont know how you could ever narrow it down to us but you did a great job, i love who you have chosen and there were a few in there i had never seen before. thank you for being you <3.

@ eric & tim, thank you both very much :o)

daniel said...

Amen. I was moved to write a similar post about great work on Flickr a couple of weeks ago.

So much beauty on Flickr

Anonymous said...

Thanks Wes. Well put.

Ian: I agree with your sentiments about some of the user interface issue on Flickr. Really, from that POV, they tend to fail photographers miserably. There's so much more they could do with the groups to make the content more 'consumer'? friendly.

I understand why some people find it tough to find good work, which is why I think it's important for the people who know where it exists, to push it through the social graph, just like Wes has done.

Anonymous said...

If people discredit Flickr for having "nothing good" on it, that's a patently ridiculous notion. Not to say Flickr doesn't have more "bad" than "good," but the fact remains, there is a whole lot of good on Flickr, and largely, searching by "Interestingness" will show it to you. Becoming "Flickr Populr" isn't always an easy thing, however. It does take work to be noticed, as a random account without tags, titles, or groups will likely not be seen by many. Still, to deny the presence of anything talented or artistically viable? A ridiculous notion. Flickr is huge, comprehensive, and populated by many incredibly talented individuals.

J. Wesley Brown said...

Flickr leech is also a good and quick way to discover flickr goodies daily:

@Daniel - Thanks for bringing your post to my attention. Nice to discover some more good flickrites.

Giulio Sciorio said...

I'm sooo happy that the flickr haters are going away. I think thats a good thing in this economy - egos are no longer welcome.

I dont use flickr as much as I should because in the past ad agencies would be so damn snobbish towards flickr but fuck them. Most agencies produce shittastic work anyways and most creatives in these agencies dont know a raster from a vector and are right out of school so they have no idea about anything.

I wish I could find a good flickr program for iphone.

J. Wesley Brown said...

@Andrew - I'm not so sure I totally agree witrh that. Ryan McGinley was "made" by his solo show at the Whitney. Now, that was 6 years ago almost and things certainly move quickly when it comes to the internet but I don't doubt yet that a solo show at a major museum can make a photographer. The problem is, none of the curators are trying. Does anyone know of a solo show at6 a major institution since McGinley's?

BryanF. said...

Galleries and curators are beholden to their collectors. No shit, right? It's a money making business for them, and in business, you need to be efficient with your time and resources.

I'm certain most ambitious fine art photographers still want to get a piece of the art market pie. They figure it's much easier to fight with thousands of other photographers than create their own destiny. Plus, fame and recognition are as potent as heroin.

The question really is, how can the web cut into the larger art market pie? I doubt serious collectors are going to be cruising Flickr or any online galleries for new work.

And brick and mortar galleries, will still create the enormous cost of entrance because it makes their job easier and more efficient. It's much easier for them to do portfolio reviews, go to fairs and take submissions, and harvest their established network than go to the web.

There's a tremendous amount of talent out there these days. And there are some good initiatives being started. Promotion, blogging and sharing are all giant steps in the right direction.

What's lacking is the entrepreneurial spirit and the determination to create a new economy that's less centralized and more diverse. It's this kind of movement that the art establishment doesn't want, because it fucks with their profits. It's in their business interests to marginalize competitors.

Right now, the best people have come up with are 'affordable print' models. Jen Bekman is certainly a pioneer. This is a good start. Lay Flat is a good start. I'm sure there are other creative endeavors out there as well.

It could be interesting, but from my experience, most ambitious fine art photographers still have their eyes on the big pie in the sky and all it's rewards.

I prefer the view from ground level, it's much more interesting and unpredictable...

Mark Dodge Medlin said...

Thanks for an important post; I'll have to start paying attention to some of the folks whose work you included.

The Flickr photos that make me roll my eyes aren't the crappy shots of kitties and flowers, although there are plenty of those. It's the overworked dreamscapes and digitally "cross-processed" images that software has clearly made too easy to produce. I'm glad you stayed away from those here.

J. Wesley Brown said...

Yeah, those drive me nuts too, Mark. The masses love `em, though. Take photo, add automatic texture, wait for praise.

Anonymous said...

Flickr unfortunately will never ever be taken seriously in the fine art world. You will never see a Magnum photographer on flickr, nor any other successful artist. I wish this weren't the case, but it is.
I recently asked one very successful artist who I cant (for obvious reasons) mention his name, would he consider putting his work on flickr, and he answered flat out NO.
He said it would "cheapen" his work and he was fearful he wouldnt be taken seriously as an artist.
The fine-art world is very snobish said...
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