Count the cameras.

See what I mean?

Look at all those people taking pictures. There are six smartphones that I can count and I think a see a seventh hiding behind the blue umbrella. That’s a lot of pictures made in just a few minutes. That’s a lot of uploads to these folks’ favorite social media. That explains why various social media talk about such high numbers of uploads.

It’s also a lot of noise. Not a lot of signal.

I mentioned to a Storyteller friend that the marginal to good pictures posted online was at least 80 to 20%, which is an old business ratio. Truth be told, it’s probably about 97% of posted pictures that make up the marginal side. There are so many pictures being posted each day that it is almost impossible for the good ones to be seen.

What to do? What to do? What’s a wise man to do?

If you are trying to build a career these days it’s tough. You can use various tags as a couple of friends of mine do to alert the gatekeepers to your new work. With luck, they’ll see it.

You can build a community, like many book authors do. Hopefully, enough people will see your work and may want to do a project with you.

You can work at your photography in such a way that it becomes unique and go old school by sending emails and other reminders like postcards to your selected gatekeepers. The warning here is simple. Don’t do it too often or you become a pest.

You can buy mailing lists. That’ll get you breadth but they may not be current. It’s a shotgun approach.

You can do what I do. Target about ten companies with whom you really want to work. Combine everything above and try to develop conversations with them. Don’t be pushy. Be yourself and show them work that fits their needs. Of those ten — remember the 80-20 rule — you’ll be lucky if two of them want to work with you. And, that might be in the year after you started your campaign. The cool thing about this form of relationship building is that visual gatekeepers will take you with them since they change jobs frequently.

A couple of other issues.

Don’t be competitive with photographers on the scene. Help them out. Good street cred is as important as anything. Besides, the only person to compete with is you.

Understand that even if you take a mind-blowing picture, there might be 20 other pictures that are just as good, or good enough. And, it’s likely that you’ll never know it. Don’t worry about it. I go out there because I enjoy it. The work that puts kibbles in the dogs’ bowls isn’t anything like this. Even if you do something else to pay the bills, come out because you have a real passion for it. That means all the subjects you enjoy photographing.

This picture. This was as intentional as it comes. I’ve been talking about pictures, picture quality and the numbers of people producing pictures for a while now. And, how people take them. I started looking for pictures on the street that could illustrate my words.

I suppose I found it. I knew that I wanted to have some subject in the foreground. The two women fit that nicely. The rest came from keeping my head on a swivel. Like a bobble head.

Yep. A bobble head. That’s me.


Reflections in a tablet.
Reflections in a tablet.Easter Sunday. Everybody comes out in their best “Sunday Go To Church Clothes.”They gather around to see the Original Men & Ladies Pigeon Town Steppers Easter Sunday 20th annual second line parade. They want to see the gang’s new bright spring colored suits. They want to dance a little. They want to celebrate.

Easter Sunday. Everybody comes out in their best “Sunday Go To Church Clothes.” They gathered round to see the Original Men & Ladies Pigeon Town Steppers Easter Sunday 20th Annual Second Line Parade. They want to see the gang’s new bright spring colored suits. They want to dance a little. They want to celebrate.

And.

They want to take pictures.

I don’t know when this became such a thing. But it has.

I was reading in some photo trade publication that sales of DSLR cameras have dropped from just over 1,600,000 units shipped in July 2012 to a little over 600,000 in January 2015. For the little tiny pocket cameras sales are even worse. Hmmm… anyone care to guess why?

All you have to do is look at these pictures and well, umm, you can see it pretty clearly. How many iPhones were sold for the release of the new iPhone 6 and 6 plus? Well, 4,000,000 in the first day alone. Total sales to date? Or, at least as close as I can get? 144.5 million. That’s just iPhones. What about Android products? Other products?

And, camera manufacturers are wondering why traditional camera sales are tanking.

Sheesh.

For those who say photography is dead, I say nonsense. It’s just changing. Radically.

Then there’s this.  My issue. Or, just about any working photographers issue.

You can see it.

Let’s be clear about a couple of things. These are public streets. Anybody can do what they’d like. As long as it’s somewhat legal. And, some things that are borderline legal. Working photographers have no more right to the street than anybody. We are not entitled. But, we do play by some rules. And, as aggressive as we can be, we aren’t as aggressive as some of these people. We move in and out of the crowd never really blocking anybody’s view for more than a few seconds.

Sheesh, these “new” photographers even managed to collapse the short yellow crowd control ropes just a few feet from the doorway where the paraders came out. The poor grand marshal pushed me back three times. That never happens. We are pals on the scene. He knows that I know. Every time that he pushed me back, the crowd pushed me in. On the third go, I looked at him and raised my hands in the classic, “what do you want from me?” pose. He just nodded back to me.

Still, I ask the question, why? Has the saying become true? “It didn’t happen if you didn’t take a picture.” Is that it? Has it become like catching beads during Mardi Gras? A mostly meaningless task that you’ll forget about in a few weeks. Or, is it something else? Is it trying to connect with somebody without actually getting too close? Without actually touching them? You know, post the picture about two seconds after you take it on some social site like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook as if too say, “Look, look. I was there. I have this picture to prove it.” I have no idea.

All I know is that it’s getting damn hard to do my job. I also know that if was someplace to “just” hangout and celebrate, I’d rather be on the scene eating a sausage and drinking a beer than fighting this crowd.

Oh. Yeah.

I dodged a bullet. Literally. Well, seven bullets. Two people were shot, one killed on the very corner where I had parked. Just about 15-20 minutes later.

Seems like everybody was shooting.

Something.

Aggressiveness on the battlefront.
Aggressiveness on the battlefront.
Nothing but devices.
Nothing but devices.
More reflections.
More reflections.
Hands up.
Hands up.
I actually did make a picture
I actually did make a picture


While I was working Mardi Gras 2012 in New Orleans, I started making the occasional snap of people taking pictures of the events around them. It was nothing intentional until I started doing very cursory edits of my work mostly to check for technical issues. I noticed a nice, little group of images that formed an simple essay with a little editing, er, curating. Or, something.

Aside from the images, I’m not really making an editorial comment. Although, I did notice that on both Facebook and twitter people were posting a huge amount of “I was there” pictures from Mardi Gras. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. From my own personal standpoint, it’s great because when people look at my work — or any other working professional photographer’s work — they now are gaining an understanding of just how hard it is to make a good picture. On the other hand, I have to wonder how many people think, “that’s good enough,” and never think twice about having someone who works at image making do a job for them… because they can do it themselves and it will be “good enough.”

Interesting thoughts.