Refrain from Sharing?!

In the days of film an outstanding image would be printed and then the photograph would be shared among your closest friends and co-workers. If you were one of them you would hold the image in your hand and let your eyes wander from left to right and top to bottom. You would examine the subject, composition and light. If the photograph was a superb image, time would stop and you would gaze at it with awe. It would leave an imprint on your memory. Then you would share your thoughts and compliment the photographer. Seeing a photograph would be an event.

It’s quite different today. Nowadays sharing a photo is almost too easy. Not only can you share your image with family and friends but you can show your work to thousands of people with just one click. And that’s a good thing. However, the ease of sharing a photo has created an environment in which sharing photos online has become a national sport. Don’t get us wrong. Parents want to share pictures of their newborn with their family or friends and send photos from a barbeque or their travels. We accept that.

However, we often see aspiring photographers uploading hundreds of photos over the course of a few weeks with the intention of showing their work to the world. We think this is ultimately counterproductive.

If you think you are a photographer (amateur or pro) or you aspire to be one, this ability to post brings not only satisfaction and joy but also carries some responsibilities with it. One of them is respect for the viewer. Do we really think if we bombard the Internet with hundreds of images, our audience or fellow photographers will appreciate our work? Even the best photographers in the world produce perhaps a couple of outstanding images per year. Sure, they shoot a lot but they refrain from sharing. They show only their best work.

Not only that but the subject of your image should play a role in whether to bother your audience or not. We see so many photos of the same places: Antelope Canyon, Sun Rising Through Arches, etc. shot the same way. You have to ask yourself: Do you really want to take the same image even if it is as good as those taken by the best photographers out there? Does it do any good? Will your audience appreciate it or they will glance at it, say ‘nice’ and move on?    

Maybe we all should spend more time going through our work and deciding. We should ask ourselves: “Is this image worth sharing? Is it good enough? Are we adding a new insight?” Don’t get us wrong – we are as guilty of over-sharing as anybody! However, we believe this is an important topic that should be discussed. Maybe sharing less shows more. After all, each photo you share is a reflection of you, even if your name is not on it. Work hard, make it special, make it yours and share it only if you think it is your best work. With sharing comes a lot of satisfaction but also a responsibility.

What do you think?

©osztaba_colorado_20150926__DSF9247-Edit

 

2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

18 thoughts on “Refrain from Sharing?!

  1. Thanks for facilitating this thoughtful dialogue. I agree with your premise, but would offer a few possible caveats for photographers to consider. First, there is sometimes an image you’re just sure should make the final cut. In those situations valuable feedback, good and not so good, could help clarify the direction you should take in the future.

    I’ve also had situations where others found a piece quite intriguing, where I was at the time indifferent. Interestingly, that outside perspective opened my eyes to something else working in the composition. Finally, I say it worth the effort to revisit older work from time to time with an fresh, evolved perspective.

    P.S. I love your work and look forward to seeing and learning more!

  2. Excellent post and commentary Olaf.

    While I am a huge fan of the changing landscape of photography (and owe much of my success to it), what is missing is the art of editing and selecting your best work. You and I are neighbours and cover a lot of the same ground, and we both love travel photography too. When I come back from somewhere new (for me most recently Paris) I don’t want to share 1,000 pics, 500 pics, sometimes even 100 pics…. I want to tell a story with my final selections that is based around the quality of the images and not just the quantity. Here is my most recent post as an example:

    http://ianmacdonaldphotography.com/2015/09/29/paris-at-night/

    As I grow as a photographer and artist I am finding this editing process to be the most difficult, but also the most rewarding. I often reach out to others too which provides valuable detached insight into my work.

    We should get together sometime and continue the conversation.

    Best wishes,

    Ian

    • Ian,

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and your photography with us. We have enjoyed your Paris series, especially the B&W images.

      You are right, the process of selection is crucial and very important. After all, choosing what not to show could be more important than ever with a flood of photography online.

      There is no doubt. We need to get together for a cup of coffee soon.

      All the best,

      Olaf

      • I completely agree. I am using my instagram account strictly for my street photography these days, and I restrict posting to one photo per week on average. If I was obsessed with followers it would be the 100% incorrect approach to using IG, but for me it is an exercise in restriction which has been very helpful.

        Get a hold of me through Twitter or my site. I’ll buy the first cup.

        Cheers,

        Ian

  3. I like to take photos to relax, I wouldn’t go to far to be a photographer (neither amateur nor pro) but I think at the same time that there are tools to upload to internet thousands of photographs there are another tools to control the feed, being the most drastic the block and the unfollow option. When one of the blogs or Flickr posters I follow have so much entries at day in the best case I only choose one image to see carefully, and in the worse I unfolow to cut what I consider spam.
    I think in the importance of sharing because it’s hard to be judge of oneself, and we don’t know if a image that could be banal to oneself could have a great significance to other person, as I discover when a photograph I shot just for fun or in a casual moment awakes to my surprise great emotions in other people.

    • Francis,

      You are right that different people like different imagery. However, I do believe that part of being a photographer is making choices of what to present and which images to delete. After all, it is YOUR vision and YOUR choice. I have never posted a single image on the notion that ‘other people might like it.’ If I don’t like it, I don’t show it. I want to add something unique to a topic and share my way of seeing. I am aware that some people won’t like it but that’s OK.

      I really appreciate your comment because it is important to have this conversation. Thank you so much for taking your time.

      Olaf

      • Dear Olaf, thanks very much for your time and reply, I appreciate a lot the work you and Kasia have the generosity to share.

        I need to clarify because I think could be a misunderstanding: I don’t publish photographs that I dislike, in my comment I said “banal” meaning from a personal perspective to publish photographs that has not much meaning despite liking them, for example casual shots from a running bus. Although I like them I have some friends or readers that love them for personal reasons, I don’t dislike them (I really like them) but deleting would be a loss I think.

        Actually as an architect (there is where my expression goes) I appreciate the interaction with the people for whom I design because architecture (except when the customer is oneself) is impossible to be an unconnected activity, and I try to translate that to my time enjoying photography in my free time. I think the feelings they say to me make me evolve my perspective and expand my vision, in a way I’m more rich. I don’t say to change according to other opinions, but to evolve and refine the search or expression one develops.

        Kind regards from a Peruvian follower of your work. Being photographers I admire I’ll do my best to be a better selection of my own photographs.

      • Francis,

        It is always a joy to have a conversation with you. Indeed, this topic is important and Kasia and I appreciate your thoughts.

        We would love to visit your beautiful country one day.

        All the best,

        Olaf

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