Sharing isn’t just for kindergarden

There are plenty of times when it’s easy to find motivation to take photographs: traveling, getting together with family or friends, parades, sporting events, birthdays, etc.  No one has a problem finding reasons to pull out their cameras on these occasions.  However, what about those times when you’re at home and there’s nothing in particular giving you a reason to shoot?  This is something I’ve come to know well, I spent 5 months traveling in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.  Obviously in that time I had no shortage of motivation to shoot, in fact I have a couple thousand photos still waiting to be edited.  But now that I’m home, seeing the same neighborhood every day, what is the motivation to keep pulling my camera out every day?

This is the first in a series of articles providing ideas to help you find the motivation to take more photos and to hone your skills at the same time.

As the title suggests, this article is going to focus on sharing.  With the internet it has become so easy to share photographs with others.  Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, and Smart Phones have made it extremely easy to share your photos with your friends and family.  This is great, photography is so much better when you can share your work with others.  However, your friends and family are most likely interested in the pictures that result from the times mentioned above when it’s easy to find motivation to shoot and might not be as interested in your “everyday” photography.

Luckily there are plenty of other photographers on the internet, sharing their photos and providing feedback on the photos of others.  For me, knowing that other people are viewing my photos motivates me to keep shooting.  It’s like having a buddy to go to the gym with, it’s easy to find an excuse to skip going if you do it alone, but if you go with someone you don’t want to let them down by not going.  If you know other people view and enjoy your photos, you feel motivated to keep taking pictures and keep uploading them.

One great resource for photographers to share their work on the internet is Flickr.  I, like many people I’d imagine, didn’t understand the “right” way to use Flickr at first.  It’s simple, you upload  your photos and that’s all there is to it, right?  Not so much, Flickr is a community; to get the most out of it, you need to put something into it.  I have three recommendations in particular.  By following these ideas myself I’ve found that I get more out of Flickr than I used to.

My first recommendation is to look at the photos other people have uploaded and comment on them.  This serves two purposes, the first being that looking at other people’s photos and analyzing them will help you better your own photography.  The second is that the more you comment on other photos, the more likely people are to comment on your photos.

The second way to get more out of Flickr is to join groups.  There are tons of groups on Flickr, from groups based on location to groups based on the camera you shoot with to groups based on subject matter.  Live in Oregon and love shooting photos of waterfalls?  There’s a Flickr group for that.  Find groups that fit your interests, join them, and get involved.

My final piece of advice, which I picked up from a podcast I was listening to, is to only upload a photo or two every day.  This will motivate you to put more effort into the photos you do upload.  If you find a shot you like and you know it’s the one you’re going to upload, you’ll spend more time focusing on the fine details of composition and post-processing and create a better photo.  The second advantage is that by only uploading your most interesting photos people are more likely to view and comment on them since they won’t get lost amongst your other, potentially less interesting photos.

There are other sites out there similar to Flickr.  I’m sure those sites are perfectly good as well, Flickr just happens to be the most popular site and the one that I personally use.  But the concepts apply equally to other photo sharing sites.

I hope you found this information useful.  Until next time, happy shooting…and uploading…and viewing…and commenting…you get the idea.

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