The Internet of Things, or the Internet of Images

The Internet of Things is changing how we see photography.

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What is the role of photography in the digital age?

In 2013, according to Internet.org’s whitepaper, people uploaded 350 million images to Facebook each day. That’s a lot of images. Now imagine all of the images uploaded in Instagram every hour. Think about the tourists in New York photographing the Statue of Liberty. Think about tourists in India photographing the Taj Mahal, or in Brazil with Christ the Redeemer. In fact, think of all the iconic places around the world getting photographed and shared every second. There are so many images, and now think about all of the images of the past; the forgotten family snapshots, sometimes found as relics at thrift shops in piles. There are billions of photographs in the world, and now there will be exponentially more thanks to technology.

Technology is a tool that allows to experiment. Within the field, photographers take risks you couldn’t afford with film. It was too expensive and precise.

Our lives continue to become ever more connected. In that process, cameras will find their place in the “Internet of Things,” the coherent ecosystem of electronics that we use to help define our new technological existence. As more and more people use images to communicate on an everyday level, who knows how our world will change?

One of the inherit challenges about these changes is that photographer in the digital age makes everyone a professional. With a high-end camera and the right subject, great pictures are waiting to happen everywhere you go. You no longer need a teacher to guide you through the process of film processing and the terms of aperture, exposure, saturation, and so on.  Digital photography also makes photography accessible and affordable to everyone. Even ordinary iPhones have high-tech cameras and built-in editing software. Now anyone can shoot quality images, edit them and share them.

However, great photography still requires the same hard work as it was in the past. It requires dedication, patience, creativity. In our new world of virtual reality and augmented reality, the best photographic artists must be willing to react to audiences who demand sophisticated imagery that is dynamic and responsive to change.

And maybe the next revolution in photography isn’t all about technology. Maybe it’s about what we see right in front of our eyes and how we show it. One of the best works this year was from Nico Young, whose collection of images about his friends, fraternal twins, was featured in the New York Times magazine. You can see “Inside Santa Monica High” online, see  “Fraternal Twins.”

Whether you’re a more traditional photographer or one who enjoys the latest gear and gadgets, good photography is still the same. It’s documenting the present by producing an artistic interpretation of it. So part of you has to be a dedicated artist to be a professional.

 

Follow Brendan Filice on Flickr and Twitter.

How To Get Big On Tumblr

Brendan Filice wants you to get big on Tumblr. What’s your niche?

No matter how much time I spend online, I will always keep coming back to my favorite site; Tumblr. When I first started using it, I realized Tumblr was more than a collection of blogs; it’s an intricate network of users who have developed their own language and many of us are still in our teens. Tumblr is an outlet to express and share and connect. It’s like one big digital art gallery; changing constantly as its users grow and more join.

But despite the collective energy that fuels Tumblr, there’s still a bit of a popularity contest that haunts it. Everyone wants to be a little popular online!

How can you achieve this elusive Tumblr fame?

To become Tumblr famous, you have to know your followers. Craft a clever username. Consider an aesthetic theme when designing your layout. Looks are important. Are you interested in a portfolio page to show off your personal work, a fandom blog, a fashion blog, or a writing-focused social justice blog? If you’re blog is focused on personal thoughts and quips, that’s fine – but remember that you’ll have to develop a following off of your own brand.  Micro niche blogs like cate memes, Justin Bieber, and foodie blogs will get serious views and will continually get loads of followers for time to come.

You also have to post regularly. Post good content and post often.  Tumblr has a great option where you can create drafts and then queue your posts. So, queue 300-500 images and post around fifty of them images every day.

This will make your blog really active and you’ll start to attract about 200 to 300 followers each day. But remember, you have to use the appropriate tags on these images or they won’t get noticed. If you’re just starting out, start with less images so your blog is not as “spammy.” Be consistent. It might take a few months to hang onto your followers, so remember to keep it up. Don’t stop posting!

Ok, but what exactly should I post?

Refer back your username, your blog’s title, and theme of your blog. Where do you fit in?What can you offer to your readers? Your posts should be concise yet eye-catching.  This might only require a couple of lines.  But those few words should be accurate and provide necessary background. Always give credit to the original source of the photograph because people on Tumblr are sticklers about credit. Also, don’t fear a little personal insight. People like to know there’s a personality to your blog.

Here are some general rules of thumb:

  • Maybe because Tumblr followers scan their dashboards so quickly, videos and audio posts rarely rack up as many ‘likes’ and ‘reblogs’ as images.
  • Additionally, long articles don’t attract as much attention as shorter, snappier entries. (This isn’t always the case, personal essays frequently go viral)
  • Multiple images tell a story better than one image.
  • Weekend posts tend to attract less traffic than those posted during the work week.
  • Animated GIFs attract a lot of attention.

Most of all, have fun with it. Don’t get too hung up on your stats. You should use Tumblr because of a desire to connect with the online community.  With authentic content, an active community will follow.

Why not follow Brendan Filice on Tumblr and Twitter? Read more from Brendan Filice on BrendanTaylorFilice.com.

Why Can’t We Just Take a Walk?

Whenever I go anywhere, I see people with their heads down, on their phones.  People are playing Candy Crush, browsing through dating apps, and “Yelping” the best spot for dinner. We’re so addled by our second lives on our iPhone screens. I think most people recognize that it’s a distraction, but because it’s so second-nature, we’ve become complacent.

People nowadays will mock you for being hesitant of technology.  Especially in my millennial demographic, it’s “uncool” to “unplug.”  If you’re sitting with a group of friends at dinner and everyone has their phones out, comparing Instagrams or whatever it is, you feel awkward without a phone.  You awkwardly gaze at everyone, trying to keep up conversation but everyone keeps going back to their phones.  What did people do for fun 15 years ago? We are addicted to technology and this takes us from experiencing our world is scary.

While I worry about the trajectory of social relationships for people in my age group as authentic interaction gets replaced by technology, I try to remind myself that beauty still exists in the world for myself and for whoever dares to embrace it.

My favorite thing to do is to go somewhere – anywhere – without my phone.

This doesn’t sound very revolutionary but for a lot of people this is unthinkable. How will they get to their destination without a map? What about listening to music? What about beating high scores on their game?  What if there’s something they need to photograph and post immediately? Or tweet?

We have to be able to let go of all of these preoccupations.  Why are we controlled by these impulses?  For just a few hours, turn off your phone and go to the library, go to your favorite park, go downtown – and just experience it for what life is.  Observe people as they walk by.  Be conscious of sound – what are people talking about? Do you hear animals? Do you hear machines, too?  There are so many noises that go into our experience that we don’t notice when we have ear buds in.  Breathe deeply – what odors define these places? With every inhale, remind yourself of your purpose.  It’s an awesome way to stay grounded and remind yourself that there’s no need to be on your phone all the time.  Lastly – look around, observe everything in your path.  Let yourself get lost instead of obediently following Google maps.  You can always ask someone for directions (yes, a real person).

My favorite exercise is to jot down what I observe on these strolls.  I always notice that I have more to reflect on when I have a phone-free day compared to days when I’m obsessively on my phone.  What is there to take note of, “Lots of things happened on the Internet today!” compared to “Met gracious strangers, played with two dogs, helped a neighbor with their barbecue.”  Let’s stop caring about the second lives on our screens and remember our real lives in the the very tangible world..start by taking a walk.