Gold Coast

Photo Discussion Friday has started last year in an attempt to open up my own photography website to other people's work.

It was exciting to see a few people participating. All in all, it was a great experience. It was never the goal to have this initiative go viral. I rather saw it as an opportunity to learn and to share insights about photography.

A lot of effort went into this online presence. I did a lot of observing and interpreting behind the scenes. Statistics were carefully analysed. I tried to know and understand my audience better, even experimented with varied styles and language. Also, I posted on Facebook, Blogger, next to my website at  www.goodpicturesonline.com.

Muriele, Franziska and Marc participated with their photos. They are all close friends who I can communicate with when the public is not listening in. The statistics show that at no point my forum was about participation for the audience. For many, it was about entertainment and voyeurism instead. Photography never played the role it should have.

With Photo Discussion Friday I wanted to take my audience on a journey. It was not supposed to be my own journey but theirs. While everyone seems to be keen to share their most private photos and information with forums that steal and use them for other purposes quite openly, it was awkward that several pleas for contributions from me stayed unheard. It is so easy to submit a photo that I have to respect this silent expression and public vote.

There were many photos with more than 300 visitors. Facebook was never far away trying to sell a 7 dollar advertisement to push that content. They would even predict how many people could be reached and how many likes/shares it would produce. It was tempting because giving Facebook money to market my own content would have easily doubled my audience.

Facebook lives off private content, but manipulates statistics and tries to cash in on advertisements. You don't need to be a scientist to notice. When a fantastic photo has only 5 visitors (not likes or shares that drive the market) in three days, it is time to abandon that game. Lately, they could not decide what numbers to show. Counting may be difficult for Artificial Intelligence and hence my visitor numbers sometimes counted backwards. Other posts simply did not get past 10 visitors, some hardly 20 with 4 likes. 

On the other hand, posting my Photo Discussion Friday contributions on blogger, earned me about 2 dollars. My 'thank you' goes out to the audience for clicking the ads. Quite contrary to Facebook, Google doesn't resort to blackmail and doesn't seem to withhold audience data. Still, strange things happen there, too. It still might be my preferred place to tell a few stories.

Is it worth fighting for Photo Discussion Friday? I don't think its concept works out. People who need advice often don't see that they do. And people who are interested in feedback and a bit of mentoring, often don't need it. In my opinion, it can even be harmful for them, to skip a few lessons that they should learn the hard way. For others, listening to someone may even throw them back in their photographic journey. 

People are not keen to communicate but have become consumers. There is not much wrong with that. For me, it is simply a sign that I didn't quite hit the nail on its head. Our time is over-saturated with information and we all have limited resources to engage and participate. Why sneak a few viewers from paid professionals who need to make a living?

My photographic and nature documentary journey will go on. I am happy that I can free myself from Photo Discussion Friday, let go of some of my misconceptions and focus on new ways of expression. I had hoped to keep it going for 52 weeks at least, but am proud that I got it to about 30.

Again, thank you, Muriele, Franziska and Marc. Thank you to various people commenting, liking and sharing. Thank you to the silent people watching. I hope you enjoyed.

As a memory of Photo Discussion Friday, I might print a booklet. Let me know if you are interested. www.goodpicturesonline.com is still here and will discuss any of your needs on any day of the week.

Best regards,

Patrik

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