Flickr – Flickrer

By Don

photo of the Macon County Public Library living room

Okay, I admit it I am a Flickrer.  What is a Flickrer? Well to start with, Flickr is a photograph sharing social network. So a Flickrer might be what someone who uses Flickr is called. I have been using Flickr nearly since its beginning. I have had a few different accounts over the years, my current account since 2007.

I started using Flickr to share photos of the family and local shots from around wherever I happened to live at the time.  I used to move a lot.  Most of my family was in the Southeast and over the past 25 years I have lived all over the East coast and parts of the Midwest. I would take photos, upload them to Flickr, and my family and friends could then login to Flickr, view the photos and make comments on them or print them. It was fun and easy.

photo of blue iris
Blue Iris I by Don Graham

I began adding more and more photos of the local areas I lived in, mostly scenic and local culture, things that I enjoy, but had no idea anyone else would be interested in viewing. Before long I began receiving comments from others, not just family and friends. They remarked positively on the subjects of my photos and ultimately details about color, lighting and composition. It was sort of exiting.

So I began looking at their photos too. As they would comment on my photos, I would visit their photostreams. That’s what they call Flickr photo galleries, photostreams. One thing led to another and now I regularly follow about 48 people’s photostreams and visit many more. Some people add one photo a day, or every week or so, while others upload many and often. There are as many as 4000 photos uploaded to Flickr every minute of the day. “This paragraph in a nutshell describes Flickr dynamics, sharing photos and comments, though there is much more that can be done at the website.”

My contacts and friends are from places around the United States and Sweden, Paris, Delhi, Selfoss, Madrid, Cambridge, Poland, Northern Ireland, Linköping, Salvador, Reykjavik, and Firenze to name a few other places. The photographers are men and women and youth from all backgrounds and cultures. It is truly amazing learning about these wonderful folks through there photos, comments and emails. If you pay close attention you can see a piece of the photographer’s heart in each of their photos. Because of Flickr I have contacts and friends from all over the world.

photo of a sunrise
Sunrise by Don Graham

Currently I have around 500 photos in my photostream , representing a number of categories, that I share. I have around 8000 photos total on my hard drive at home. So I will be adding many more to Flickr. Anyone can view my photos, however, only folks with a Flickr account can comment on them, and then only people designated as family can print them. I have set it  up that way. You have total control over the settings.

During the time I have used Flickr, I have won a number of awards and have been invited to share some of my photos in special invitation only groups. I have even had three of my photos featured in Explorer. That’s on Flickr’s front page. There are 500 photos chosen every day from the thousands that are uploaded every minute. So at least three times now I made the top 500. For me, a person who simply started out sharing photos of family and local culture, it is really quite an honor.

My family and friends for years said I should sell my photos. Frankly, I thought some of them were pretty good, but selling them, I don’t think so. Well maybe….

Photo taken at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport
Atlanta Hartsfield by Don Graham

There was a company, Schmap.com,  that creates electronic travel guides. They requested to use one of my photos for their Atlanta area, mobile guide. The photo on the left, I shot it one morning while I was dropping off my daughter at the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport. There was no money involved in the transaction, but who cares? My photo is in their international digital guide for Atlanta.

A while back Getty Images contacted me requesting, at first, ten of my photos for their stock repository. Getty has one of the largest stock photograph repositories in the world. I thought, why not. I gave them permission to sell some of the photos. The first month nothing happened. The second month nothing. The third went by…. Oh well, I just let it go and forgot about it. I had no investment. It was six or eight months later, one day close to the end of the month, I was visiting my favorite ATM to beg it for at least a twenty to hold me over til payday. I hate getting paid once a month! I was amazed to find a bunch of money in my account.

photo of Red Fence and Snow
Red Fence and Snow by Don Graham

As it turned out I had a recent deposit from Getty Images. Since that time Getty has sold a number of them. I do absolutely nothing but go out and shoot photos of things interesting to me, tweak them a little, and upload them to Flickr. Getty does the rest; the selling, printing, framing, and delivering. Remember the old song by Dire Straits, “Money for Nothing? “  It’s sort of like that for me. I love to shoot photos. I have been doing it for [cough]. I purchased my first, what I call real, 35mm SLR back in nineteen and seventy-nine. I sound like my dad. Getting paid for a photo, at this point, is simply icing on the cake. Jot that down, I love both icing and cake.

Let me answer a few of the frequently asked questions I get regarding me and photography.

When did you start? I received my first camera for Christmas when I was 10 years old. I was hooked immediately. It was a Kodak Holiday 110. I shot all the rolls of film I received with it that same day. I was 19 when I got serious though. I’ve been shooting fairly consistent since then.

Do you have special training? Yes some. I began taking various art classes in High School. Since then I’ve attended numerous art, design and photography courses and seminars, most notably, the New York Institute of Photography’s advanced digital photography course. In the early days I read everything I could get my hands on at the local library regarding Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White and many other photographers. It was in the pages of those books that I learned the most about photography. Ansel Adams’ camera and tripod weighed about 80 pounds. He would carry his equipment up hills and mountains and sometimes wait up to 8 hours for the perfect lighting, then take a single shot or maybe a few frames. He would do all that for a shot, yet was later quoted saying, “The photograph is made in the darkroom.” That’s inspiring! Additionally, I have studied many artists, my favorites are the impressionist. Monet once said, “It’s all about light.” I agree completly.

 

photo of a vitomatic camera
Vitomatic (My father’s old camera) by Don Graham

What kind of camera do you use?

Though I have a number of cameras in various sizes and formats, I regularly shoot with a Canon xTi (400D), DSLR (digital single lens reflex). I have three lens I use; a 50mm, 17-55mm wide angle zoom, and a 28-300mm zoom. Comparatively speaking, my camera system is at the low end of the DSLR camera food chain. It does capture a large enough image (10 megapixel) to print a large wall hanging with with crisp lines and good detail.

 

Where do you go from here? I will continue to walk around the yard, travel the back roads and hike the trails of wherever I happen to be in search of the perfect photograph. Since I cannot begin to define the perfect photograph, I have a long pursuit. One of my professors asked the class, “What is the single most important thing to remember in photography?” There were a number of what I thought were great answers. Someone even said, “Remember to remove the lens cap before taking the photo.” That’s profound. The professor’s answer was simple, “Carry your camera with you everywhere you go! You can’t take a photo without it.” One of the most famous “Life Magazine” photos was a shot of a tractor trailer accident on the Gold Gate bridge. You have had to of seen it. The tractor was dangling off the bridge. It was taken by a man on the last day of the family vacation with his son’s camera. A little 110 Instamatic camera with one frame left on the film. That made a significant impact on me. You will almost never find me without my camera handy. At least four of the photos on this page were taken at the spur-of-the-moment.

Do you have a thought for others that might be interested in photography? Yes, if your serious, get a digital SLR camera. There are many good new and used ones out there that do not cost a fortune. I recommend carrying it with you all the time, using only one lens (50mm) until you can shoot confidently with it. I also recommend investing in a steady tripod. Read books, take available local courses and seminars. Hang out with local photographers. Join Flickr. You can learn a lot by seeing how others do what your interested in doing. There are a lot of people on Flickr that are more than happy to critique your photos and give you pointers. No matter what, take pictures, lots of them and have fun!

I’m sharing this story to let you know about one of my passions, expose you to my favorite social network and how it can be used for fun and possibly even some profit.

Many of my working hours are spent in our library’s computer lab or staffing the Reference desk. I find that a large number of the people who visit the library to use our patron computers are using them to visit social networks. The statistics for people using Flickr, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, I think, back my observations. Millions of people are accessing social networks during their time online.

Fontana Regional Libraries currently have 54 patron computers with high-speed Internet access that’s free for the public to use. The first time you visit you will have to stop and sign a Computer User Agreement to get a Guest Pass for computer access. If you have your own laptop or other wireless device, each of our libraries has free wireless Internet access. If you bring your own device, you can choose where in the library you want to kick back, relax and access your favorite social network sites.

We have numerous books on photography, photographers, photographs, cameras, art, artists, design and social networking, way too many to list here. Visit us online at Fontana Regional Library or stop by your local library today.

I shot each of the photos shown on this page. If you would like to learn more about a particular photo, see larger version or view any of my other works click here.

“Knowledge and fun at your finger tips!”