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Shows What I Know About Photography


I’ve mentioned before that I like taking the sort of photographs that I like. If someone else likes them too then that’s a bonus. Given that I’m an expert on the sort of photos I like, and that I’m a pretty normal, regular guy you’d think I might have an idea what other people like too. The fact is that I don’t.

I have a Flickr site where I upload a good portion of the decent photos I take. Flickr’s great because the more people who look at your photos, make comments and mark them as favourites, the more “interesting” your photos are. The most interesting photos uploaded each day end up in the Explore section of the site. You can see the 500 most interesting photos each day and look at random interesting photos over the last 7 days, month and so on. Generally you find the most interesting photos are also the best, although that’s not always the case – I often find photos and think “what the hell is that doing there?” – but I guess they’re interesting to somebody.

I have quite a few photos that currently show up in the Explore section of Flickr (17 at the moment, with a few inside the top 40 of each day – and I even had one in the top ten for a couple of days). When I see one of mine up there I frequently think “what’s mine doing with all those amazing photos?” – I’m my own worst critic sometimes. Here’s an example:

Convergence Point

While doing the Ingleton Waterfall Walk and getting pictures of – wait for it – waterfalls – I spied this simple scene and thought I could maybe make something interesting from it. When I got home I looked at it and thought “well, it’s okay, but there’s no foreground interest” and left it alone. The other day I was looking through my photos, spotted it and thought I’d do a quick process and put it on Flickr. Much to my surprise it’s been very popular! I’d never for a moment have thought people would like it.

Conversely some of my favourite photos that were much more difficult to see, compose and take than the one above have been met with a wall of silence, like this one for example (which is one of my favourites):

Hand To Glass

My girlfriend agreed with me that the hill photo was okay but not great and she liked the black and white so much that she wants it framed in the kitchen. That’s high praise from her – normally if I suggested printing out one of my photos her first suggestion would be to put it in the toilet!

I guess if you want universal appeal you have to go for the simpler, less arty shots that people can instantly make a connection with and don’t push the boundaries. Still, since I take photos primarily for me, I don’t need to sacrifice art for popularity and can keep doing what I’m doing. But don’t worry, I’m sure the odd shot that you’ll like too will slip through my “Flickr interesting but not John Conners interesting” filter – as I said, I frequently get it wrong!

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

10 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I think the “trick” to improving a photograph’s popularity in Flickr lies in adding the shot to a number of appropriate high-traffic pool shortly after uploading the photo (as the pools are sorted in descending chronological order).

    You’ve added the “Convergence Point” shot to many popular pools, but “Hand To Glass” is only in the B&W pool.

    Just my little theory…


  2. Actually, when I first uploaded Conversion Point I didn’t put it in any pools other than 3-2-1 but as people started commenting I decided to put it in a couple more for good measure.

    Maybe I should add Hand To Glass to a couple of pools to see what happens…


  3. Hi john,

    I too find the Hand to Glass much more appealing than the Convergence Point..!
    But may be the popularity has to do something with colors?
    May be colors appeal to all.. but b/w appeal to selected few..!


  4. Yeah, you might be on to something – I notice a lot of highly saturated shots on Flickr, the sort with greener-than-green grass and bluer-than-blue skies and they do very well.


  5. John, I LOVE the top picture, but then again I’m a sucker for those kind of landscape shots. However, it’s how you captured the beautiful scene and brought the viewer to where you are standing. Absolutely gorgeous shot, and you indeed have a gift that I think you should explore. I’m not surprised at all that your photos make the Flickr favorites lists.

    CONGRATS on forthcoming nuptials, by the way!!


  6. Thanks for your kind words Anne, and I’m glad you like the photo! I think I must have been being overly critical of my own work!

    And I can’t believe it’s all come along so quickly! It seems like 5 minutes ago we were looking for a venue and now it’s less than 4 weeks to go…


  7. Just wanted to share your confuslement with the explore pages… but it seems an awful lot of pictures that are great but aren’t simple (or saturated/contrasty) enough to be catchy in the thumbnail and just won’t make it. Doesn’t make them any less good, as you say, you take them for you. There’s plenty of us out there who prefer something a little more adventurous than the obvious ones.

    Also, good luck with the wedding, remember on the day to stop and be with each other, and not get wound up over the wee stuff that goes wrong. Enjoy yourselves!


  8. As Ive mentioned before I have a sort of hobby of collecting wallpapers, one of my tastes in wallpapers is landscapes, especially really beautiful ones like the one you have posted, especially ones that are probably too beautifull to exist, such as your improved scene there or CG scenes.

    however I am not much of a fan of the overly artistic (where the primary focus is an artistic effect) images, according to your flikr data it appears there are many people that share this taste, and while the B&W is a good image, it is not one that particulary interests me, luckly though you do take a lot of other pictures I like 🙂


  9. Thanks Murdats! I didn’t really do anything to that hill photo, it was one of those days where it wasn’t sure whether to be a stormy day or a sunny day (plenty of those in Yorkshire) so the colours are genuine!


  10. Wow, that truely is an impressive shot then, so beautiful that you think it cant be real, nice work


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