Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Flickr Explore

"There Is A Crack In Everything" by dmcordell http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcordell/9736748802/
One of the ways that I choose to connect with others, in a visible and (I hope) meaningful way is through photography.

For the past five years, I've been active in a few 365 challenge groups, posting a new photo on Flickr every day. Some of my images tell a story, others attempt to capture the beauty of nature or the uniqueness of the people with whom I interact in my daily life. These photosets serve as a visual diary as well as an impromptu "course" in the art of the photograph. Seeing the work of others, having them offer praise for my more successful efforts, helps me to grow as - yes - an artist.

In addition to uploading them to Flickr, I share the images on Twitter, Facebook, and Plurk, thus broadening the reach of my offerings. On a good day, my daily photo might get 50-100 views, with possibly a few comments and/or favorites. An exceptionally striking or timely shot might draw an even larger audience. Extensive use of tagging contributes to the number of hits recorded.

Last week, I posted the above photo. I had just finished reading Louise Penny's latest Inspector Gamache novel, How the Light Gets In, and was struck by the Leonard Cohen lyrics that inspired both the title and the plot:
"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."
 As I tracked the history of my photo, I noticed first an upswell, then a tidal wave of interest. The numbers began to zoom: 500, 1,000 views...crazy numbers. I didn't understand some of the comments, until someone in my network asked if the image had been chosen for Flickr Explore. Therein lies the answer.

According to some information that I found on the site,
"Explore is Flickr's way of showcasing the most interesting photos within a given point in time -- usually over a 24 hour period. Flickr receives about 6,000 uploads every minute -- That's about 8.6 million photos a day! From this huge group of images, the Flickr Interestingness algorithm chooses only 500 images to showcase for each 24-hour period. That's only one image in every 17,000!"

And how does Flickr define "Interestingness"?
"There are lots of elements that make something 'interesting' (or not) on Flickr. Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing. Interestingness changes over time, as more and more fantastic content and stories are added to Flickr."

My photo, There Is A Crack In Everything, was selected for Explore on September 13. So far, it has had 6,162 views and was favorited 169 times. Fourteen people, from countries around the world, have left comments. [I have seen some Explore images with over 25,000 views!]

While I am proud of this photograph, I don't consider it my "best" one. It was a combination of the Interestingness factors, mentioned previously, that brought it to Flickr's attention. For a few days, I tried to follow some of the tips that supposedly increase your chances of being selected for Explore. But I found that such mindfulness took the fun out of my daily shoots. So now I'm back to setting my own agenda. If lightning strikes again, I would be gratified, certainly, but I don't take photos to win recognition; I take them to satisfy my creative urges.

The most satisfying return for me is having others ask to use my images for various reasons of their own: to illustrate an article, to share in a family or genealogy newsletter, to clarify a point in a slideshow (I use a variety of CC licenses, but am quite willing to give permission for other uses, when contacted).

I would highly recommend that you visit Flickr Explore to enjoy the mix of quirky, innovative, and hauntingly beautiful photographs displayed there. 

“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” -Dorothea Lange

“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” -Robert Frank

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