Monday, November 24, 2008

The Photographer On The Web - PART 1 – Social Networking Sites

Social sites are groups or communities of people that join for the social aspects. They are ‘gathering’ sites for families or friends. People will meet to chat or share information or even music, videos and photos.

These sites are generally not Moderated. Moderated sites are those whose rules and guidelines are enforced by a Moderator. Rules like language can be moderated but even off topic chat can be disallowed.

Pros: Free, Easy to Set Up, Very Social, Can Share Photos

Cons: Very Social, Too many bad photos, Basic or No Moderation, No Rules

Sites:

Facebook (
http://www.Facebook.com)
MySpace (
http://www.MySpace.com)
Friendster (
http://www.friendster.com)
Bebo (
http://www.bebo.com)

Basic Photography Communities

These are generally nothing more than Social Sites that have a ‘Photography’ theme. By gathering a large group of people that share a common interest, it can make the social aspects easier for some by providing a starting point or a common ground from which to start discussions and chat.

These communities attract members from all over the world. This can be a great experience but can also have drawbacks. These communities are more suited for the average photographer but the social users and ‘photo snappers’ tend to get in the way if your real interests are photography.

This is where many ‘Photo Artists’ and ‘Casual Snappers’ Gather. These sites are usually about the subject matter of a photo, art and feelings rather than about quality. These people will critique your image and usually the general consensus will be that your images are all great. Your very blurry, out of focus, poorly composed photo of your new kittens will be critiqued as excellent and oh so cute!

Pros: Free, Easy to Setup, Very Social, Some Learning, Free to Share Photos, A Few Great Photos, Some Moderation, Some Rules

Cons: Very Social, Very Soft Critiques, Some “Wrong” Learning, Too much Junk (Personal and Bad Photos), Artists, Some Sites are not Moderated, Lots of Bickering

Sites:

Flickr (
http://www.flickr.com)
Photobucket (
http://photobucket.com)
PhotoCamel (
http://photocamel.com)

Advanced or Pro Photography Communities

These sites are dedicated to photographers, Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Photographers alike that share a common goal of learning and becoming better photographers or what I would call the “Art of Photography”.

These sites are usually concerned about the quality of an image first, and then about the subject matter and artistic qualities. These sites usually have more subject specific discussions groups and more photography specific forums. The quality of the discussions and forums are usually much better as these sites are usually Moderated and do have rules and guidelines.

Pros: Free (sometimes pay), Easy to Setup (Or can me more complex if you want it to look very good), Social, Great Place to Learn, Free to Share Photos, Many Great Photos, Great Articles and Reviews, Tons of Professional Help, Moderated, Rules

Cons: Not So Social, Critiques can be brutally honest, Pay to Share More Photos (can also be a good thing), More Ego and Attitudes

Sites:

Photo.net (
http://www.photo.net)
EyeFetch (
http://www.eyefetch.com)
PBase (http://pbase.com)
PhotoSig (
http://www.photosig.com)

Problems with Networking or Photo Community Sites in General

These sites tend to be very generic and draw very large crowds from all over the world and from all walks of life. Very Poor photographers from third world countries, money is no object professionals from big towns, artist with attitudes and grandmothers wanting to share photos of their grandchildren are only but a small part of the mix.

Add to this the different racial and ethnic groups along with the incompatible language skills and problems will arise. Someone will take something the wrong way or someone will send an insult. Egos, attitudes and Snobbery play a big part and also lead to trouble.

Simply speaking up about broken rules or lending a helping hand can get you into trouble or on someone’s wrong side.

On MyShutterSpace.com I used to try to warn people when they broke the profanity or no posting nude photos rules so that these individuals would not get kicked off the site by the owners if they were caught. I would usually end up getting yelled at and told to mind my own business. Then I started a “Report The Offenders Policy”. Yes, I was a fink!

The breaking of the rules on Web Sites leads to their demise. What made MyShutterSpace.com a great site slowly eroded over time because ALL the rules were broken by many members. Once most members finally caught on, it was too late to do anything about it. The offenders outnumbered the non offenders and the members with the laisser faire attitudes. The laisser faire attitude members also supported having non photography enthusiasts.

In the last three months many of the best photographers, teachers and active members have left MyShutterSpace.com or are no longer active and have moved on to other sites. It is vital and important that rules be in place and that they be adhered to in order to keep the integrity of a web site.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.00 - November 2008)

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I value thoughtful comments and suggestions. If you like or dislike this post, please let me know. If you have any ideas or suggestion, comments or corrections (I do make mistakes) please also let me know. Thanks.

- Francois Cleroux