Why I'm Not Joining the Photo Blog Revolution

Posted on Wednesday 4th November 2009 at 00:00
Anyone who spends a little of their precious time each day reading Twitter or navigating their way through the blogosphere will be well aware by now of the trend towards user uploaded photos on the internet. It's been a feature of blogging ever since the invention of broadband, but it's perhaps more recently, with the arrival of Facebook, Flickr, Twitter etc, that the trend has become more mainstream. After all, these sites exist purely on user generated content, and each one treats photo sharing as a core part of its operation.

As someone who has owned a digital camera since before any one of these sites had even been dreamt up, I'm very much in favour of the practice. Yet, if you look at any of my web content you'll be pretty quick to notice how rarely I contribute any photos myself. Try as I might to be an active photographer, every time I come to share my photos with the internet, I find there are simply too many barriers in the way. The main one, quite simply, is the amount of effort I have to go through to actually complete the process.

Twitter users among you will, no doubt, be familiar with services like Twitpic, which make it easy for users to upload their photos and include them in their tweets. I don't know what percentage of Tweets include links to photos, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was something like 25%, thanks largely to the popularity of the iPhone, and other high end smart phones as the Twitter platforms of choice. It's a very easy thing to do. I know this because I have used Twitterrific to upload a photo stored on my iPod Touch, and it only took a few seconds. Unfortunately my iPod doesn't have a camera, and the only photos I can share using it are those that have already been copied across from my computer.

This means that if I want to share a photo of something I can see using Twitterrific, I must take the photo with my mobile or digital camera, copy it onto the computer, sync the iPod with the computer and then post the photo as a Tweet. A quick, hassle free process that I can do anywhere in the world (as long as "anywhere" is my home office) in perhaps just 15 or 20 minutes. By comparison, if I had an iPhone I could take the picture on that and upload it then and there, from anywhere with a phone signal in as little as 15 or 20 seconds. I'm not actually sure it would be possible to upload a photo using my Nokia 2630, and if it were the data rate would probably take several quid out of my credit every time I tried it.

The same situation occurs for Facebook and Flickr, both of which allow iPhone users to instantly upload a picture they've just taken, but which have no such facility for the camera-less iPod, and this is why I've yet to engage in the real-time photo posting culture that has sprung up in recent years.

Ah but! I hear you cry, Why don't you upload photos on the computer, like the rest of us non-iPhone-owning types? Well, here, Ladies and Gentlemen, I must confess an element of laziness. No, no, not so much laziness, as lack of time. You see, proper uploading and archiving of photos is such a demanding business these days. Once upon a time you just stuck them on the internet with names like pc98382901.jpg or pic0047.gif, but not anymore. You have to name them, you have to provide descriptions, you have to tag them, tag people, decide on the order of photos in the album. And if you are anything like me and take a dozen photos where one would do simply to make sure that you get the best possible angle and lighting and facial expressions, you have to spend half your life deciding which of 37 almost identical photos is the absolute best one to be shown to friends and family alike.

It has got so bad these days, with so many sites expecting so much of you that I'm simply unable to upload photos at a rate of more than 20 an hour. Which when you've taken 200 photos at a party, of which 80 are worth keeping, is a serious time commitment. It used to be a commitment that I was willing to make, but recently I find myself slipping terribly. If Flickr is to be believed then I've not taken any photos since the snow in February, and according to Facebook, L and I don't take a camera out with us anymore, which is very much not the case.

If you are wondering what has brought on this rant - as it seems to have become - I've just plugged my camera into the computer to copy the photos on it (I don't have a card reader for my computer, which just adds to the level of hassle involved in the whole blasted business) thinking that I would find 5 or 10 photos from the last few days. Instead I find there is over 150 shots awaiting me. Photos that are months old. Photos I've never ever looked at. Photos I hardly remember taking. Time and time again I've taken my camera with me on trips out at weekends and in the evenings and every single time I've returned home and not even thought to look through them and see if they are any good.

I am incapable of deleting photos at all. Duplicates, blurs, hideous mistakes, they all stay. I think it's because I'm anal. I don't like to delete them on the camera, even though the delete button is nice and big and convenient, because you can't really be sure on that little screen whether a photo is good or bad, and I won't delete them on the computer, because when they are imported they get numbered, and I can't stand the idea of there being gaps in the number sequence, even if I'll probably never notice it again. It's really stupid, I know it is, but I just can't do it. So what if I no longer have 3 photos of me looking naff in Edinburgh? It shouldn't matter at all, and yet somehow I can't stand the idea that I'm deleting a part of my memory, no matter how trivial.

The result of this particular element of insanity is that I currently have 12,893 photos on my computer.

Perhaps progress is about making small steps rather than big ones. After all, I managed to semi-sort my Documents folder the other day and that hasn't been cleared out for years. I think my first aim should be to delete duplicate photos, even if I leave all the others. That way I'm not actually losing anything. And maybe, just maybe, if I can start to get on top of the photos on my computer, I can start sharing a few on here, at long last.

As if to illustrate my point, it has taken me half an hour of messing about to insert this picture for you.

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