photography


I haven’t done this for a year or two, but as I’ve just completed my 7th annual photo-a-day project (plus my second 52 in a year weekly photo challenge) I’ve had a quick trawl through the numbers.

And the totals are:

total views of photos chosen as photo of the day (as of 31/12/16): 52,074
average number of views per pic: 142
total favourites: 834 (av 2.8 per pic)
total comments: 199 (av 1.65 per pic)

Despite flickr stats going wobbly a couple of times during the year, I rely on my own spreadsheet, and it tells me last year gained the most views so far (just, 2015 total was 50,633). No photos in explore, (which has inflated the overall total in previous years), but my most viewed photo – the robin below, was possibly due to my decision to select it and add to the flickr group: Your best shot 2016. 796 views as I type this, plus 17 faves and 2 comments.

26063997036_6b2cdd0d63_z

Other popular photos may also have an explanation: Wordplay (662 views as I type) was the first photo I added to the 52 in 2016 challenge group, and the Book Bench based on Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere story that I stumbled across in Manchester Central library was probably helped by the fact that @neilhimself retweeted my tweet and brought lots of extra viewers! (663 as I type)

26900681052_bdd132658e_z

And the least viewed? Discounting the last couple of weeks, where photos haven’t been published for very long, the two photos which tie for that ‘honour’ with 31 apiece, are one taken in a gorgeous italian garden we discovered in East Kent, and one taken on our holiday: the temple at Xunantunich.

Both re-published below so they do not feel unloved!

28172210774_b42646b259_m

Godinton italian garden, Kent

30865599112_6c229c6fde_m

Xunantunich, Belize

Back to the numbers

33 photos were taken in our garden. 54 were of recognisable London sights – not surprising I guess as I spend most daylight hours there! 21 were taken out and about in the Medway towns.

Despite my vow each year to try and take more photos of people, I’ve failed again – just 8 contain people, although there were 7 featuring Neil (although only 1 which showed his face!)

Nature wins overall, with 98 photos featuring birds (34), flowers (32), animals (12) and butterflies (11) plus a variety of fungi and insects – and lots of countryside scenery.

Other interests are well represented in the project too. I captured 8 photos of unesco heritage sites, and 29 of libraries (plus 7 book or book related photos – as I made a point of recording some of the many literary anniversaries last year: Happy Birthday Charlotte Bronte, HG Wells, Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl).

29623017156_5beb1506d2_z

I chose 13 transport related photo-a day images – including 4 trains and 4 planes, and published 11 sunrises/sunsets. And finally, to dispel they myth that all of social media is about food – but to recognise that sometimes after a long day I do take the odd photo of my supper…… 33 of the photos in the project were food or drink related.

Overall numbers

As a final numbers roundup, aside from the photo-a-day images, on flickr overall I now have 9,078 photos published (some of which are restricted to family and friends only) with 1,170,530 views (according to flickr stats, which as mentioned above, do go through wobbly patches so I’m not 100% sure how reliable they are). And out of that total, I now have 44 photos which have been viewed more than 1,000 times. They are often photo which surprise me – and as I mused above, sometimes there might be an explanation, like flickr explore, a certain group, or social media publicity, but sometimes I have no idea.

Besides the 2 photo projects mentioned, I published a further 15 albums (pretty much the same as every year – although that is completely by chance) – I tend to set up an album when there are a number of photos from a particular place or trip, but do also add photos throughout the year to a number of generic albums, such as garden birds, libraries or fungus forays.

And despite rumours of flickr’s demise, I still haven’t found anything better for a vast collection of gorgeous photos, and a global community of people, many of whom are ‘just like me’ – in many different ways, and isn’t that one of the best things about social media?!

I confess I have wondered just what niche Instagram fills in the social media ecosystem, so I was very interested to listen to John TassPa who came to talk to us yesterday.

His enthusiasm was infectious – he outlined the evolution of the photo sharing app and shared some fascinating examples of how public sector organisations are using it.  Instagram’s aim is to enable people to “capture and share moments” and it was fueled by the wish to be able to capture and share immediately – the possibility of which was made real by the near ubiquity of smartphones.

Some key facts and milestones: over 200 million people use the app worldwide. It started off as something for iPhone users, but an android app was launched in 2012. Facebook acquired it in 2012. The audience is primarily young (or at least young at heart as John added!)

Some of the channels key values are Community first, Simplicity matters, and inspire Creativity. It was clear how these aims are delivered from the examples talked about. When instagram first launched they made a huge effort to contact photographers and offer them the opportunity to showcase their work. Thus it didn’t start as an echoing empty place, but was already filled with the sort of content they hoped others could create and add. The app itself is apparently very simple to use (I’ll have to get back to you on that….. although I did notice a twitter exchange  from @billt that raised a question that didn’t sound so simple!) and the creativity element is enhanced by the availability of a range of filters which photographers can apply to their images to lift them out of the mass of ordinary snapshots.

On to the examples – unsurprisingly, the channel has been used by tourism bodies who want to expose great images of the regions they are responsible for – the Australian Tourism body pit out a call to people to use a specific hashtag. They then contact the photographers and curate their content in a gallery. Canada copied this, as did Israel and Iceland. The US department of the interior did similar – although their specific action was to encourage their own park rangers to contribute images. The US coastguard shares control of their main channel with different regional stations, so viewers can get a sense of activity all around the States. And a final US example – and one I’ll definitely take a look at – Boston Public Library – an account to explore!

Boston Public Library on instagram

Boston Public Library on instagram

Instagram is encouraging organisations to be creative in other ways. One technique is to identify photographers on the channel who already have a number of followers, and inviting them to take part in specific events to generate new content. Examples of this include a Canadian Regional tourism board who invited a group of instagrammers from around the world on a visit to their state and curated the content they produced. A current example closer to home is the team managing the NATO summit taking place in Wales. They invited a 17 year old instagrammer to become part of the official press pack and cover the summit. Besides getting a range of different photographs, they have also gained a lot of free positive publicity for this.

NATO wales on instagram

NATO wales on instagram

My own Department DFID also scored an instagram “first” with a campaign it ran around the recent Girl Summit in London. Instagrammers were invited to upload short videos in which they described what freedom meant to them (using the hashtag #freedomis) and the team created a short video of the best clips. Again, lots of good publicity and interest in the process – plus a wide variety of actual submissions.

Girl Summit instagram video

Girl Summit instagram video

The session was wrapped up with some examples of public figures who are using instagram to show their more human side. One comment about the best accounts – its what they see, not about seeing them. People including the italian tourism minister Dario Franceschini, and the Mayor of Los Angeles.

Bottom line – instagram is an overwhelmingly positive channel – favourite of the smartphone owner who just wants to flick through lots of colourful, eyecatching content. The words/captions attached are almost incidental, and its actually quite hard, if not impossible to search for content if you are not a member of the community. I can now understand though how it is helping brands to build on trends, and to raise awareness of a topic or theme.

In conclusion, while I’m not planning to completely change my photo taking and sharing habits overnight, the talk proved again to me the mantra that you need to participate in a channel to really understand how it works. I still have lots of questions, so I may well set up an account.

Another year’s photo-a-day project completed – with a bonus extra picture as 2012 was a leap year. A roller coaster year, with personal family sadness, but curiously I didn’t put down the camera, and find it strangely comforting to look back now and see what I chose to record on days when I can’t really remember doing anything atall. We also passed another of life’s milestones as after 20 years in a tiny Victorian terrace, we moved house. We’re still in Rochester, but came forward a century in time, as we bought a brand new house. That gave lots of opportunities to take photos to record aspects of the move, but also a new walk to the station and lots of different things to notice.

On with the statistics: Most popular and/or “interesting”

By a long way, it was the Govcamp T-shirt: 462 – also no. 4 in the all time views list, no. 150 in what flickr describes as “most interesting”.

GovCamp 2012 t-shirt

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt…..

I agree its not that interesting a photo – more one for the record – but its position makes it even harder to try and understand the flickr interestingness algorithm. This photo has same number of comments as others which appear much higher – must be something to do with popularity over time too? (still behind last years top photo, which continues to be popular – ‘ripples’ has now reached 728 views)
Others high on the list were Pelican: 373 (also no. 8 all time views, no. 50 ‘interesting’), Owl mugs: 302 and Tube lights: 278
2012 diary photos had over 100 views (at 31 Dec 2012) – 31

To update other figures in the style of last years blog post (comparing with previous years in square brackets):

Number of diary images which appear in my top 20 all time most viewed: 4 [last year it was also 4, 2010: 2]

Number of diary images which appear in the top 20 all time ‘most interesting’: 4 [last year: 9, year before: 6]

Total views of photo diary images during 2012: 25,671 [21,111 in 2011, and 8,680 in 2010]
Average views of each image: 70 [58 and 24]
Total views of all published photos during 2012: 67,320 [2011: 49,791 and 22,577 in 2010]

Categories include:
Event/date specific: 46 [about the same, 54 and 41, although my definitions of this category are non scientific!]
Local photos (Kent) = 66 [up on last years 48, but still fewer than the 95 taken in 2010]
London: 105 – bolstered by 46 taken in St James Park [up on last years 86, which included 28 in the Park, in turn up on 76 taken in 2010]

Travel related: 24 – this year I didn’t include all nights away from home, as we spent a lot of time in Gloucestershire. [55 in 2011, 43 in 2010 (these totals include all day trips and weekends away from home)]

Owl related: 20 [14 in 2011, 11 in 2010]

More libraries: 10 [4 and 7]

Fewer sunrises: 8 [just down from 9 in 2011 and 13 in 2010]

The natural world continued to feature strongly:
flora: 74 [huge growth over 49 in 2011 and 43 in 2010]
while fauna also increased: 47 [up from 41 in 2011 and 17 in 2010]

And the St James Park pelicans continue to feature – one of which was mentioned above as capturing people’s attention.

Pelican in St James Park

What it is to be a star!

Less transport overall:
fewer trains: 4 [14 and 8], fewer boats: 4 [5 and 6], fewer cars: 3 [5 and 0],
planes: 2 [0 and 5] and other transport: 3 [8 and 2]

Food and drink, about the same: 28 [23 and 12]

Still not doing that well with people: 20 – although there were a couple of portraits [24 and 18]

I’ve replied to some people who asked if I was planning to continue in 2013 with yes, and added the explanation that it is a bit of an addiction. While this is true, its also an education – especially as this year I was given a digital SLR, so continuing the photo a day habit is good opportunity to practise. The flickr albums also provide a nice diary snapshot of the year, and mean I can compare the changing of the seasons, when flowers/leaves appear and disappear, and also recall with precision when I did certain things – helpful evidence in occasional resolving of arguments!

Here’s to 2013 – I look forward to seeing how the people I feel I have got to know via flickr see and record their year.

PS – As an example of the wonderful serendipity of social media, just before I was about to publish this, I followed the link tweeted by @russellphoto : http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/meditations_on_photographs_a_car_on_fire_at_the_mall_by_jmc/ – and besides the neat twist that he shares my initials, I also share many of his thoughts and can relate them to why I take photographs. I would add though, that I’m always surprised by just how many of the pictures that I would consider ephemeral do continue to be viewed – perhaps that the librarian in me though, who can’t just publish, I always try to geotag, describe, label and otherwise make sure stuff is findable!

Following my lengthy blog post at the end of my first years photo a day project, thought I’d look back on 2011 and (as I’m still fairly intrigued by stats) look at how this years project differed – or followed similar lines.

First difference, I joined 3 different flickr photo a day groups – first: Photo a day challenge 2011, was the smallest, but the one I enjoyed most, as just like 2010, it meant I could almost get to know most of the group members through their photos, and share their years. This time, 2 people I knew also took part and I enjoyed seeing how Ann’s and Sharon‘s years unfolded – both of them experiencing many more life milestones than I did! The other 2 groups were the massive Project 365, which I dipped into occasionally, and the One pic a day 4 ever (again, small, as the qualification is that you have to have completed at east one 365 project). This latter group included one member from the 2010 group, and another who took some very intriguing photos, and blogged about the techniques

Flickr continues to confirm my main theory about social media – it helps you find people like you, whether you have a quirky or niche interest, or share the same passions as many.

Back to my project – aims were the same as last year really, record what happened, no particular plan beyond making sure I always had a camera with me and taking the photo when I thought about it, rather than miss an opportunity. One thing I mentioned last year as being bad at, is photos of people, and while this year is slightly better – 24 in total [up from 18] contain people, many of these are crowds, or performers (especially in costume, thanks to Rochester’s many festivals), and I just have 2 famous faces, 2 of colleagues, and 4 containing me (although none of those really recognisable – either in reflection, shadow or detail!) Other interests remained constant – scenery, the natural world, owls, libraries and a scattering of steam trains feature. I have continued to experiment with macro, tried to do more abstracts (9), and looking at the set as a whole, it struck me how many featured circles (15).

On to update the fairly random statistics I reported last year (with the previous year figures in brackets where relevant)

Total images posted in the diary: 365 [hurrah again, mission accomplished]

Most viewed – by a long way my most viewed photo of all time, and one that was completely unplanned.

Reflections

Reflections

A combination of smooth ripples and the colourful clothes worn by people on the bridge meant this shot of the reflections on the lake in St James Park captured peoples attention: 674 views, 47 favourites and 36 comments.  This photo also made it to ‘explore’ – one of the 500 photos flickr features each day, which I’m sure gave it more exposure. [last years top photo was Explore your library with 133, which has continued to be popular – reaching 216 views during 2011)

Number of diary images which appear in my top 20 all time most viewed: 4 [last year it was 2]

Number of diary images wich appear in the top 20 all time ‘most interesting’: 9 [last year it was 6]

Total views of photo diary images during 2011: 21,111 [8,680 in 2010]
Average views of each image:  58 [24]
Total views of all published photos during 2011: 49,791 [22,577 in 2010]

Categories include:
event/date specific: 54 [about the same, 41, although my definitions of this category are non scientific!]
local photos Kent) 48 [many fewer than last years 95 – guess I felt I’d already captured local views?]
London: 86 [more than last years 76, but this years figures are probably bolstered by 28 photos taken in St James’ Park]

Travel related (including day trips and weekends away from home): 55 [43 in 2010]
This year, thanks to an amazing holiday in Sri Lanka, we visited a total of 11 unesco sites – 8 photos made it into the diary [up from 6 last year]

Owl related: 14 [11 last year]

No snow this year, and fewer sunrises: 4 [7] and sunsets: 5 [6]

The natural world continued to feature strongly:
flora: 49 [43]
while fauna saw huge growth: 41 [17]

Transport included:
more trains: 14 [8]
boats: 5 [6]
cars: 5 [none featured the previous year, although there were 5 planes – and none of those in 2011]
and other transport: 8 [2]

food and drink: 23 [12]

Two other notable photo/social media related anecdotes from my world last year, both are a credit to my colleagues (although one did tangentially feature in my diary too!). First Russell, and the amazing spider web photos. He tells the story eloquently in his own blog but it is a fantastic example of how the internet has made these stunning photos visible to a huge audience – over a million views that we can absolutely verify, and countless more via the many other galleries and channels in which they have appeared. It has received numerous accolades, not least being named recently as one of the Guardian’s “photos of 2011“. The second is the one I captured an example of  as my colleague is one of the founders of the Burgers and Nails blog.

Nail art

Nail art

A simple concept – take a photo of hands with carefully manicured and/or decorated nails clutching a burger (preferably gourmet) and submit. This blog saw a huge rise in popularity when it was featured by the Huffington Post.

And finally, yes, keeping a photo diary is addictive, and yes, I have already started on Project 2012  – potentially an interesting year, and of course the difference already from my previous 2 sets, is that this set will I hope end up with 366 photos. Thankyou to all who have commented on or added my photos as favourites, I hope you continue to enjoy them!

It started out as a bit of fun, something to look back on and provide evidence of things that happened during the year, and became a really interesting project. Challenging at times, especially when the weather was grey and cold and the last thing I wanted to do was take photos, but always fun. Besides introducing me to lots of new people via flickr and simply getting me out and about more, it as also helped me think more about social media channels overall – which to use to share different things with different groups of friends, contacts or family, how the more specialist tools can feed into the more commonly used ones (and vice versa) with very little extra effort. It has also fed my obsession with statistics. Flickr offers rich behind the scenes information and it has been fascinating to keep an eye on these through the year – finding out how people find my photos and in some cases, where they end up. Some of the images which I thought nothing of  – just a snatched photo taken during my lunchbreak – have had the highest views.

I’ve seen people drop out of the 365 groups on flickr because they felt that the pressure to produce at least one photo every day has meant they felt unable to take the sort of photos they wanted to. A shame, but not a worry I’ve had. Looking at a wide cross section of other peoples photos has given me inspiration for different angles to approach a subject, but as I have always leaned towards recording the moment rather than creating a work of art, I haven’t felt that pressure. One area I am envious of others however, is in taking photos of people.  Only about 18 images from the whole year have contained recognisable people – and 6 or 7 of those were either performers, or ‘celebrity’ visitors who appeared at work. I enjoy looking at the sort of street photography that fellow members of the Medway Towns flickr group produce, and Paul Clarke never fails to inspire with his recording of what would at first appear to be quite mundane events.

As I mentioned, I didn’t have an aim beyond recording the year. If asked, I would have said that my preference was for photos of wildlife/nature, beautiful scenery, interesting buildings such as castles or grand palaces – but also for recording things that are in danger of disappearing. Oh yes, and it may have become obvious during the year that I love libraries and owls. However, looking back over the year, while some of these preferences have definitely featured large, I’ve also experimented a bit – and as mentioned above, its been interesting to notice which photos have captured other peoples attention – either prompting comment (134 during the year), or, the ultimate compliment of either being marked as a favourite (22) or even added to a gallery.

Some fairly random statistics follow:

Total images posted in the diary set: 365 (hurrah – mission accomplished!)

Most viewed: Explore Your library, with 133 views. Interesting to note, my second most viewed was also a library – Victoria library (another lunchbreak walk) with 102 views

Front window of St James Library - located in Westminster City Hall

Explore your library

Least viewed: tricky, as of course some have been live for a much shorter time – however there is a small batch of fairly un-noticed photos, probably just viewed by close family! which have fewer than 10 views
Number of diary images which appear in top 20 all time most viewed:2
Number of diary images wich appear in top 20 all time ‘most interesting’:6 – which includes a relatively new entry as the top ranked photo according to flickr’s definition of “interestingness” – my collection of tiny owl models, with 45 views, 8 favourites and 5 comments.

Owl collection

Owl collection

nb I have been publishing to flickr for over 4 years, and have nearly 1,500 photos live.

Total views of photo diary images during 2010: 8,680

Average views of each photo diary image: 24

Total views of all published photos during 2010: 22,577

Categories published:

local (Kent) -108
of which: Rochester and surrounding towns (scenes, events or details) -95
of which: home (garden and views) -23

Personal (souvenirs or general home photos) -11

Family related -8

Event driven (either calendar date such as Easter or saints day, or local, such as a festival) -41

London -76
Of which: work related -8
Or, only taken because they are close to work -31

Travels (includes day trips and weekends away from home)-55

Wildlife –
Flora -43
Fauna -17

Plus animals in art – either sculpture or model: 14

Produce (crops/harvest) -11

Owl related -11

Libraries -9

Unesco heritage sites -6
nb I did visit a couple through the year, but for some reason, they didn’t all make it as diary photos!

Abstract -12

Transport –
trains -8
boats -6
planes -5
other -2

Sky -15
Of which: sunset -6
sunrise -7

Weather focus (rain, snow) -26

Finally, to those of you who have looked at my photos, I hope you have enjoyed them. And yes, I am going to continue the project – maybe try out different themes, definitely try and improve my skills in photographing people. My main advice for anyone thinking about doing this sort of project:

  1. ALWAYS have your camera with you,
  2. Dont despair – recording even the most mundane things like your dinner will usually bring back a smile when you look back,
  3. Dont rush to take easy things – if they will be there tomorrow, better to capture something fleeting which relates to the day
  4. Enjoy it!

Not sure if I’ll ever come close to the amazing Jamie Livingston who I blogged about earlier this year,  but who knows!

Twitter led me to discover a photography project that says as much about friendship as it does about the man who took the polaroids. Jamie Livingston took a photo a day every day for the last 18 years of his life. He lived in New York, and the collection charts lots of everyday things: his friends, the changing city, what he ate and what he did, every day until he was diagnosed with and eventually died from cancer.

After he died, his friends decided that this huge body of work should not just be discarded, so they re-photographed every one of the 6,607 photos, created a website and put on an exhibition. The site was stumbled across by a journalist and his research and subsequent blog about what he found out led to the  site – which had initially collapsed after many thousands of visitors arrived (one blog claimed ” at times it is receiving something like 150 hits per second”) being moved to much more stable servers. I recommend the more detailed blog about the project, which is fascinating reading.

One post in particular I found particularly relevant, in the light of my own photo a day project (which is definitely put into perspective by this huge undertaking):

I had to think a little bit about why this is so stirring. This is not a technical achievement, nor an endeavor that requires an inaccessible skill set. This is one thing, done once a day. Something so spare and ordinary, just taken to extraordinary lengths. A simple thing: whatever struck his fancy on a given day – just capture one thing on film. Simple.
I know a lot of people try to do this on Flickr, but this is strikingly different in many respects. This isn’t a collection of forced poses or composed shots or juxtapositions, he isn’t looking for something funny, weird, or ironic. I find myself thinking I should try this, but give up within days because I’d try to wait until something interesting happened. That’s me not appreciating the ordinary, or trying to force it, and not having the discipline to just do something on principle. These photos are as simple as memories. They don’t always make sense, they don’t always fit into some grand theme or design. Here is a memory. Here is another. All you need to know is: this was then, on this date. This happened, I was there. Do you remember?

Other photo related things that have cropped up recently:

  • The UN launched a photo competition – called Picture This, they were looking for photos depicting people taking action to achieve any of the 8 Millennium Development Goals. Winners will be announced in September
  • The Living Proof project – more than just photographs, but they are worth browsing
  • A project to showcase photos that flickr considers “most interesting
  • And finally, the good news that the National Trust now allows photography inside many of its properties – proof below!
Dyrham Park library

Dyrham Park library

UPDATE: A friend pointed out 2 other interesting photo a day projects:  A photo a day – check out the website to find out about it and a variation on the 365 flickr project : 1984 Aleks’ project to re-tell the first 369 words of George Orwell’s novel one day at a time, one word at a time, in photos.

As something to distract me from work I decided to do a photo a day project this year.  I started mine, storing them in a folder in my normal flickr account – then heard via twitter about a flickr group. Joining that, and seeing what other participants choose to publish each day perfectly illustrates to me the joy of flickr. You see things you would never otherwise look for, and get ideas for different approaches and styles.

Early days at the moment – although I’m pleased to have made it to the end of the first month. Besides recording the moment (my favourite  sort of photography), I also have plans for themed weeks. However, to date, the only days I have made plans, I have actually found good images purely by chance.

One of the best pieces of advice I read on a blog (definitely not an original idea, this photo a day thing) : always have your camera with you.

Other photography-related items which have caught my eye around the web recently:

  • Britain Loves Wikipedia – an interesting crowd-sourcing project which asks members of the public to visit participating museums and photograph the collections. Photos will then be made available under a free licence on Wikimedia commons
  • British Wildlife Photography awards – being promoted by the National Trust. Which reminds me, still have time to go and see the Veolia wildlife photographer of the year exhibition at the Natural History Museum
  • Not just photographs, but another interesting crowd sourcing project is Wildlife near you
  • Also found another site specifically designed for people doing photo-a-day projects: Blipfoto
  • Finally, via flickr, a useful site with various tools to help you do fun things with your photos – I like the look of mosaic maker

Next Page »