20 Aug 2013

Photography and the internet-reflections

When the New York Times is shocked you know that it is worth reading about.Two weeks ago they ran a story praising Leica cameras and the vitriolic response from the Leica "haters" was extraordinary.You can read about it here Leica
I have personally experienced some of this vitroil when a story of mine on Leica was posted on a well known American photoblog a few weeks ago.This and my realisation that the hobby of photography has become totally dominated by a preoccupation with the "gear" has convinced me to stop reading or writing about cameras including on The Rolling Road.When I started the blog I did not mention the camera used for the photos but then a few comments asked me to do so and I saw no harm in it and adopted the suggestion.I have now reverted to the original plan.In future I will only include the camera info when it is directly relevant to the photos.

Photography should be about pictures-not cameras.Sadly practically all of the big photography hobby sites on the web fan this gear obsession because the only way the operators of the sites can make any revenue -their living- is from click throughs to the sites of sponsors and advertisers.It is a virtuous circle.Even sadder is that much of the writing and most,but not all, of the comments on the photo forums are rubbish.Indeed a high proportion of comments on most sites on the internet and social media about anything-not just photography- are worthless and many are rude,spiteful and mean spirited.I was surprised to see that even the ABC-the Australian Broadcasting Corporation-Australia's public broadcaster-website which is well regarded has comments on its opinion column and that most of these are of the usual abysmal standard.

This whole issue of social media and engaging with the customer/listener/reader/viewer and joining a "conversation" is totally out of hand.Why on earth does anyone want to know that "#NoniMK" thinks that the revised Sydney Trains timetable sucks? Well a local TV station encourages viewers to comment and her twitter comment along with a few others passed across the bottom of the screen during the 6.00pm news the other night so presumably they thought that it was important.
You know that the world has gone completely mad when you see that your breakfast cereal has a Facebook and a Twitter account and you don't.How can I 'engage" with my breakfast cereal? I pour some into a bowl.Add milk and a sliced banana and eat it.Engagement over.

In terms of talking about photography as opposed to sites showing photographs I have only found two which are worth looking at - The Online Photographer TOP-which does have comments but these are very well moderated and the site has a more mature and knowledgeable following although even it is not immune from the commercial pressures and it bows to realities by having quite a lot of gear talk.The other site is the Luminous Landscape Luminous Landscape and the same observations also apply to it.Both are quite serious and sometimes a little odd which suits me just fine.I have recently erased all the other photography hobby sites from my bookmarks because they are just not worth looking at unless you want to engage in endless camera gear gossip and talk and read comments submitted in large part by rude and often ignorant people.
On the other hand there are so many sites showing great photographs.I don't have space to list even my favourites here but there is a lot of real photography on the web outside the gearosphere. 

To put the gear obsession into persective take a look at the photo from Angkor Wat,Cambodia above and the photos from Tokyo below.All taken by me on a Canon G7.A superb little camera with a metal body now 7 years old-no RAW facility and very restricted ISO range and a small sensor but surprisingly good.And they are coveted because although they are now very old technology to pick one up on Ebay today it will cost you for about $120-$150 for a good one.That's enough gear talk.

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