It is a humbling experience to have suddenly thousands and thousands of readers daily taking a peek at your thoughts. Happened to me last week, when WP posted my “Deathwatch” on their front page. I mean, I’m used to having people viewing my images, but not my words so much. They had about a million postings to choose from (during those three days it remained there) and about a dozen got chosen. Random? Yes. Luck? Absolutely. But quite a ride, makes you think – and makes you very, very humble…
One of the best spin-offs of this type of being “fleetingly famous” – as one journalism student in Australia referred to it in her very insightful commentary – is the amount of discussion and contacts it generates. Quite a lot of them are shown below the original post, but some people choose to approach with email. One of the most thought-provoking encounters I’ve had has been with a writer and journalist Burke Campbell from Canada.He pointed me to a post he himself wrote earlier this summer entitled “Prophesy to the Wind“. I won’t repeat it here – read it yourself, it’s fascinating – but the parallels are amazing with the experiences he describes happened in the early eighties (when the idea that you could write with a computer, transfer and deliver with a computer sounded like a science fiction), compared to what I was discussing with my Deathwatch of the Print – posting and what is happening in our print and publishing industry presently.
My sincerest thanks to all the people who took the trouble of commenting – it generated a lot of food for thought and I will be coming back to this in the future several times.
On Sharing Your Work
The whole idea of blogging (and most of the social media) is sharing your work – be it images, words, thoughts… I say all the time that I write to challenge my own assumptions.
You try to formulate it the best you can, post it, hope that somebody sees it, maybe takes it further, maybe comments on it, whatever. Best possible scenario: it comes back to you in a more evolved and sophisticated form.
I’m a great believer in this. There are a couple of writers who have given me so much influence and inspiration that I will be in debt for a long time – and I hope to be able to return the favor – maybe not directly to them, but maybe to somebody else looking for inspiration for their own work. Burke Campbell mentioned above is one of them (BTW, I asked him if I could use his original headline for this post and he said yes).
Also, you need influences from the outside. To do remarkable work requires input from others – there is only so much you can cook up with yourself.
But there is a world of difference between sharing and pure copy-and-paste or ripping off. Let me share one example.
This is something I did about 10 days ago and it is very much like the LIVEFEED I did in Barcelona. This time instead of using my own logos, I inserted the clients logo on the upper left corner. My assignment was boxing and I did this as a timing exercise: each round was 3 min with a break of 1 min in between. I tried – and succeeded – in transmitting and displaying images from each round (1-4 images) before the next round started. Very much like I did in Barcelona, as I said, but just faster, faster…
Now, couple of days later a friend referred me to a blog of another finnish photographer – which is unfortunately in Finnish only. But even just looking at the image, I am sure you can see some similarity in his “work”? (I won’t link to it, as I intend to make a more general point and not to rant – if possible).
He brags how he had been watching what I’d done and then – as he meticulously explains “while he was driving home from an assignment, just to pass time, with his left hand, he just came up with this – very simple, nothing to it, just embed-codes, dreamweaver, whatever, etc”. – and to top it off, he adds: “… that he sees no value nor any possible use of this kind of approach”. But – he did it.
Basically he is saying: “This is shit, but look at me, I can do it just like that, nothing to it”. Sounds awfully alike a little child and a desperate cry of “Mommy-look-Mommy-no-hands-and-I-learned-it-in-no-time” – or something similar.
I agree with one thing: there is nothing to it. Hitting alt-shift-U (in Safari) to view the sourcecode shows no trace of creativity – it is pure copy and paste.
I’ve seen text copied, images copied, music copied – sure, you can copy webdesign, code or an approach just as well. You can – should you?
Someone said to me recently: “You know, the most brilliant people aren’t those who know a whole lot, but those who can synthesize all that information”. I couldn’t agree more and the majority of my work is just that: synthesizing.
What he did has nothing to do with synthesizing nor sharing – it’s just copy-and-paste. Ripping off.
I posted my work from Barcelona well aware that somebody would copy it – and hopefully take it further. That is the whole purpose of sharing: take it further – develop it – and pass it on.
A hack working in the same market, doing a 100% copy-and-paste job – with a very dismissive tone if I may add – and trying to sell to the same clientele, sometimes to the worst competitor of your client (with a cheaper price tag, no doubt) was a bit of a surprise – but then again, maybe not. I know he has a history of doing this repeatedly and I should have seen it coming (but as I promised: no ranting, so I shut up).
He says one intelligent thing in his post and that is when he states that he doesn’t really see a situation where he could use this. And that becomes a self-reflecting prophecy : because for that your would need original thinking – not just ripping off others and doing mechanic copy-and-paste – and obviously in his case, that is not an option.
Update( two hours later):
The posting I was referring to has been removed – so in case you were looking for it, you won’t find it. So beside the point – and I so rest my case.