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Celebrating World Photo Day with a cautionary twist

world photo day

We live in an age of constant photography. It is not just that anyone can share a photo, but anyone can also look artistic doing it too, blurring the line between an amateur and professional photographer. Smartphone accessibility and a high-quality lense reduce the barrier to entry.

While we turned the camera inward with the egotistical selfie, technology has also turned photos into new formats like GIFs, Motion Stills, Prisma art pieces, Instagram Boomerangs and Hyperspaces. Movies are collections of photos as well, albeit frames laced together.

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams 

Photography is just as much about process as is its end-product. Where, when and what camera predetermine the creation process. However, at its essence, photography is the art of noticing.

“The things that deserve our attention are often the things that allude our attention.” – Teju Cole

The challenge today as a photographer is abundance. Since the cloud backs up our photos automatically, we take as many as we want. It is impossible to sort through them let alone remember them. We are so busy capturing, as Om Malik put it, “we confuse photos on our smartphone as memories.” A camera’s memory is infinite; the human brain, distracted and full.

Multiple versions of a photo also make it difficult to select which image is best — companies like EyeM’s The Roll and Microsoft Pix use algorithms to help us decide which version is right for Instagram and which is more suitable for Instagram or Snapchat Stories.

Viewing photos on social media comes with the same overwhelming abundance. 400+ Million photos are shared on Snapchat each day, and more than billion if you combine photos uploaded to Instagram and Facebook. It’s impossible to sort through them all, so we depend on social networks to work their algorithms to show us what’s best.

When we document everything we see, the images lose their meaning. On the other hand, we can look back at photos to see what we missed. Our photos will become the archives for the future to interpret.

The thing about photography is that it always records more than the photographer intends. Photography makes the past present at all times. It changed the world. It gave ordinary people access to their own pasts. – Elizabeth Edwards, In Our Time: The Invention of Photography

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Automation of our society is going to cause displacement no different than mechanization of our society in the past.

Om Malik
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Are the smartest minds of our time as clueless about the future as the rest of us?

— Om Malik on Facebook’s “billion dollar dart throwing”
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The blog is the one that ties it all together — a central location where you fit together all the Lego pieces.

— Om Malik, on blogging
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Copying to create your own work

The Internet is the world’s biggest copy machine. All it takes is a right click to replicate someone else’s work. As long as you give credit to the source you’re in the clear.

But copying someone’s idea and personalizing it is a different kind of copying, the one that enables you to get started.

The reason I started the weekly reading recommendations is because I saw the format on Om Malik’s blog. The reason I started my music blog Silem Davis was because I liked Maria Popova’s “Literary Jukebox” concept. The reason I used the Paper Fifty Three Tumblr blog template was because I liked the way it displayed art. One of the reasons I blog daily and in short succinct paragraphs is to ape the style of Seth Godin. These are just some of the more recent examples where I copied a concept to express my own work.

There’s literal copying in the form of plagiarism and then there’s inspirational copying where you see a concept or idea and emulate it your own format, words, and discoveries. There’s no harm in the latter.

Copying is the process of learning and combining ideas that fit your style.  The baton of influence just keeps getting passed on to inspire others to create their own work.  After all, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

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Seven years of tweeting

Twitter:

“it is more important to me than any news network or a wire service or any newspaper. Human, flawed, chaotic, raw, ugly, beautiful, wrong, right, emotional, argumentative, frustrating and deeply satisfying — that is what Twitter is. Just like the world it is supposed to mirror.” – Om Malik

Seconded. Twitter is incredibly dynamic for all forms of media but also because of its <140 character simplicity. Twitter is worth more than Facebook, period. It’s too damn indispensable.