A Portrait of Hamish

This rather impressive looking chap is Hamish, or if you want to use his full title – Hamish McKay Denovan. This shot was taken and uploaded to Instagram but also shared on Twitter via MobyPicture. This portrait of Hamish is the most viewed image I’ve had recently on a social network and the retweeting of the photo started almost instantaneously.

Mountainous landscapes of Glen Coe… meh! Scottish castles and lochs…. meh! A picture of a Highland cow…. yay!!! Why some images take on a life of their own after release onto the net, while others do not, is the reason why photography, and how we view and consume images, is so fascinating. Some photographs just hit the right audience and surprisingly Highland cattle appear to have quite a following out there on the internet. One re-tweet even came from a Highland cow who claimed he was a relative! 🙂

As regular followers of the blog may already know, this summer saw me start using Instagram, the photo social network app that allows you to add filters and upload images. The real test for any social network service is how the user engages with it, and Instagram, while it looks relatively limited in usefulness, is actually quite adaptable as a publishing platform. It’s fast, convenient and can be used in any number of ways. How you use the service is pretty much up to you and the variety of use is quite amazing. Family albums, celebrity worship, photojournalism, fine art photography, magazines, news channels and more can all to be found on Instagram. If you think that it’s all about pictures of feet or cats (there is a bit of that of course) then you’d be wrong. Instagram has a very varied user base with a broad range of photography to follow.

Distribution seems to be key for Instagram’s success, even though the filters usually get all the headlines. The photography is uploaded to the same place making it easy for others to view and follow the work of a specific photographer. You can quickly develop an audience that’s all on one website, able to view your work in one place but with the added benefit of also spreading the message outside of the Instagram family using Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. For me, and it seems for Hipstamatic too,  that is where the the real strength of the Instagram network lies. Although I only upload images taken with my iPhone to Instagram, a number of photographer upload images shot on other cameras. Many photographers seem to use other photo apps to get their images and then upload to their Instagram account. Instagram is, at its core, just a very simple photo blog that’s easy to follow and publish to, with the added benefit of being extremely portable on your mobile phone. No wonder photographers, and especially photojournalists, love it!

So as you can see i have gone from a sceptic to a fan. Last month, in Scotland, I found Instagram a very useful tool for simple sharing what I saw. Often I would shot using just the iPhone’s camera app, then later tweak the images in Snapseed and publish to Instagram. The process worked really well and I’ll certainly be doing something similar again on the next trip up there in 2013.

Recently a great series of blog posts came out detailing the confused situation at Hipstamatic and how they view Instagram. It makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the photo app/photo social network business.

The articles can be found HERE

Check out my Scotland and Skye Instagram images HERE

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Having the Edge

No matter how hard i try, sometimes i just can’t understand the attitudes of certain photo bloggers. Take today for instance.

In the news with have the launch of the Nikon D4 and the rumbles of what looks like the end of that once mighty photo leviathan called Kodak. Both stories reflect how quickly the photo industry can change, It wasn’t that long ago that Nikon was seen as lagging some way behind Canon in the digital technology stakes. Now Nikon seem to have the edge.

Kodak’s demise is sad though. I’ve never been a huge user of Kodak products, but for a time i was a dedicated fan of their TMAX range of products – i still (though for how much longer is anyone’s guess) use their TMAX developer. I certainly won’t shrug off the demise of a company that has helped me take photographs over the years. Some others seem less bothered. Photography, for me at least, does not just mean digital imaging.

One of the more popular photography blogs had a post that enthused about the ‘end of the film age‘. Personally i believe that film will last for some time to come, but like in many industry sectors, only a small number of film manufacturing companies will survive or remain in that sector. In the film sector, companies like Fuji and Ilford may remain the only big players, especially if Kodak does go down. I do hope that film remains available. Film offers the user a different picture taking experience to digital. That should be encouraged. If the Impossible Project can make Polaroid film sales viable – surely 35mm, 120 and 5×4 film can have a place too.

Final thought: The decline of our high street photography shops can be linked to online competition, but a massive factor was the switch to digital. The market for photographic materials just vanished. After buying a camera and a memory card, why go back to the store? A lens? A bag maybe. Not regular items you’d go and purchase often though.

Digital changed the business model for the camera store on the high street, as much as it changed the photography industry itself. We have gained much from the digital imaging revolution, but that gain comes at a price. Those that can’t keep up will fall. Kodak, sadly appears to be one of those falling.