Monday, December 03, 2007

The Significance Of The Web

As I struggle to make my new website, it seems appropriate to stop and think about just how much the web has changed things. For example:

1) Before the web, most of us only showed our prints to family and a few friends and maybe at a workshop print review. Otherwise our images were inaccessible in old paper boxes tucked away in the basement where even we didn't see them very often. Now, with web galleries, we may not be making any money selling prints on the internet but a heck of a lot more people get to see our work, and in the case of sites like photosig and photo.net, litterally millions get to see our work - incredible how things have changed.

2) In the old days, you'd wait patiently to see if your favorite camera magazine reviewed a piece of equipment you were interested in - usually a long wait - or you'd buy one of those equipment annuals which were basically ads, but at least listed the pertinent features of a product. Now there are reviews before products are available to purchase, often several of them, and in far more detail and with a greater degree of independence to speak their mind than ever we had before the net.

3) In the old days, we'd usually have to figure out things for ourselves. Some information was available in books and magazines but often the articles we'd read wouldn't mention our particular film or developer, and no one ever thought of actually asking the author a question. Nowadays, it's possible to ask direct questions to many an expert and often to get step by step help from various forums, users groups, and so on. Mind you, with the complexity of computers and software, it's just as well.

4) Not only did we not share our work in the past, often we didn't know any other photographers. Oh, you could join a camera club, but you'd be lucky if there were one other photographer who shared your interests and was on a similar level. Now we have friends around the world and we can support and encourage each other.

5) In the old days (10 years ago!) if you 'didn't get it' then you were out of luck and more to the point, thought yourself stupid for not getting it. Now with forums, you can read about the struggles of many people like yourself and often non experts can be helpful having only solved your problem themselves last week. There are tutorials and even videos instructing one in all manner of subjects.

Bottom line is the internet has brought photographers together to a degree unprecedented and things will never be the same. And a good thing.

4 comments:

Neil. said...

I think it goes beyond just the web, its the whole digital imaging world. Its changed everything including how we edit. The other day I was going through some old boxes of transparencies, circa September 1989, and scanning a few in. Stuff that obviously didn't make the grade at the time, maybe it would never print properly even with a contrast mask etc. There were a couple of good ones here and there, no gems, but things I'd be happy to look at for a day or two. So now I can. If I want I could even make a stab at a reasonable print. I'm not going to they're not worth the ink and paper to be honest, but as memory is virtually free they can live on a server somewhere instead.

Bizarre that I'd post an image on my site, which is pretty modest, but still gets maybe a couple of hundred hits a day, but never even consider printing it just for my own use.

Neil.

Donncha said...

I couldn't agree more. At our camera club I see people who are just starting out at photography asking basic questions. Unfortunately they're not computer literate and possibly don't use the Internet. Some of the questions asked could be answered by a 5 minute trawl of Google, photo.net or any other photography forum.

Maybe camera clubs should spend one night of the year running through the popular photography websites?

Donncha

Tim Gray said...

What I find a bit frustrating is how the significantly the web overwhelms the print as a display medium. I was at a workshop over the weekend with Jay Maisel in Toronto, and even with a high end video projector, basically all the images looked (putting it PC terms) "sub-optimal". I cringe everytime I show someone an image at 800x600 from my web site.

Mark said...

George, why do you state "may not make any money selling prints" ? It is quite feasible, this has been one of my top years.