What Do I Do With All These Photos?

I take a lot of pictures. Not too many, but probably more than the average person. Most of them come from a camera that isn’t attached to a phone. My current camera–a Fujifilm XF10–fits in my pocket. That’s pretty miraculous since it contains an APS-C sensor, which is considerably larger and more impressive than anything on a phone (here’s a page about sensor sizes). But even before this relatively small Fuji, I’ve always had a “serious” camera that I use for moments and places that I want to capture with a bit more integrity than what my iPhone is capable of. Enough about tech, though, this is a writeup about what I do with the finished pictures and why I do it.

Unsplash is where I put photos that I’m fine with other people using, hopefully for cool purposes (I don’t submit photos of people or personally sensitive locations out of fear that the NRA or some awful organization will use them). This is my personal “stock” from a decade of making images that I’m proud of. Some days I’ll get a Google alert when someone uses one of my Unsplash images online without changing the file name (which contains my name). It’s weird, wild, and usually fun to see what happens. Just this morning I found my pizza oven photo used here 🍕 But I’m incredibly disappointed to learn that Unsplash just sold themselves to Getty Images. It’s understandable, but sad. That said, I’ll probably stop posting images to Unsplash because of this. It’s murky territory now. This coming from someone who has posted and sold photos…through Getty.

Contributing photos on Google Maps is basically something I only do if I had a good experience and snapped a cool pic. It’s a way of saying “I was here, and I liked it, this is what it looks like and blah blah blah.” I truly don’t care about the contributor point system or “guide” levels (I’m a 6, apparently). I genuinely believe that unsolicited photos and reviews from real people, logged with real locations, is win/win for everyone. Again, these photos are never personal (no faces, if I can help it). I vaguely remember getting calls from Yelp when I worked at Ithaca Beer, which basically amounted to: pay Yelp or they’ll hide the good reviews and only show the bad reviews. Gross. Get lost, Yelp. I’m sure Google reviews/contributor content isn’t 100% legit, but it feels okay as someone using the system regularly. And if Yelp is the next best resource, then I’m all in with users on Google Maps.

Instagram is something I personally struggle with. I could/would post there a lot more…if it wasn’t Facebook (I deleted my FB account in 2018 and haven’t looked back). I love seeing what my friends share. I’m not sure about you, but for me, I don’t follow brands or celebrities on Instagram (or Twitter). This includes local businesses, too (sorry). Just real people. I think the whole concept of “like” is terrible, on all networks, but especially this one. The algorithm sucks. I made my instagram private last year when it became mostly photos of my kid(s). The fact that the content I’m sharing–and the content from the people I follow–generates revenue for a truly shady company is shameful. Instagram has become a guilty pleasure. I quit it for 6 months and while I didn’t miss the sharing, I absolutely missed seeing what friends and family were up to (since no one I know blogs anymore or shares pictures anywhere else). I’m not sure what to post there now, so I’ve resorted to only posting stories 🤷‍♂️

Apple Shared Albums is something that I use every other day and have a strong love/hate relationship with. I have two photo streams shared with a total of…7 people. It’s convenient from a notifications standpoint, but the system is integrated horribly within Photos. My usage here is for private things, that only get shared with immediate family, and only family members with iPhones, sadly.

VSCO is a place I put photos that I know very few people will see, and probably only strangers. I don’t expect anyone to steal or use these photos, and they’re also not super personal, I occasionally put a face on there. It’s weird, this “network” for me only exists because I like using the app (which is updated every single day and never ceases to surprise/frustrate me regularly). I post here very rarely now, and I’m never sure why I do, to be honest. Photos that go here are kind of the oddballs, things that don’t feel at home going anywhere else.

The rest goes to external hard drives and Google Photos. The unedited ones stay on physical storage, and my favorites get edited and posted to albums. I basically make a folder (album) for each year and upload pictures once a month. I’ve been doing this for 5 years now. It’s absolutely more information than I’m comfortable sharing with Google, but my fingers are crossed that their “do the right thing” approach won’t doom me, or you. I love getting “memories” from Google, from one year ago, or three years ago, or even longer. It’s a scary but wonderful reminder of how quickly time moves. How fast a kid grows. How many different times I’ve shaved my beard only to regrow it.

Lastly, this blog has been a steady place to share sets of photos for almost a decade. I’m not serious enough to call them “photo essays” but when you write a bunch of words and pair them with a related group of images, that’s basically what it becomes. For obvious reasons it IS personal here, which is fine with me since everything exists on my site. My domain (subdomain, now, heyo). I don’t have to worry about the “platform” changing, unless I change it. I’ve never known anyone to steal these images. I should convert them all to webp format, probably. But they’re always compressed, captioned when necessary, and associated with a specific time. Tidy. There’s no algorithm. I don’t think about likes or shares when I publish something here. And when I do publish something here, it’s for me as much as it is for you. I like to think that a shared photo becomes a little something for everyone.

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