Good Bye Flickr

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 8.58.24 AM

I decided to part my ways with Flickr.

To be really honest, I guess I lost interest after the major revamp of the site, and Marisa Meyer’s particular statement. I used to pay for being Flickr Pro member but after the new site came along it lost it’s charm. Pro users still got ability upload files larger than 200mb and upload more than 1TB worth of images, neither of which I need. There are some stats and other such minor things that the new standard accounts didn’t include, but anyway.

To advertise the site with the tag line 1TB was just a silly move for Flickr; from point of view of professionals (oh but I forgot, there’s no such thing as professional photographer anymore) it just doesn’t make sense because no human can produce that many good quality images, even if they are like crazy large. Not even those who are like really really talented. So this sounds a lot like Flickr is becoming a site where you are supposed to upload mobile phone shots of your cat’s meals and latest trends in fingernail decoration. No problem with that but it’s just not where I want to be.

Then there was the Flickr app for iPhone which has still not made it to the Japanese App Store. Therefore, there is no legit way for me to even experience it.

Moreover, Flickr community guidelines forbid linking to commercial sites (such as your own). The guidelines are weird at best. Obviously they are just protecting their own interest regarding their upcoming Marketplace. Nudity in particularly is very poorly explained, kind of grey area really, what really is restricted and what is moderate and what not. There is no clear explanation.

Then there was the Getty Images Flickr program (which is finished by the way) which made me wonder, is this still about passionate, genuine photography? Or is this becoming another stock photography site? Finally Flickr’s Wall Art whatever thing answered that question. Although they didn’t technically break the Creative Commons licence, gimme a break! That kind of thing is just something service provider does NOT do. Only a micro stock site does that. So that’s pretty much it.

There is one more thing I’d like to mention although this isn’t actually Flickr’s fault. This year (oh man what lousy year this was) one of my images was stolen from Flickr by this shady Japanese company. It was a simple photo of a woman in cafe, a friend of mine. Her photo was used to sell some beauty product. She’s in her 30’s but in the fake profile she was told to be 40s. It was a total hell to get the Japanese advertising company to understand that they had broken copyright law and finally remove the image.

Finally I got a call from one of the guys. The conversation went somehow like this:

“Excuse me sir, am I calling you at the bad time?”

“No, not at all.”

“Yes, uhm. I’m calling you about the image you took that we used in our website”.

“Right”

“You see, we downloaded it from this website called Flickr. We have right to use the image legally”.

“Ex..cuseme?”

“Yes, have you ever heard of Flickr?”

I pointed the guy to the URL of my image and explained him the meaning of the copyright symbol. He was like “oh.. I see..” And that in fact my photo was not in Creative Commons. Next day with a cappuccino cup. I never got apology. But I don’t care. It appears that several Japanese companies are illegally obtaining images from Flickr in particular never minding whether it’s copyrighted or Creative Commons. Then, taking photos of Japanese people is my job.

Flickr? Nah, I don’t think so.

Sinking Ship

via Tech Crunch:

We hear and understand your concerns, and we always want to ensure that we’re acting within the spirit with which the community has contributed. Given the varied reactions, as a first step, we’ve decided to remove the pool of Creative Commons-licensed images from Flickr Wall Art, effective immediately. We’ll also be refunding all sales of Creative Commons-licensed images made to date through this service.

Although technically they didn’t break Creative Commons licence, this is just bad ethics. As manager of the community they should at least somehow serve the users, not rip them off.

It is also worth mentioning the last point in their community guidelines:

“Don’t use Flickr for unauthorized commercial activity.
Flickr is a photo community for people to share, explore and discover new works. We also offer tools for the community to license their works to others; if interested, visit our Marketplace.”

What this unauthorised commercial activity means is not explained clearly but quite obviously they are just protecting their own commercial interests.

Eric Kim regarding Moriyama Daido

Another wonderful piece by Eric Kim.

I second these words by Araki in his “Near Equal” documentary (a must see, by the way):

The photographer had been a slave of the camera for a long time. Good camera, good lens, Leica, etc. These were the masters of a photographer. But in a way, Daido Moriyama is a photographer who started to make the camera his own slave. Photography is not about the camera.

Of course we need the camera. If you want to write a romantic love letter, we need some tool to write it with. But anything– a pencil or a ball pen is fine. It is like this in photography, and he is a pioneer for that. (Araki 2001)

It’s all about passion and love.

The One I Love

15681309559_840df594d4_b

I am putting together a collection of best photos I took in 2014. I want to really focus on photos with most impact. In order to achieve this, I made special rules for myself:

  1. Only 2 photos from one photo session, no matter how good the photos are.
  2. Thematically focus on most strongest images
  3. No decoration or fill-in photos
  4. Every photo must have a story
  5. Never mind if photos have been in my exhibitions or not

Number 1 is really hard to follow because I have had some photo sessions that went really well (and others that didn’t). But this ultimately keeps number of images in control and is excellent, if not even painfully efficient eliminator of bad images.

Eric Kim on Henri Cartier-Bresson

Eric Kim has excellent piece of writing regarding great words of Henri Cartier-Bresson. I would like to repeat two of my favorite points mentioned by Eric:

a) “In order to ‘give a meaning’ to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder”

I couldn’t agree more. Without context the photo is just piece of paper. It’s necessary to be there and yet not intrude; be transparent and honest. Personal connection is everything. When that connection deepens, photo becomes stronger.

d) “One must always take photographs with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself.”

This is exactly so. You must love the subject and yourself. More you love, more better the photo become.

Kawori Inbe

DSCF5546

Meeting Kawori Inbe became one of the most memorable moments of 2014 for me. It was a big pleasure for me to visit her private exhibition in Ebisu.

Her photo book “Time to go back.. to the moon” (Published by AKAAKA) is one of the strongest photo books I have recently found. It’s a silent documentary of living women. It’s both brutally honest and painfully beautiful. As Inbe says in the book,

Of all the emotions people have, I feel that “anger” manifests the will to live most, so I want to draw out and capture a pointed look from subjects when shooting. I find “anger” to be root of all emotions that temper life: a sense of inferiority, sorrow, despair, etc.”

Perhaps however, even more than it shows the life of her subjects, it shows the vivid and colourful soul of the photographer. This is human photography as it’s best. Only she can do this, I thought. She further says in her book,

People are the product of the energy they have, so I want to capture the soul behind the face and body.

This is, indeed what her photos accomplish so well. It would be easy to shoot something like this and do it for the wrong reasons, focus in the drama or bruises. But her camera focuses deeper. Her love and deep respect for her subjects can be felt. There is always strong sense of place and atmosphere in her images, and it just makes so much sense. These are photos that are painfully genuine and beautiful.

Meeting her personally was very interesting experience although I admit I felt somehow so shy in her company. I really envy her. We are almost same age. She was born just a year after me. But the difference between me and her is that she has been shooting way longer than me; with her I am a newbie, total beginner.

Her studying eyes framed in her lovely red glasses spoke a lot, in a language that I could instantly understand. Her voice was warm, and although we spoke of very substantial matters she always kept her documentarist-like cool. I felt her passion for her work obviously and strongly. This is a true cameraman; I thought.

When I asked her autograph she drew “okomecyan”, a rice seed character holding a Japan’s flag, and her sign with signature star. I gave her a hug and wished her well deserved success. Bravo, Inbe-san!

Indeed, I hope that she continues her journey as a photographer. Something tells me that she certainly will. Check out her book Time to go back.. to the moon in AKAAKA Art Publishing website. It’s also available in Amazon. Finally, here is her official site.

Phantom

Peter Lik’s “Phantom” hit the headlines as it was recently sold for $6.5 million. This apparently is a world record of some sort. The news immediately attracted some less than admiring commentary.

Jonathan Jones from Guardian:

This record-setting picture typifies everything that goes wrong when photographers think they are artists. It is derivative, sentimental in its studied romanticism, and consequently in very poor taste. It looks like a posh poster you might find framed in a pretentious hotel room.

I agree, but I don’t feel any kind of sentimental feeling from this photo. And then, since I know nothing of the buyer, this image might actually end up in pretentious hotel room. I wouldn’t be really surprised since pictures in hotel rooms are always something quite like this.

Jones also says:

Photography is not an art. It is a technology. We have no excuse to ignore this obvious fact in the age of digital cameras, when the most beguiling high-definition images and effects are available to millions.

I also think photography is not an art. It’s something else, sure. But I would disagree with Jones here; photography does not equal technology. That’s exactly what Phantom shows us; it takes more than technology or photographic technique to create a successful image. Truly great photograph is more than sum of it’s parts. There is something intangible in it, always.

Even if Phantom would have a subject matter that’s actually not a cliche but something original, it would still be boring shot if it was taken the same way. You need a feeling.