Photography – What Not To Share

One of the most useful features of Flickr for me is the option to upload a photo and make it private, ie visible only to me, but then still be able to easily use the image in a WordPress blog post, no differently to any other I have on Flickr.

There are photos that are perhaps just of cameras or lenses, screenshots and so on, that I want to use to illustrate something in a blog post, but I don’t want as part of my more tightly curated main public photostream on Flickr.

So with my public photostream, which is a kind of online portfolio, I feel I’m pretty strict about what not to share.

The internet is increasingly swamped with images, and an ever shrinking proportion of those are of a level and standard that will inspire others. 

I don’t claim all (or any!) of mine will, but hopefully they might, and by being disciplined about what I keep and share, and what I don’t, I’m not adding too much to the aforementioned avalanche of mediocrity shared online.

I find it hard to understand the thinking behind the kind of blogs and streams where people seem to upload every last image they make.

Especially when in one batch there are often half a dozen near identical minor variations of the same image.

Why not just pick the best of the bunch and let it stand up and breathe, rather than smothering and surrounding it with other such similar images, diluting its impact and resonance with the viewer?


Offline, I have an relative who’s pretty prolific with her camera (phone) at any family get together.

Afterwards, once home, I await the sound of my own phone freaking out at a thousand beeps a minute over the incoming photo loaded Whats App messages.

I dutifully swipe through them, wondering if she indeed ever looks at them before sending, and if she felt I really would like to have in my possession at least a dozen pictures that are so blurred the individuals present cannot be identified even by their next of kin.

I probably delete about 29 out of every 30 she sends, and keep the odd few that have actually come out well enough that I recognise those in the frame, do capture a memory, and aren’t duplicated by eight other near identical images.

This is just about forgivable with family shots, and sharing between us, but when some people do this with their “intentional” photography on their blog or another online photostream, it’s a sure way to send me (and no doubt hundreds of other potential readers) scurrying, never to return.

All this said, and even though I probably keep only a maximum of about 10% of the intentional images I make, I still find it a challenge to separate what I feel are my best photographs, from the also-rans.

To help, I try to live by a mantra I learned a few years ago for publishing anything online, be it a photograph, blog post, video or anything else.

If a new reader/viewer stumbled across this photograph as the very first they’d ever seen of yours, is it good and memorable enough to make them want to explore the others you’ve made?

If the answer is no, then it might be one you want to just keep to yourself, or delete entirely.

How about you? How do you decide which to keep and which to delete when you’re editing photos? And of those you do keep, how do you decide which of those to share publicly?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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10 thoughts on “Photography – What Not To Share”

  1. Good to know about the “Private” setting on Flickr Dan. I recently cleaned mine up, and there was almost nothing left.

  2. The photomaniac you describe is a perfect example of why first-time camera buyers shouldn’t pop for the Sony Alpha level machine. If you can’t use what you’ve already got properly, an expensive edition isn’t going to help.
    I received some photo frames and a gift certificate for prints, and am now trying to pick which of my images I want to add to the walls here. There are many that I regard as being worthy, but some are not necessarily pleasing to the general public so to speak. Some are B&W and so paying for a colour print seems wrong somehow. I’m looking for those few that are obviously the best for public presentation, knowing that half of that public are incapable of truly appreciating art (snob that I am).
    If there’s one thing I learned from the Great Disaster, it’s that nothing is permanent. We have the noble sentiment of wanting to preserve every moment, but the reality is those wondrous archeological finds that occasionally astound us are statistical outliers and will continue to be; eventually most of our work will vanish without a trace. So let us enjoy it while it’s still here.

    1. Marc, when you say “the walls here”, do you meant in your home? Just you then said “I’m looking for those few that are obviously the best for public presentation?” – so I wondered if you’re talking about a more public place?

      1. Dan, my house is somewhat public as my wife still runs her accounting business from it. So the walls are in the home – which occasionally has more people wandering through it than I care to have around. *LOL*
        As for my pictures ever being in an exposition – I seriously doubt I’d make the effort: too much like work.

      2. Ah thanks Marc, that explains it. I couldn’t work out why you were talking about the images you want on display in your own home (I presumed for your and your family’s eyes only) but then had concerns about the images being fit for “public” consumption.

        There must be rooms/areas where only you and your wife go and you can hang whatever you want though? Isn’t that part of having your own space, you decorate it just how you want?

        (I just remembered some years ago I made a series of shots of my wife and I, and had three 12×8 ish inch prints framed and on our bedroom wall. One time her father came round to look at something in the bedroom (to do with helping us redecorate) and we hurriedly removed them and pushed them under the bed just before he arrived, ha ha!)

  3. In my mind, Dan, every image has value … it’s the timing of it that is important. For example, I have lost count of the number of images that languished in my archive for months or years, only to find it one day with a new vision than when I made it. And usually once I cook it and post it, they become real popular.
    Speaking of the private setting on Flickr, there are actually private, friends, and family settings, and when I was active on Flickr and dumped Instagram I would post images to friends only instagram style … once word got out I had all kinds of followers trying to get me to accept them as Friends. The rules were you had to engage with my public images to the point that I felt you were genuine enough for me to consider you my Flickr friend.

    1. Regarding the timing of images, I do know what you mean, although as I’m quite brutal with my editing these days, I don’t often go back to images that didn’t make the grade say three years ago and rummage through them to see if I can find anything of greater interest now, via further processing or not. Because I haven’t kept them!

      I do revisit older images that I have already liked enough to consider worthy of keeping and uploading to my Flickr archive, and I regularly use older photographs on blog posts as I generally publish more new posts than I have new photographs to include in them.

      Regarding Flickr privacy settings, I like what you did to gauge “genuine” followers. I cannot bear the kinds of followers (on any platform) where they’ve obviously followed you just to hope you follow them back, and falsely inflate the perceived popularity of both of you. It’s one of those ridiculous, superficial and utterly time wasting games of the modern internet I refuse to engage in.

  4. I agree, it drives me CRAZY when people just dump a few dozen of their images. It seems lazy to me, or do they think every single one needs to be seen?! Even if they’re all great images – which is rare – it’s still too many to view in one sitting.

    I try to be fairly critical of my photos, I will select maximum 10 favourites for a blog post and then whittle them down even further if I can. Sometimes I end up posting a few more but I try not to go over 12. First thing I do is check if I like the composition e.g. is there something on that edge of the frame that I included by mistake, is it distracting? Is the subject matter interesting enough? Then I choose the ones that my heart likes the most 🙂

    I actually only keep my “best” photos on my Flickr now. I deleted my previous flickr account and intended to not use the site again, but I found I wanted a place just to showcase my favourites, and it was the best place I could find. I sort of have a portfolio area on WordPress but don’t really like it!

    1. Mel, I really don’t know if it’s lazy (lack of) editing or some people genuinely think every picture they make is amazing.

      A variation of this is on camera/photography blogs where the author is testing a camera new to them, and they share every image of the 36 exposures of the test roll of film.

      Inevitably most of them aren’t worth seeing and don’t tell you anything worthwhile about the photographer or the camera they’re testing, other than it worked well enough to make 36 images of some description.

      Why not just show the best two or three, so this really shows what this particular model of camera is capable of, and maybe encourages someone else to try one? I don’t get why all 36 are dumped, which of course means the viewer has to play editor of someone else’s photos, and try to sort out the wheat from the chaff, if they can be bothered to.

      Even if there are three great images amongst those 36, I’ll most likely have clicked away before I’ve got to them.

      I think I’m similar to you with editing in that my first run through will whittle out any obvious errors like poor framing or unwanted blurring and so on.

      Then I usually pick the best one of a group of near duplicates (with DLSRs especially, I shoot more than one of most shots to get the exposure to my liking, with digital compact it’s far more often just one shot of each composition).

      Then, yeh, I just kind of look for those images that stand out and put a smile on my face.

      I mentally ask “Is this photograph doing or saying or showing anything worthwhile and/or beautiful?” and if it isn’t, it gets culled.

      Ah I didn’t realise you kept a Flickr account, or rather started a new account.

      I’ve thought about a portfolio page on WP and have one in a draft form, but it’s just too fiddly and awkward to maintain. Again, Flickr just works really well for this.

      Though I’m hearing good things about ipernity…

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