Some thoughts on curated photo sharing
In the world of online photo sharing, the same pictures appear everywhere. I see the same images on Facebook, Eyeem, and iPhoneArt as I do on Flickr, Instagram, and 500px. What’s important are the images and artists, not the platforms. The idea that a picture appeared “here” as well as “there” doesn’t really mean much at all, does it?
Just because I may tag my Flickr pic to appear in a “group” run by a photo blog and it’s then chosen to appear in a weekly or monthly showcase simply means the curator of that group liked the image. Thank you! But it’s still my picture. There is no logic or truth to the notion that an image is figuratively owned by “such and such a blog” or curator when it appears in seven places at once. It stretches even the loosest definition of credulity for anyone to think so. There are only artists, not “Flickr Artists” or “Instagram artists.” We don’t give our pictures to the sites where we post. We share them. For the curators of blogs to pretend otherwise is a ham-handed attempt to take ownership over somebody else’s work. Like the best referees in a football game the goal should be to get out of the way and let the players play.
Bert is not an MPA Artist he’s just Bert
At the Mobile Photo Awards we harbour no illusions that an image is an MPA image. It’s your image, not ours. A person doesn’t become an “MPA artist” in any proprietary sense just because he/she submitted to our competition. You don’t belong to us, we don’t “own” you or your pictures. You submitted to the MPA. That’s it (ed. thanks for submitting!) Obviously, we seek the best possible images to represent our competition. Our jury painstakingly chooses the images they love the most. It’s a co-operative venture between the submitters and the choosers. And that’s where it ends. If those same pictures are featured somewhere else, that’s great! The images don’t define these sites, the images define themselves and simply need a place to be seen. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now, if a picture was ONLY seen in one place, if an artist were to submit and post their images EXCLUSIVELY to one site, then perhaps an argument could be made for that site to be special and somehow “home” for said images. But that exclusivity does not exist anywhere. There are no such sites and never have been. The world of online photo sharing is far too fluid, expansive and has never been so narrow. For a curator to think otherwise is folly and, indeed, such a thought could only emerge from an amateurish concoction of arrogance and ignorance.
So, we continue to make pictures and share them because we enjoy doing so. It wouldn’t be honest to define the activity in other way.
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.