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.

3 Comments on “Some thoughts on curated photo sharing

  1. Pingback: Some thoughts on curated photo sharing | iPhoneography-Today |

  2. I cannot disagree. In fact, if I hadn’t read this post, I would be completely ignorant to the ‘politics’ that surrounds the whole community. In my mind, the Internet was invented to level the playing field, and whilst there are ‘king pins’ that have emerged in every conceivable topic, area, genre and subject-matter, it still affords any person an audience if they wish to put themselves out there and participate. For any blog to claim ownership of anyone’s creativity is a ridiculous notion. Is it trying to imply exclusivity? Perhaps. In my mind, photo sharing via any platform is just that. We share, wherever we like how many times we like of one image. I know from personal experience, I can see the same image from at least 6 people in one day across 4 platforms. But I never get sick of them. I follow those people for good reasons and often when that happens, I see more into the image. For me, my love for creativity and the visual arts means that I don’t specialise in one genre, and having multiple platforms means that I get to split all of my images up. I certainly would not wish for any blog (and in my mind, it’s only a blog) to claim ownership over me or my images. I create from a place of freedom, I share freely and therefore there should be a freedom attached to how my images, or anyone else’s should be viewed.

    Whilst I am starting to lean about the ‘egos’ in this field, it is not unlike the egos in any other field. Perhaps exclusivity appeals to such egos? I cannot say for certain. From personal experience, participation in every arena has benefited me. It has exposed me to other artists, inspired me and so on. There are some groups where the curators have their rules ie it has to be a certain type or image etc but those to me are challenging and specific. I don’t think that I could swallow it if they said they owned my image. Different if they said they want to use it as long as they know it is not exclusive, as I should have the right to use my image anywhere else, and as long as I am given credit,

    Perhaps my ‘newness’ to this field is new? But it sounds to me that when curators of blogs want to do that, that is like asking someone to produce art exclusively for them. If that is the case, I hope those artists are paid!

    I hope my thoughts make sense. I know that I have a bit or a maverick attitude towards all of my images. I don’t stick to a theme or style and I am constantly trying to push my boundaries. I certainly try to be oblivious to any of the politics that come with some of the larger and well-known groups/blogs. For the most part, I would say I am glad that I am largely ignored!

    • Excellent comment – thanks for posting. I think the term ownership, in most cases, is figurative. Not literal. But the implication is the same, even if the strict meaning of the word is not implied.

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About the MPA

The Mobile Photo Awards were founded to promote the global phenomenon of mobile photography and art.  The awards are committed to presenting the art-form in galleries and exhibits. The MPA is the world's largest open gallery call and competition of its kind.
The Mobile Photo Awards were founded to promote and celebrate mobile photography and art. With fine-art exhibits, competitions and open gallery calls, the MPA is the world's largest event of it's kind.