Funfair - Leica T - 23mm f/2 - 'Social Media' photography Hip or a dead end?

Check out the link at the bottom of the page for news on the Fuji X100T L-Plate grips.


LOCATION - Treasure Island Funfair, Stourport on Severn, Worcestershire, UK 



Funfairs are one of those irresistible photographic cliches that draw us like a magnet. The bright garish colours, the cartoon graphics and that mixture of the surreal and kitsch seems to provide an endless source of photo opportunities. A few days ago I took my Leica T down to a fixed site 'old-school' fair at Stourport-on-Severn in Worcestershire. This is a real 'open all hours' place which despite the temperature (arctic in the wind!) was up and running. The three paying customers seemed to be enjoying themselves though!

I shot lots of images, some of which I processed normally (see above) and some of which I gave the 'Snapseed treatment' to. (see below)

This over the top filtration is proving to be somewhat of a dilemma for me. One of my picture libraries loves these images and took all of the above. As you can see, some of them are close to not being photographs any more, but this kind of image does seem to be popular with several libraries currently. 

My dilemma? Well obviously this goes against my photographic 'grain' and everything that I've been 'training' myself to do over the years. I.E. the three things that are most important for stock photographers Image Quality, Image Quality and Image quality. And that is certainly not what is on show here. The second and perhaps more important point, is that this type of image isn't selling. I gather from my research that this isn't just me. Apart from some interest in facebook / instagram lifestyle type shots, many photographers are experiencing a disappointing uptake on these social media influenced pictures. 

It seems a picture can't exist on the internet these days without those 'share' buttons underneath urging us all to get what we do 'out there' so that the world can see what we've created. It's supposed to bring us and our work to the attention of others, but all it probably does is just open us all up to yet more intellectual property theft.

Social media is everywhere and it's even spawned a type of photography, Instagram filtering pictures into some kind of Lomographic copycat dogs dinner that is somehow supposed to be relevant to the Facebook generation. Which is of course all of since, since it seems the entire planet has a Twitter account, a Facebook page and is posting and sharing images that attempt to perpetuate the myth that we are all important. And to be honest, I'm actually pretty skeptical about it. Because Social Media is just that, Social. And do people really want to buy and publish pictures that look just like the drivel that passes for photography these days? Well, it doesn't actually seem that they do.

Because where is it? It's not in the newspapers I read, it's not on the websites I visit or in the endless supply of junk mail advertising that drops through my letter box everyday. Even the 'post that disappoints' seems wedded to the idea that social media style photography is best left for tweeting and pinning and if you really want to seriously get someone to buy your product, best get some 'proper' photography to promote it.

As you can see from some samples above, take away the filtration and it's the same old stuff picture libraries have been publishing for years. In fact, it's somewhat duller and compositionally unadventurous than most 'conventional' library imagery and the bulk of it seems to be 'domestic'.

The question I ask myself is "Who is going to buy stuff like this?' One of the cornerstones of stock / library photography is - make the ordinary look interesting. We now seem to heading towards (on a few library websites only I should point out) towards - make the ordinary look ordinary but add a filter. Now this isn't sour grapes or me missing the boat, in fact with my 'conventional' shots I'm currently having having a good period for sales. I'm selling a LOT of images. The point is, none of them look like this!!

So where does this go? Well I wish I knew. It's certainly a lot of fun loading filter after filter on to these images, even though I have all sorts of pangs of guilt when I do it, but I can't help but feel that this is a dead end. I could be wrong, but if this was going to take off in a meaningful way, I think we would have seen signs of it by now. Anyway, time will tell.


This continues unabated. I seriously love this camera and the 23mm f/2 I've just bought. It's that classic combination of the Leica rangefinder plus 35mm lens brought right up to date with the ultra modern styling of the T and the lens. Just take a look at that lens hood! It's a joy to use and of course gives me top class results. I'm still heading in the sell everything else direction in terms of my mirrorless interchangeable needs. Apart from everything else I'm getting seriously fed up with the endless bickering between the various mirrorless camps and the misinformation and misrepresentation that goes on all the time. It used to be lies, damn lies and statistics, but now in photographic terms we seem to be getting lies, damn lies and comments about how good Fuji jpgs. are!! From time to time I do get this jaundiced view of the photographic internet and want nothing more than to just give up reading (and writing!) all this nonsense and just get on with doing what I really enjoy (and what I'm good at) which is taking and selling pictures of whatever turns up in front of me. 

It probably won't last, it usually doesn't, but there will be some changes. What I write about and how I present it being one of them. I've experimented with this format before and I'm going back to it for a while. That it basing my articles around specific shooting experiences and the issues that come from that. Rather than using the gear itself as a starting point, I'm going to be using the creation of the images themselves as my jumping off point for my confused ramblings. I'll see how it goes and if it works I'll keep it going. However, as you will be aware, nothing on planet soundimageplus blog is set in stone, so as ever, expect the unexpected!!

News - Matthew at the PhotoMadd shop has emailed me to say that the custom Fuji X100T L-Plate grips are due in early next week. Due to some repositioning on the X100T, the X100 /X100s grips won't fit. If you click through to the shop on the link above you can see the current situation on the grip. Matthew is hoping for a February 9 delivery.