Why You Should 'Like' These Photographs
Updated: Feb 6
Or Rather ...Why You Should Like The Two Pictures Below
...And Not The Boring Slide That Brought You Here.
Quick test. Briefly look at the two photos at the end of this blog and make a mental note if you like them.
Answered no? Thats ok.
But read on as I think you may possibly change your mind and look at things differently.
And ‘looking and seeing’ is the subject of this blog - but I want to look at the subject of ‘likes’ first.
The inspiration - if you can call it that - for this blog came from something I saw whilst on the train the other day.
Beside me sat a chap who was scrolling so fast down his instagram ‘feed’ that I thought he had a really itchy finger.
How on earth he was able to appreciate the photos he was looking and liking at lighting speed I don’t know.
Although he had to put the brakes on sometimes and scroll back to ‘like’ one he’d realised he’d missed.
He’d also go into a state of near panic when we were pulling out of a station wondering if he’d missed his stop. I think his neck hurt him too as it wasn’t used to looking up.
I've done that a few times, but after a few beers. But thats another story.
I’m guessing he was liking things, simply in the hope of getting likes back. Madness.
I compare this ‘advanced scrolling’ technique to fast forwarding through a song then giving an opinion. Rather than listening to the musicians and the effort they’ve put into it.
But back to the chap on the train.
He is, if he hasn’t already, losing his ability to ‘see’.
We live in the digital age. I get that.
As a business, to have a social media presence is important - I get that too and I need to spend more time than I’d like looking at the screen.
But what I don’t get is the emotional energy people put into getting/not getting likes. Why do people feel the need to 'challenge' or moan about someone because they didn't 'like' a picture of something they posted online?
Euphoria sets in when the number of likes go up.
It seems some get a feeling of despair (or worse) when it goes down or when their friends are getting more.
People can and do buy likes and ‘followers’ . That may come as a surprise to a few of you.
Others it wont.
But you can’t buy reality. Likes are not reality.
Likes do not empower you or make you a better artist/photographer/musician or PERSON.
Yes, we all like to think our pictures are appreciated. So I tend to watch who likes rather than the number of them I get.
Because there are some who have liked my images who know how to use their eyes.
They know how to see. But they don’t like everything I do.
However when I do get a like from them I know they’ve appreciated the work, effort and craft that has been put into making a photograph.
And that ‘seeing’ is becoming a lost human function in many.
There is no doubt in my mind the chap on the train would have scrolled past the pictures below without giving a second thought if he'd liked them or not.
Yet they hold more power and emotion and tell a story beyond all the selfie pouts and dinner plates he has just liked.
The first is a photograph by Don Mcullin. Some of you may have recognised it, but it was taken in 1968 in Vietnam.
The soldier wasn’t posing. He was shell shocked. He didn’t flinch before, during or after the photo was taken and it came to epitomise the effects of that war on the combatants.
But it’s not just the ‘picture’ that gives it its power. Don then processed and printed it in his own dark room. To recreate the darkness and power he felt at the time. If you see this image in an exhibition it’s likely to have been printed by Don himself and isn’t a reproduction. It has a power and beauty in the way it holds the gaze.
If you’ve made it this far - the second picture was taken by a ‘modernist’ photographer called Josef Breitenbach and his work is collected.
This image is in Elton Johns collection and I suspect he paid a small fortune for it.
It is a French fireman in Paris taken circa 1935.
But it wasn’t a pose, it was a chance meeting on his travels around Paris, where he came across firemen battling a fire. So they were probably saving life and property.
So there’s a story behind it. But again - more than the photo is the way the photographer has handled that scene.
Therefore, going back to my first question do you like these pictures?
If as a result of my explanations behind these photos you’ve looked at them again and can feel what they are saying, then you are USING your sight and paying in your own small way, a tribute to the fireman / soldier and the photographer by just giving a moment to consider their positions at that time.
This is seeing.
So when you’re scrolling through images of cats/dinners/pouts/cocktails (which may you may like of course) Slow down for the other more unusual or different pictures.
What are they saying?
I’ve slowed down on social media as I was sta
rting down the road of super scrolling. I started to lose my sight. So if you see a like from me, you know I really like it.
In print these photographs hold more power. They are not back lit or compressed. They have aged with the time and have a 'feel' to them a screen cannot replicate.
A print is the final act of the scene. It’s the finale and a good photograph that has been well printed is a great final scene with a fat lady singing.
And to prove how a printed photograph can have an even greater impact, the first 5 people who send me their names and addresses though my contact page will receive a sample print of one of my own favourite images.
If some of my photographer friends who print their images send me their names , they can get stuffed.
I know their game :)
Keep scrolling.. slowly.