Just because you have a camera

Let me followup the Facebook Photos and language post with a story about the first, and hopefully last, time I was accused of being a creepy guy.

In college I took a drawing class and had an assignment to draw a public setting. I lived on a street with a bench, so I took a big pad of paper out with me to this bench and drew a nearby intersection.

After about 10 minutes of drawing this guy came towards me from across the street. He had a little kid with him and he was pushing a baby carriage.

From the middle of the crosswalk he shouts “Hey buddy! Let me see what you’re drawing!”


He came closer. He stood next to me.

I didn’t want any trouble, so I showed this guy what’s going on – crappy right angles. Shoddy illustrations of a sidewalk. Maybe a gutter. A traffic light above the intersection. The pizza place across the street. No funny business.

“It’s for my drawing class.” I explained.

His attitude changed. Now instead of wanting to start something (with his kids in tow) he laughed a little and explained why he approached me. His wife or girlfriend works in that pizza place. She thought I was stalking her and drawing her from across the street.

Let me make it clear how ridiculous this was.

This waitress must have thought she was god’s gift to guys and that I was so talented that I would, instead of taking a picture of her from outside, LIKE HOW I THINK ANY NORMAL, RATIONAL CREEPER WOULD DO, draw her – FROM A DISTANCE. She asked her man to settle things with me, perhaps suspecting I would show him an elaborate, well-done drawing of her serving pizza in the nude, and go “yeah man it’s THE CHICK FROM THE PIZZA PLACE! I drew her NEKKKKKID!”

Maybe there was something about me that made her uncomfortable, but all I was was a guy in a t-shirt and shorts sitting on a bench drawing something.

If you think that the language Facebook uses isn’t a big deal then you’ve never been accused of having deviant intentions just because you’re a guy with a camera…or a pad of paper and a pencil.

You were with WHO? (the language of Facebook and paranoia)

For the past few years I’ve gone to the Memorial Day parade in my town and taken pictures. This year I was looking forward to it because I had a zoom lens that I wanted to try out. I think I got some great shots and I uploaded them to Flickr without any editing.

I also uploaded them to Facebook – that’s when it got weird.

For starters, this was a public event and others in my town would probably be interested in seeing these photos. I also thought of this post in which Matt Haughey admits to himself that all the photo action is on Facebook, not Flickr. Flickr is a great way to publish your photos, but if you want people to actually SEE them you need to put them on Facebook.

I uploaded the photos on monday and set them to public. I thought something similar would happen to my photos: liking, tagging, comments – and people in my town who didn’t see the parade would get a chance to see it through my photos. And that IS what happened – likes, tagging, comments on my photos that people I wasn’t friends with wouldn’t see if I kept the photos limited to just my friends like I usually do.

But then Facebook got creepy.

You see – Facebook Photos isn’t really about photography. It’s about social events and feeling like you’re part of the club. Facebook Photos were designed for people taking selfies with their friends at a club, or a bar (always with drinks in their hands), or at a conference, or at any social function.

Because – seriously – why ELSE would someone take a photo?! Just BECAUSE?!

When someone is tagged in a photo Facebook says you were “with” that person. It writes that on their timelines. It lets their friends know that you were “with” them – which is technically true. I was within a 500 ft radius of these people: high school marching band members, the color guard, veterans, service men and women, speakers. If they were tagged, I was “with” them even if I don’t know them.

That’s an odd way to phrase things. Imagine that you’re a high school student in the marching band. You check your Facebook account on Monday after the parade and get a notification that you were “with” some guy on Memorial Day. You’ve never met him. All you know is that there’s this guy in town that took photos and you were in them.

Now imagine that you’re that kid’s mom or dad. How does that make you feel?

To be clear, nothing bad has happened, but it crossed my mind because I think if something like that happened to my kid and I didn’t understand Facebook Language, or how Facebook works, or how Facebook lets you know that that somebody else tagged people in that photo, I’d be a little worried.

“But Dan,” you may think, “you WERE with all those people – this is our town and community. We were all together that day. That’s what’s great about living in our town.” A Facebook friend did make that point. She’s right.

But isn’t that a little naive? Maybe it’s paranoid, but the language Facebook uses implies that I was hanging out with marching band kids – from a distance…like I was hanging out in the bushes and tried to integrate myself with the high school social scene. The natural conclusion in this scenario is a very concerned parent coming to my place and going “hey buddy, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS ABOUT YOU BEING WITH MY KID ON FACEBOOK?”

And then Chris Hansen comes out of nowhere.

Saying that these people were “with” me implies that we decided, together, to hang out and spend some time with each other. Rather, I wish Facebook would phrase it like “so and so was in Dan’s photo” instead of “so and so and Dan were WITH each other.”

Doesn’t that sound a little less creepy?

Photog Dog Blog

I’ve had a Canon Digital Rebel for about five years, but this past week I purchased my first new lens. I’ve been hesitant to buy a new lens because they can get expensive. What it took was me shooting some pictures of a Memorial Day Parade and during the entire event thinking “Gah! If ONLY I could ZOOM in closer!” I had the 18(?)-55mm lens included in the box.


For a guy like me, who once knew how what all the shooting modes on a Canon camera meant and then forgot what they mean after buying a cell phone and using that for photos, getting a new lens is a prime opportunity for buyer’s remorse. But I think I’m happy with the results. Here’s a photo I took of my sister’s dog that I think turned out pretty well.


Looks like Flickr is making some changes this year

This year is going to be big at Flickr! In the coming weeks and months you will see significant updates to Flickr’s user experience, new features and offerings across devices. Our goal is to build a gorgeous, intuitive, and truly beautiful experience for you, your friends and your photos.

Flickr used to be / still is a great photo site. I’m hopeful they can return to their former glory in a world full of Twitpics and Instagrams.1

  1. The day to day photos that you might take from your phone and share should have been Flickr’s, but they let all these newcomers take that. 

Pay At The Pump and Photo Sharing

For the longest time the Mobil station and Stewart’s gas pumps in my town didn’t have pay-at-the-pump options. Neither of them had it, so there was no real competitive incentive for one to spend the money on them until the other did.

About a year or two ago the Mobil station installed pay-at-the-pump. Now both of these gas stations have it.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Flickr is the best site for photo sharing. Flickr lets you browse photos at full screen. You can see all kinds of details on a photo page (EXIF data like ISO speed, whether a picture was taken with flash, what model camera took it, and so on).

Photography is the centerpiece on Flickr.

Then Facebook and Picasa came along.

Facebook wins the photo-sharing contest for most people, because for most people photography is a component of their social world. On Flickr, photography is art. On Facebook photography is more like “LOL. Look how trashed you were at the company party!”

Plus it doesn’t hurt that Facebook doesn’t discourage photo uploads. Flickr’s free accounts were limited to three photosets (their word for photo albums) until March 2009. The free accounts only display your last 200 photos and let you upload 100 megs a month. Want more than that? You’ll need to get a pro account for $24.95 a year.

Despite Flickr being the site for photographers it still lags a bit on basic things. Like navigation. When browsing on Facebook you can hit the left and right arrow keys to go through photos. Can’t do that on Flickr unless you’re in slideshow mode…which I rarely use. As one Flickr user puts it, why not add it regular pages anyway?

Maybe they will. If other photo sites hadn’t come along (like Picasa, Facebook, and even Zooomr) then Flickr probably wouldn’t have lifted the limits on photosets. Think Flickr ever had plans for users to tag people in photos? They didn’t add it until October this year.

All because you could pay at the other guy’s pump.

Photo by Flickr user brutal and used under a Creative Commons License.