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Photography has made incredible progress as a way to tell stories and offer complex narratives. But there is still a sizable community of photographers active on Flickr, posting mostly their own work.
Before looking at this in more detail, it might be worthwhile to point out that the internet seems made for photography.
The scene was very small, and there was maybe a slightly naive earnestness about how it was done, which made following those blogs an appealing experience. There have been reports that the site lost a fair amount single people problems tumblr userswhich the company — probably predictably — denies.
Following other Tumblrs then adds the single people problems tumblr. Often, I find photographs where the source is not given at all, or where it is given in such a way that tracking down the photographer involves considerable work.
For a long time, Flickr was the go-to place for photography. Poorly attributed photographs are part of a larger, very Tumblr-specific problem, which actually brings me back to the earliest days of photoblogging. The basic format is the same: Many more photographers have come to embrace the web, in particular the social-networking bits.
For example, over the last ten years we have witnessed the evolution of the photobook into a massively complex form of art itself, with the role of individual photographs shrinking.
But photographers worried about it might want to ask themselves what damage is done to their work and income if someone showcases their pictures to a possibly larger, possibly different audience, for noncommercial reasons.
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On the other hand, Instagram is owned by Facebook, a company infamous for changing its terms and conditions TOS. But the overall user interface is rather clunky, and given that the site was created before the social-networking craze, many of the features Tumblr offers are simply absent.
For starters, a large number of photographers are massively concerned about copyright. At the other end of the spectrum lies Instagram, a social-media platform centered exclusively on photography.
Each trip visits a specific region in the US, and the connection between individual posts is loose enough for them to work well even if reblogged out of their original context.
Alec Soth, for example, has been publishing Dispatches, his work from a series of road trips taken with writer Brad Zellar, on Tumblr. If a photographer is very concerned, a simple solution would be to not put photographs online.
Flickr allows for the grouping of images into sets and offers much better ways to organize content than Tumblr.
The Problem with Tumblr and Photography
Then again, it also makes it easier to detect and go after those violations as retailer DNKY just found out. In the years since, for better or for worse, many of the ideas driving those early photoblogs have fallen by the wayside, with new formats and platforms replacing each other in a bewildering fashion.
The copyright issue aside, looking at a photograph without any additional information leaves me wanting. But combine the frequently shoddy attribution of photographic work with the incessant stream of single images on Tumblr, and you get a medium that is far removed from quite a lot of the potential of contemporary photography — the frequent noise of its proponents notwithstanding.
In a nutshell, Tumblr does away with the more complex ways in which photographs operate by reducing them all to single entities. While in the past one needed to visit one photoblog after another, Tumblr now offers a seemingly incessant stream of work, all in one place.
At the end of each trip, the work is published in physical formon newsprint, while Soth has also found a way to explore the medium of Tumblr and its type of image dissemination.
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Tumblr was created by people whose idea of what photographs can do is stuck in the recent past: Unless you visit individual blogs one after the other, you see them intermingled in your Tumblr Dashboard; As a consequence, photographs are reduced to snippets of information — one photo by some artist followed by another photo by another artist, etc.
At the same time, many photographers will have to come to a better understanding of what it means to put photographs onto the web.
Tumblelogs, by construction, breaks this experience up: This translates to a non-fair-use copyright violation, and unfortunately, many Tumblr users — often photographers themselves — are woefully uninformed or unconcerned about this. Photographs offer an immediacy that survives even under the most adverse, aka attention-deficit-disorder-plagued, circumstances.
Whatever comes after Tumblr will have to deal with the issues discussed above. Even if someone were to use a sequence of images on a Tumblr, unless a viewer only followed that specific blog and who does that anymore?
Acquired by Yahoo a few years ago, the site has lost much of its original luster by failing to keep up with new developments just like its corporate mother. They were maintained by the photographers themselves. Interestingly enough, Tumblr is nothing but a variant of the very early photoblogs on steroids.