The Presentation of Self and Everyday Photographs

With the kind help of our awesome readership, Amazon and Glazer’s, I’ve acquired a camera, some books, a tripod, a prime 50mm, a flash diffuser, a polarizing filter, a graduated neutral filter, and some other random photography toys tools. You might question this, but I can quit anytime. Really! I even offered to loan my 50mm to a friend for a few days so he could get hooked make an informed decision about buying one.

Now, I know there are lots of people in our communities who post up their photos, and that’s their choice. I like to maintain some privacy-control of how I’m presenting myself. I have posted photos from my trip to South Africa and from the Privacy Enhancing Technologies conference, but those are almost journalistic. There’s something tremendously revealing about what subjects people photograph and share. Go ahead. Look. Ask yourself, who takes pictures like that? Why did they share that? What does it say about them?


Me, I prefer that people focus on my photos for themselves, and not for who I am. And I prefer to present a professional image that’s a carefully cropped subset of the whole.

And what I’m re-discovering is that it’s tremendously hard. A few of the shots at the end of the PETS set are, if I do say so myself, very nice. I have some bald eagles that I shot on Lake Washington while boating with some co-workers. Which stream do those go in?

There’s also a technical hard: I dug into EXIF a fair bit with exiftool, and there’s at least two serial numbers in each raw photo. (Camera body and lens. I don’t vouch for completeness, but for a Canon camera, start with exiftool -SerialNumber -InternalSerialNumber -CameraSerialNumber.) If you set IPTC data automatically, you have to remember to strip it. There are micro-variations from manufacture which (supposedly) can be used to fingerprint a lens, but my expectation is that’s complex and requires some reference images. I’m prepared to re-evaluate that exposure when Moore’s Law comes along for a conversation.

Then there’s wanting to be noticed. I remember being a new blogger, and obsessively watching the stats for new links. Compulsively linking to the big bloggers in the hopes of some love. Writing articles to bait some of the carnivals. Linking back whenever someone gave me a link. If I posted the photos (or even a link here), I’d presumably get a fair number of views. Does that do anything for me? Some folks have given me really great feedback and advice, but let’s face it, giving a new photographer advice is hard. There are so many things you could say, and which ones will help them improve? Does this person take feedback well?

Is there a technological approach which might help, with a crowd of photographers who commit to jointly telling the world their nicknames if there’s a decent anonymity set? But really, isn’t that just the old saw about the dancing bear all over again? (And doesn’t it go up against what Bob Blakley was saying? More on that shortly.) So for now, I’m interested: is there a better way to frame this?

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