Showing off your pictures on Social Media

The Author

After getting out and taking some great pictures it’s always nice to let people see the results and maybe even get some feedback. In the past this would have involved prints or maybe transparencies and a limited audience of your family, friends or local camera club.

With the arrival of Social Media and phones with built-in cameras we can now get instant gratification from friends and strangers all over the world by publishing to social media and waiting for the Likes that will soon follow. If you are lucky.

Does that really mean anything though? Well yes, I think it does. There maybe those that would only regard a photograph as being ‘proper’ if it has been  taken in controlled circumstances with a full-frame SLR. Some may only consider it ‘proper’ if you are using film and not digital. I feel that any picture can be both good and bad – it depends on the context in which it is being viewed. In the past I could choose what size to print a picture in 6×4 or a full A1 poster. Both have differences – every blemish and composition mistake will show up on the A1 poster but the 6×4 print will be more forgiving, but I could at least ensure the colour balance was correct. But when I put my pictures onto a social media or website I  lose control of how they will be viewed. Whilst I may be able control the resolution (depending on the website) i have no idea if the picture is being seen on a 3″ phone screen or is being projected onto a wall somewhere with an old blurry washed out projector. Depending on the website I may also lose a certain amount of control of its use elsewhere – its always worth reading the small print if you value a prized picture.

I like that a picture can take on a life of its own – being copied and used by people as their profile pictures or even made into a meme. People may make comments that can bring a completely different narrative to the picture and let me see it in a different context to the one I thought it had.

So sometimes I take a picture with my phone – in reality this a hand held computer with an attached camera and communication device. I make very few phone calls these days… I can choose which camera software to use. The built in software will take panoramas and a number of different resolutions but always saves in jpg format. On the other hand I could use Open Camera, no panorama option but it does allow me to save in RAW and tells me if I have the camera level. It depends what I want to use the picture file for. Raw (Dng) files can be imported into the Lightroom catalog on my PC and worked on like any other shot taken on my DLSR. The fixed lens and (slightly) lower resolution doesn’t give quite as much variety but then I don’t have to lug the heavier camera around with me on the off chance that I might need it.

So I have the picture on my phone – subject to internet connectivity on 4G or WiFi, I can immediately choose to share it to Instagram. The square format can be a challenge but using one of the built in filters (or leaving it as is) and by adding some relevant tags and a witty or informative caption, I can be receiving likes from anonymous strangers around the world whilst I am still enjoying the drink or food that featured in the picture. Whilst some may say that this is fairly pointless, it is art and and as such, should be pointless other than to give pleasure. We should make the time to enjoy art in all it many forms.

I can also choose to enhance my picture further by combining it with others in an app such as Layout and /or do arty things to it with an app such as Prism. The result can then be shared to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Flickr, etc as required. All this can happen without need to access expensive software such as Lightroom and Photoshop. You are, however, limited to the layouts and filters provided by the app developers. Great for the instant gratification but for the more thoughtful shots it is probably time to transfer them to your PC or laptop and spend a bit of time tweaking them. I can then use the plugins in Lightroom to publish pictures to Facebook and Twitter etc, although I often end publishing a low resolution file to a local folder that then updates to a Google Drive folder which is then downloaded to my phone and tablet. The tablet is used as a photoframe and pictures on my phone are available to look at even if there is no WiFi or 4G. There is an app called DriveSync that is useful for this.

It seems though, that I use different social media for different purposes. Facebook is for my friends and family, Twitter more for quick comments that and the occasional picture and Instagram for ‘just because its there’. Flickr tends to have the more serious pictures and I occasionally dabble in the world of moving pictures at YouTube.

As a pre-millenial I haven’t entered into the world of Snapchat but maybe I will sometime – of course I also have this blog to share pictures to directly.

I have also had occasions when pictures I have taken have been used in physical publications, but I think that is probably a subject for another post.

If you are interested the Featured Image on this page is a selfie taken on my phone with the Google camera app. I have then imported it into Lightroom and cropped and tidied up a few bits. It was then further edited in Photoshop using the Face-aware tool in Liquefy and then published back to a folder on OneDrive that can be seen on other devices.