Tag Archives: Photography

Tweeting in the Pews

Before I even get to talking about the sessions, one interesting point to discuss about the Christian New Media conference is that they actively encouraged people to tweet about the sessions and the conference.

This seemed pretty successful such that people unable to attend the conference could keep up with what was going on. Indeed given that they were using Twitterfall to show the traffic this produced a couple of amusing moments such as the point they switched the feed to the big screen just as Mum tweeted that she was going back to doing the ironing tagged with #CNNAC11!

However the encouragement to tweet was backed up with some grumbling from people about it being frowned upon tweeting in church – the implication being that it was fuddy-duddy type attitudes to object. But is it?

It’s useful to just revisit some of the reasons churches object to tech – the most common restrictions being please turn off your phone and please don’t take pictures during the service. Both have come about from experience, for example I can think of a number of occasions where times of silence and prayer have been interrupted by a mobile phone (on at least one occasion owned by the priest) and certainly several weddings that have ended up like paparazzi photo sessions with all the flash photography. From there we got to asking people to silence their phones and not use flash, but it was pretty quickly realised that many people struggle to understand their gadgets such that they don’t know how to silence them or disable the automatic flash. As a result it’s now all phones off and no photography at all.

I’d suggest that most techies can manage to enable silent mode and disable the flash – however given that we can do that should we then be live tweeting the sermon?

To be honest I’d say no. Part of the point of a service is to provide a separate space, away from the world outside to focus on the spiritual. Certainly you may consider outside through the sermon, or the prayers, but ultimately most people there are focusing on God. As was highlighted by some of the speakers the idea of a sabbath time away from work applies just as much as a time away from the noise of the online world.

As people who experience Taizé for the first time discover, silence is a very powerful way to focus, and it is something that is little used in many services, let alone in the Christian world online.

Flickr Adds Video – People Start to Moan

It didn’t take long for a group of Flickr users to start kicking up a fuss about the latest new feature. Lets face it, it seems it doesn’t take long for a group of Flickr users to start kicking up a fuss about almost any change – indeed I myself have moaned about some of the ill thought out ones such as the initial change to forcing users to use Yahoo accounts when the mobile site didn’t support it – and after some bad experiences with Yahoo I was less than keen at the prospect of having to deal with them for accounts.

The latest change to cause people to get upset is the addition of video. Thomas Hawk has a page collecting together the negative feedback, the general gist being that Flickr is a photo site, and videos should go elsewhere, for example YouTube.

However, when you actually look at what Flickr say they are trying to do, it isn’t the same as YouTube. They specifically limit video clips to 90 seconds, so rather than going after people with video cameras, they are targeting people with modern digital cameras that can shoot short clips of video too. It’s not all the time, but there are occasions now when I will be switching backwards and forwards between taking static shots and short video clips, and currently the clips go to a video site such as YouTube or Vimeo and the pictures to Flickr. Sometimes I edit multiple clips together for a longer video, however in general to tell a visual story, I really want the clips and the pictures mixed in together – just the kind of thing that Flickr is now offering.

The issue really is that there are now a number of distinct groups on Flickr. There are some very vocal photography fans, and indeed some fantastic pictures on the site. Equally there are people that are using the site to share holiday snaps with friends and family, or even just as a convenient way to host up visual content for their sites. By far the biggest group of users are the everyday snappers, but equally those are also the ones who probably least use features like the forums and the groups, whereas the photography fans make a lot of use of these to look at some of the great pictures you can find on the site. Flickr have provided the ability for moderators of the groups to restrict submissions to photographs only, so these groups can continue to focus only on photography, but unfortunately there seem to be some users who object to the mere presence of video because it affects the purity of the site.

From my point of view, I like browsing through some of the impressive pictures you can find, but equally for the kind of use I make of my camera now, for the occasions when I need movement, the support for short video clips is ideal – well done Flickr, great addition.

24 Hours of Flickr – London

So after a bit of discussion, we decided to head off into London to attend the 24 Hours of Flickr London event. Although it involved dashing home from work, and an hour on the train each way the prospect of seeing my picture hung on the wall, as the pictures had been at the Berlin and Paris events was just rather tempting.

Flickr Logo

I managed to make it home from work pretty promptly, and we headed straight down to Fleet station. Thanks to some early-bird commuters heading home we even managed to get a space just beyond the reserved parking in the car park. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite so well after that. There was one person in front of me in the queue, an old gentleman buying a ticket for tomorrow morning. The reason he was doing that was because they now will not sell the reduce priced tickets on the train. If you’re lucky they’ll sell you a full price ticket – if you’re unlucky they’ll give you a penalty fare. As a result, there is now a sizeable queue at the ticket office whenever a train arrives with people buying a ticket for tomorrow. Anyway, after grumbling about this for a bit, he was then told about the other new South-West Trains policy – super off-peak fares. In actual fact what they’ve done is hiked off-peak fares towards London by 20% and introduced a new super off-peak band that comes into force at lunchtime – anyway, that produced another grumble. With all that grumbling we got our tickets just as the next train to London pulled into the opposite platform, and typically the guard closed the doors and the train pulled out just as we made it to the stairs down off the bridge. We caught the next train, and made it to the event just before 8pm.

Flickr had taken over the foyer area inside the Manton Entrance of the gallery on Atterbury Street. The reason for the choice of venue being that for the first time Tate Britain was hosting an exhibition of photography – How We Are, with photographs stretching right from the dawn of photography – right up to a PC connected to Flickr itself as the final exhibit. Alongside a selection of Flickr freebies, they were also giving away copies of the book, plus a selection of nibbles and free drinks. All very nice. The only disappointment was that the only place that 24 Hours of Flickr pictures were being shown were on a plasma screen – they didn’t appear to have the big blown up versions of the book pages that they had shown at the other events. To be honest there was nowhere that they could have shown them, but it was still a bit disappointing.

Page 64

So in lieu of a gratuitous shot of me by my picture, I’ve got a shot of my picture in the book. It’s in amongst a selection of wedding pictures not surprisingly.

The rest of the book has a massive range of pictures, covering a broad spectrum of subjects. Unless you can get to the last of the events in Montreal, the book is available from blurb.com – my picture is on page 64. 😀

After a browse round the How We Are exhibit, we headed back to Waterloo and the train for home. A bit of a lightning visit – but enjoyable – even if I didn’t get to see my picture actually hung in the Tate…

Update: The posts on the event are starting to come in – check out technorati for a selection. Being a Flickr event, there are lots of pictures too, the most interesting of which includes the page with our picture on it as a result of two of the other wedding pictures being taken by different people at the same event – apparently not the only coincidence like that in the book!

Andy Piper also highlights that the guys from Moo who produce the cool little Moo MiniCards from pictures in your Flickr stream were in attendance. Beth has recently ordered a set using some of her pictures, and absolutely loves them. She actually came home with a few more, as amongst the freebies last night were a selection advertising Flickr

Would You Pay £1950 for a Picture from an Unknown Artist?

tx5-adam-sales-banter_main_358×265.jpg

This is perhaps the question that both the teams should have been asking themselves on tonight’s Apprentice.

This weeks task required the teams to select two photographic artists each from a pool of six, and then mount a one day sale of their chosen artists work. The winner was the team that made the most money. If the teams picked the same artist then the artist would be asked to choose.

From the outset it was pretty apparent that there was nobody on either team that had much of an interest in art. Having said that, because of the fact that it was a one day sale, the usual techniques of selling art wouldn’t really work – the teams had to get art with a good track record that they knew would sell, and then try and sell as much as they could on the night.

However when it came to the choice of artists, realising that they didn’t know the art world, both teams just went for what they liked, and both picked the same two artists. Whilst one, Tim Flach, was well established, and able to provide a client list, the other Elisabeth Hoff had only one collection, of which she admitted she hadn’t sold any, refused to provide her client list, and was charging between £950 and £1950 per print – the highest cost of any of the artists offered.

As is so often the case, Alan Sugar had presented the candidates with a selection of choices in order to spot the shrewd among them. Whilst if a team who had selected work by Elisabeth Hoff had managed to sell any they would have probably won, as Sugar said in the boardroom it was a big gamble – one that didn’t pay off for the team which she ultimately selected. His opinion is clearly that they would have been better going for more established artists with a client base that would be easier prospective purchasers.

Once the decision had been made, and thanks to some major schmoozing from Katie, Hoff had selected Natalie and Eclipse, their fates were largely sealed. Tim Flach was more impressed with Stealth and went with them (Natalie effectively blew it when she took a phone call whilst talking to him, and then comparing the horse in one of his pictures to the highlights in her hair…). Both teams then picked replacement second artists, Vanessa Warren for Eclipse and Linda Lieberman for Stealth – but because Stealth had a much more popular first choice with established customers, they easily walked away with the task, bringing in £4,702 to £1,599.78 from Eclipse who failed at the difficult task of selling unknown work to a brand new audience.

Perhaps they could have brought it back in with a decent selling strategy for the Hoff work – but since the schmoozing from Katie went on to the extent of Hoff dictating the sales strategy, wanting very much of a soft sell, all was lost. Ironically, although both Natalie and Katie continued to cross swords with Adam, regularly telling him that his car sales experience is useless, and pouring scorn on his ideas, he is the one that manages to sell. Relegated to the back room with the cheaper pictures whilst Katie is in full schmooze up the front, he manages to shift a few saving the team from total disaster.

However I’m totally of the opinion that had Hoff gone for Stealth, it would have been them sitting in the boardroom at the end rather than Eclipse. Hoff would have dictated the soft selling technique for them instead, and the pictures wouldn’t have sold for them either. Despite Tre’s distaste at some of the Linda Lieberman work, he managed to sell some of those, and the Tim Flach sold well too, thanks in part to the much harder – “you don’t want to leave empty handed do you?” techniques that were being used.

The final boardroom encounter is interesting as well. The key problem identified by Sugar is that they didn’t make a business decision in their choice of Hoff, and that they allowed her to run the show too much – Katie being chief in his sights for this. One of the issues that Hoff had was with the quality of the labels for the pictures – produced by Lohit, but Sugar regards this as not important. Alongside this there is ongoing antagonism between Adam and Natalie. Also bear in mind that Natalie has been largely relying on Katie through much of the task, and seems to think that they get on well – however as has been apparent in previous episodes Katie tends to keep her opinions for the one-to-one interviews. This week she is cutting about Natalie, and even at one point wishes that Adam would get run over!

It is often apparent that Sugar has access to the tapes of the task, including the interviews alongside the feedback he gets from his two assistants. Occasionally in previous episodes he has been seen to comment on events that occurred outside the view of the assistants, but in front of the film crew. The impression I got this week was that Sugar was clearly gunning very much for Katie when perhaps it was much more of a group decision to go for Hoff and to capitulate to all her demands. Maybe he had seen the interview where she wishes Adam would get run over?

However, when asked to pick, Natalie brings back in Adam and Lohit – and seals her fate. Adam, although he has personality clashes with other team members, sold well on the task, and did what was asked of him. The only thing that Lohit did wrong was the labels, so he is largely safe. If she had brought in Katie, it was pretty obvious that Sugar had a good chance of removing her, but Natalie protects someone she thinks of as a friend, and effectively leaves herself as the only option, and Sugar, “with regretâ€? has to fire her. Maybe she thought that after last week Adam could be in the frame, but in the past Sugar has shown that he will tend to keep people who can sell for a long while, even if they clash with other team members. Ironically, when Natalie is interviewed on the “You’re Firedâ€? show, having seen a number of the interviews that Katie has done, she is less impressed with her and can certainly see the ruthless streak in Katie’s tactics. In fact Natalie sums it up pretty well in her interview in the taxi – she was just too soft and too nice. Whilst that might build a good team on the task, in the boardroom you need to be ruthless, and seeing that Sugar had his sights set on Katie, it should have been clear that it should have been Katie not Lohit in the third chair.

Having said that, probably the best bit of the whole episode was the brief teaser for next week. The task is about selling ‘British Specialities’ to the French, and from the clips it looks like one of the teams is attempting to sell the French, a country renowned for their love of their many home-grown cheese varieties, British cheese…