A tale of two photos on Flickr

Last night I uploaded two photos at the same time.

As of this posting one had 96 views on Flickr and the other had 1,389 views.

Some other facts:

The photo with 96 views used a fisheye lens that cost 4x more than the other photo. (Thank you to Pro Photo Rental for coming along on the Las Vegas Blog World Expo photo walk and bringing $40,000 worth of equipment for all of us to try!) Shows that exotic equipment isn’t guaranteed to bring in views.
The photo with 96 views required better camera technique to make than the other photo.
The photo with 96 views is of a far more recognizable landmark than the other photo (the Bellagio in Las Vegas).

Yet one photo has gotten more than 13x more views.

Why?

A few things.

1. Promotion. I Twittered the photo that got a lot of views and kept the conversation going on both Twitter and on FriendFeed throughout the evening. Also, my first Tweet about this photo was designed to get all six of these items communicated to my audience.
2. The subject. The photo with all the hits is Hugh Macleod, famous blogging artist who did the art on the SXSW bags and the TechCrunch party posters and, among bloggers and other influentials, is very popular (about 20% of all business cards I have from well-known bloggers, including my own, were done by Hugh).
3. Scarcity. There are thousands of cool photos of the Bellagio. But how many photos of the Las Vegas Convention Hall of it empty with one person standing in it have you seen?
4. Socialness. People “favorited” the photo of Hugh 17 times while the other one was only favorited twice. Each time someone clicks “Favorite” on a photo, it is sent to their audiences. Plus, if you’ve registered Flickr on FriendFeed it will get reshared there. Also, many people retweeted my Twitter message and sent it to their friends.
5. Humor. Hugh’s blog is called “gapingvoid.” The fact that I got him to stand inside a gaping void long enough to make a photo of him is funny.
6. Serendipitous. The photo with 96 visits was prepared for. We were on a planned photo walk. We all had our cameras, expensive equipment ready, and were looking for photos. The one of Hugh? Totally unplanned. A friend had to pick something up at a Kinkos down there, I saw this opportunity, pulled my camera out of my bag, and took 20 seconds making the image. If I hadn’t carried my camera everywhere I would never have gotten the more viewed shot.

All of these demonstrate how to succeed in the media business. The same formula works with blog posts, videos, or photos.

Oh, one other thing. The Web actually works against the photo of Hugh. It’s hard to see him on the average laptop monitor. This works a lot better as a 16×20-inch or larger print (I’m going to make one for Hugh, cause he’s brought me so much joy).

Other things I’ve learned from the photos I uploaded last night? Laughing baby photos pull 3x more than regular baby photos. Also, photos with women in them outpull photos with men in them.

Keep in mind that I haven’t applied ANY of Thomas Hawk’s lessons (he does a lot of post-processing, er, Photoshop manipulation to make his photos more “social.”) Watch his photo blog and see just how much more interesting his images are than mine. That’s cause none of mine have any post-processing done to them yet.

Anyway, just some fun on a Sunday afternoon. Here’s the two original photos.

96 views, Bellagio at Night:

Vegas at night

1,389 views, Hugh Macleod standing in South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center:

Hugh Macleod of gapingvoid.com

58 thoughts on “A tale of two photos on Flickr

  1. The photo of Hugh is also the better photo, artistically. And more interesting. Expensive photo equipment and high-end lenses may offer more opportunities for great picture taking (faster, sharper, longer, wider), but they don’t automatically translate into better pictures. Never have, never will.

  2. The photo of Hugh is also the better photo, artistically. And more interesting. Expensive photo equipment and high-end lenses may offer more opportunities for great picture taking (faster, sharper, longer, wider), but they don’t automatically translate into better pictures. Never have, never will.

  3. of course the real conversation should about the specifics of what we see.
    So what do we see?
    1. On th 1st photo we see people who are looking at a golden hotel, we see water.
    This could be any tourist-town. It seems unclear why these folks are standing there and why it should be of interest to us. Like in commercial photography it projects beauty to please. It’s a -why do I exist?- photo. These are the kind you get on a DVD or buy at a photo stock website.
    The second photo is the photo we all make when we are around big things. Does it matters what kind of big object it is? No, it just wants us to say WOW and in this it succeeds. Do we care who is on the photo? Is it a better photo because x is in it? No, it doesn’t change the quality of the photo itself. For people who do not know Hugh Macleod (99,99% of all people on earth) this really doesn’t matter.
    In a strange way these photos are a bit the same.
    1. Because of the way they deal with space. (way to much rational here)
    2. They both want something.
    a. the 1st one wants to sell me a vacation
    b. the 2nd photo wants to amaze me like a little boy who sees an airoplane for the first time. These photos are in need.
    3. They feels the same. Like some kind of distance.

    So if you aggregate these photos like you did Robert, their importance will not alter unless you consider dominance in quantity a quality in itself. Like in money ;-) But! ‘Of little value is everything that has a price’ Friedrich Nietzsche wrote and of course, talking about photography this is true. Online, photos are free but what they refer to can be meaningful, priceless.

  4. of course the real conversation should about the specifics of what we see.
    So what do we see?
    1. On th 1st photo we see people who are looking at a golden hotel, we see water.
    This could be any tourist-town. It seems unclear why these folks are standing there and why it should be of interest to us. Like in commercial photography it projects beauty to please. It’s a -why do I exist?- photo. These are the kind you get on a DVD or buy at a photo stock website.
    The second photo is the photo we all make when we are around big things. Does it matters what kind of big object it is? No, it just wants us to say WOW and in this it succeeds. Do we care who is on the photo? Is it a better photo because x is in it? No, it doesn’t change the quality of the photo itself. For people who do not know Hugh Macleod (99,99% of all people on earth) this really doesn’t matter.
    In a strange way these photos are a bit the same.
    1. Because of the way they deal with space. (way to much rational here)
    2. They both want something.
    a. the 1st one wants to sell me a vacation
    b. the 2nd photo wants to amaze me like a little boy who sees an airoplane for the first time. These photos are in need.
    3. They feels the same. Like some kind of distance.

    So if you aggregate these photos like you did Robert, their importance will not alter unless you consider dominance in quantity a quality in itself. Like in money ;-) But! ‘Of little value is everything that has a price’ Friedrich Nietzsche wrote and of course, talking about photography this is true. Online, photos are free but what they refer to can be meaningful, priceless.

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