I wrote just yesterday that blogging on the Ghost platform not only makes me want to write more but also to take photos more often. Thanks to how galleries are integrated into Ghost, I don't second-guess why I am taking a picture. Now, I know that I'll post it to my blog here.
So, after weeks of not taking a single photo, my camera's shutter button was pressed again this morning. This happened in ten minutes I went outside.
As a blogger, I used to write on Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Sometimes I used the Hemingway app, and every document was then edited in Grammarly. The final draft was uploaded to WordPress, where I had to edit it further, add quotes and images where necessary.
Now I write directly on Ghost with Grammarly's keyboard. That's it.
Likewise, in photography, once I edit a photo on Adobe Lightroom, I find myself lost of where I should share it. I have an Instagram account, Flickr, 500px, and SmugMug accounts. I recently created an Unsplash profile as well, as people recommended it to me on Twitter. I probably forget a few others. Unsurprisingly, I also have a Google account, which leads me to Google Photos.
Google Photos: The Perfect Archive System?
Many people are using it to store their photos. Quite often, in total ignorance.
That's because when they got their Android phone, in one of those "click next to continue" screens, they accepted to auto-backup their photos on Google's cloud. When they got a new phone, their pictures magically remained intact and ready to be accessed in the new device as well. All they had to do is open the "Photos" app. Voila.
We've come to a point in technology where only a few question how's that possible. In fact, most expect their photos to be on their phones nowadays. Forever. Despite the fact they are changing phones every year.
When I tell them their photos that they took many years ago can also be accessed from any browser at photos.google.com, they come face to face with reality.
Oh no! I don't want my photos to be online! What about my privacy? Can everyone see them? How did that happen?
Hopefully, you are more tech-savvy than these people.
I do not back up my photos to Google Photos. I used to do it, but since it automatically saves every-single-one photo the smartphone captures, it became so cluttered that it was unusable. I disabled the backup feature and deleted the photos taken with my smartphone.
Now, I use Google Photos to store my best, edited photos. All of my photos are saved locally and stored in an Adobe Lightroom catalog. I single out my favorite ones, edit them, export and upload them to Google Photos.
I created a polished photo gallery of my life.
I can have access to these photos from anywhere and scan through years of documenting my life with my finger. Long story short, my best photos are always with me to use however I want, either privately or publicly.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sharing albums online, there are better solutions out there.
I find Flickr just as pleasing to the eye as Google or Ghost's galleries. They create perfect collages of my photos, no matter if they have mixed aspect ratios (Facebook comes second). Yet, there are four issues with Flickr.
First, it's the thing about the money. Specifically running out of it. I would hate to see my thousands of public photos and hours of work vanished one day. In comparison, I don't see Google shutting down soon; still, it can shut the Photos section down, similarly to how they decided to terminate Google+. So much for my smart decision to build a brand there. It got even worse when I began creating collections on Google+! Total fail!
Lesson learned. While I do use Google Photos, all photos, including the mediocre and bad ones, are safely stored locally in my hard drives.
Second, searching for photos in Flickr doesn't come anywhere near Google. I have to add keywords to every photo before uploading to Flickr, add them to Albums, and even then, I doubt one can find a specific picture via the search bar.
I won't say much about Google search. Here's how my Google Photos looks like without entering a single keyword, tag, title, or description in any of those photos.
That's Google Wizardry. Even if I spent endless hours tagging the photos and creating categories in Lightroom, I wouldn't end up with such a neatly organized catalog.
Third, apart from photographers and web publishers, who are looking for royalty-free photos to include in their publications, I seriously doubt people know of Flickr's existence and its purpose. I don't care about building a community or following there, but if I steer people towards a site to check out my pictures, I want people to be familiar with it. Everyone will feel right at home if they see my photo on Instagram. But no one will know how to share or comment on a Flickr photo of mine.
And fourth, I have trouble uploading photos to Flickr, which beats the whole idea of archiving my photos online. Every time I hit upload in Lightroom to send the photos to my Flickr albums, the process is interrupted, and the upload is half done. Sometimes, I end up with duplicate photos or missing geotagging data.
Oh, did I mention that Google automatically geotags my imported photos, as long as I enable the Location feature in my Android phone? It cross-references the phone's location and date data with the photo's data and makes a perfect connection. So, no need to have a GPS-enabled digital camera or put a pin on a map for every single photo in Lightroom, as long as I allow Google data crawlers to spy on me. Boo!
Thus, after being a paying Flickr customer for five years, I don't think I'll renew my yearly subscription that's conveniently due on October 18.
Yet, Flickr isn't the only outlet I'm quitting.
6 Reasons Why I Quit Instagram
I post on Instagram no more.
- I hate being forced to use specific dimensions for my photos and crop my portrait, 2:3 photos.
- I hate cropping all the photos I'll post in a carousel to have the same aspect ratio.
- I hate to see my 16:9 landscape getting lost in a feed where 4:5 photos dominate the screen. Even Twitter allows you to post photos with different aspect ratios.
- I also hate using hashtags, and I hated them more while following marketers' advice to find the perfect hashtags for Instagram and make lists of them. 😋
- I hate not being able to add links to my captions.
- I hate creating content that isn't crawled or indexed in Google's search engine.
The only thing I like about Instagram is the profile page. I'm keeping that.
Writing and Publishing Photos on the Blog
So, I use my personal blog for everything. I write and publicly share my photos here. Every word and photo of mine is beautifully presented to my audience, in the exact way I want. I am the one setting the rules.
That was my goal months ago when I began brainstorming a content strategy. No more creating content on rented land. Everything goes in here. I create content here and publish it directly. Social media is only used for marketing. For driving people to this blog's original content, by repurposing the content I have already created here.
The only exception? Twitter. And YouTube, but I can't upload a video to a blog, can I?