I Don't Understand Flickr

The VisitorI mentioned before than my average photo on Flickr gets 13 views; as I'm not one of those Flickr users who has 1000 contacts and I don't submit each photo to 50 groups that seemed appropriate.  Why then, did one photo I submitted yesterday get 80+ views, several favorites and more comments than I usually get in a week?

I get that it has something to do with Flickr's Explore and interestingness but why did this particular shot get hit while those around it get their normal number of visits and how did it get picked up in the first place?  The picture was taken two days ago when I took my wife to the Golden Gate Cemetery in Colma (how romantic eh?) to help her get her feet wet with her new camera.  This Cemetery is my photographic stomping ground.  When the light is right it is hard to take a bad shot there.  The repetition with slight variations lends itself to both wide forced perspective-like shots and tight telephoto crops equally.  It was my wife's first visit so we spent a couple of hours there while I whittered on about composition, quality of light and exposure.

Plane, Moon & HeadstonesI have taken similar shots to the one above before but never with a person in the frame - this is a quiet part of the cemetery I usually have to myself.  When the man in the red sweater walked into shot I did get a little excited and told my wife to shoot like crazy as it was so fortuitous that he was wearing such a lively, primary color among the headstones.  I didn't think it was the best shot I have taken at the Golden Gate Cemetery though.  I don't even think it was the best shot I took that day and I'm sure my wife must have captured something similar due to my instance that she "Zoom over there and keep shooting."  So how did this shot get singled out for 15 minutes of flickr fame and glory and why am I unexcited by it?

As I said, I have taken very similar shots to this before.  I have a very architectural, graphic (some would argue boringly mathematical) eye.  My wife sees faces in pieces of wood and rabbits in the clouds - I see hard patterns and symmetry everywhere.  As these compositions are obvious to me I allow myself to take them so that I can move past them and then stretch myself.  In this case I much preferred this shot I made of the graves with a plane and the moon in a vivid blue sky above them - it was typical of my style and it said something less obvious to me about life going on and the mystery of death.

But what do I know?  The shot I like has been seen 12 times - the more obvious one, 87.

Posted on Tuesday, 26 December 2006 | Editorial