There’s something about getting that perfect shot. Whether it is the wrinkles on the face of the old woman in Mexico, or the man asleep in his tuk-tuk in Thailand, capturing these images takes on a deeper meaning when you can share them with amateurs like yourself.
I first discovered photography through my family since one of my dad’s first jobs was with Polaroid in the 1960s. As I flip through the black albums that hold hundreds of card stock Polaroids, I wonder why there are fewer photos of me, the third daughter.
“When you were born, your father had stopped working for Polaroid.” It’s the excuse my mother gives for parents who lose interest in photography once the third child comes along.
Later, my dad did business in Japan and would always come back with the newest and niftiest Olympus. My dad would perch his camera on the branch of a tree, push the self-timer and jog around, making sure to laugh on his jog so that he’d have a smile on his face once the red light started to flash. My mother trained my sisters and me to give “the Farrah Fawcett” smile back when our hairstyles were feathered.
Later, when I was old enough, my dad bought me the Kodak Disc camera. It was the eighties, and the film came as a flat disc and rotated like the wheel in a child’s viewfinder toy. The Disc camera was completely automatic and easy to use. I took photographs of my golden retriever, while I was away at sleep-away camp, and on my first jaunt away from home on our eighth grade trip to Washington DC. I had found my new hobby.
When I started to travel seriously on my own, I found that photography was a way of seeing the world and then sharing it with others who may never get out there. I found that I had talent and created a photography Web site to see if I could make it among the big fishes in the photography realm. I later told a friend that photography was my “gateway art” to writing. I still have the talent and sell my prints as art here and there, but for the most part, it’s still a hobby. Then I discovered Flickr.com and JPG Magazine, two places where amateurs like me could play with the big boys, share what we captured, and still feel good about ourselves even if we didn’t own a Hasselblad.
Flickr.com is where the people around the world share both their best and their worst photographs. Users can see what equipment was used in the imagery, who the person is behind the shutter, and how this person lives through photographs. You can post comments weighing in on their photographs, or after posting your own, create calendars or U.S. stamps that use your favorite shot. You can even order a DVD that will show a slideshow from Grandma’s 80th birthday party or your mountain biking trip through the Rocky Mountain National Parks.
JPG Magazine is similar to Flickr.com but with the American Idol piece attached to the end of it. Photographers can upload up to ten images per day and then submit their photographs to certain themes (e.g. Zen, Embrace the Blur, Entropy, or Breakthrough). While Flickr.com may draw the average everyday snap-shooter, JPG brings forth the talent. Other JPG users vote on all submissions and the photographs that receive the most votes according to the theme are glossed and spread among the pages of JPG’s magazine. If subscribed to, the magazine arrives in your mailbox every two months.
I’ve uploaded my photos on both sites. On Flickr.com, my handle is amandacoate. On there you’ll see some photos I took on a two-week trip that brought me to Portugal. On JPG Magazine, you’ll see I’ve been more selective in keeping with the theme. There I can be found as my full name. Other photographers have voted on my images as some of their favorites, and I’ve gone through the site on a lazy afternoon to vote on theirs. I haven’t made the cut, and have yet to have my photographs published, but I’m participating in a community. And I’m getting the sense that by connecting through our art form, we’re sharing our world, one image at a time.
Photo: One More Flight taken in Lisbon, Portugal by Amanda Coggin/cogginphoto.com