Monday, November 9, 2015

Are you a visual carpet bomber?

By Greg Rakozy (,

More than one friend of mine likes to post photos to Facebook. Photos of their travels. Snapshots from their parties. Lots of photos.

Every. single. photo.

Like a sky full of stars, that's too much to absorb. What's worse? Often, they're near-identical images -- group shots of three or four people, taken moment by moment, with little change of gesture or expression. Or the dreaded BOH (backs of heads). Not action photos, which might call for a rapid-fire sequence of images. Just group photos. People grinning for the camera.

Do we need to see four, five, or six iterations of the same snapshot? No. That's unfair to everyone who follows you.

Sure, social media is a visual medium. Visual communications, from infographics to vlogs, are the common currency of the internet. And, one outcome of citizen journalism and the proliferation of smartphone cameras is that people take countless photos. This isn't a judgment of whether they're good or not. They simply exist.

Too few of us pause to edit our photos before posting them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. One-hundred fifty-three photos from whatever event they attended is 150 too many.

You need to edit. Even if they're not PR photos, an avalanche of relentlessly similar photos speaks to your personal brand. Post them all, and you're saying: "I can't help myself. I'm a compulsive sharer."

Except it's not sharing. It's more like visual carpet-bombing.

In our era of citizen journalism, we need to learn to self-edit. One good photo says much more than 20 mediocre ones.

It's not hard to edit photos. Every smartphone comes with photo editing functions. Deleting the less-satisfying ones (blurry or BOH shots) requires the swipe of a finger. Free photo editing software is available for laptops, phones, tablets, and desktops. (I use Picasa for basic editing; it's free and does a good job.)

If you need more motivation, also consider: every photo you share via Facebook grants Mark Zuckerberg -- as well as other Facebook users -- a license to re-use that image, without compensating you.

Why would you give the social media universe a right to every single photo you shoot?