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May 18, 2014 / Aware of the Void

Would you Pay a Photography Tax?

Make it Rain
I have been thinking a lot about the quantity and quality of pictures that I have been posting on-line recently and am concerned that self publication and self promotion might all be a little too easy. I take a lot of photos I generally have at least one film camera with me when I leave the house and my iPhone is an extension of my hand. I can’t remember the last time I was not able to capture something that I found interesting.

I develop the film or empty the memory cards and look at the images. I am past the stage where I tend to get shots that would be unfit for viewing, blurry, lack of composition, boring content, incorrect exposure etc. This means I end up with a lot of pictures and I am never really sure what to do with them. I post a lot to flickr or my Facebook page and some help me fill this blog.

In the interest of trying to improve the quality of the photography that I show to other people I have been floating the idea of a photography tax. Assume that you have spent the day shooting pictures and are now trying to decide what to publish. You could just upload everything to any photo sharing site and the world will have access to them to enjoy, comment on and critique. Therefore I am suggesting that in order for me to select what I consider the best shots there should be a price attached to uploading then.

It will be a two tiered system for publishing photos on-line. Option one will be just upload any shots I want and pay in the region of €1 per photo to display them on-line. I think even at this small charge it would make me very selective about what gets posted. The second option would be that I can publish the photos for free but I will need to defend the image in front of a judge. This person will not judge the merit of my photo but whether or not my explanation of motives for taking and displaying the photo are rational and compelling. It is my belief that either the monetary cost of up-loading or the emotional cost of having to explain my photography would instantly improve what I choose to display to the world.

I would love to hear if you have a process that helps you decide what to post on-line and how you select your images. Would you consider paying a photography tax? Should it be mandatory?


Leave a Comment
  1. Photobooth Journal / May 18 2014 9:26 pm

    Interesting post, and probably mostly tongue in cheek, but still an unusual way to ensure you use self-discipline. I would say, isn’t time your best friend in this? I used to get very excited about things I’d just received in the post (vintage pics) or something I have done in a photobooth and rush to put it online. My interpretation of and emotional response to the images is wildly different a few days later, let alone weeks later, so I’d sometimes regret the poor insight and missed opportunities displayed in a post. Now I put the pics into short-term storage and concentrate on the things I already have had time with. I barely look at new arrivals to help with the process. Fun way you look at the world, Brendan!

  2. dehk / May 19 2014 4:37 am

    You can pay me €1 per photo for me to blog it for you 😀 ?

  3. Dave / May 19 2014 1:48 pm

    The first time I wrote a technical report, it came back bleeding red from the red ink that was all over it. My boss told me how he learned to edit his writing: Consider every word he could take out as a dollar in his pocket.
    They say the best photographers are the best editors in that they only show their best.
    Formalizing the posting of photos by taxing them or taking them to a judge is a pretty bad idea, but the motivation behind it is good

  4. Eric / May 20 2014 2:36 pm

    Interesting idea, and a great way to stop yourself from just dumping them on Flickr (I’m definitely guilty of this). Shooting film, of course, you’re taxed even before shooting as the film and processing can get costy. But to give yourself another moment to pause and think whether or not the photo actually needs to be seen online is definitely a great idea.

  5. Joe / May 23 2014 1:32 am

    ^ I Agree with the above. Already paying somewhere between 25-75 cents per shot; I hardly need to be taxed as well. If we’re going to tax someone, it should be Instagram users, or maybe just digital photographers in general. That should slow them down…

    On the other hand, if you’re worried about all the images that you just upload and forget, the easiest solution is to slow down. I can make a roll of film last a month, sometimes two. Forget about anything but the absolute best shots.

  6. xbabykennyx / May 26 2014 8:31 pm

    I find this post interesting and definitely highlights a point that many seem to rarely think about, I suppose we are all guilty of sharing far to many picture’s and being selective becomes less of a custom but I always stand by the words that “you will always be judged by your worst image” and for that reason I think it’s safe for me to say that only my best will be online. Would I pay a tax? Not sure about that… Undecided.

  7. heatherlamont / Jun 13 2014 12:25 am

    Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope you have time to cook and eat the recipes.
    I enjoyed your Feb 14 diary, some wonderful photos, especially the sunrise, sunset and water covered field. Thanks.

  8. jarch21 / Jun 14 2014 5:09 pm

    What a concept you have put forward. I have also been thinking about the amount of photos I post on the web as part of the photo “clutter”. You have proposed a radical idea which I like. Something very different and I believe has merit. I think editing is very hard and you must find people you listen to and trust and can be brutally honest. I am learning and have thought about posting an image a week in flickr as a way to limit and critique the work before posting (yet to be implemented). I have also started culling the images from my previous years and would ideally have an image per month. I think we should also be able to pull the plug on something posted if we do not see it fit the following week/month/year. A review of the work is necessary and one should not post and forget. I find looking at the great photographers really kicks my ass and get my head focus on the quality of photograph I strive to produce/create/share.

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