Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Facebook Changed my Photo-Taking--Could It Change Your Museum's?

I've been exceptionally lucky the last couple years and have traveled a good many places, from Peru to Ukraine, and in the US,  I'm on the road more than many people.  I'd never particularly taken photos before, mostly because I have two incredibly talented photographers in the family (here and here).  But, once I started using Facebook, I started taking lots of photos and sharing them there.  I had used Flickr for a bit, but didn't engage with it, but now I love putting my photos up on Facebook for friends and family to see.

Why?   It's simple--I get feedback.   I know that my friend Heleen will almost always comment when I put up a garden-related photo; and that Beth C, with two small girls, lives a bit vicariously through my travels;  Anne G likes anything with great color, pattern and texture;  and others just enjoy seeing somewhere different.  Right now,  I like that my Ukrainian friends can see what I find interesting about this place, and that my American friends can see a place they might never visit.  And I have to admit, I love looking at other people's travel photos as well.  If you're curious like me, I have opened my recent Facebook photo albums to everyone.

I take pictures for this blog, of course, and now for The Pickle Project,  and those museum and food images are now some of the things I look for when I'm out and about.  But I also, thanks to my handy little digital camera and Facebook, look for all those images that convey something of the places I've been.  Now I feel like I have a little audience for my caught-on-the-run photos rather than just randomly storing them away in a shoebox (or CD) at home.  To paraphrase Bill Clinton's campaign, "It's the audience, stupid!"

I see several museums using Facebook to share images in different ways.  Historic Cherry Hill in Albany, NY runs a great weekly contest using an object from their collection.  Lively conversation and debate almost always ensue upon posting of an object.  MassMOCA uploaded almost 400 photos taken in their photo booth at an event and invited readers to tag them.   I'm sure there's many other museums doing things that I haven't come across yet.

What else could museums do besides those pictures of objects or events?  I'd love to see local historical society staff or volunteers get pictures of the their community today.  What are the things you walk by every day that stay the same--buildings, perhaps;  or change--buildings, people, landscape, gardens?   Why don't more museums regularly share their historic photos on Facebook?  I'd love a photo a day of a place I'm interested in.   Is your museum doing this?  I'd love to hear about it.

So get out there and starting sharing your perspectives on the places you live!   And isn't feedback from your audience, no matter what size, a very nice thing?

Top to bottom:  some of my week in Kyiv.  French aerial troupe performing at St. Sophia's Square, farm building at Pirogovo Museum; pickles and tomatoes at a little food both at Pirogovo,  and the corner of Taras Shevchenko University.

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