The long read

The Berlin Photography Meetup Group

I’m not a great believer in altruism, I believe that everyone does everything for their own selfish reasons, and I’m just as selfish as the next man, so when I formed this photography Meetup group, it wasn’t because I was doing it for the good of mankind, it was purely because I wished to develop my own photography, but there’s no better way of doing it than with a group of like minded others.

And so it’s been an extraordinarily rewarding experience, I’ve loved every minute of it, and I would like to thank all those who have attended these events, and I hope that everyone has had just as much out of it as I have.

I’ve spent the past year organising a series of events based around practicing our creative skills, as I felt that composition in all its forms was such an important skill to master, and the quality of the work posted by the members of this group has got noticeably very mich better because of them.

But I feel that my quest of self improvement has reached a new stage and that I should be facing new challenges if I’m to get any better, which is why I’ve started to introduce a new type of event, one based around themes, the Photo-Essay.

Dictionary definition

Photo-Essay: an account of something told predominantly through photographs, with some accompanying text.

No longer just a series of unrelated images shot at various locations around Berlin, but a series of images taken to illustrate a given topic or theme accompanied with a descriptive text, giving the images more depth and context, and I’m hoping that a great many of you will embrace this new challenge with me too.

And to this aim I’ve already started scheduling them:

Photo-Essay: Quote from Anneliese Bödecker.

Saturday, Oct 14, 2017, 2:00 PM

Intimes Kino
Boxhagener Str. 107 10245 Berlin, DE

25 Members Went

Quote from Anneliese Bödecker:”The Berliners are unfriendly and ruthless, bossy and rude, Berlin is repulsive, loud, dirty and grey, construction sites and crowded streets are everywhere – whether walking or standing – but I feel sorry for all those people who cannot live here!”Photo-essay – an account of something told predominantly through phot…

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Photo-Essay: Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

Saturday, Oct 21, 2017, 2:00 PM

S-Bahn Berlin-Schlachtensee
Am Schlachtensee 14129 Berlin, DE

28 Members Went

An autumn theme to inspire us, the title is actually a song by the White Stripes, but it perfectly describes this transitory season and so we’ll use it as inspiration for a short photo-essay of between 4 – 8 photos, each with a short title.Autumn, also known as fall, marks the transition from summer into winter.The most noticeable change is in th…

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Photo-Essay: The Passenger by Iggy Pop

Saturday, Oct 28, 2017, 6:00 PM

S-Bahn Ostkreuz
Hauptstraße 10317 Berlin, DE

25 Members Went

Featured on his 1977 Lust for Life album, and loosely based on a poem by Jim Morrison of The Doors, the song was inspired by the long S-Bahn journeys Iggy Pop made through Berlin when he lived here in self exile, at the time sharing a flat in Schöneberg with David Bowie, who also collaborated on the album.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0nlygb1Qf…

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These may not be to everyone’s taste, but hopefully there will be occasional suggestions from group members for future events, and theoretically there should be no shortage of them, because almost anything should be suitable, from poetry, songs, quotes, current events, books, locations, etc.

The Blog

The Berlin Photography Meetup group generates thousands of photos each month and apart from a handful which are posted up on the Meetup Website, most of them never see the light of day again.

And even then, Meetup doesn’t actually attract all that many viewers.

Most of the photos are taken as practice, during one of the Photography Skills Practice events, and as such they have almost no connection with each other, they at best form a series of wholly unrelated subjects, the only link being that they all happen to have been taken on the same day.

The very best photos there exist by themselves, almost in a vacuum, there’s absolutely no context, because they don’t even get a title.

But the possibilities to present work publicly today are almost endless and I think it could be a useful development if the group were to have its own blog, with which ideas, stories and themes etc. could be experimented with in greater depth.

Series of photos could be presented, bound together with some text, to give them more context, a human interest.

And the text could be anything: a simple word-cloud, computer generated poetry, something self-written . . . anything is better than nothing.

To this end I’ve thrown this website together, just as a proof of practice, to demonstrate an idea I’ve had about maybe creating a magazine type photo-blog, to which the group members could contribute if and when they so desired.

This is just a mockup, a fake, the design and layout are not the finished article.

Monthly meeting

There would also be an extra monthly meeting during which ideas and work-in-progress could be shared, appraised, and critiqued.

Fake Posts

With this fake blog I’ve included 5 fake posts, just to give an impression of what I have in mind:

Critique

I’m not very enthusiastic about scheduling events that are only about critique, because they attract a lot of “armchair photographers”, people who do all their photography at home with PhotoShop and rarely ever go out with the camera, and that’s the sort of photography that I’m very keen to avoid.

I formed this group for people like ourselves, who enjoy going out with the camera, practical photography, and I would like to keep it that way, but the Blog itself and the monthly meeting would encourage a practical environment in which critique naturally took place as members shared their ideas prior to publishing and others could offer advice as to choice of images, cropping, style etc.

Contributing

I don’t want members sweating blood when preparing a post ready for publication, it should be as quick and easy as possible, a minimum of 4 – 8 photos should be possible for everyone.

Members would initially have to register on the blog to become a contributor (author) and from then on would be able to format a post from the WordPress dashboard and publish it themselves

Try it yourself:

Login page

Username:Password:

(Copy and paste)

But I’ve also incorporated a front-end posting plugin, so that anyone with something to post can do it from the comfort of their own front-room, without having to login to the website first and setup the post themselves, although the formatting is very limited, it’s as easy and automatic as it gets.

You can even try it out yourself by going to the Posting page.

The post Grey and Uncompromising was uploaded using this method.

Linking

Members could then link any contributions to their personal Facebook, twitter pages etc.

Resources

I’ve included a PDF as a primer in the group folder here, with a practical example of a simple photo-essay.

At the very least the images should have a title, and if possible maybe a longer text, and although I would prefer it if this text were to come from a human source , preferably from the person who actually took the photos,  it’s not a perfect world, and I have to recognise the fact that many people just don’t like writing, they have no confidence, and that particularly afflicts the more visually creative type of person.

But we all use writing aids: a dictionary, thesaurus etc, and so I’ve added a few more to the list, modern ones, those for computer aided text generation.

David Bowie was famous for using unconventional methods of song writing, which included taking other people’s songs, cutting the lyrics up with a pair of scissors, and then sticking it all back together again in a random order, and no one complained about that, in fact he was hailed as one of the leading songsmiths of his age for it.

I just see computer generated text as a starting point, as inspiration, and I would rather that there is some text, than none, and I don’t care how someone gets there.

Word Cloud: Wordle

Text Generators: Language is a virus

Dummy text: Lorem Ipsum

Random text: Random text generator

Postmodernism text: Postmodernism essay generator

Language

Because the group is multi-cultural, the posts should be able to be written in whatever language the author feels comfortable using, and the reader therefore also should have the opportunity of translating it into whatever language he or she feels most comfortable reading it in.

So I’ve incorporated a Google-Translate plugin into the mockup, and the way I’ve set it up it should in theory translate from any language into any other, but even if it’s not yet perfect, these tools are getting ever better, and rapidly so.

Watermark and copyright

There would be an automatic watermark function via plugin, and any copyrights would remain with the photographer and author.

Feedback

If you can be bothered, I would appreciate any feedback or ideas anyone may have on the subject, but if you can’t be bothered, that’s feedback in itself.

Feedback

Sorry for this being such a long read, so thanks for even getting this far – Andrew.