How To Have Fun
Have Your Photos Seen By Millions!
December 22, 2020
I have good news and bad news. The bad first: Winter has now officially begun, as of yesterday. The good news? The days will be getting longer everyday for the next 190 days! Whether you are a winter person or a summer person, that has to be encouraging news.
The Chinese have an ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” 2020 has been an interesting time for all of us. Political strife and uncertainty, financial challenges, limited human contact, being exiled in your home and limitations to your activities. “Interesting times” is probably not the description that leaps to mind.
A Partial Solution
I have a cure for all of these woes! Oh, and I have some nice bridge properties, well situated on Manhattan’s East River that I can sell you for a song.
No, neither of those is true. But we all have one big advantage over most of the populace when it comes to waiting out pandemic restrictions. We are photographers! We can go in search of interesting images, while maintaining social distancing instead of looking desperately for something new to watch on Netflix or Prime. If we need to stay in, we can review and improve our current treasure trove of images. And we can watch videos and read to improve our photographic skills and abilities.
If you are tired of rounding up the usual suspects to photograph once again, this time festooned with snow and icicles, I have a suggestion. Every time that you go on a local picture safari, walk or personal photo project, besides posting your images to FB, Instagram and, of course, the Pocono Photo Club Members Pictures area, pick a couple of those pictures, go online to Google Maps, find the location where you made those images and submit your photos. Google Maps maintains a photo database for virtually every location it maps.
Why would you want to do that? Instant fame? Insane wealth? Most likely not. You will have to continue to pursue those goals with your current photo sites. But if you want a place to post your masterpieces that costs nothing, is viewed by millions and where the competition is almost non-existent, Google Maps might be a good choice! Google posts your name with your images. You will be surprised how your viewership will increase. I have a picture of a local restaurant facade that has been viewed 1,636,781 times! More on that below - stick with me.
Concerns and Disclaimers
I know, Google is taking over the world. Google has dropped their “Do no evil.” motto. Google is making money hand over fist. Google is tracking us all. If any of those ideas are deal breakers, then thank you for your time - this is not for you.
For you adventurous souls still with me, consider the services Google provides. I will just say “a lot”. I benefit from Google services constantly throughout each day. I know that they are in business to make money and that our participation in their services makes that happen. I consider this a win-win. I have no stock or financial relationship with Google or Alpha, Google’s parent corporation.
Here Is the Good Part
The Google Maps Photos Database is a resource for photographers and tourists. Let’s say that you are going to Bucket List Item #4, Ann Street Park, home of the Stroudsburg waterfall! Okay, you might want to reimagine your photographic bucket list, but that is a different blog subject. You are looking for the photographic options at the park to catch it in all of its glory. You go to Google Maps, search and locate your spot and click on the pin identifying the location. Looking to your left, and scrolling down, you see “Photos”. Here you can find pictures of every type, taken in every season, at every skill level and at any time of the day. You will also note the button “Add a photo”. I did and it added an additional photographic direction for me to follow.
How This Started For Me
One beautiful evening I walked out of the Weis Market on North 9th Street after a brief shop for necessities. It was in the early blue hour. I happened to look back over my shoulder at the market and was impressed enough to get out my mobile phone and take a picture. I just thought it looked pretty and I often capture routine scenes when they appeal to me.
Eventually I submitted the image to the Google Maps Photos section for this Weis Market (not to be confused with the separate Google Photos site). I had no goal in mind, I just wanted to try it. How else are you going to use a reasonably attractive photo of a grocery store? They posted it. They post everything. But this photo has gained 328,769 views as of Dec. 21st and this image remains the lead picture at this Weis location photo list, even though it was submitted in Feb. 2017. That is flattering!
I am not a professional photographer. I got serious about photography in order to learn how to take an interesting picture, instead of the boring snapshots I had previously perfected. Taking a picture of a grocery store is a very limited path to fame and fortune, but I was able to make it interesting enough to gain this level of attention. It reinforced my desire to, and joy gained from, looking for interesting images everywhere I go, all the time.
I walk for exercise. This is something you can do during these “interesting” times. One walk took me down West Main Street past the world famous Big Star Ice Cream stand (since 1949!) this past November. It was closed, but the sun was making a spectacle of itself that early morning, so out came my Pixel 4 to capture the fleeting scene. I sent it off to Google Maps to garner 19,508 views to date (now 19,576 - 68 more views while I was writing this). Not spectacular, but not bad for an image of a closed ice cream stand on a winter morning.
For the two of you still with me, thank you for your patience. I mentioned something about 1,600,000+ views for one photo above. Let’s get to that.
I’m on another walk, this time in the evening at the intersection of Bridge Street and North 9th. Walking past the Fume Restaurant I saw another blue hour possibility. I had my Sony a6000 with me. I took the shot and submitted it to Google Maps at the Fume page. It was a nice, nondescript photo. To date it has been viewed 1,694,565 times (increased by 684 views since I started writing this blog). It is the featured photo, which is humorous because the Fume Asian Grill & Sushi is now the Yusan Sushi & Ramen Restaurant, yet my Fume picture is featured!
No one is beating down my door to do their commercial photography and the first royalty check has yet to arrive, but I do feel a sense of satisfaction each month when Google sends me an email showing my posted photos with the greatest number of views. And I do feel like I am giving back to the community by sharing these images.
While my Google Maps image “successes” tend to be commercial storefronts and interiors, I also share the best of most of my nature outings so that other photographers can come along and make better pictures than mine. That’s life in interesting times!
Sharing your images in this way can be gratifying and make a minor social contribution while playing with your photography. It is not difficult to upload pictures to Maps and any photographer with a little skill can expect to compete well with the average snapshot taker. How else will you get people to look at your cranberry bog floating walkway images?
If you already are sharing your pictures this way, you can look at sum and status of what you have shared by going to Google Maps and clicking on the triple bar (hamburger) menu symbol in the Map site search box. Look for “Your Contributions” towards the bottom of the menu and click on it. If you would like to look at what I have contributed for a better idea of what this looks like, you can view my contributions page.
I would have taken all of these pictures without a Google Maps destination in mind. Being able to share my pictures in this way just adds an additional dimension to my photographic activities. Now, if only I could monetize the activity! I probably wouldn’t mind being a professional photographer - as long as it doesn’t require any real work!
Now go out and expose something!