Photo Blogging: in the Moment, on the Move
I am that person who takes pictures of my dinner in restaurants, of my feet standing on a subway platform, of signs and strange things sitting by the side of the road. A side effect of my photography addiction and refusal to leave the house without a camera is a heightened appreciation for whatever quirky weirdness or random beauty I encounter in the day-to-day. And now, thanks to a cell phone, I can share these images online immediately if I feel like it.
It turns out that I feel like it quite often, and if my Twittter and Flickr streams are an indication, lots of others are getting the hang of it to. What's perfect to moblog? Want to capture a moment like an engagement or the birth of a child? It works for that. Current events? A recent historic election was documented in BlogHer's Show Us Your Vote call for photos. And sometimes you just want to show off a sweet dog on Valentine's Day. (Hi Suebob.)
Uploading, editing and posting the constant large number of pictures I take on my digital cameras is the time-consuming challenge of photography, and lately I've been so busy that posting to Flickr or, even worse, my personal blog just isn't happening as regularly as I'd like. Posting on the go from my cell phone is a fun way to keep me in the Flickr loop if I feel like it, and I have to admit I'm becoming a little obsessed with imagery in the moment.
Today, for instance, I stopped in a rest area on I-95 in Maryland on the way home from Philly. This scale sat at the entrance to the ladies restroom. I've seen it many times before but this time I decided to take a photo.
My answer to the scale's question was definitely "Not the same," so I decided to put a shot of it on Flickr (with title, caption and tags to be added later) and post it to Twitter via TwitPics.
The best picture ever? Not really, and if I want the weird looks one gets taking pictures of a scale in a Maryland rest stop, I guess it's on me - and like THAT's the weirdest thing that's ever happened there? Don't think so. It was just a view of where I was, when I was there. Some people blog for an audience. I primarily do it as an archive and a journal, still, and I really like looking back at where I'vebeen since I started keeping a digital record.
Twitter, Utterli, Facebook Mobile and other real-time posting options have really opened up mobile photoblogging to anyone with a cell phone, but it's been popular for years.
Jenifer Hanen, aka Ms. Jen, aka Black Phoebe was the first person I followed online who posted regularly from her mobile phone, and where I first learned of concept of moblogging. Currently a Nokia95 user, she wrote a master's thesis on the use of the mobile device in creative pursuits, and has since participated in the truly global Urbanista Diaries - a Nokia project using the N82 with three other bloggers - and the more recent Nokia ViNe project, that combined mobile blogging and geocaching, letting you "leave photos, videos and songs, rooted in the ground, for others to find."
What I like about Jen's work is not just her eye for a good picture and a few words, if necessary, to give it some context, but the way her daily mobile posts create a storyboard for her travels, from Around Ireland to this weekend's funeral for a friend in California. Real-time snapshots, immediately posted, create a cast of characters and scenes, and regular readers can follow along and feel a part of this version of her life (never, as any blogger knows, the whole picture.)
The technology doesn't have to be over-the-top, although an iPhone might be nice (That image courtesy of beccabecs, a UK student focusing on the use of user-generated content like moblogs in the arts.) My basic tool is a simple LG cell phone with a 2 megapixel camera (I don't link because honestly, I don't recommend it in general but the photo posting feature is ok.)
From there it's just a choice of application, driven in my case by my choice of online communities - currently Flickr and Twitter. Flickr's upload-by-email feature assigns each user a unique address, easily added to my phone contacts. When I'm out and about and want to post a photo, I send a picture message to that address and when I return to a browser, it's there. A separate setting allows for the immediate posting to photos to whatever blog you designate, something I don't think I've ever done, but it syncs easily with TypePad, so if I wanted to I could.
Twitpic, also in my phone contacts with a specific email address, links directly to my Twitter stream and also keeps an album of my posted photos on its site. Twitter contacts can @ or DM about a photo on Twitter or on its Twitpic page.
The photos posted on the go are unfailingly rough, but their intent is different - more dynamic, and as I do it more frequently I enjoy it even more. If long-form blogs have shifted for the moment many to 140-character bursts of though, my
Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini moblogs her (amazing) meals (in Parisian restaurants) with a Sony Ericsson C902.
Zu, a Bermudan living and knitting in Edinburgh, posts photos of her projects (and snow, the most she'd seen in four years of Scotland life) to her Blogger blog using the ShoZu application, which claims to "connect your mobile phone with your online life." I'm checking that one out today.
I'm not familiar with Snapfoo but it is specific to photoblogs and seemingly syncs with just about any social media platform.
Mashable posted a March, 2008, roundup of 9 Ways to Moblog From Your Phone.
Chris and KT have been sailing the world since 2003 (via Sail Billabong.) They share lots of information about editing photos with Picasa, offline and/or remotely, at the BlurbBits blog.
Confused? Don't be. It really is as easy, in most cases, as a picture, a cell phone, a destination e-mail and a Web site. Throwing this combination into the mix has changed the way I look at the images I place online and the story they tell. It will never take the place of the work I do with memory cards and editing software, but the moment definitely has its place - even if I'm the only one who cares about it.