Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Big in Japan

Usually when I get back from a trip, I post photos on the Flickr web site. It’s a fun site that makes it easy to share your photos with other people, as long as they have Internet access. For a long time, I wondered if anyone ever stumbled across my photos without invitation.

Recently I caught on that Flickr will tally statistics for you, if you want them to. So now I know the answer: Yes, strangers do see my photos. Flickr will give you a list of what people are looking at. My most-viewed image (85 visits) is one taken of downtown Shanghai from the top of a TV tower. Second place, with 65 viewings, inexplicably belongs to a sad picture of a makeshift memorial to Anna Nicole Smith.

Just behind that one is a photo that I do like. It’s of a family of Mongolian nomads putting up their tent. It’s not a technically great photo, but I do feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to have gotten the shot at all. Sixty-one people (one just yesterday) have viewed it, but even more surprisingly, four people, all strangers to me, have labeled it a favorite. One other person contacted me explaining that he moderates an online group called “Nomadology,” and wondered if he could add it to a group of photos that they like. And just a few weeks ago, someone emailed me from Japan asking permission to include it in a children’s book about nomads he hopes to publish soon. Apparently Flickr is now the poor man’s stock photo agency. I’m flattered. He promised to let me know when the book is published, and I’ll try to get my hands on a copy when (if?) that happens.

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