Dick's Pics

By RichardDonkin


I know this won't glow quite as much on blip as it does on my screen but that's the way it is. If I'd realised what a sunny frosty start we'd have today I would have been up with the larks and over to Bushy Park. Anyways as Gill was heading out of the door she shouted up and said I should look at the wisteria leaves. The wisteria always gives us a great show in May but the leaves have usually gone by now. A few yellowed ones still cling to their branches and they looked quite spectacularly golden in the strong sunlight. The Sigma art lens really does justice to them, I think, with a tight aperture setting.

I must have a closer look at the blip rescue proposal - good to see it's in the hands of some well loved and respected blippers. I hope it succeeds but feel that too many people were lost as a result of the Polaroid takeover. There's also much residual bitterness from the life membership that, we all know now, was a last chuck of the dice to raise cash. I remember thinking at the time that "life" - implying longevity - was an alien concept in the internet world.

I first discovered Blipfoto through what I thought was a great internet medium called Pushnote that didn't survive despite strong backing and promotion from Stephen Fry of all people. A lot of these websites fail because of a fundamental misunderstanding about what the web can and cannot do.

I've adjusted my thinking a lot in the past few years. Over the past few months I've become obsessed with Pinterest after initial suspicions about it exploiting people's "artistic creations". A lot of sites, including this one, don't allow the pinning of images because of copyright fears. I've just about binned my copyright anxiety. There are so many fantastic images out there, do I really think anything I can do is so spectacularly good that it should earn me a fortune? I do not.

When you sign up to Pinterest you're saying that any of your own images that you pin can be pinned among the whole community. Of course, a lot of other images get pinned too and copyright infringements are common. But I can't get worked up about that among people who are not trying to make money out of images. If someone takes my images or anyone else's and tries to make a buck from them, well that's different to my mind. As far as I'm concerned it's just an online and, therefore, public scrapbook. It's brought my attention to some fabulous photographers such as Nadav Kander, for example, and enabled me to build up collections of lovely black and white images and others with different themes. I stick some of my own images in there in a spirit of sharing because that, for me, is what the internet is all about. It's sharing.

What are the assets of Blipfoto? Precious few in terms of physical assets - a few computers, perhaps, and they're a depreciating asset. Our goodwill is probably the biggest asset and that too has depreciated. So we have to look to the overhead and that's what Blipfuture has been doing, trying to work out what it needs to balance the books each year. It's the old Micawber principle: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." 

It would be good to know a bit more, such as whether the current owner puts a value on the site and how it comes to that value. It seems to me that, without solid revenues, the value will be negative. Ultimately it will come down to how much each of us will be prepared to pay to keep it going. I don't like the tiered offerings much and would prefer the idea of one share, one price, one vote. I'd also like to see an ideas bin where we could chuck in proposals to make it fly. Personally I think there could be ways to get some income (or at least offset expenditure) from what we have if we could sign up to the development of an agency model. But that would involve cost and a certain expertise and I'm not sure most would be behind that.

It'll be a great shame if Blipfoto sinks, particularly for all those who have made solid friendships from the community. I haven't made the most of that aspect of blip, possibly because of a solitary nature at heart and possibly because I've been fighting the idea that life has changed for me, that my career, to all intents and purposes may be over. I can't accept that, yet I can no longer accept so much of the baggage that goes with career stuff - chasing work, seeking out commissions, selling, selling, selling. And, worst of all, working for people who are either unpleasant or who, as the saying goes, are not fit to tie my bootlaces. I don't need it. But that's what happens with age, isn't it?

Gosh, I never meant to write all this, on such a sunny day too. Must dash, there's writing to be done. No, really, I'm still pounding away at all that. Like these leaves, I'm clinging on. One day, it'll happen again, or I'll die trying.

• That Kander image of Clinton, incidentally, is astonishing. It's difficult to add new character to portraiture after so many greats such as Yousuf Karsh have, you'd have thought, done all there is to do. But Kander brings something new to the genre. No wonder he's in such demand. And this is what the internet does. It doesn't create talent but it does bring talent to a global audience, a tiny few of whom will pay for that talent in commissions for original work or something for their walls. The knack is to be less uptight about copyright among the adoring masses and let the aggregating magic of the net do its stuff. 


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