Media, Technology, and Education

Photo Sharing Work Flow

surreal exit sign

Since April 2, 2019, I have been taking and posting a #DailyPhoto. This project started when my friend Sally asked if anyone wanted to join her in a #100DayProject where we commit to undertaking a creative activity (and posting the results publicly) for 100 days in a row. I decided to take a photo a day. I was successful and enjoyed this mindful practice so much that I have just kept going. Today (June 21, 2022), I posted a photo for the 1177th day in a row.

Since the beginning, I have used Instagram to share my photos. There are a couple of features about Instagram that I really like. First, it’s really easy to share photos from my phone to Instagram. I simply choose the photo I want to share. Second, still using only my phone, Instagram gives me the opportunity, while I’m sharing, to crop and apply some simple filters to my photo. Third, it’s really easy to cross-share photos from Instagram to Facebook (because they are the same company) so that friends and family to whom I’m connected on each platform can see them. I simply flip a toggle. In other words, I have really enjoyed the convenience of the work flow of capturing photos with my phone and then editing and sharing those photos from that same device on various social media platforms.

I am a strong proponent and practitioner of IndieWeb principles and so I want to publish my content on my own web site. Ideally, I would publish on my web and then send that content out to social media sites like Instagram and Facebook for my friends and family to see. This principle is called POSSE (Publish to your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere). I used to be able to do this to Facebook fairly easily but Facebook removed the method that I used. (I also ran into some other technical details but that would be the focus of a future blog post). So I have been using the principle of PESOS (Publish Elsewhere, Syndicate to your Own Site) to get my photos displayed on this site. I use a WordPress plug-in called Instagram Feed to get the daily photos from Instagram onto my daily photo page.

This process has worked pretty well for me. But there is a problem with this solution that increasingly bothers me. The main storage site for my daily photos is Instagram. I have them on my phone until I delete them because I run out of space. To make sure I keep all my photos from my phone, I use a device called Monument, which provide automatic backup of my phone photos via wifi. I love the automatic part of this. As soon as I walked into my house, any new photos on my phone are automatically uploaded to the device. I take a lot of photos. Sometimes I am choosing my daily photo from a hundred or more photos, all of which get stored on my Monument device. So there is no way for me to easily determine which photos are my daily photos. The only place the daily photos are stored together is on Instagram. Since I have backups of all of those photos, you might think that I wouldn’t mind that this is only place these photos are stored all together. But Instagram dictates how I can interact with those photos.

That is, Instagram won’t let me easily download my own daily photos. So if I have deleted a photo from my phone, Instagram will only provide me with a link to the photo in my feed and provides me with no option for downloading that particular photo. If I want to share a particular daily photo on a blog post, for example, I have to use a third party app. (Note that Instagram provides an option to request the download of ALL of your photos but not individual ones.) I really hate that Instagram takes control of my interaction with my photos in this way.

I have explored numerous ways to move from PESOS to POSSE with my photos. I am experimenting (again–I joined in 2016) with using Flickr. Although using Flickr doesn’t get me to POSSE (since I’d still be publishing elsewhere first), Flickr gives me more control over my posted photos. Since the last time I tried this experiment, Flickr has added some useful features that make sharing on Instagram and Facebook easier as well. Check out my Flickr page.

I have posted two daily photos using my “Flickr first, Instagram second” work flow and it is definitely not particularly convenient. But I’m still working on the work flow so I’m really hoping it gets better as I figure out the details.

Photo credit: Exit, which is one of my favorite daily photos, taken February 7, 2020.

Article written by:

I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in astrophotography, game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.

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