Friday, February 11, 2011

You Never Know Where They Come From

Any rooms at the Bates Motel? I dunno. Let me go ask Momma, 2010

I’m always curious to see which of the photographs I post at Flickr will catch the attention of the Flickr community. They’re a discerning lot and you just never know what’s going to click with them.

My all-time most viewed photograph is actually a short Flip camera video, 40 Seconds of Zen from the Dead Horses. As of yesterday, it had been viewed nearly 21,000 times. Each day a dozen or so people get added to the count. I don’t know where they come from or how they find their way to this little video. The Flickr statistics tell me only that the majority of them come from “unknown sources,” leading me to believe they’re here because they were searching for “Zen.”

But that theory doesn’t hold much water, if you’ll pardon the pun. Here’s another little video I posted that also has the word “Zen” in the title. It’s been viewed by fewer than 150 people. And here’s yet another one, this time a photo with “Zen” in the title. It’s been viewed by fewer than 100 people. So much for that theory. (Looks like I'm more interested in Zen than them.)

My second most viewed image, Old Sparky, is a photograph of the old electric chair in the Texas Prison Museum. It’s been viewed by more than 7,000 people. As with the 40 Seconds of Zen from the Dead Horses, new people find their way to this photograph every day. Flickr statistics tell me they come primarily from search engines. So my assumption is that they come as a result of interest in the death penalty. (I do know that this photo has been used at two web sites devoted to overcoming the death penalty.)

The other day I posted the picture above, “Any rooms at the Bates Motel? I dunno. Let me go ask Momma,” at Flickr. It’s a scene I’ve photographed many times through the years, but one I’ve always chosen to show as a black-and-white rather than color image.

I took this picture last October. It was so far to the bottom of the list of pictures I liked from that series, though, that I wasn’t even going to post it at first. I try not to repeat myself. I also think Flickr has a relatively short attention span for series that don’t punch you every day with something really exciting. But I liked the composition, the great light and the blue sky. So I posted the picture and went on about my business.

Some of my usual friends stopped in to comment, for which I am always grateful. But then, later in the day, I started getting comments and e-mails from people I’ve never heard of before. They wrote to me in French, Italian and, I think, Portuguese. The French I could understand. The Italian I could make out. The Portuguese I had to go to Babel Fish to interpret.

Every now and then one of my pictures will be featured at Flickr’ Explore page. If you hang around Flickr long enough this will happen to you from time to time. Flickr doesn’t tell you they’re doing this. You usually notice it in the form of an uptick in traffic to your Flickr page. But someone also usually comments that they saw the picture at Explore. This time, though, there were no such notes and I couldn’t find this photo at Explore.

I guess this’ll give me something to think about this weekend while I should be thinking about finding a Valentine.


  1. It's an excellent photo--maybe it's word of mouth or someone showing it to someone else, saying "look what I just found on flickr!" I also think you're very good at coming up with witty titles, and that's gotta' help draw people to the story you're telling, too.

  2. I think Sue's right. Above all, DON'T forget the Valentine!

  3. Valentine! I knew I was forgetting something! I think it's a great shots, as well and the stuff on Flicker just made me even more homesick. Did you shoot Less Chaos, More Zen from the ramp at the Narrows? I have got to get back to Virginia Beach for a few days!