Friday, December 2, 2011

Having an Audience

Summer Dinner, 2008

I was talking to a friend recently, a serious foodie, who described how she’s stopped cooking for her husband.
“He doesn’t notice it and doesn’t care,” she said. The kids are grown up and gone. So why should she go the effort of cooking for him if he’s just as happy picking up fast food on the way home from work?
My friend can still cook for herself, of course. And she does from time to time. But it’s clear that in the absence of an audience there’s not a lot of motivation for her to spend time setting the table, arranging flowers, selecting wine, background music and such. My friend used to be known for her “presentation” of a meal. Now I get the impression she eats standing up in the kitchen or in front of the television.
Having an audience is important. When I started posting photographs at Flickr in the spring of 2003 I was just interested in seeing how my work would look online. I was curious whether it would attract any attention. But I was more interested, as I’ve noted here before, in seeing if having a place to post pictures online every day would give me the motivation of to stick with it.
Still, it’s nice to have an audience. Over the years I’ve come to know a much more geographically and sociologically diverse range of friends at Flickr than I could have found where I live. Today there are more than five hundred people who’ve elected to see at least a thumbnail view of my daily posts at Flickr.
Not everyone clicks on every picture to see it in a larger format, of course. But over time it’s interesting to see how different pictures appeal to different people. Sometimes pictures I thought were going to engage a lot of people don’t, and sometimes pictures I’d thought of throwing away end up engaging the interest of a lot of people.
I’d like to say I don’t care a lot about the viewing numbers at my Flickr page. But I do in fact look at them most days to see if there’s anything I can learn from what seems to capture attention and what doesn’t. So far, the only trend I can discern with any confidence is that there isn’t any trend. So I’ll just keep throwing stuff out there to see what sticks.
Oh, and by the way, I love my wife’s cooking. She gives it a lot of thought and I try to make sure she never thinks that thought goes unnoticed.


  1. It must be fun to see what responses people give to photos. Your salad up there looks great!

  2. your last paragraph - DO make sure! It's important.
    your friend's experience - was mine in recent years, even though i am not a "serious" foodie, I found it symbolic ( very ), in our case, of grander separateness. Preparing ( and sharing) food for someone is a gift, it's a part of Life, and when it is shrugged off, well....

    In my now new life, I have that appreciation and shared enthusiasm. And yes, it means a lot.