How To Do A Free For All

I’m two years too late on doing a free for all on Instagram.

A free for all is when you give out for free a set of photos. By free, I mean without copyright using perhaps at most an attribution license.

Here are the steps:

1) Create an image announcing the Free For All. Make sure the age has the hashtag of your event on it.

2) Recruit Ambassadors to promote your free for all using the image you created in step 1. Be sure to give them copy that states where they can find the free images, and that they need to use the hashtag to participate.

3) Be sure the ambassadors have a clear post date, start date & end date for the free for all.

4) Put your free images publicly linked and accessible on Dropbox or a similar service.

5) Announce the free for all along with your ambassadors.

6) During the free for try to give a shout out each day to edits you liked from your collection of free photos.

7) At the end choose a winner and runners up if you want.

I really messed up on recruiting ambassadors for my free for all. If I had gotten 20 ambassadors I would’ve gotten more followers. I had only a handful and so ended up with 134 new followers in a week when I usually only get 10.

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Lightroom Workflow

This is my Lightroom Workflow for making photos for use on any social media.

I will show you a before and after that I use primarily for landscape photos.

First, I export out the RAW files from something like iPhoto into a folder.

I drag the contents of this photo onto the Lightroom icon or open up the folder in Lightroom. I then select the photos I want to import. Then, I select a photo to edit.

I will start out with this photo.

1_before

Next I do the following:

  • click on “Enable Profile Corrections”,
  • adjust white balance (This can really make or break a RAW photo but won’t do much in JPG),
  • adjust contrast and exposure,
  • adjust the tone curve, and
  • adjust the sharpenss.

The first and last step are key. When you take a photo with a DSLR, the photos are not sharp but softly diffuse in RAW format. Without post-processing you cannot get the same kind of sharpness that you might from a film camera with the same setup as your digital camera. Here is a before and after showing just how important the sharpening step is.

1_without_sharpening

2_with_sharpening

Enabling the profile corrections will adjust any distortion that your lens causes, e.g. a curved instead of a straight horizon. In the past this was a painstaking process to fix that might take hours. Now you can fix it with the click of a button.

Here is the final image.

2_after

I Lost at Instagram

I lost at Instagram in all the ways possible when you think of social media.

Let me first say that I had real friends before the Internet and before cell phones. We hung out almost *everyday*. To me that was / is real friendship. When did having a light capturing device become a pre-requisite for friendship? It is now. You also need to have a cell phone to have friends in the 21st century. Doesn’t this strike anybody as totally wrong? Am I the only one?

When Instagram first launched, I thought it was the best thing ever. It was the app that Flickr should’ve made. It boggles me that you can have 5000 people at a company doing nothing. Facebook is like that now and Instagram is headed there, too. When I heard Kevin Systrom and Josh Riedel were headed to a bar in downtown LA to meet LA users, I jumped at that chance. I remember talking to them about startups and the potential for a big startup in LA. I told them I was the lead developer at an app company. There were two ladies that they were more interested in talking to so I don’t blame them. This is how I first lost. I knew the potential of the app, and I failed to connect in anyway meaningful with these innovators.

A few months later, I had a chance to apply at Instagram and be employee number 7 or 8. Some douchebag recruiter from Twitter who was now working at Instagram never gave me a chance. This pissed me off to no end. I ended up working on an app called Via.Me. It ended up being the number 2 uploading app, so I definitely had the chops to do the work there. This is the second way I lost at Instagram.

The biggest and most painful way I lost at Instagram is like the 50 or so actors and actresses that never got an Oscar but should have. Yes, Gary Oldman, I’m looking at you. You totally deserved one in so many films. I never became a suggested user, and never will. When I found out that it was a word of mouth thing where suggested users could suggest other users, I thought I had a chance. In fact 3 friends asked that I be suggested, but this never panned out. I’M SO FUCKING SORRY I NEVER WENT TO STANFORD YOU DOUCHEBAGS THAT MANAGE “COMMUNITY.” I remember the first time I met Sam Graves. I gave him a ride to a meet up in Tennessee Valley. A photographer I knew was talking about needing a second for a photo shoot while I was walking with her. The moment Sam heard this he literally pushed me out of the way so that he could try and take this job from me. Sam Graves is the biggest douche bag ever and is destroying photography. He makes photographers think that if you do social media well, that is doing photography. He has turned Instagram into a Hollywood club populated by sycophants and whores. He also buys followers, too.

Yet, this guy, a total douchebag, beat me, and became a suggested loser. I played it on the straight and narrow and utterly failed to touch the heart of anybody at Instagram with my personality or art.

Where do I go from here? I can only continue to push myself further and harder. Although, I totally despair of getting the recognition I yearn for, I think I can learn to be my own ultimate source of validation. Like the old prophets of Israel, I will renew myself in the wilderness. This is a wilderness where folks with 20k followers on Instagram don’t want anything to do with you anymore even though you used to be “friends.” This is a wilderness where you are no longer competing with other Instagrammers but with the great photographers and artists of the past. Compared to Ansel Adams, I am a loser and am okay with that.

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