Since the day I started the group in June of 2009, HoustonPhotowalks.com has been a real blast. There are hundreds of amazing photographers in Houston, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many, many, many of them over the past 4 years.
Not The First Rebranding
To help keep the group’s web-site fresh (and to repair things that break when Meetup.com changes the header size or formatting options), our community’s web site has undergone a few “face lifts”. Through each rebranding, we maintained a few common features to remain recognizable: The Big Lens, the font, and (for the most part) our name.
Starting off Year Four – Going Back To Red
And now, at almost our 4-year mark, Meetup.com has kicked in with another major overhaul of their Look and Feel. Since we are along for the ride, HPW is going to rebrand too. This time, a bit more drastically than in previous years. Note however, to provide consistency in our branding, we continue to use the same font and message.
In fact, we are somewhat returning to our roots, going back to our original fire-engine red.
Old Logo History
I’ll admit it, some of these are sick-embarrassing to display. But they are what they are: our history in logos.
At first, the group was called “Houston Photowalk Events”, you can still see this reflected in some of our email addresses.
Meetup was tweaking their interface just like we were. And at one point, I was able to create large graphics for our header. Around December of 2009, we saw the familiar Orange and Black logo appear. Click to see full size.
It was about this time that our community really started to evolve. We weren’t just about “events”. The group was doing discussions, DIY’s, movie-theater presentations, and had eaten lots-and-lots-and-lots of food together. Rather than focusing on the nature of “Events”, the branding was changed so our community had a name. We rebranded to Houston Photowalks.
In June of 2010, I couldn’t really keep calling the group an experiment. We had organized and executed dozens of photowalks and meetups. To celebrate our 1st birthday, I purchased the web site domain name we use today, and rebranded as a proper “dot com”.
After organize events to small home-town parades, tours BEHIND the Galveston Strand to photograph the cracked walls and garbage dumps, and visits to the famous National Funeral History Museum, the group and our events were sometimes a little weird. So I added “Interesting and Unusual” to our branding too.
This logo remained with us from September 2010 to April 2013.
On the heels of another major Meetup.com redesign, we jumped in and rebranded again. We kept The Big Lens, the font, and the branding. But as we near our 4th anniversary, we switched back to red. How long with this logo last? Time will tell.
After Meetup made more GUI changes, part of our slogan was no longer visible on the site. To help solidify our branding, we added the tagline to the image, below the URL.
For the holidays in 2013, I had a little fun.
Meetup made a GUI change that added a colored bar along the bottom of the header image. For our group, that bar was red, and looked exactly like the underline we had been using since September of 2013. So I recreated the logo without the red bar. Also, in keeping with more current design standards, I reduced the intensity of the drop shadow behind the red text.
Its fun to see how branding and designs change over the years. I’m curious to see where the HoustonPhotowalks logo takes us in the future!
Don’t let the Comment Haters slow you down.
Most people appreciate and maybe even crave feedback, especially positive. When it comes to photography, there are those who are very comfortable providing constructive, well crafted critiques. These paragraphs of personal opinions are often (at least hopefully, always) provided with the best intentions in mind, to help the photographer understand what works, and what doesn’t, in a particular photograph.
But there has been a growing trend of fellow photographers withholding their positive encouragement for the most silly of reasons: embarrassment and shame.
How Can Leaving A Comment Be Embarrassing?
Recently I have seen or heard photographers suggest (or outright telling) someone that if they can’t “intelligently” explain why they like someone’s image, they shouldn’t bother posting a comment. In other words, if a photograph catchers your attention, you show your own ignorance by posting “Nice image!” Telling someone they are unqualified to post a comment on photographs is frankly one of the most degrading remarks one photographer can say to another.
I’ve heard HoustonPhotowalks.com members mention mention occasionally that they loved one image or another from their fellow community member, but didn’t comment because Joe Blow Pro Photog told them that “Love it!” Or “great pic!” is amateur. Frankly, telling you that you are not qualified to “like” a photo makes Joe Blow Pro Photog lame and amateur-ish. (Point him to this blog post is he disagrees).
All Feedback is Important
It’s true that learning to read a photograph, how to detect subtle use of intersecting lines, angles, strong color (or not), and other composition techniques is very important. And providing details when commenting on a work is always helpful and informative, even if that feedback may include some “suggestions for improvement”. The end result is that we help each other grow, right?
As we grow as artists, we slowly learn to talk the trade, learn the language, etc. And as we grow, we can spot areas that seem to “not work” both in our own photographs and others. These are important steps for an artist’s maturity. So by no means am I saying that learning how to “Read” a photograph or provide constructive critiques aren’t important skills to grow into.
But someone should never feel intimidated or uncomfortable telling another photographer that their work had an emotional effect … even if the viewer is not prepared to specifically explain why.
It is Rude to Look at a Sketch Without Making a Nice Comment …
We are not required to withhold friendly feedback for other art forms. If someone shows you a quilt, lawn, drawing, or pottery, do you withhold positive feedback because you don’t know specific technical terms?
If someone shows you their drawing with stunning detail, strokes, and perspective … do you just hand the image back with no comment because you haven’t taken a proper sketching class? No, you say “OMG”, because you recognize skill, and its polite and encouraging to our peers!
So if someone creates a composition that affects your perception positively, they have knowingly or unknowingly tapped into the skills of artistic expression. They would like to see your “Like”, “Fav”, or “Amazing” just as much as a three paragraph examination. Don’t let the rules of a staid and inflexible photography critiques keep you from telling a fellow photographer, “I really love your work.”
If you like it, Like it! Don’t be shy, don’t feel judged. The recipient will really appreciate the time you took to comment. Don’t let some cranky old photographer make you to think you are unqualified to like something … or to express your appreciation for someone else’s work!
Feel free to post comments on the subject, I’m interested in hearing your view … or if you find this article helpful.