Together and Alone

Posted on Jun 15, 2009 - 97 comments -

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Inspired by my all time favorite artist - Edward Hopper.
His masterful use of light in his painting is a great inspiration for me.

My first (and so far - only) photo taken with a cell phone. Sony Ericsson K800i. 3.2mega pixel. My first digital camera was only 3.1.. The progress...

Now, most of the time, I'm not sure if my photo is good or bad. But this one, I really think is not "too bad". But photos like this, will never reach Flickr's "Interestingness"/Explore page. It saddens me. Not the fact that my photo won't reach such "goal" but the fact that we miss so many other good photos just because they are not colorful/flower/pretty woman/processed enough.

I must confess - About a year ago, reaching the 'Explore' page was my ultimate goal.
Out of 150 photos I got on my flickr page, 43 were featured. That's not bad, I think, but then I realized two things -

1. The system is pretty easily 'manipulated'. I now know how to reach Explore with almost any photo of mine.
2. I was working too hard and contributing to flickr and not my photography.

After realizing these two things - I've started my blog.

I'm sure I'll be asked how to 'manipulate' the system? / How can I reach Explore?. There is no a 100% fail proof path, but you can use some of these tips. Be warned though - Soon as I found out how it works, I lost all interest in this. Traffic? Yes, it brings some. But it's cheating. The nasty way.

There are few considerations flickr counts when calculating how interesting the photo is.

1. Do notupload the photo to more than 3-4 groups.
2. Do not re-upload the photo to groups. Many use this to make their photo appear on the groups main page.
3. Tag the photo properly. This is the most unclear point to me, because it seems that giving hundreds of tags might also decrease photo's grade.

So far, these are pretty usual tips. Now we go from tips, to cheats.

4. Upload the photo at the correct time. When most of the users online. From what I found, the best time is between 12pm to 6pm(I always checked with NY timezone).

5. As soon as you upload your photo, comment like crazy. Not your friends, but users you are not connected to.

By 'like crazy' I mean, comment 400-500 (and more) users. about 70%-80% of them will come to look on your flickr stream and about 40%-50% of these visitors will comment/fave your LATEST photo. There is a window of few hours for the photo to be "interesting" for that specific day. To reach Explore you need a good ration between comments, faves and views. 7-8 faves, 15 comment and 50-60 views are almost sure to put you somewhere in Explore.

Of course, it'll go much easier is your photo over saturated and has a pretty face in it. Or both.

Well.. Good luck, I guess. Maybe exposing the system will cause them to improve it, I don't know. Since starting my blog, I lost interest in Explore race.

If you got more tips/cheat, feel free to share.

There has been 97 Responses to 'Together and Alone' so far

  1. rhys says:

    Sometimes you dont need fancy cameras, as someone once said 'the best camera is the one you happen to have with you at the time'.
    And as Hopper himself said:
    'No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.'
    I like this image, a kind of 20th Century 'Nighthawks'.

  2. Philippe says:

    A man , a woman and "I'm loving it", I want to shake your picture !!! Phil.

  3. Melinda says:

    First of all, great photo and even though I was "spoiled" (Twitter) I could clearly see it was an homage to Hopper (who, incidentally, is one of my favourites, too).
    Second, your comments on Flickr's Explore are much appreciated. Sounds like a LOT of work though. Oh, and you forgot to mention the prevalence of fake HDR, which makes me gag (no offence meant to anyone).

  4. a.h.lex says:

    that's it what the 'modern society' is about! Great shot!

  5. Connar O'Keeffe says:

    I must admit this is so Hopperish its untrue.

    When I was looking into nighthawks I found that so many advertising campaigns take hoppers ideas and use it. There is a car advert running here in the UK that uses nighthawks and you see it in the background for a split second.

    I'm pretty sure I have seen this photo before too. I may have seen it on flickr at some point.

    Gotta say I LOVE IT

  6. timtop says:

    wonderful. And good to have further ammunition for the 'tool/talent' debate. (well, some people are still debating it. So often on seeing a good picture people will ask 'what camera did you use?' with the tone that says 'if I buy one i too can take good pictures!') Lovin' it.

  7. Doum says:

    One thing is certain; you cell phone camera reach point and shoot quality camera. And the ambiance so nice captured. I just like to say more! I don't like Flickr, the platform still good but the navigation remains not friendly to use... too much material to discovering.

  8. Klaus says:

    Looks so cool .. great urban shot Ilan

  9. yz says:

    cool shot and great title

  10. Rob says:

    I really like this photo. It gives off a sense of loneliness and tiredness. The funny thing is if you stood at this location during the middle of the day you'd probably get the opposite...a bunch of sugared up kids running around :)

    Before getting my DSLR I was certain I couldn't take a good photo without it. My little P&S just wasn't cutting it in my opinion. The problem was I was trying to do things with the P&S that it just couldn't do or I wasn't figuring out how to do it properly. Looking back now at some of my earlier photos with the P&S, it took fine was just all in my head.

    Chase Jarvis has shown what you can do with an IPhone camera. I think if you have it in you the ability to take good photos I think you can do so with just about anything, be it a cheap P&S, or cell phone camera.

    I won't play the Flickr Explore game. I've had a few make it and those were ones I considered some of my best work so deserved it.

  11. david says:

    i like this...the loneliness and isolation of the modern day and age.

  12. pando says:

    Excellent and very metaphorical photo.
    Interesting text ;-)

  13. Walter Neiger says:

    awesome ... yes, it could be a Hopper ... I like it very much!

  14. sil says:

    Oh yes, such a hopperesque capture, Ilan! And Hopper is one of my favorites too. Really like the angle and the predominant yellow tint in it.

    Very well done!

  15. mononeil says:

    It's not the camera, but your eye that sees the photo. The camera just records the image. You have a wonderful eye for this type of image. Me I could not see and image like this to save my life.

  16. Karen says:

    melancholy :(
    love the way you find story and emotion in everyday scenes.

  17. joshi daniel says:

    same thing happened with me too! i was also using flickr before and was running around to make pics come in explore. lol. anyway for me a picture that is explored doesn't mean a good pic always its just a way to show how active one is. i also started a blog after stopping the flickr drama :)

  18. SePp says:

    Like your picture. Maybe it would be very interisting in black and white with strong contrasts.

    Interisting with your "Explore" tipps. Maybe I will try it out :-) But for 400 -- 500 comments you need quite a lot of time ...

    Greets, SePp

  19. Ronnie 2¢ says:

    I like that you take your postings beyond the image and open a debate . . several, here, in fact !

    Always felt that the advantage of a P&S or a cell-phone camera is that we have the thing with us . . and that taking a photograph is likely not the prime reason we are where we are. Those two factors can generate a unique and involuntarily different style. Your image here is a case in point, I think.

    And Flickr, VFXY, Weekly Shots rankings . . yeah, can bring out the worst and the best in some folks for sure !

  20. Jon Rieley-Goddard says:

    A clean, well-lit place has a terror all its own, which you have captured. tnx.

  21. CraigM says:

    I concur with your thoughts Ilan. I like all sorts of photography (including a little fake HDR :) as you know but it's this sort of image that gets me excited and also frustrates me that it's often overlooked. I think this is awesome, as my good friend says "the camera matters not, it's the eye behind it that counts".

    As for the Flickr saga, well I've never liked the whole format, I only ever opened an account to join the 4am projest photostream and I haven'e up loaded anything else, nor will I!

  22. Richard Hollins says:

    Saw the picture and immediately realised the resemblance to Hopper (also one of my faves). A great shot. You could really read this as a comment on society, although as someone else noted, if you took it at a different time of day you'd get a completely different impression. Great stuff.

  23. Ken says:

    Seems like an awful lot of trouble to go thru on Flickr to get noticed. I am really all about the views. If no one comments I would be okay as long as 100 people saw it. :) Love the picture by the way, great slice of Americana.

  24. Ian says:

    Cool shot - and with matching tops, too. :-) I like the timelessness of the picture, consciously done of course and done well, but even the elements out of your control: wall art, the conservative clothing, etc. Comes together well for you. :-)

  25. Bo says:

    Thanks for a moment of Hopper, a great commentary on society in this photo, and your admission of Flickr-itis, now cured. I do not get why the flickr thing is pervasive, but I know many who try to get explored. I'd rather not be noticed. Who has time to do all that for an explore notice. I can see why you've moved on.

  26. Fritsch says:

    I'm glad you lost the interest in flickr & started this mighty fine blog of your own.

    It's not about the gear & it's not about the traffic. Your pictures are very interesting whether they be featured or not. Rhys once sad to his bag of tricks belongs a brain & a pair of eyes. You got it all. Thanks for sharing your beauties this way.

    And referring to Edward Hopper, who by the way is one of my all-time favourites, makes me feel like brother in mind to you.

    These fast food thing can be a lonely thing at night. Brilliant, Ilan, a great picture! All the best & safe travels, Fritsch.

  27. Sandy says:

    that is a neat comp on that photo...good title too.

  28. z-vet says:

    I don't really know who Hopper is but the photo is great. The fact it taken with a cellphone just adds to it's uniquiness IMO.
    As for Flickr: i lost my interest after two or three weeks of being there and closed my account. Too «social» for my taste.

  29. Stephane says:

    Hello Ilan, Thanks for your words and thus your visit. I've seen your capture when I went to have a look at your work (flick'r collection).
    It's definitely an E. Hopper's mood you got there.Too bad McD's furniture have nothing too cozy in them.
    I remember a whole Lavazza campaign reenacting Hopper's painting.
    Do you think he was just into that food or could it be thinking about sharing with the girl.

  30. Younes Bounhar Photography says:

    Another terrific post and picture. Really illustrates the sad state of our societies today...internet, facebook, social media, yet incapable of engaging into "real life" dialog. Very powerful portrait!

  31. Mindy | f-stopMarin says:

    Edward Hopper didn't spring to mind when I first saw this, perhaps because the lit area occupies so much of the frame. When I think Hopper and night dining, I think "Night Hawks." The lighting here doesn't evoke the same mood. But the image sure has a retro feel--the car paintings, how the people are dressed. But I sense the urban loneliness, alienation that perhaps you were seeing in Hopper.
    Good job! Ani ohevet.

  32. claire says:

    really cool shot, to think you captured this with your cellphone. love the story you can make out of it.

    as for flicker, i think (?) i opened an account there when someone invited me but i never really uploaded any pics so i have no idea what this "explore" thing is. lol! :p

  33. rian says:

    that's a wonderful atmosphere (and story) you've captured here.. great work! :)

  34. lisaschaos says:

    Love it! AND love your title! :) Perfection!

  35. liang says:

    great shot here. well... mickey D's wouldn't be the ideal place for a date, either you go there to eat, scrap, and get back to work or you go with a bunch of high school friends and just dine in before a get-together movie, lol. nicely taken here!

  36. AB says:

    The slogan "I'm lovin' it" is just perfect!

  37. Alex says:

    Buen punto de vista e iluminacion, siempre me ha gustado esa enorme M.

  38. bluechameleon says:

    The skill and talent lies in what your vision is...the camera (or cell phone) is merely a tool.

    Brilliant modern day Hopperesque image. It's all about the composition and the lighting. The touch of human emotion really draw you in because there is always more than meets the eye.

    The Explore days at flickr are long gone for me, and thankfully so! Being part of that hype machine and trying to keep on top of all those comments and faves takes time away from creating.

    This image is on my personal 'explore' page today.

  39. Marc says:

    Love those type of shots. Well spotted !

  40. PixeLuz says:

    Is the girl alone? I'm not sure, because there is nothing on the table. It seems to me she is waiting for her friend who is ordering. Well, that's to say we can imagine another story :) Anyway, that's an excellent shot, the Hopper lighting and mood are well done.

    About Flickr, thanks God you cured and now spend more time working on photography than on making comments.

  41. Marcie says:

    Terrific image. I think one of its best parts is that this could be anytime..anywhere in the world. Impressive 'cell phone' shot!!!

  42. milos says:

    hey man,
    thanks for watching my blog. so do i and i must say that i admire your work.
    to comment this shot: before i read your intro to this pic, from the first second i looked at this work edward hopper came into my mind. very nice!
    so, continue sharing your photography.

  43. Terry H. says:

    They look like they would make a lovely couple. Maybe they hooked up after you took the shot. That would be so romantic. :)

  44. Jacob says:

    Hopper is also my favorite artist and as soon as I saw this photo my mind went immediately to Nighthawks. I'm lovin' it! (and I hate McDonalds). Great shot!

  45. scuba_suzy says:

    excellent. I love Hopper too :)

  46. Andy says:

    Wow what a great shot. They both look so lonely.

  47. Avi Revivo says:

    Nice photo. Really gives the late night feeling.

  48. Jinksee says:

    Well, I think this picture is perfect. There's something about being together..and alone...all in the same moment. :D

  49. Kamal says:

    you want to know the secret of getting to explore?: babies, picture of babies.. or kittens.. or pandas.. or anything cute. LOL. just kidding.

    i had the same feeling about getting my photos reaching explore in flickr. but it was too much work, and i just gave up.

    it's better to have honest comments from your contacts rather than posting in those 'post 1, comment on 2' groups.

    regarding to this picture, it's nice what you can do with a camera phone really. you managed to metered the light well in this one.

  50. Joseph says:

    Wonderful shot. Not for it's "pretty colors" but for the content and its comment on society.

  51. John Maslowski says:

    Interesting about flickr, sounds like a lot of work. Love this image, interesting setting and great lighting. Like the angle it makes through the frame. Fascinating capture!

  52. Rajesh says:

    Pretty nice snap. We are alone in spite of the fact that we all need some company as a social animal. Very apt title.

    It is amazing how people manipulate in the Flickr to reach the top.

  53. Ivar says:

    Very cool, and as several has said, its not the camerra.. but the person taking the picture, and the things being taken picture of that is important. Nice

  54. Mahbubur Rahman says:

    Well - an homage to Hopper it definitely is - and done very well, too.

    I really like post, especially the part about flickr. Its again very cooincidental that Francesco and I were talking about community based sites, because ! just recently found out about (onexpsure). I'm sure you've heard about it, where a bunch of guys run a dictatorship-like shop where they alone choose what goes on their site. They do have a vote open, but I think ultimately they decide. Flickr, as you know is very successful, but there is a fundamental issue with running community based sites - the community is only is as good as the quality of the average of all its members. So, given the user base of flickr these days, explore (IMO) doesn't mean much - only the hyped in-style pictures get in there, because thats what the masses want to see.

    Onexposure on the other hand, has a pretty good idea to filter each and every image. A lot of people commend them for their choices, and I do have to admit they have a good collection of images. A lot of photogs are desperate to have their work posted there.

    The founders claim to have an artistic vision that is totally their own, and therefore use that statement to justify their judging. But if you look deeper, instead of a big community, now you have a much smaller group of people deciding how good your picture are. And just like flickr and any other community built sites, the site is only as good as the quality of the average participant (in this case - VERY few participants). The founders/screeners don't seem to have any art or photography backgrounds (at least apparent ones), and so what makes them so qualified that we rush to post our pictures there? So the real question is, does it really have any value, if people who have no real qualifications judge your pictures to be good or bad? - btw - that average participant includes me, because I am also allowed to vote on what gets published.... in the words of Groucho Marx - "I don't want to be part of any club that would have me as a member" - lol - :)

    I think what you have going here is very good - ultimately it comes down to the reason for our interest in photography. Commercial, professional, amateur, or hobbyist - no matter what - art is something that is supposed to be shared. I think the community of photoblogs around the web adds everybody's personal vision to the world of photography, and we ourselves can choose which vision we like or don't like - in the end its a more democratic process that makes our individual photographic journey that much more enjoyable...

  55. pedro alexandre says:

    nice capture, it transmits a sense of solitude, ervery one eating alone, i like it, this one is very poetic.

  56. claude says:

    Very nice street shot and excellent title too!

  57. Yvon says:

    No problem for me : it's an excellent shot .

  58. CushmoK says:

    i really like the atmosphere of this photo.. very dark for me because artificial and unpersonal..

  59. Pied Crow says:

    I see the Hopper, but my first thought was Robert Frank. Pretty good either way!

  60. Kristian says:

    Emediatly thought of Hopper before seeing your description. Perfectly photographic translation!


  61. Markus Spring says:

    Great image, great hommage to Hopper, and double so through that Acryl? painting on the the restaurant wall.

    And what you report about flickr is true, too. Unfortunately... Especially the trick with commenting like mad. I fear among the cheaters there's a number with commenter scripts, which is not too hard as quite a number of comments are in the "wonderful shot, mate" category. Having discovered this, I too lost quite some interest in flickr. But it still can be used as a source of inspiration, you just have to be as selective as usual.

  62. Framed and Shot says:

    Great!! A funny play of a every day scenery we often see, without seeing it!! The colors is great and the composition makes this a stop-and-think shot!

  63. Amit Basu - Black and White Photography says:

    Nice shot. I am loving it! :-)

  64. Ståle says:

    The mood in this picture is superb. It speaks volumes of modern man's life. The light, the two sharing a room without being part o each others life. Reminds me of a typical Norwegian bus where the window seat ofe ach row is taken, but the aisle seat is vacant. Everyone stares out the window, avoiding eye contact with their co-travellers.
    Quite sad, really. As is your shot.

  65. Robert Kruh says:

    Ilan, great angle of view, beautiful presetation! And great informations!! :) I am loving it!

  66. Nicolas Beaumont says:

    Very intersting composition Ilan ! Full of sens !

  67. Anonymous

    Whoa ... maybe I'm just old but I need a microscope to read the comments on your blog. Anyway, this is a great tribute to Edward Hopper and his famous "Nighthawks." I agree with you that he can teach us a LOT about light.

  68. namaki says:

    I am amazed by the quality of the picture ! a cell phone you say !
    I like the atmosphere in this picture and the legend fits it perfectly!

  69. aswirly says:

    I love this photo. So powerful and taken with a cell phone too. wow. So you figured out explore. haha, It's all so crazy. I had to quit flickr for personal reasons but I sure don't miss the whole explore thing. I find I'm shooting more for me now that I have the blog. lol

  70. marco's light opinion says:

    This image strongly recall me a very similar shot of mine, called "Mind The Gap" ( ) suggesting a very similar mood. Bravo.

  71. XaviH says:

    Thank you for the flickr's Explorer tips... but I think I'm not so motivated to comment 400 users!!!

    Hopper.. I discovered this artist when somebody says that this photo of my blog was similar to some Hopper's works. And yes, the colours, flat lighting and the people on your photo makes me think in the style of Hopper.

  72. Pedro says:

    An interesting momment, maybe you chose an appropiate shoting angle.

  73. Mike says:

    While I haven't used Flickr that much your commments are interesting. I like how the man and women almost appear to be wearing the same outfits. Nice setup and composition.

  74. Carver says:

    I'm amazed that you got this shot with a cell phone camera. It turned out so well. Very natural.

  75. Anne says:

    I love the mood in this photo. There is something about shooting at night time.

  76. cako says:

    A perfect title for this scene. Great !

  77. Carraol says:

    Beautiful composition of this scene, the light, colors are impressive and the Hopper mood is excellent, recently I made this one in his honor (Men and machine):
    Thanks a lot for your visit.

  78. MiNe says:

    I really like this picture. Thank you for you tips.

  79. Anonymous

    I like the scenery, the meanings and of course the title

  80. Ashish Sidapara says:

    Love the lighting, beautiful shot.

  81. Francesco says:

    Edward Hopper..... superbe...

  82. Pernelle says:

    Thanks for your comment !
    And as you asked for more, I had to add a photo.

  83. Pere Chuliá says:

    Me gusta la imagen pero me transmite una tremenda sensación de tristeza y de soledad. El ambiente impersonal está perfectamente retratado. Me gusta y creo que es una imagen muy moderna, fotograficamente hablando.

  84. Brooks Potteiger says:

    very interesting capture. it's especially cool because it was an inspired image. one tiny detail, I would've maybe gotten rid of the 2 little white spots on the ground. just a bit distracting. other than that, i think it's very cool :)

  85. Marco says:

    Hey Ilan, another great shot. And with a phone camera! I thought you allways had that nice RIcoh in your backpocket...

    I does feel kinda sad and lonely. Nice reference to Hopper. I think you really captured the moment here with the tools at hand. Great work!

  86. Ginnie says:

    This looks very retro, Ilan...early McDonalds!

  87. says:

    very nice photo indeed! Timeless! Great work!

  88. NJ & SB Photography says:

    yo tampoco entiendo el criterio de flickr con los explore yo tengo varias fotos explore y nunca subo foto a la misma hora, ni soy muy aficionada a subirlas a los grupos, ni creo que todos mis explores sean mis mejores fotos, pero tampoco me preocupa lo más mínimo, si la ponen en explore bien y si no me da exactamente lo mismo :) no te preocupes Ilan, nunca lo entenderemos.

    buena captura la que nos presentas hoy para mi es mejor que muchos de los explores que veremos mañana, seguro :))

  89. navin says:

    Did anyone finally introduces these two
    Very cool shot, thanks for the tips

  90. Anna says:

    Ilan tell you the truth, I never really liked the flickr, I enjoy my own blog. However, thanks for the tips, and I don't think I ever be able uselessly comment like crazy, lol. Thanks, Anna :)

  91. Astrid says:

    A great picture, maybe they ended up drinking coffee together.

  92. pictalogue says:

    I like this shot for all its simplicity. The "I'm loving it" simply adds a final touch to it all !
    I guess it serves to remind that the best idea is always better than the best camera :-)

  93. FrankDelValle says:

    I love this composition. Great work.

  94. Oliver says:

    That's funny. I photographed something very similar two weeks ago:

  95. heathercheryl says:

    I like this photo. It has a late night lonely feeling. I like the colours too.

    Exposing the tricks sure takes all the fun and glory out of it. Who wants to be noticed if you have to work like that for it. As you mentioned, the time and energy is better spent on your photography.

  96. Todd Smith says:

    I'm loving this pictures. It actually make me laugh. the contrast between "I'm loving it" and two people sitting alone in there was too much. great shot.

  97. ek-aani says:

    I love the different yellows in your photo..the large taxi, the MacD sign, the brilliant points of light, the solitariness seen from outside the glass - and the title of your photo. It's beautiful. Never thought yellow could be such a lonely colour. Reminds me of my current favourite song, Coldplay's 'Yellow'.

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