Last night I dreamed we met and took pictures together and then sat in my car and talked all night.
You were really lovely.
It's funny, because I think about meeting people from flickr all the time.
My friends here tease me about it. “All your friends live in the computer, eh?” Billy winked at me last week. It’s hard to explain without sounding pathetic, even though I believe truly that I have real, honest friends online. The thing is, I don’t think it would happen to me anywhere but flickr.
It’s hailed as being a community, which I agree with, and automatically every one of us has something in common – whether it be Nikon or Canon, dSLR or point-and-shoot. It’s a hobby which I can’t share with many people in the “real world”; I don’t know many people who are interested in photography. Flickr introduces me to people all over the world who see the world similarly to the way I see it. It shows me stream after stream filled with inspiration, and lets me talk and share ideas with anyone I want. And sometimes it introduces me to people I would never have met anywhere else, but if I had I know we would have been “real” friends.
It’s not just the website, though, but the subject of the website. Photography itself gives away far more about the image-maker than they might believe. With self-portraits and 365s you become familiar with the artist through their physical image, displayed on your screen day after day. You learn about them through what they write. You listen to them when they talk about their family, their pets, the dreams and hopes. And even when they write nothing, their photographs speak silently. You ride their emotions with them, looking at shadow-filled pictures on some days and sun-drench shots on others. The photographs don’t have to be self-portraits; they say just as much when they focus on any subject. Simply put, photography is unbelievably personal. You get to know these people through the way their lens paints the world.
Perhaps these friendships should stay only on the internet. Perhaps photography is where our compatibility ends, and in every other aspect our views, beliefs, interests and ambitions differ too much. Perhaps knowing these people in real life would destroy the magic that comes with discovering each other through nothing but images. I think this is true, sometimes. But if you have found another artist whose work speaks to you, and whose personality reminds you of your best friend, then the danger exists only in letting the opportunity pass.
I think about meeting you sometimes, too. I think we’re probably very different from the way we imagine each other – just as lovely, but different in subtle ways. I like the fact that in your dream we didn’t just take photographs together, but we talked too. That’s the test, I think. Everyone on flickr shares the hobby, but not everyone shares similar ideas about the way they use their camera. It really cheered me up, too, because things here are a little lonely at the moment.
It’s a shame that you won’t be in London when you visit the UK in the summer (although, you’re very welcome to come a stay here in Norfolk with me if you have the time!) I’m taking a year out before I start my university course in September next year, and I plan to travel. It would be great to make a dream a reality.
Hope things are sunny, as always,