No More Competing for “Favs” and “Likes”

Artists of all types starve for recognition and affirmation. A few years ago, I began looking for that love in all the wrong places. I still have accounts with Instagram, Flickr, and Behance, but use them very little. No more competing for “favs” and “likes” for my photography.

Pitfalls of Social Media

The entire social media scene is a pit for the arts, including photography. If you pay attention, you can witness the games the “influencers” play. On Instagram, a pattern of behavior emerged for me. A person would make a comment, give me a “like”, and begin to follow me. Influenced by flattery, I followed back, usually after viewing their profile and making some nice comments about several of their images. The very next day, my follower count went down by one and the person was gone.

These sites are good for nothing unless you want to delude yourself. They do not sell your work. You will not get honest feedback on your work.

Other Ways to Seek Affirmation

Become a member of a local gallery and associate with real people who are working in the same medium as you. Be brave and exhibit your work. Participate in a few juried exhibits. Put a price on your stuff that is significantly more than the cost of the frame. With time and talent, you will find art patrons who will be willing to pay the price for your best.

The Photographic Society of America offers digital international competitions and exhibitions. Some of these offer critiques by exhibition judges for a small fee. Scoring an “acceptance” at one of these is significant and is another form of feedback that you can get from competing. My blog post Photographers, You Could Be Seeing Stars, summarizes the PSA exhibitions.

Realities of the Current Art World

Those are bold ideas, but let me introduce you to a current obstacle that neither talent nor social media can surmount. People are not buying art. The places where art might hang are occupied by flat-screen televisions and snaps from handhelds. Nevertheless, there are sales opportunities and the satisfaction of selling a piece is enormous.

After discussing this with other artists that I respect, most of us agree that we create because we enjoy creating. Some get added joy from teaching art. There remains a small market for creatives in advertising, publishing, and other niches. Very few artists become truly famous, like Koons, Kincaid, and Warhol. In their cases, it is amazing that they found a way to market their crap. Most of us must be content to find joy in the process and results of creation.

Do Not Rely on Social Media

The social media accounts do not cost anything to maintain. I did give up my subscription for the Flicker “Pro” designation, but I did not delete my account. It does not pay to waste a lot of time on social media. The likelihood of being “discovered” there is remote. You will only find yourself playing the silly games with “favs” and “likes”. No more competing for “favs” and “likes” for me.

Understand Live Streaming with Schematics

It is probably the engineer in me that wants to codify things to explain and to clarify complex subjects. It is far easier to understand live streaming with schematics instead of strictly verbal explanations or equipment examples. That is why I developed this set of schematics for streaming hardware and streaming software.

Streaming Hardware Schematic

The streaming hardware schematic below shows three major components, the laptop or workstation, audio mixer, and video switch. The audio mixer in the diagram shows the typical inputs and outputs. While the diagram shows four XLR microphone inputs, there are mixers with more inputs as well as fewer. The same is true of line in and line out. Line in can be other audio sources, including instruments. Line out can go to an audio speaker system or to a recorder. Both digital and analog mixers exist and the analog mixers are the least expensive. In either case, a USB output is needed to get the audio to the laptop. In a very simple configuration the audio mixer can be replaced by a USB microphone.

The video switch allows management of multiple cameras. In this case four cameras are shown, but more expensive switches are available that handle more. The input to the switch is video from cameras. The output to the laptop is USB-C at 10 Gbps. This will not work without the high data rate provided by a USB-C port.

In a minimal configuration a video capture card or a video capture dongle can be used to connect a video camera. A video capture card is a good choice for a desktop computer. A dongle connects via USB and you need to be certain that the flavor of USB that you use will support the data rate, typically USB 3.0. Even more simple is to connect a Webcam directly to your computer via USB.

The laptop or workstation should be connected to the Internet router using Ethernet cable rather than over the air on WiFi. This supports the highest possible upload data rates for streaming. The HDMI out on the laptop supports use of a projector for slides or other video. That projector can be shared on the stream so that in-person content on a screen can be seen by the stream audience. There is room for other USB devices, such as a “clicker” to allow the presenter to advance projected slides.

Illustrate the hardware schematic description text
Streaming Hardware Schematic

Streaming Software Schematic

For streaming software schematic I chose to show what I know and that is Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). Technically, OBS is an encoder. Its function is to integrate multiple sources and encode them into a digital video and audio format for streaming as, for example, MPEG. The keyboard and mouse are used to define “scenes” to prepare for streaming and to transition between scenes during streaming. Each scene integrates various media, windows, displays, audio sources, and video sources. OBS and similar encoders use scenes to control and format the streamed content. I note that Zoom does not play well in this configuration since it requires what I consider to be a complicated workaround that can be risky.

A minimal configuration can use a streaming service web page, such as YouTube, instead of the software encoder. In this case, the stream is limited to the video from a single video source and a single audio source. Those sources can be the built-in web cam and microphone on your laptop or even on a handheld device.

Supports the textual description of software streaming schematic
Streaming Software Schematic

Simulcast Software Schematic

Some producers like to have their streams go out over two or more streaming services. This lets viewers use the services that they prefer, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and others. To do this a subscription is usually needed to a third party server that connects to multiple streaming services. These servers have the bandwidth to output streams to multiple services with low latency. Low latency means that viewers are seeing the production in near real time without delays and breakups.

Supports the description of using third part simulcast service
Simulcast Software Schematic

Schematics are Only the Beginning

Schematics are only the beginning to understanding and implementing streaming successfully. Almost everything in a full-up configuration needs some adaptation. Mixer panel settings are needed to set sound levels and other audio characteristics. On higher end video cameras, exposure levels and aperture must be set, as a minimum. Encoder scenes are developed in advance of the stream event. Streaming service parameters must be set in the encoder as well as possibly at the streaming service itself.

These schematics give you a hardware and software configuration as a basis to start planning your streaming activities. Remember that the hardware and software configurations in these schematics are very flexible and can scale for the size of your production. You can start small and work up to a more comprehensive configuration as your needs and your experience grow.

Download a PDF of the schematics here.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

See My Live Streams from Jaffrey

Last season I began to produce and edit the Stories to Share series of YouTube live stream broadcasts from the Jaffrey Civic Center in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. I invite you to see my live streams from Jaffrey. The link to the coming live stream is found on the Jaffrey Civic Center YouTube channel. Click on “Uploads” and select “Upcoming live streams”.

Season 2

The Season 2 of the Stories to Share series started on October 7, 2022, with a great presentation by author Ernest Hebert. Each new episode will be streamed on the first Friday of each month through May, 2023, beginning at 5:00 PM. The streams usually last about one hour and each features an interesting guest speaker. Each coming episode is described on the JCC Events Page.

Live Stream Setup

Well before the production date, I create the opening and closing credits videos. To produce these streams live, I bring lighting, audio, and video equipment to the Jaffrey Civic Center. There is no in-house audio or stage lighting. It usually takes a while to unload my car and carry all of the equipment into the auditorium. The equipment is set up early on the day of broadcast so that I can test everything.

To light the stage I use up to three mono-lights. Up to four microphones and four cameras are needed to provide audio and video for the stream. All of the cables and power connections are done as each piece of equipment is set up. Usually I use from two to four camera angles, depending on the style of presentation.

Live Stream Production

It is quite a production to accomplish as the lone person setting up and running all of the equipment. At the beginning of an event I start the stream, run the opening credits, and give a hand signal to the moderator to start the show. During the presentation, I run specific scenes using broadcast software and switch cameras using a video switch. Sometimes I use a volunteer to run one of the cameras to keep it pointed at a speaker who wants to move around the stage. At the end of the presentation there is usually a question and answer session where I will relay YouTube chat questions and comments to the moderator.

Live Stream and Film Ambitions

Producing and editing live streams is a lot of fun for me. At the moment I am doing it at no charge. I am willing to do it for other organizations provided I feel that I can add value, provided I have the equipment to produce a credible result, and provided I personally consider the project as interesting.

The equipment suite also lends itself to filming. Recently I have done a few documentary interview films and plan to do more. There are other film projects that I would consider doing at no charge with the same caveats that I have for live streaming.

If you have an idea for a live stream or a film and are ready to produce it or to discuss feasibility, contact me at [email protected].

See other video work that I have produced on my Videos page.

My First Live Stream Was Stressful

I have done quite a few videos for my bicycle touring channel on YouTube, Edek’s Attic. For all of those, I had the luxury of editing the content after-the-fact. Live streaming is totally different. My first live stream was stressful. My first live stream was a virtual reception for my photo exhibit in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

Once you click “GO LIVE”, you are on the air and you can’t take mistakes back. I have a lot of respect for television personalities who do this kind of thing for a living. Much of their success I suppose is experience. Some people are also good at riffing or improvising. That is not me.

So, I took a lot of time to prepare and rehearse. My script was initially nine pages of bullets and I planned to refer to them frequently during the live stream, if not actually read them. That turned out to be a bad idea because turning pages was awkward and reading took my eyes away from the camera. Eventually, that boiled down to one page of bullets for key points that I needed to make.

Using Open Broadcaster Software, I was able to record my dry runs and self-critique. My wife, Marne, also had a go at critiquing my performance. During my preparations, I probably did six recorded sessions, improving my presentation each time.

Even with the presentation perfected, there remained the mechanics of self-directing. There were introduction and credit videos to queue. There was an on-camera period for me and a PowerPoint slide presentation of my photos. All of this was set up in OBS ahead of time and transitions rehearsed. Managing all of the transitions during the live stream was another thing that I needed to do. At the same time, I was trying to concentrate on my presentation.

The result was a good first effort, although I only had seven live viewers. The recorded stream in now on my Edek’s Photos YouTube channel. I am hoping to add to my list of subscribers on the channel with this and other videos in the near future. I am planning videos on using Photoshop to develop video frames, creating basic videos using DaVinci Resolve, and understanding color management for photography.

Stay tuned.

Love That Dirty Water Virtual Reception Scheduled

On February 1, 2022 I will present the Love That Dirty Water Photo Exhibit Virtual Reception on YouTube to be broadcast live at 7 PM Eastern. “Love That Dirty Water” is an exhibit of my street photos that is currently showing through February 20, 2022, at the Jaffrey Civic Center, Jaffrey, New Hampshire. I will present my background, as well as a discussion of street photography, the exhibit at the Jaffrey Civic Center, and my approach to street photography, using examples from the exhibit. For photographers, I will briefly touch upon street photography techniques and equipment.

River Dance

I will take questions via live chat during the broadcast. To chat with me, you will need to be logged in to your Google account. You do not need a gmail account. During the broadcast, a button to create your channel for chat will be displayed in the chat window.

After broadcast, the video of the broadcast will be available on my YouTube channel EdeksPhotos. You can also find my channel by searching YouTube for EdeksPhotos.

Northwest United States Road Trip Photo Stories

My wife Marne and I completed a fourteen day road trip that began on August 14 and took us from Chicago through Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. During our drive, I took over 450 photos and these selected images tell our northwest United States road trip photo stories. These are the shots from our trip that I like the most.

The Badlands

The first image is from the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. In the hills you can see the different colored layers of volcanic material laid down by 50 million years of volcanic ash deposited from volcanoes that were many miles away. By chance, the colors of the woman and her clothes mimicked the landscape. She might have lost her hat if it had not been strapped to her head since the wind was blowing hard.

Northwest United States Road Trip Photo Stories
Admiring The Badlands

Mount Rushmore

At another stop, Mount Rushmore, we enjoyed our visit to the iconic sculptures on the mountaintop. There were two people with face masks standing apart from the other tourists who were there. When I look at the image, it evokes emotions of the pandemic. Both the young person and the older gentleman appear tense and disengaged from the experience. To me the image is a reminder of the damage the pandemic has done to the joys of life. The fear, real or imagined, guides the lives of many people. This is not a political statement, but a sad fact of life that we have all lived for well over a year.

fear has taken joy from many activities during the pandemic
Faces Of The Pandemic


During a subsequent day, we drove through Sturgis, South Dakota, and visited the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. Sturgis is the location of the largest annual motorcycle rally in the world. Just five days earlier, the 2021 rally ended, yet I was hoping to capture at least one image of people on motorcycles in Sturgis. The image that I captured shows the biker in the foreground wearing shoes that are nearly new and jeans that are spotless. Perhaps he is a pin stripe suit professional when he is not on the road on his Harley. Both riders sit astride similar Harley Davidson motorcycles and that one thing established the common ground between them. As a bicycle tourist myself, I feel that I have a love of traveling and the open road in common with them.

motorcyclists meet in Sturgis, South Dakots
Common Ground In Sturgis


On the Olympic Peninsula, we stopped at a site that overlooks the town of Sekiu. We could not resist the urge to drive down into the town to look around. It appeared to be mostly a camping and fishing community. Judging by the boats, both commercial and sport fishing are done from the small bay there. From the beach I saw some interesting activity a few docks away from me. I walked to that location and I met two men who were filleting freshly caught fish. The fish were caught from their boat several miles west near the coast of Neah Bay. From the looks of it, they had enough fish for several meals.

filleting freshly caught fish in the dock at Sekiu harbor
Catch Of The Day

Rialto Beach

One of our final stops on the Olympic Peninsula was Rialto Beach. As we walked toward the beach, we passed a man and woman who were donning large backpacks. I commented to them about the size of the loads that they carried. They explained that they planned to hike up the beach to overnight in the wooded shore that appeared to be about a mile away. The image on the beach was captured as they discussed final plans before hiking up the beach.

preparing to hike to an overnight camp on Rialto Beach
Hiking North On Rialto Beach

Remembering The Trip

As you can see, it was a great trip and we covered over 3300 miles, experiencing features of our country west of the Mississippi that are separated by great distances. Along the way there were many opportunities to observe people who were creating their own moments in those places. For me, these images almost stand alone to tell the story of those moments.

Please visit my Portfolio to see an additional selection of my street photographs.

Street Photography Article Is Published

My street photography article is published in the PSA Journal issue for August 2021. The PSA Journal is a monthly publication of the Photographic Society of America. Actually, you can download a sample copy here to see what the Journal is all about

In summary, I cover the origin of street photography and my own journey in street photography. Also, to illustrate my style and approach, I included select photographs from my library. Finally, I included the full, copyrighted article below.

Photographers, You Could Be Seeing Stars

As an avid and struggling street photographer, I have tried many means to improve and to be affirmed as a photographer. Street photography has been a major pursuit for me since 2016. During the past four years I have been a featured artist in an online zine, I have a first place in an exhibition at my gallery, and I had a solo show. I participate in as many print exhibitions as I can at my home gallery. These activities generally do not provide any significant or consistent feedback although I enjoy them.

An improving and affirming activity that I think works better is participation in photo competitions. Among the most comprehensive are competitions that are recognized by the Photographic Society of America and hosted by organizations all over the world. The name of the PSA is misleading because it is a worldwide organization, not confined to the Americas. Recognition earned in these competitions can be used to achieve PSA Star Ratings that I will detail a little later.

The PSA has six divisions that encompass pretty much all subjects and techniques. The divisions are defined in detail on the PSA web site. In a PSA competition, a division may include one or more sections with themes described in the competition rules. Usually four entries are permitted in each section. There are many exhibitions recognized by the PSA each month.

The PSA competitions award “acceptances” to images that satisfy the PSA definitions and aesthetic for a particular division as determined by a panel of judges. The judges also consider section rules for the specific exhibition.  The very top images receive awards that distinguish them as the best of the exhibition. Acceptances are a meaningful way to encourage photographers who don’t score the top competition awards and to provide feedback that they are on the right track.

PSA PJD Accepted Image Titled “Turmoil” – Below the BU Bridge, Head of the Charles Regatta, Boston, 2016

The PSA exhibitions are at the international level and you are instantaneously thrown into the pool with hundreds of professional and amateur photographers. Each section of a PSA competition can have a thousand or more competitors. A catalog of acceptances is published by the competition host that usually includes the images receiving awards. Some exhibitions publish all the accepted images on their Internet sites,  but that is not done consistently. Still, I think that the system of awards and acceptances gives photographers feedback that is otherwise scarce. Based on a review of acceptance catalogs, I determined that acceptance in a PSA exhibition will place you in the 70th to 80th percentile of those competing.

Acceptances and awards from PSA competitions can be used to establish a personal international ranking maintained by the PSA. In the PSA Star Rating system, stars are earned according to the number of acceptances that you have achieved. One star requires 18 accepted images, two stars requires 36, three stars requires 72, four stars requires 144, and five stars requires 288 acceptances. Each unique image can have up to three acceptances in different exhibitions to qualify. That is, you can achieve 288 acceptances from 96 images. There are ratings above the stars that have additional requirements.

As a street photographer, I enter competitions in the Photojournalism Division (PJD). That division suits street photography since the PJD strictly limits the editing that can be done to images primarily to cropping and conversion to monochrome. That happens to be the tacit rule for street photography. Typical PJD competition sections are street, city life, and human interest that are very appropriate for street images. A PJD section can be done without a specific theme and that will attract a broader range of subjects.

PSA PJD Accepted Image Titled “Occupy Inauguration Boston” – Occupy Inauguration, Boston Common, 2017

The other divisions operate in a similar way and you will need to navigate your way through the PSA division definitions and specific competition section definitions to get comfortable with them. Select one or more divisions that fit your subjects and style. Enter the competition sections that best suit your work. I also recommend studying the Divisions and Stars/ROPA sections of the PSA web site. You can find all of the current exhibitions listed under the Exhibitions menu.

PSA membership and entry into the PSA exhibitions are not expensive. I recommend giving it a try as a creative outlet. You may find that you are good enough to place at the top and score an award. If you score an acceptance, you can be certain that you are better than average. If you score rejection, you have something more to learn and to achieve. That is a win-win-win in my book.

For more of my street photos, see my Portfolio.

See you on the street.

Review of Bumblejax Prints

This is a review of Bumblejax prints for digital photographs. Bumblejax is a print lab located in Seattle, Washington. They are providing great prints for me at a price that is cost-effective. I have my black and white prints done on metallic paper, usually on Dibond(R) with a matte laminate. The blacks seem to reproduce best with this paper without significant color cast. I made this decision based on some proof prints of my photos that were done by Bumblejax. Previously I was using a lab that did silver halide prints and I could not justify the cost. The cost of an unmounted silver halide print exceeded the cost of a laminated print on Dibond (R) from Bumblejax.

Metallic paper is also my favorite for color since the colors pop brilliantly. Moreover, the colors are stunning behind acrylic. Using the same paper for everything that I print gives my work a similar appearance whether color or black and white.

All of my show and gallery prints are frameless. The Dibond(R) prints have the standard Bumblejax hanging hardware on the back. Personally, frameless prints look more contemporary and there is no frame and matte board to distract from the image. Frames are also a huge waste of money since they do not make any difference to the people viewing my work in the gallery. Practically speaking, I can get more prints and larger prints on the wall at the gallery without a two to three inch border around each one.

It takes some preparation on my end to get the results that I want. I have a 24″ ASUS LED monitor that I calibrate using Spyder 5 Pro. For preview and export to TIFF, I use Lightroom Classic CC. The exports to TIFF use Adobe RGB for the color space. I use TIFF because I believe that JPEG can introduce artifacts and that JPEG reduces the gamut since it is not lossless compression. The colors and color values that I get in my prints from Bumblejax always match what I see on my monitor.

Bumblejax is on the west coast and I am on the east coast, but that has not been a problem. When I have needed customer service, they have been very responsive. Ground shipping takes some time, but I try to plan ahead and I find that it is worth the delay to get prints that satisfy my desire for perfection. Bumblejax packages the prints well for shipping and I have never had an issue with damage.

All of the prints for my solo show, scheduled for April 28 through May 23, 2021, were done by Bumblejax. I have over thirty prints for the show. Most of the pieces are 12″ x 16″. I would love to show them to you, but a photo of a photo print just does not work.

Getting prints back from Bumblejax has been a confidence builder to me because the quality of their work compliments my own. I am looking forward to my show and displaying all of the prints on the wall at the same time. I am confident they are going to have an impact on my audience.

“Love That Dirty Water” Street Photo Print Show

After a year of waiting due to the pandemic, my solo street photo print show will be up at the Arts League of Lowell in the Greenwald Gallery from 28 April through 23 May. This postcard is being printed to promote the show using the image that I decided to use as the feature image. I chose it because the Charles River and the Longfellow Bridge are prominent and the subject seems to be loving that dirty water.

street photo print show
Love That Dirty Water

The show title comes from the 1966 hit recording, “Dirty Water”, by the Standells. At the time, the river was famously polluted. It is no longer polluted, but the song still resonates with me, especially the words, “Love that dirty water; Boston, you’re my home”.

The show will include about thirty prints from my collection of Boston street photos taken since 2016 when I began to do street photography. My photos almost always include people and many are a playful depiction of life and diversity in Boston. Each has a story or a message behind it. They are in black and white as well as color, depending on the importance of color in telling the story.