The Artist’s Job

The artist’s job is to get the audience to care about your obsessions.

 Martin Scorsese

Great blue heron fledgling stretching one month after leaving the nest.

Great blue heron fledgling stretching one month after leaving the nest.

Ese has challenged us this week to lay bare our obsessions, and Michelle W has asked us which of our posts made us most nervous to publish, and how we felt after setting it free.

It’s a poorly-kept secret that I’m obsessed with great blue herons.

More than 100,000 photos and nearly a decade after I first started capturing them with a camera, I started publishing them on the Internet, here at WordPress. Some of them had been displayed at Audubon here, some in corporate settings, some in private collections, some in print, but none on the web until I started this blog in late Spring.

Hitting publish on my first post was painful (If you missed it, please click here.)

Publishing my first post with a photo was excruciating. (Please click here if you missed that one.)

I’m still anxious with each and every photo posted. Nobody wants their art misappropriated, affiliated with someone else’s agenda. Musicians whose tunes have been misused by a political party NOT of their choosing come to mind – that happens with every election year.

I think all artists want to share their obsessions, and their favorite models, with others.

Perhaps it’s not a “want” so much as a “need” for some of us? What drives you to risk your art on the Internet? Fellow photographers, artists, poets, writers care to weigh in via comments?


Thanks to Michelle W. for the Daily Prompt: Free.

Thanks also to Ese for her Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Obsession prompt.


Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.


(This photo was taken September 9, 2012)

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on October 20, 2013, in ardea herodias, Art, Bird photography, Birds, daily prompt, Ese's Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge, Great Blue Heron, Nature Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I suspect that because you post your images at such a small scale, you’re pretty safe from most unauthorized use. I used to post mine large enough to be able to zoom in for details, but quit doing that… not only for the reason stated above, but also because it filled my free quota at WordPress far too quickly.

    • Thanks. The small scale is by design. Images should be lo-res (no higher than 72dpi), jpgs should be saved st quality 9 or lowers, and the longest dimension should be less than 600 pixels. WordPress is pretty good about keeping some of the embedded copyright details intact, but not all social media honor that. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  2. Babs, I, too, get very nervous about putting my photos up on the internet. But, like you, I do want to show my work for the seriously interested persons. I therefore put my little copyright thingee on the low resolutions images, post warnings on my blog, and hope that it does a tiny bit of good. In the file name, I also include my name. If someone ignores any of that, they were going to do it no matter how much care I took. I do know that my measures won’t do a bit of good if someone really wants to take one. And personally, I don’t want to know about it. I do not want to look in a magazine and see one of my pictures. It would just sicken me, and I would probably instantly take down my WordPress blog, remove all photos on my Flickr photo stream and go into exile. But I have been very fortunate as I have never in my 4-5 years as a blogger, and having posted my 690th post yesterday, never had any theft that I am aware of.

    The risks have been worth it. I have been published in several magazines, had my work exposed to thousands of people, and had many, many sales. All of which I wouldn’t have done without the world of the internet. As far as which post made me most nervous, I couldn’t pick any particular one. All of the photos I post are usually, new fresh images so I am just as nervous as I was with my very first post.

    • Hi Bob – Thanks, you’ve had good experiences and it looks like you’re doing everything right. You might consider Digimarc, which has several tiers of program, one of which is very affordable IMO. Your photos are always excellent, and 690 posts is impressive. You should celebrate when the odometer rolls over 700! Best, Babs

  3. It’s no surprise to m, that your obsession is the Great Blue Heron. 🙂 Wonderful pics, Babsje.

  4. Another terrific photo and an interesting question. I feel much the same way, every time I hit “publish,” particularly with my photographs of dogs. But I am glad to do it because it just is a challenge I want to meet. Congratulations on your own successes! I love the Scorcese quote too-

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing your perspective on the question I had asked! I do like your dog photos and so I’m glad you rise to the occasion of the challenge, as you put it.

  5. I must say I really enjoy your interpretations of the prompts I come up with – also this one. I have always admired herons but because of your posts, your blog I have found out so much new, seen so many different perspectives of these gracious birds. And it is always a pleasure, always a new surprise.

    • I’m very happy to hear you say this, thank you! My passion is the great blue herons, hence the focus of my blog. They’re not the only things I photograph, of course, but we don’t tell them that. Best, Babsje

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