Looking at other people’s photos is a great way to learn and be inspired. The problem is that browsing through photos on places like Flickr or photophlow takes time away from doing other things. So here’s a solution that will keep you inspired while not totally interfering with your productivity while you’re on the computer.

First, get yourself the Google Desktop as part of the free Google Pack download by visiting the referral link below (hey, it helps pay for your birthday presents). This handy little piece of software runs in the background and it allows you to add all sorts of fun little gadgets to it.

Once you get the software loaded, pull up the Google Desktop as a sidebar. Of course this takes up some extra space, but it’s awfully handy (and it’s no big deal if you’re sporting a widescreen monitor). Two of the inspirational gadgets I use are the “Flickr Interesting Photos” and the “Flickr Desktop“. These two gadgets keep a constant flow of inspiration coming at me.

The first gadget mentioned (Flickr Interesting Photos) shows… interesting photos… from Flickr. It’s pretty self explanatory. These are usually photos from Flickr Explore, and they’re pretty darn good.

The second gadged mentioned (Flickr Desktop) does pretty much the same thing, but you can tell it what to show you by specifying which tags look for on photos. I really like this one because I can tailor it to my needs as they constantly change. For example, I set it to show “portrait” prior to and during the December Challenge. I’ve had it set to “Street Photography” for all of January so far. And as the February Challenge approaches, I’ll set it to look for whichever color I happen to be working on for the week.

With both of these gadgets, you can double click on the photo shown and it opens up the Flickr page for that photo in your browser so you can check it out and comment on it if you’d like. You can also change the interval timers of the gadgets and resize them to suit your needs.

All in all, these things are really handy to keep you thinking about photography while you’re plugging away on your computer. So try it out! Let me know what you think! And if you find any other great gadgets, let me know!

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I must warn you about using Google Desktop, due to the fact that the program reads your harddrive and put all your pdf, word, excel-files on their server. Read more on this link http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2006/02/09

January 14, 2008 4:18 am

Did you read the article? “If a consumer chooses to use it” was in the second sentence. At least I hope that’s the case.

January 14, 2008 5:01 am

Oh come on ! Google is a huge name what would they want is my pdf documents anyway ?

January 14, 2008 5:10 am

Tried it.. Not MY cup of tea, I’m trying to minimize the amount of things running as I crunch a few photos, but it is kinda neat! I can see how some people might enjoy it. On the down side, it spread data files and folders far and wide on my computer which made it interesting to take off.

January 14, 2008 6:26 am

What do you mean it spread your files and folders? I don’t think I’ve seen that happen. Anybody else have this problem?

January 14, 2008 7:56 am

Generally I take on board most things you suggest, and my work over the last year definitely reflects that. However, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree here. Firstly, it’s due to personal preference, as I dislike numerous applications installed on my computer – for me less is more – I even avoid most ‘necessary’ Windows applications wherever I can.

Secondly, if you’re trying to be productive, then anything that takes your focus away from your current task is something you want to avoid. Having a sidebar pop up with new stuff all the time=bad for people who find themselves easily distracted (me), let alone trying to be productive: “Oh look! That’s awesome. I’ll just check their stream to see if it’s all that good…” *hours later* “Crap, that deadline is closer than I thought.Oh check out that!” etc.

So with the above in mind, I like to keep my inspiration contained to two separate blocks, generally first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. I use my RSS reader to receive my contacts photo streams from flickr, and also the Epic Edits photodump pool’s stream. My contacts stream fits closely with my interests, as I tend to only add people when I can see from their previous work that I can learn something from them. This keeps my contacts to a level that ensures regular interaction with people who I’d enjoy hanging out with in real life, thereby increasing my enjoyment of a service I pay to use.

The Epic Edits feed is interesting, often causing me to browse through someone’s stream who isn’t my contact, and then randomly follow links to their contacts, people who’ve commented etc, often causing me severe lack of sleep as I find myself waist deep in random streams at 2am in the morning (already it’s 12:11am and I haven’t got to this particular feed yet).

RSS feeds could equally be setup with flickr’s explore archives, various related colour groups, portrait groups, camera porn, just to name a few. This way inspiration is still provided daily, but is contained so productivity is maintained at a maximum level.

Bear in mind what works for me may not suit others, so while I work best with no distractions, others may peak during that time.

January 14, 2008 8:19 am

LOL, I suppose if you’re easily distracted this could be a problem. I tend to not even notice it when I’m really focusing on something. I also minimize the sidebar when I’m working on photos in Photoshop so I can maximize my workspace, but a majority of my time on the computer is spent in a web browser.

January 14, 2008 8:59 am

Thanks Brian for providing us with tools that help to feed our ever increasing and insatiable appetite for photos. I never get tired a looking at others people’s photos. That is one of the reasons I enjoy your weekly photo collection. There are some great photographers participating here.

Niels Henriksen

January 14, 2008 9:34 am

Thanks Niels — I’m glad to hear that you enjoy the weekly photos! I agree, it’s a great group of contributors.

January 14, 2008 10:00 am

Can we make more than one comment a day so that we have more chances at those wonderful prizes you are giving away??

January 14, 2008 11:01 am

That’s the idea! Comment on as many posts as you’d like!

January 14, 2008 11:26 am

Interesting ideas, yours Brian and the responses.

I would suggest you consider how some apps differ for the Mac world. The Google gadgets don’t load for me like they do for you. They load in my Dashboard, which runs in the background. I must choose to activate it in order to see it. Personally, I’ve loaded up Yahoo’s Widgets (Konfabulator) in order to use their Flickr tools. This one loads like the Google gadgets, live on the side.

Just a thought.

However, since I’m using a Mac mini, not the fastest Mac, I generally don’t load any of these on a regular basis, since they are all resource hogs.

January 14, 2008 11:35 am

That’s interesting Trevor — I actually had no idea that the Google Desktop Gadgets work differently on a Mac. I’ve never even used one, so your extra tips about Yahoo’s Widgets are quite welcome.

January 14, 2008 12:38 pm

My laptop came with Vista. Within one week I decided to format the HD, get rid of all the useless Acer stuff and install a clean XP SP2. The laptop was so much faster and I didn’t miss the sidebar at all. I just didn’t like the way the sidebar worked (or any sidebar for that matter). I still use good old winbar (which does not work on Vista), although it’s useless for things like Flickr.

As for the Mac: several student at school use a Mac and I still don’t see any advantage to it. I would get crazy seeing all those screens open in one screen. Also whenever hovering over stuff it moves around and does unexpected things (for me at least). And last, but not least: which absolutely brilliant engineer decided to remove the right mouse button and delete key??? LOL!

January 14, 2008 12:54 pm

Tried it out at once – nice tip today and cool inspiration.

January 14, 2008 1:13 pm

Google desktop is really neat even just to use in the background. I can search for any file on my computer through my google homepage.

January 14, 2008 9:40 pm

Great suggestion. I’m gonna give it a try.

January 20, 2008 10:13 pm

Comment now!
















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