Privatizing My Online Photos, With Regret

With mixed feelings, I’ve decided to privatize most pictures on my Flickr photo blog. I’ve published nearly everything publicly since I started it a year and a half ago. If you paid attention, you would’ve quickly realized that I loved taking photos of people – often candid, un-staged and with interesting angles and cropping. I’m no pro, though I once was a serious amateur. But I just like taking interesting pictures and sharing them.

I didn’t mind making most of my photos available to the world, especially since the public status made it so easy for friends and loved ones to access them. Keeping track of passwords is difficult and time-consuming, from both an administration and visitor standpoint. And that’s precisely why I almost never view photos of my many close friends and family who maintain albums on walled-garden services.

So why did I privatize? Foremost, an anonymous freak started leaving “intimate” comments about my wife. I guess you would characterize him as a digital stalker. Sure, I could’ve turned comments off, but that freak still would’ve had too much access to a lot of photos of my life, which includes photos of my family. For his safety, the slime better stay anonymous.

Second, a few people became uncomfortable because some of my photos – tagged with their names – became extremely visible in Google when they searched their names. Of course, I will respect their privacy.

If you were one of the few dozens of people who enjoyed viewing my photos on a regular basis, I’d be happy to invite you into the password-protected area of my photo blog, as a “friend.” (If you were a regular visitor, it probably means you were a friend or family member to begin with.) Just leave a comment here and I’ll send you an invite.

Again, I have mixed feelings. I’ll revisit some of the underlying issues later. I guess my point of view on openness is changing – perhaps becoming a little more conservative. But hey, I’m about to become a dad, for god’s sake!

Anyway, this experience with Flickr demonstrates the emotional, viral and self-reflective impact of photos and imagery (and the same goes for video and audio). Our culture is destined for some serious growing pains as these multimedia formats continue to proliferate. I’m also sure I’ll have to work through a difficult generational divide, because, unlike me, my kid will be born into this digital world.


Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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