My addiction to Pinterest

Succ Epiphyllum close Jun 2011 MV

My epiphyllum,
pinned on Pinterest

I’m addicted to Pinterest. There, I admitted it. I discovered this awesome medium a few weeks ago, and I can’t stop pinning!

For those of you who haven’t tried it, it’s a website where you collect cool photos and other images. You can upload your own, or Pinterest will get you started by showing pictures that others have posted. As you start selecting and “pinning” the ones you like, the offerings start to hone in on your preferences. In my case, I have chosen to focus on interesting, beautiful, and informative photos, but the site can also be used for how-to instructions, cartoons, charts, and the wise sayings that are the fodder of Facebook.

You then organize the images into different “boards,” which resemble neatly displayed real-life bulletin boards. People quickly start noticing your boards, and before you realize it, you have a following and you, in turn, are following a bunch of people you have never met but you feel as if you’ve known them all your life.

Pinterest, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

•  To begin with, most of the photos are either magnificent or amazing or both. The eye candy feeds my soul. Many of the photos make me gasp out loud from the lighting, the angle, the detail, or the way the subject as been captured.

•  The process nurtures my creative spirit: I can play with the images as if they were my paints and the boards were my canvases–I can make art out of art with beautiful boards that I enjoy looking at and sharing with others.

•  It’s fun to organize the images into different categories—and to see how other people organize theirs. Some folks fill a single board with thousands of pins, while others set up 30 and 40 different boards that are highly classified (one of my buddies has 185 boards). I have opted for the latter approach, and I have made a mental list of rules for myself:

1. Don’t pin the same photo twice on the same board. I have noticed that I lose interest in other people’s boards when the same photos keep repeating.

2. It’s OK to pin the same photo on several different boards. The idea of pinning it in several places was a breakthrough for me in organizing my own photos. In the past, I have tended to lose track of where my photos are on my computer. Now I have set up a filing system that mirrors my Pinterest boards. As time allows, I will up upload the best of them onto Pinterest. I will also be posting photos about events that I refer to in my book, Finding My Invincible Summer.

3. Pin only the best images, photographically speaking, or else have a good reason for pinning them. If in doubt, don’t pin. In other words, don’t clutter up the boards; keep everything beautiful.

4. Try to be specific in the caption. Whenever possible, identify locations and plant and animal species, or point out the feature of interest.

5. Don’t gush. The image should speak for itself and be sufficiently powerful that it doesn’t need further comment, which feels like a distraction to me.

6. The boards should be attractive, cohesive, and meaningful. This makes them more fun to look at, both for me and for my followers.

7. Keep the boards small, up to, say, 250 pins; subdivide them when they get too big. The point is to see them, and really long boards with thousands of pins defeat the purpose.

•  It’s easy to make changes and correct mistakes. A hamster eating a tulip got pinned to the Architecture board? No problem. The switch can be made in an instant.

•  Pinterest is safe. No one is going to write weird things or use my data for nefarious purposes. The sole purpose is to share images that are interesting, informative, moving, and/or beautiful.

•  It builds community. I feel an immediate connection to the people who have “liked” my photos, and the images they have chosen become a window into their hearts. I am fascinated by how they name their boards, which tells me something about how their minds work. I quickly feel as if I know these people, and I start to care about them. The network builds like wildfire.

I still haven’t figured out whether I’m doing this to amuse myself or to share my view of the world. I definitely plan to use it to give ideas to my landscape clients. Whatever the motivation, I appreciate more than ever before the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

My link, by the way, is

Now if you will excuse me, I have to run. It’s been at least four hours since I last pinned and I’m starting to go into withdrawal.

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