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January 21, 2004

Wading Through Photoblogs, and Two Intelligent "Art-Photo" Blogs

Photoblogs, photoblogs…I’ve been checking out photoblogs…specifically, sites focused on personal photography, with the predominant format being the daily shared photo that over time, becomes part of a visual journal and growing personal portfolio. I’ve enjoyed the great number of them that I’ve visited, and already there’s been mainstream press coverage (NY Times article courtesy of Jeff Phillips' very worthwhile and funny photoblog), and growing communal networks of photobloggers. Not to mention, a steady number continue to go online each day beyond the thousands already out there.

I outlined a series of options for sharing photographs online in a two part series recently, but it’s clear that prior to starting my own modest blog, there was a phenomenon developing that I was clueless about for over two years. I’m still gathering my thoughts and confirming my initial impressions, and I know I’ll have more to say about photoblogs within the context of photography overall. I’ve already added a few that appeal to me on my "Photography Blogging" sidebar, though there are many, many more that warrant a visit.

In the meantime, though, I’ve discovered a variant on the photoblog…the visual arts and culture blog focused on photography, which explicitly references other artists who may serve as an inspiration (or at least food for thought), and makes their work part of the journal. I already mentioned Joerg’s site Conscientious as perhaps the most comprehensive and impressive I’ve encountered, but there seem to be several others emerging that are worthy (and Joerg does link to a number of them). Two outstanding ones that recently came across my radar screen are Luis Farrola's flux+mutability and Antonio Vieira's defocused.

These sites mix links to well-known (and not so well-known) photographic artists , provide sample photographs and the occasional sparse comment, with personal work (particularly in the case of defocused) sprinkled in. The scope of a site like Conscientious is huge, and within such an expansive site, Joerg actively applies some categorization and makes numerous juxtapositions between artists…though he leaves plenty of room for the viewers to make up their own minds. The minds behind flux and defocused, in contrast, provide a more modest selection of work and fewer words…giving their sites a greater sense of quiet, letting the impact of the varied photographs and artists deliver the mood, and letting the site visitor make the connections. (Recently, flux has taken to including more text, but the text is often insightful quotations or excerpts from artists or other reviewers, which give his blog an even more poetic feel)

The results, over the course of days, weeks and months, are intoxicating…the kind of web experience that establishes a very loose and unspoken sort of intellectual exchange between fellow travelers who love photography as part of a broader art culture. Detractors might argue that it’s a lazy and passive exchange that doesn’t involve enough explicit discussion of ideas, and doesn’t do justice to the actual artists’ work, given the limitations of web sized images (which is what most online galleries provide). Personally, I really like how the format of the good “art-photoblogs” allows for more fluid visual and intellectual connections to be established, without requiring a lot of verbiage.


Pinhole Image from Defocused

In the interest of full disclosure, flux+mutability and defocused have both recommended my site recently, which is crazy and undeserved, given how many superior artists and bloggers they have already linked to (not to mention the quality of their own work). But I’m honestly not giving them heavy props as a mutual back-slapping exercise…I like them because, along with Conscientious, they really make the web a fertile ground for shared appreciation and reflection on some of the most interesting photography and art out there. (Luis also has a very good companion site that provides more of the his own photos).

Diana Image from flux+mutability

There are other worthy sites that have different mixes of external work, commentary, and personal work that I intend to examine further, such as dublog, and some blogs make photography part of an extended range of artistic passions (animation, painting, science fiction, etc). I'm in over my head at this point in terms of exploring all the options out there, though I enjoy it when blogs can not only allow for a sharing of personal passions, but enable viewers to actually get insights into acts of personal creation (such as the creation of this watercolor on the Cassandra pages -- August 20th entry).

One of my goals for my site was to be able to discuss the art and practice of photography in a highly open-ended manner, move beyond dead-end discussions of photo equipment and careerist ambitions, and make my modest photographic experiments part of the dialogue. Though I can’t speak for the exact intentions of the others I’ve mentioned here, I’m glad to see that there are creative and open-minded people who share some of the same ideas and exploratory spirit, and I actively look forward to discovering even more of them as I continue.

P.S. Ed Leys, the man behind California Light and Structure, one of my featured galleries, is part of a multi-artist show on California Landscapes at the Louie Gallery at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until after the holidays that the show ends this week...but if you're in Northern CA and can stop by, the show is *highly* recommended. At the very least, check out Ed's online gallery if you haven't already done so.

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Thanks for the words. In fact, I also thought about general discussion posts (in the beginning). I rapidly came to the conclusion that my capacity regarding discussion (when written in English) is somewhat limited, to say the least.

I use the blog to register and suggest the path I leave behind when websurfing. Obvious.

I will, as soon as my little son grows "enough":-), have time to include my own work in the blog.

All the best! :-)

Posted by: Farrolas at Jan 26, 2004 12:58:57 PM

thanks for the reference. nice words.

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