New Site: Oh Ya, I’m a Photographer Again.

It has been three years since I actually had a photography website. During this period, when people would ask about where they could see my images online, I would say “I don’t have any images online.” The looks I received were PRICELESS. “How can you be a photographer and not have images online?” they would ask. “I don’t work as a photographer, so I really don’t need a website,” I would reply. Then came the process of my friends and family saying “Wait, no he IS a photographer,” then defending my cult status as “photographer,” “not a photographer,” etc. Personally, I think this is entertaining and because it speaks to the IDEA of being a photographer, not the realities. For me it was simple. If I made my living with photography, I’m a photographer. If I don’t, I’m not.

When people ask me what I do I respond,“I work for Blurb.” Normally, the response is “Oh we love Blurb, I made a book about….” This is what is so great about this company. We provide an outlet for stories, and that is one damn cool thing. However, that is not what this post is about. This post is about my new site, and the new reality that, once again, I AM a photographer.
Milnor_Photoshelter_002

It was official. A phone call. “Does this sound appealing to you?” Ten seconds ticked by…..“YES, this sounds incredible actually, like a dream scenario.” So here we are people. I’m in the game once again. Please alert the media. I know for some of you this idea of being or not being a photographer is puzzling or maddening, but for me it’s very real, and it has a significant impact on things like behavior, ethics, quality standards not to mention the idea of building an archive, which for me has always been a critical driving force behind me picking up a camera in the first place.

Milnor_Photoshelter

I am now photographing for one client, Blurb. The idea is simple. I photograph people living creative, artistic lives. We’ve noticed some threads, some consistencies with these folks, and we are fascinated by their workspaces, their lives, their habits and their process. My goal is to shoot classic reportage essays with the idea being the work could be used in a variety of forms, from print to web and anything in between. This is a celebratory mission. The creative life is under siege, whether you be in music, art or photography, but there is something urgent about those who choose this path. It’s like your blood type. You can’t change it. You were born with this need and your life is about expanding upon it.

I can’t share any of the new work yet. It’s under wraps in private galleries, and will be until it runs in it’s native form. There will be new outlets designed and created to showcase this work, and other work that features similar missives. The site you see here is simply a public face.

I realized very quickly that I needed a new site, but not just a site to showcase images. I’m not really going to be showcasing them myself anyway. I needed a TOOL more than just a website. Photoshelter baby. I had used their services before, and literally within minutes I was up and running once again. I quickly found myself having to make a decision I hadn’t thought about in years. Because the new work will be private my homepage was entirely blank. I thought “I should put up some public work so at least it looks like a real site.” My mind raced back to the old me, “Well, I’ll put up a bunch of stories.” And then the idea of culling and editing began to sink in and knew I didn’t have it in me.

But more importantly I realized something else. A LOT has changed in three years. I studied my own online habits and thought back to a recent visit to photographer sites. These were really solid shooters and I didn’t give them much time. Three, four, five clicks maybe. So instead of uploading hundreds of images I made a decision to load just twenty-five total. My mindset is “If you can’t figure out who I am in these twenty-five then either I suck or you aren’t paying attention.” I also uploaded images I would have never uploaded before because they weren’t of a certain ilk. Images like this and this.
Remember, behind each image on this site is an in depth essay of twenty to fifty images.

Many photographers today are at the mercy of industry bottlenecks who need or want to quickly pigeonhole someone so they can mentally categorize them for current or future work. “That is the guy who shoots square urban landscapes.” “That is the woman who shoots lit portraits of animals,” or “That is the person who shoots protests.” I don’t have to deal with any of this anymore and I can now upload pretty much anything I want to upload. Am I a landscape photographer? No. Do I normally find intense satisfaction in stalking wildlife? No, but I like these images, and now I can put them up without risking an unwelcomed categorization. Who knows, in the future if I get bored with this, I might add more, but for now I thought, “Keep it clean and simple.”

For those of you wondering about the “photographer, not a photographer” thing just remember this is MY way of dealing with this. There is a HUGE difference between doing work on your work and doing work for a client. Secondarily, there is a significant dialogue that needs to take place regarding how the work will get done, get delivered, get archived, etc. With these conversations and arrangements comes a situation that constantly hangs in the balance of work vs. client. I won’t go into the details but these conversations are still ongoing and are actually laying the foundation for the future of the campaign. The balance is how I feel I need to work compared to what the client, in this case Blurb, needs or wants.

These “Creative Dispatches” will occupy a significant portion of my life, and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do these. In many ways this is the dream scenario, it really is. I have been encouraged to make the work I want to make in any way I see fit. I have both professional and personal goals with these shoots, but I frankly need to brush the dust off and get my head around thinking like a photographer once again. The adventure begins.

16 Responses to “New Site: Oh Ya, I’m a Photographer Again.”

  1. What a coincidence: I have the same idea for several months now, creating photo essays of creative people, but haven’t done anything with that idea yet. I do have a short list of people in my country I would love to photograph, but haven’t contacted them yet. It’s strange: I’m someone who has to be stimulated in order to proceed with an idea, but somehow I’m always too late because I hestitate too long, and then suddenly you find out that someone else had the same idea and is already executing it :-)

  2. Daniel, I know, and I will proceed this time, don’t worry. In the past, I was somehow ‘paralyzed’ when I found out some of my ideas were already ‘taken’.

  3. patrick says:

    Slightly synergistic maybe – I came to your site almost straight after reading this:

    http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/14/bill-drummond-25-paintings-world-tour-review

    Bill Drummond and the KLF have been an interesting presence in the world of art and music for many years. Maybe you could add him to any list you have? Probably you have 12 million people already on it – apologies if I made it 12,000,001. Sounds an interesting project though and I hope it keeps you stimulated for years and leads to new things.

  4. Sean Breslin says:

    The website looks great! Nice, simple, and your personal style shines through.
    Interesting that you left your colour work out…

    Will you be cycling to your Blurb assignments? ;-)

    • Smogranch says:

      Sean,
      I’m a black and white photographer really. Have been using the color as an easy crutch for years, but my heart isn’t in it. When I think about the color I shoot there is anything I couldn’t live without. Moving forward I will continue to use color, for work needs, but the bulk of what I wish to achieve will be in black and ze white.
      Yes, just blew up my car….only bike forever….even for 850 mile commute to Santa Fe. How is your broken body?

  5. Sean Breslin says:

    From what I’ve seen here your colour work with the medium format Fuji in South America is some of my favourite. But yeah, I get it, black and white is where you like to be.

    I’m OK. Just sore and on painkillers. Should be back on the bike after a month according to the doc.

    • Smogranch says:

      Sean,
      Well, thanks for saying that. I loved it too, for a long while, till I broke it down and realized, FOR ME anyway, it was candy. A distraction from the black and white. It’s about difficulty. Color square is a VERY easy way of working. You can shoot virtually ANYTHING with this system and it will look good, even arty, but it’s not great work. Heck, one of my images is of a trashcan…and it looks GOOD. Making great, 35mm, black and white work is like giving birth. Or passing a kidney stone in my case. I know how rare and how difficult it is to make work this way, so when I’m pressed for time the color is like an ego assist.

  6. Hi Daniel:

    I too just made my first website of my images in a few years. Please have a look here if you wish: http://jeff-chevrier.4ormat.com (love to hear your quick thoughts or first take)

    Love your 2 links, Rectangle and Square! Less is more. I love the minimalist, understated approach you took and your strong singular images and style comes through in spades. I too wanted to keep my site mostly B&W. I may reconsider / rework.

    • Smogranch says:

      Jeff,
      The reality is if someone is looking at your site, typically, it’s about three clicks. I’m not sure there is any other option than doing precisely what you want to do. If we try to put up work to find work I think it will just look like everyone else.

    • Smogranch says:

      Jeff,
      Love it, Joe Carter, Robbie Alomar, etc.

  7. holger says:

    Totally agree about the ‘you have 3-clicks to show who you are’ statement… It’s sad, but true.

    Maybe if I make 2-3 homepages for the 2-3 kinds of photos/projects I do then I’ll get 2-3 times more 3 clicks? ;)

  8. Hi Daniel:

    You know those players? Impressive! I think I need to pare this down to a leaner presentation. I am not looking for any work, my little camera store keeps me busy enough, but if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it.. Well you know.. Good to show your images as at the very least it is a great editing exercise taking stock of your better images etc.. Appreciate you taking a minute to have a look, thanks!

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