Dosage

I WROTE THIS POST, AND THE FOLLOWING POST, BACK IN JANUARY. ONCE AGAIN, I FORGOT ABOUT BOTH OF THEM.

I was just on Twitter and I looked down in the “Hey silly, these are the people you should follow” area. I rarely ever go to this little spot because I’m trying to EXPAND my digital horizon, not build a staggering mound of similar people, and it dawned on me how much THIS exact scenario is a part of the social world.

In other words, preaching to the choir.

On Twitter’s list, made special for me, was a photojournalist. I clicked on his name, and found post after post of mobile phone images. Under each image was the list of those who “liked” what the photographer posted, and there were many. There were SO MANY posts I just immediately killed the Twitter tab and tried to forget about it, because here is the reality. That photojournalist, he is capable of good work. He really is. He isn’t new, or crazy young, he’s got a track record. Now, that track record was FAR better before the advent of the mobile phone(in my opinion), and I really don’t want to engage with him in his new incarnation of “please follow and like me.” The work being liked, relentlessly, isn’t great work, but it comes with the “preaching to the choir” aspect of this charade. He could post photographs of his feet and a hundred people would tell him “great photo,” “amazing,” “incredible,” “awesome,” all the telltale vocabulary associated with social.

Ever wonder what would happen if someone said “Sorry man, this one just isn’t good enough.” Blasphemy!! Ban them! Burn them! How dare you invade the flowery world of the social following with ANYTHING deemed remotely negative. How often does someone in the choir yell “This song sucks…… we either sing FREEBIRD or I’m WALKING!” How often? NEVER.

I’m WAITING for these photographers to realize this little game has blowback. When someone shares their work at an unsustainable rate it actually diminishes the value and the power of what they are doing. Consider the micro-seconds of time many of these folks offering up the “likes” are spending with the imagery. Here today, gone tomorrow. In short, we are OVERSHARING at a deadly rate. Well, some of us are.

I’ve always felt that there have only ever been a few truly elite photographers in the world. This was true fifty years ago and it’s true now. The truly elite in my mind are NOT sharing every moment of every day and begging for attention. The elite are making work; real, honest, deep work and they are waiting like a visual virus. They are waiting for that work to be complete. They are editing, they are sequencing and they are packaging. They are waiting for the moment when humanity, NOT just the choir, is ready is receive and then they make their move. When they move, people stop what they are doing and they PAY ATTENTION. Real, undivided attention.

Certain photographers transcend photography. I have a game I play with my mother(75-years_old), who has always been supportive of photography but doesn’t have any interest in actually following photography, outside of the images I make of her grandchildren. I ask her if she has ever heard of certain photographers. Anyone who knows this site knows about my Salgado man crush, and Salgado is someone who transcends the choir. He, and his work, have become part of the vernacular of our culture. If he was buzzing around my ear EVERYDAY with post and after post after post I would toss him aside like I do the rest simply because there is NO WAY I have the time to actually consume that level of interaction. What I like about Salgado is that he pops up on my radar about once every ten years, and when he does I know I need to pay attention. His methods, his projects and his legacy are unrivaled in documentary photography, and just so you know, I don’t like everything he does. I think certain projects are better than others, but I pay attention, real attention, to all of them.

The sad thing is I believe there could be more Salgado’s out there, but too many people who have the talent have become sidetracked by staring at screens all day long and feeding their empty calorie lifestyle of the social following. At some point it’s going to dawn on these folks that change is in the air. Artists today have more control and more options than ever before, but it takes nerve, focus and a fearlessness to blaze a new trail. Artists have a permission slip, something I’ve harped on endlessly. A permission slip to be eccentric, to take chances and to be entirely original, but in doing so run the risk of NOT being “Mr/Mrs Popular.” Heck, sometimes I post things on Twitter to see how many people I can LOSE in one, 140-character blast. I do, and it’s a game I highly recommend because the MOMENT you begin to shape an artificial version of yourself in an attempt to gain more anything THE GAME IS OFFICIALLY OVER.

I hold out hope. When I see the name of the photographer I mentioned above, the one I noticed on Twitter, I see images of his in my mind. I see the OLD images, the ones that made him who he is before this charade began. This is true of many of these folks. I see their images because they were GREAT images. Signature, historical images but there were ONE or TWO from an entire story. THIS, for me is what photography is truly about. Great moments don’t happen everyday no matter how many filters you apply.

I SAT ON THIS POST FOR A FEW DAYS, CHEWING ON IT. THERE WAS MORE. SEE FOLLOWING POST

Blurb Revolution

A random seascape for no apparent reason, but that sky is kinda Blurb blue.

Okay, I’m a total Blurb homer, and I work for the company, but I still felt I needed to write this post.

Last week was an especially interesting time in the history of the company, with the arrival of two, three or perhaps even a few more very important things.

First, Pro Line books are now here. Photographers polled over the past few years were asked “What do you want?” There were many responses…as you can imagine. But, what came through loud and clear, “We want more paper choices, end sheet choices and more cover options.” So, in short, they are here. But Dan is there more you ask? Yes, there is. These new additions are not just more options, not in my opinion. They are options that speak directly to photographers who are looking at Blurb as a vehicle for the future. Let me explain.

Four years ago, when I first started using Blurb, and many other POD book makers, I was using these books for a few things, mostly portfolios and promo books. Over the years, as the technology got better, and my understanding of books got better, I began to realize I was selling myself short as well as selling my books short. Soon I began selling books to both clients, shoot specific, but also began selling my books to collectors or people who just wanted to own my work. At the time I did not fully understand the power of the book, nor did I understand how to position a book. Once I saw the look in my client’s eyes when that bright, shiny book was placed before them, the wheels began to turn in my mind.

It’s been said that photography is a story best told in book form. I think we have Gerry Badger to thank for that notion, and I am one hundred percent in agreement with him. The book is a powerful thing that commands a certain respect, both with photographers, but more importantly with the general public.

In the past few years, with the economic downtown, the publishing industry has been impacted. With having said that, the traditional publishing world is still making signature books, and looks to be ready to do so well into the future. For this I’m glad. Behind me, as I write this, is my photo-book library, which is overflowing with books(Including Blurb books!). There are more on the way. But, one of the side effects of the downturn is that photographers who might have been published before are simply not being afforded that opportunity today. That is where Blurb comes into play.

What I’ve seen happening over the past few years is the reality that books are being defined by different ideals. With the advent of companies like Blurb, the book has taken on a different face, one which has allowed for a more wide ranging scale of what is being published. Sure, many of these books are, let’s face it, not good, including many of mine, but many of them are exceptional. New talent, new faces and new opportunities have been merged in this exciting new time. Case in point, Photoeye Books selling my “On Approach” book.

Pro Line takes this one step further. Recently, at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, Blurb was able to offer a sneak peak to festival attendees. I spent four days in a room at a hotel, a room filled with these books, and I have to say, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Now, I know what you are thinking, cause you are a photographer, and I’m a photographer. You are thinking, “Who cares what anyone else says, I gotta see it myself.” I know. I always think the same thing. But, I can’t sum it up any better than a photographer who sat with me and viewed these new books and new materials. He simply said, “These are a good as anything being published today.”
I know, you still want to see them. But let me ask you this? Ever thought of doing an edition? Small run? Tip in print? Feel like maybe you have more options now?

Now, Pro Line, at least to me, was somewhat expected in terms of the future of Blurb. I know, I’m terribly jaded and demanding, but again, did I mention I was a photographer? So, my standard mission statement is “I want everything. I want it now. I want it for free.” So these new books I saw coming.

What I didn’t seem coming was BLURB MOBILE This application is potentially a real game-changer, at least this is how I see it. In essence, BLURB MOBILE is a storytelling tool. Just for a second, imagine you are me. Imagine you love film. Imagine you love working on obscure projects that take unrealistic amounts of time and potentially have very little market, but yet you can’t think about life without these projects being an essential part. imagine that when you are shooting in the field, and blogging, you get constant requests from people who ask, “Where is the new work?” “When are you gonna post your latest shoot.” Imagine that you don’t want to do this because you realize the modern attention span is so short that if you post the work as you go, by the time the story is complete, or the book, the average follower will respond with, “Yep, I’ve already seen that.” And, imagine that you are old school in your thinking that good work needs to marinate and needs time to be lived with BEFORE it is released on the unsuspecting world. But imagine now having a secret weapon that will bridge this gap.

I now have a tool that allows me to have anyone who is interested FOLLOW me as I go. Anyone who is interested in my project can see AND hear what is happening in the field, without me “showing my hand” so to speak when it comes to the final images. Imagine being very happy. Imagine creating an audience for your final project, as you go along, so that when your project is done you have an audience of people who have NOT seen every image, and can relive, relearn and experience the project the way it was intended to be experienced. Imagine this sounding pretty good.

Well, now you have another option.

Oh ya, did I mention the Blurb plug-in for Lightroom? That’s kinda new too. Just to hurl something else at you.

I know what you are thinking. “I want more.” I get it. Did I mention I’m a photographer?

I’m not sure what the future holds, and let’s be real. NONE of these things substitute for time and access in the field. These new items are like arrows in your photographic quiver.

Any questions about these things, just let me know.