I think a photoblog should reveal something about the person behind it. I like blogs that comment on the photographic process, that give me a true personal perspective on that process, and that aren't afraid to be opinionated. All these characteristics are necessary but not sufficient. Some blogs are so personal that they function as public diaries, while others treat the personal as self promotional vehicles. Generally I find them less interesting. I think some commentary on the broader photography world is needed in addition to personal revelation. My favorites are the ones which strike a balance--personally revealing yet able to point me toward interesting discoveries at large. Here are ten that I checked in with regularly in 2008:
1. 5b4. Insightful, passionate and consistent, Jeff Ladd keeps fanning the flames. In what other medium but photography could a blog about books take the temperature of the entire art? The Hong Kong travelogue was icing on the cake.
2. The Year in Pictures. Here's how the photo world looks to New York gallery owner James Danziger. Considering his cutthroat environs, his blog is surprisingly humane and heartfelt. Danziger has a pretty reliable eye that quickly cuts to the chase.
3. Heading East. A nice mix of personal narrative and expository nods to other photographers, with enough references to nonphoto topics like his family to keep you guessing. Did parenting duties prevent him from discovering Debbie Fleming Caffery?
4. Passport to Trespass. Mikael Kennedy's ongoing photo journal offers no explanation or commentary, just a constant stream of pleasantly beguiling polaroids. This is the only nonwritten photoblog I regularly visit.
5. Lenscratch. Aline Smithson is a workhorse, with near daily posts about an astonishing array of photographers. If there is any problem it may be that she's too prolific. Miss a few weeks and you'll never catch up. Smithson doesn't reveal much about herself here, but as a quick guide to other work Lenscratch is great.
6. The Online Photographer. Kudos to Mike Johnston for managing the prolific, multi-authored granddaddy of photoblogs, which Johnston's voice somehow manages to tie together. On the downside there's a little too much gear-talk for my taste. Maybe some of that techknohow could be used to make the site load faster?
7. Dispatches. Doug Plummer offers the best insight out there into the day-to-day life and thoughts of a working pro. Written from the point of view of an old fuddy-duddy who's come to embrace the digital era, Dispatches is a snapshot of the epoch.
8. 2point8. Although this used to be essential daily reading it seems to have slipped off a bit in the past year. Still a great source for street photo nuggets like the recent Winogrand interviews. Here's hoping MDM gives it a little more energy in 09.
9. Magnum. Magnum is back, baby! Rekindled by Alec Soth, who has transformed it from tired photojournalism commentary to a multi-authored version of his late great blog questioning all things photographic. As with the old blog, the comments field is often as enjoyable to read as the original post.
10. Conscientious. Give Colberg props for casting a wide and constant net. It's rare that he showcases anyone I'm familiar with so as a source of new leads his blog is great, and the occasional forays into theory are usually enjoyable. On the downside his style can be somewhat cold and impersonal, and a lot of the photography he shows feels the same.