Monday, June 6, 2011


I don't know what happened. I thought my recent spate of ads would push me into the inner circle but no, it didn't happen. Damn you Citigroup! You said not to worry. You said the Life thing was in the bag. That's the last time I trust a multinational financial behemoth to get me in with the art crowd. Citigroup, you're fired! No more banner header for you.

But seriously, if there's a trend in Life's selections it seems to be toward commercialization. Most of the big photoblogs have ads. They have slick designs. They're edited by teams of writers. You know the ones. The Picture Show, Lightbox, In-Focus, PDN, NYT Lens, etc... Yeah, there are still some great mom-and-pop one person photoblogs out there but I think Bryan Formhals' prediction is slowly coming to fruition. The general shift is toward institutions and away from personal journals. And as that shift is happening, personal journaling seems to be giving way to retweets and tumblr links. Instead of offering original material, many blogs just bat around existing stuff. And rebat. So personal journals are taking it from both ends.

So what does the future hold for us small diaristic photoblogs? Should we hope to be institutionalized? No, I think there's room for us. In fact the photoblogs I most enjoy are the small personal journals. They have a voice. They have idiosyncrasies. They have personality. I still check in on the biggies now and then but it's more to check temperature. To really delve into things I need memoir, not committee minutes. Hopefully I'm not alone.

The good news is I discovered a few fun new blogs through the Life article. Great writing and great photography continues to be produced every hour of every day. Our job as bloggers is to sort it out, hopefully without that process sending us to an institution.


storiesforhumans said...

Totally agreed. I fear that all writing is disappearing with, like you mentioned, Tumblr links and the like. Awfully sad. The worst thing about this rash of Tumblrs is that hardly any of them actually link or acknowledge the original artist of the images they're claiming! Amazing! They should be shamed.


Anonymous said...

Crap. Now I'm hunting for the post where I mentioned the institutions taking over :)

Tiffany said...

I still check in on the biggies now and then too ;)

Tiffany said...

Oh and all this stream of consciousness bit-tweeting and tumbling and less writing has convinced me we are morphing into a single machinist identity!

Microcord said...

"LIFE"? I thought that it had died decades ago, and that its corpse was trotted out once in a while for Major National Events (Dubya hands over the reins to Hopey, etc). But no, it's alive and well and it even has a website!

I see in the website something about Tokyo. I click on the link. I see the photo, and immediately below it:


(That's their capitalization, not mine.)

"Celebrity Love in 2011: Ups and Downs"


"They're on, they're off, they're taking a break... Anything is possible in the volatile world of celebrity love."

Hell yes!

And it gets great comments, too. The first one:

"Species are to face the body healthier sweet girl kidnap my mind deserve my heart Peace that I die I go longer I've got an angel to man are not the Lord bless you all of you with your secretary Luna"

And this literary lion continues in three more prose poems in the same vein. Then somebody pipes up with some name. (Of a celeb? I don't know.) And finally, pointing out what we might have overlooked, "Aslam" chimes in with: "Hey Everyone ! Its very nice website."

Damn right, Aslam. And why? Because this isn't just celebs, it's celebs with other celebs. People love this.

Better, it's Art. The Guardian's Jonathan Jones recently devoted a column to the delights of a "photo blog" (in reality just another Tumblr collection): "Unexpected celebrity encounters captured on film". Yup, Jones isn't a writer for the Women's page, sorry I mean the Lifestyle page, no, he's their main writer on Art.

And for the most part the commenters lapped it up. "Awesome People Hanging Out Together" wasn't enough: they eagerly put forward links to "Thisisnotporn" and "Photos taken of famous people together that you would never have expected to be together but make you happy all the same".

They don't make me happy. Perhaps there's something wrong with me.

Kim Jong Phil inspires me to think of Tumblr mashups. Calling your inner photoshoplifter, Blake: I humbly propose Kim Jong Il looking at celebs.

As a red-blooded American, you may like:

Kim Jong Il looking at Mr T.
Kim Jong Il looking Janet Jackson.
Kim Jong Il looking at Kim Kardashian.
Kim Jong Il looking at Dr James Dobson.

Blake Andrews said...

Holy crap, that photo of Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller is dynamite!

I actually have a soft spot for real-life tumblrs that sift through documentary photos and edit them in bizarre ways. They fill a different role than blogs but some are very entertaining.

matt~ said...

Brief flirtations with flickr, tumblr and facebook, led me back to photoblogging. Flickr, for example, is a great place to store photos and get a few comments, but nothing beats a blogging platform for letting you do whatever weird shit you want.


Anonymous said...

Blake this is off topic but what do you think of the facial recognition software coming out and how it will affect street photography?

FaceBook Facial Recognition

Aaron said...

I couldn't agree more. It is very hard these days to find a personal blog that includes stories and great pictures. Thank you for your blog, I stumbled upon one day while searching the internet and always love coming back for your commentary.
Keep fighting for us "small time" bloggers :)

Hernan Zenteno said...

I am with the independents and I am so radicalized to the point of post only when I really have something to say. Good, bad, stupid, you choice. Sometimes I take other posts as inspiration but I don't paste them only "to make a post". I really try to turn the screw about them or add something to let people think in between. Is good to think in between. Like in a line or when we are in the waiting room of the dentist.

Anonymous said...

Authorship markup and web search

Blake Andrews said...

Not sure about the Facebook face recognition. I'd like to just carry on as usual and ignore but I suspect it will have repercussions.