Photoblogger Kirk Tuck addressed some of these issues in a well written post last week. He explained why he started Visual Science Lab, what he gets out of it, and what readers might take from his blog. Before reading that post I'd never paid much attention to VSL but now I've started to tune in. It can be a bit tech-heavy but the natural impetus shines through. It's written by someone who thinks about photography a lot, and the blog is a natural outlet.
Ironically Tuck wrote his post only after he'd quit blogging. Two years into it he realized he devoted many hours every week to something with no financial remuneration. The posts he cared about received few comments, and the gear reviews which he found tiresome received raves. On top of all that were the antagonistic comments from anonymous nitpickers. He didn't need it, so he quit.
That lasted roughly two weeks. That's how long he was on the blog wagon before he fell off again and VSL resumed. A die hard blogger.
If Tuck was being fashionable he wouldn't have restarted. After a banner run in the late 2000s, photoblogs have recently fallen out of style. You don't see too many starting up nowadays as people have migrated to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Meanwhile, several of yesteryear's stalwart photoblogs have gone into remission. Jeff Ladd, Amy Stein, Susana Raab, Rachel Hulin, Tim Atherton, Andrew Stark, the list goes on. I'm not sure if they've officially quit or are on hiatus but either way the silence is deafening.
I can empathize. Every few weeks I swear I'm done. I can't write B forever. Other projects beckon. So I'll quit after the 1000th post, or the new year, or my birthday, or some other arbitrary point in the future. Back in February I came very close but I couldn't quite pull the trigger. So here I am four years after I started, still tied to my digital albatross.
My basic motivation has been the same since the beginning. I am often thinking about photography and I need a place to file those thoughts. So they go into a folder. At any given time this folder contains 5 or 10 rough drafts in various stages of refinement. Occasionally I get off my ass and complete one. I could put these in a private journal, which is what I did until a few years ago. It worked fine. But if I'm going to write this stuff anyway why not share? Get some feedback even.
This is where you, dear reader, enter the equation. A blog post operates a bit like a photograph. It doesn't become fully activated until it finds its audience. Tuck's essay reveals just how dependent he was on his readership for feedback. In fact it was reader response which caused him to restart VSL. I think many bloggers feel the same. We like to feel like we're somewhat in control, but really it's the forces beyond our control —the readers— who add the spice.
I know there's more to it. Tuck would do what he does regardless of audience. I would too. But it wouldn't be as much fun. A blog becomes most interesting when it's a two way street. I'd even be up for a three-way or a four-way.
All of which is to say that although I may come off as not giving a shit if you comment, I actually do care. If you have feedback, suggestions, reading tips, skincare secrets, and/or life advice, let me know (especially you, Sergei). In any case, I appreciate all readers whether or not they comment. Keep tuning in because I've got some interesting projects in the pipeline assuming I don't quit before I get to them.