Two years broadcasting
It has been two years since starting this little project. It was a few days in Berlin, two long nights in Edinburgh, a day at a cafe in Brighton, as well as a bombardment of thoughts about time passing, people moving on, and wondering about where my viewpoint fits in the world. Having spent so much time capturing perspective quite literally, I wanted to broadcast it on a platform of my own.
Looking at photographs
A few months after starting the blog, I joined Instagram. I have a fair number of misgivings about it (it often feels a mini-game on its own), but honestly the premise is quite cool. The presence of instagram has allowed me to publish things quickly, even when I haven’t fully fleshed out a concept. In an ideal scenario, Instagram would be like my sketchbook, if you will. I also indulge in using it in the more conventional “social media” way of publishing updates on my life. I take no issue with that fact. At least that way, things are visually appealing.
The social media aspect warps the space a bit. If we stick with the premise of a sketchbook, what does a ‘like’ even mean? How much of that feedback is modulated by friendships, and how much has to do with the photography itself? Better yet, does it matter to me that it be separate, or does the mix satisfy parts of my need to broadcast a signal? I seem to have settled on the latter, but I will also admit that the usual hooks these platforms bring (‘likes’ etc.) often give me more grief than they’re worth.
Another grievance with the “mini game” is that it encourages you to offer a caption, a description of the photograph. The attention span on the platform is remarkably small (citation totally needed); the first time I saw somebody scrolling their feed and just double-tapping rhythmically, I was in awe. A caption, thus, can help capture that attention a bit longer. For the kind of sketches that make up 75% of my posts, I think it is actually good to offer notes; that’s the point! Otherwise, I find photography a remarkably humble medium, where a smart caption or a description should not be necessary (my photography teacher would scream if he saw these games). It is a habit that I’ve been trying to shed, but the platform does not make it easy.
Of course, I’m not the only person here; we all cast our signals in various ways. I have had some really good interactions online. Recently, I found that an author whose work I enjoy is also an interesting photographer, and I was able to reach out to him and thank him for one of his essays about Helsinki. I also have an assortment of ~30 people who I follow solely for their photos, often with compliments or suggestions. This kind of discovery and conscious engagement is often touted as the bright side of these media, and I the would agree.
(Much of this text reminds me of this talk by Zack Arias, so you could watch that for related topics.)
I want to try and tackle some of these misgivings. In my mind, there’s two ways I could do that:
- Have a separate Instagram account and try to push that as a persona;
- Lean on the blog for its strengths
The separate account is not a bad idea, but it would mean going all-in on Instagram. If there are parts of the platform that I am apprehensive about though, it doesn’t seem logical. Additionally, most of my friends seem to be leaning on it for the social aspect, and it would be quite the effort to try and compartmentalise.
The blog, on the other hand, has no semblance of ‘likes’ or algorithms. It doesn’t pretend to be popular and neither does it aspire to be. If someone goes there, it is with the intent to see things I’ve published. The lack of numbers is kind of relaxing; I publish something and cast it into the void, trusting that whomever is interested will see it.
This is not unlike what I currently do, but I would like to update the blog more regularly, with some structured collections instead of just sketches. I should also considering some kind of comment section, but that is a few ways off. Moreover, I would want to finally shed most of the description and captions, now that I have the chance!
As for meta posts, these also have a nice home here :)