This post last updated: August 3, 2008.
Back in the middle of photography’s dark ages, during the formative years of my youth (circa 1968), listening to shortwave radio was a keen fascination. When I visited my cousin’s house, at night, we would tune in to stations from around the world on his shortwave set. We laughed as the path opened for us to discover exotic languages and music. Other than scrounging up an old receiver and some wire for an antenna, there was no cost to riding the airwaves.
Today, I think the blogosphere is at a similar state of evolution. For only the cost of access to the Internet, I can tune in to the thoughts of photographers (and other colorful thinkers) far and wide. Likewise, the cost of starting and running a blog can be minimal. Consider that WordPress, the most widely-used blog software, is a free download and that thousands of blogs, including some of the most highly-visited sites (like Strobist), are hosted for free on Blogger.
Eventually the standard means of delivering our thoughts and ramblings will morph from the “modern” blog into streams of hi-def video. (I promise, when that happens, I’ll stay behind the little green curtain when I post.) For now, the web is still a fertile field for sowing the written word.
I spend invest a lot of time wandering around the blogosphere. Most of the time, it’s the main way that I stay current with developments and innovations in the world of photography. I admit, occasionally, it’s also a way to hone my skills as a procrastinator.
My photographic horizons and interests are vast. Even though I’m a commercial shooter, I’m equally interested in the realms of fine art photography and creativity. And, keeping Dante’s journey in mind, I also want insight on the thoughts of photo editors, art buyers, media consultants, etc. [More about Dante's journey here.]
How I Surf The Blogosphere
Surf Quickly, Surf Safely – Use A Web Reader. For a long while, I would just bookmark the blogs and websites that I wanted to follow and periodically click through my bookmarks to see if any had a new post. Give me an “A” for inefficiency. Most blogs and many websites publish an RSS feed that web readers will detect. Even if you only follow a couple of blogs or sites, get a web reader. Eventually, your favorites list will grow to the point where you’ll really appreciate it.
Look for the RSS logo (shown above) to subscribe – subscriptions are free. In many browsers, if a site has an RSS feed, the RSS icon will appear at the right side of the address bar. Double-click on that and you’re on your way to subscribing. I use Google Reader to manage my subscriptions. Another widely-used reader is Bloglines.
In addition to offering an RSS feed, many blogs also offer a subscription by email. When the site publishes a new post, you’ll receive it in your mailbox. I have a specific email account set up to receive blog posts and e-newletters so that they don’t get lost in my regular mailstorm (yes, it does rhyme with “hailstorm”).
Get organized before you get crazy. I’m a self-confessed blogoholic (“No really, I can control it. I just choose not to sleep.”). But, I’m an organized blogoholic. I have my Google Reader account bookmarked on my Firefox toolbar as “GRdr”. Two clicks and I’m looking at my long lists of blog subscriptions.
My reader is divided into three folders: 1-Must Reads, 2-Other Photography, 3-Everything Else. (The numbers are in the names to sequence the folders automatically.) When I subscribe to a blog’s RSS feed in Google Reader, I create the subscription in the appropriate folder.
Then, almost every morning, I click open my reader and see if there’s anything new in the 1-Must Reads. Once a week (or more often if I want to push the needle on the Procrasto-meter deep into the red zone), I browse the 2-Other Photography and 3-Everything Else categories.
My Must-Read List of Blogs and Websites About Photography
Here’s my list of 1-Must Reads. I’ve listed them alphabetically (which is an interesting exercise to remember the next time you have to come up with a name for a new site). If there’s new content on one of these sites, I want to check it out asap.
A Photo Editor – Rob Haggart, a former photo editor for ‘Men’s Journal’ and ‘Outside’, entertains and educates with a number of posts each week (sometimes with several in a single day). Rob’s not a shooter. He’s the guy who is paid to find the perfect photo / photographer amidst the gillions of mediocre pix / photographers swimming around. It’s a totally different take on the world of commercial photography. Many photographers, myself included, need the regular slap in the face that Rob delivers. ‘A Photo Editor’ would be right at the top of my must-read list even in it didn’t start with “A”. [Post frequency = more than frequent]
Death To Film – The blog of Image Mechanics. IM is the gang of superheros based in Santa Monica that’s led by Michael Britt (the fellow who wrote the original Lightroom user’s guide for Adobe.) As digital capture specialists, these guys have to manage as many captures in a day as most non-pro shooters will create in a lifetime. They don’t post often. When they do, it’s usually something I wish I’d known months ago. [Post frequency = infrequent]
Inside Lightroom – Hosted by O’Reilly, the publisher of many great titles on photography and digital technology. Great tips and techniques on the program that’s revolutionizing digital workflow. Posts from a broad group of photographers, including: Michael Clark, Jon Canfield, Mikkel Aaland, and many others. [Post frequency = frequent]
Joe McNally’s Blog - I’ve written a good bit about my friend and swami, Joe McNally (here, here, and here). Joe is the master of enslaving a battalion of Nikon speedlights to do his bidding. His blog is part adventure travelogue, part online workshop. When Joe’s busy, the posts get intermittent. But there’s always a good tale and several great pix when he gets back online. [Post frequency = intermittent to frequent]
John Nack On Adobe – John is Adobe’s Senior Product Manager for Photoshop. Put another way, he’s ground zero for loads of great insights into life at Adobe-ville. A prolific blogger, John frequently provides peeks at the future of the Photoshop family. He’s also a great source for leads to other great content on the web.
John Paul Caponigro’s Blog – John Paul Caponigro is the son of Paul Caponigro, one of the photographers who most influenced my career in art school. I’m happy to say that thanks to JP, the Caponigro-spell on my vision continues to this day. JP is a prolific and gifted artist, teacher and writer. Along with Mac Holbert, he teaches The Fine Art of Digital Printing workshop (my quick review of FADP is here). His blog provides steady insights into his workshops, techniques and gear. Consider it as the gateway to one of the best sites for information on creating modern, photographic art. [Post frequency = frequent]
Lightroom Journal – This is blog of the Lightroom development team – led by Tom Hogarty at Adobe. Although the posts are infrequent, I always want to know when new material is online. [Post frequency = infrequent]
Photo-Resources.org – The sister-site to PixSylated in which I post (relatively) concise reviews of events and resources for photographers. I always subscribe to my own blogs in both RSS and email to see what everyone else is receiving. [Post frequency = frequent]
Photoshop Insider – The popular blog of Scott Kelby (who needs a billboard-sized business card to hold his various titles and achievements: most widely published author on digital technology, president of NAPP, inventor of the Photoshop-education industry, editor/publisher of Photoshop User magazine, same for Layers magazine…) Scott shares his personal photos, new techniques, industry insights, gear reviews and travel tales in his energetic, humorous voice. [Post frequency = daily M-F, with guest bloggers on Wed.]
Photoshop News – Regular installments about developments in Adobe-land, Photoshop techniques and pixelated humor. Also hosts an extensive list of resources on Photoshop, color management, digital printing and beyond. [Post frequency = frequent]
Rob Galbraith DPI – An amalgamation of news from around the world of digital photography. Typically delves deep into the performance of new cameras and software (along with the bugs that haunt them). Consistently one of the first to post breaking news. Extensive list of links for software and camera firmware updates. [Post frequency = frequent]
Strobist – David Hobby’s Strobist is the blog that started the small flash phenomenon. Now legions of Strobist enthusiasts frequently meet around the country for shoots and camaraderie. From the hosting of the site (free via Blogger) to the equipment and techniques that the site advocates, Strobist is proof that one need not spend a lot of money to be a success in today’s photo world. Strobist is the place to start if you want to learn about flash photography. [Post frequency = frequent]
The Luminous Landscape – Michael Reichmann is known to many as the sage of modern, fine art photography. The Luminous Landscape has long been a source for cutting edge information of camera gear, digital workflow, fine art printing and landscape photography. There is so much information that The Luminous Landscape can be a challenge to navigate. Subscribe to the RSS feed and you’ll get every new installment hot off the press. [Post frequency = frequent]
Vincent Laforet’s Blog [added 8/02/08] – Vincent Laforet is a gifted shooter, Pulitzer winner, Canon Explorer of Light and now a blogger. His article ‘The Clouds Are Falling’ on Sportsshooter has inspired an open dialog about the state of editorial photography. Check out his sidebar for a long list of other great photography blogs and sites. [Post frequency = frequent]
Blogs & Websites About Photography That I Read Frequently (but not every day)
Here’s the laundry list of other photo sites that I read frequently. When I’m busy, I will wait until I have the time to browse my reader for updates to these sites. Or, if I have a really big something that I’m trying to avoid, I’ll jump right on this list with impunity.
Acme Educational – News and insights from Vincent Versace, plus info on Acme’s upcoming DVD releases that provide “industrial-strength knowledge for the creative mind”.
Chase Jarvis’ Blog – The adventure blog of the globe-trotting Chase Jarvis. You’ll also find a list of links to all of Chase’s cool video podcasts.
Exposures – Regular installments on the world of photography published by the Aperture Foundation.
Focus On Singh-Ray – The experiences of field photographers with Singh-Ray filters.
Heather Morton / Art Buyer – Insights and interviews for commercial shooter. Hosted by Heather Morton, a freelance art buyer based in Toronto, along with input from friends and colleagues around the world.
Imaging Insider – If you want to scan virtually every press release related to photography, check out Imaging Insider. Also great way to find out about new blogs on photography and valuable posts.
John Nack On Adobe – Thoughts and rumor-busters straight from Adobe’s Senior Product Manager for Photoshop.
Inside Digital Photo – Podcasts (both audio and video) on digital photography, image makers and industry trends. Great interviews.
LensCulture – A great site to tour with a large cup of tea in hand. Self-described as “an online magazine celebrating international contemporary photography, art, media and world cultures.” Visually and intellectually stimulating.
Marketing Photos – Mary Virginia Swanson, the doyenne of info on the world of fine art photography, shares her experiences and points the way for those looking to break into the photo art world.
MediaStorm – Brian Storm is the pioneer in advocating that still photographers create multimedia projects through the addition of sound and video recordings. The MediaStorm blog will keep you updated on this important movement and happenings is the greater world of photojournalism.
PDN Pulse – Almost-daily posts on news, issues and resources for professional photographers by the editors of Photo District News.
Photo Attorney – The blog of intellectual property attorney Carolyn Wright. Legal issues for photographers may not be the most scintillating read, but a working knowledge of IP law is essential to every successful photographer.
Photo Business News & Forum – The blog of John Harrington, an editorial photographer and author based in metro-Washington DC. John wrote the book, “Best Business Practices For Photographers” – which I recommend highly.
Photopreneur - Ideas and resources for making money with your camera. Oriented towards enthusiasts and emerging pros. Interesting nevertheless.
Photoshop Cafe – The blog of author, teacher and shooter Colin Smith. Loads of tutorials on Photoshop and Dreamweaver.
PhotoshopUser TV – The weekly video feed from NAPP, hosted by Matt Kloskowski, Dave Cross and that other guy (Scott Kelby). Always features a list of sites mentioned on the show (including PixSylated – Episode #141 – July 7, 2008!)
Picture Stories – The blog of National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez. All the beautiful pix and colorful stories that you’d expect from a longtime NGS shooter.
School Of Stock – PhotoShelter’s insights and lessons on the world of stock photography
Sean Kernan’s Journal – Last January, I met Sean Kernan at ASMP’s Strictly Business 2 in L.A. I wish I had come to know Sean and his photography years earlier. Creative. Mystical. Intense. Random. Beautiful.
State Of The Art – A collective blog by the editors of American Photo magazine. The blog, like the mag, is an enjoyable, random walk through all aspects of the photo universe.
Studio Days – Bill Simone is a commercial shooter who is known for his unique lighting and post-processing. Fortunately for those inspired by Bill’s style, he often reveals the precise details behind landmark shots in his blog.
Super Premium Blog - Frequent insights on marketing and business management for commercial photographers and other creatives from Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua.
The Imaging Buffet – Digital photo tips, imaging news, gear reviews, interviews and more from Andrew Darlow.
What The Duck – The mother lode of Photoshop humor, dished out almost daily. Congratulations to Aaron Johnson on the (hopefully ever-expanding) national syndication of his strip. Look for the renamed “W.T. Duck” in a newspaper near you starting September 8th.
Where Is Ben? – Ben Willmore is the kind of guy who can make the most challenging Photoshop concepts seem obvious to the thickest of students (I’m right at the top of that list). I catch his workshops and seminars as often as I can. He tours the country in his vintage RV. Keep an eye on Ben through his blog.
How To Find Other Cool Blogs & Sites
Like so many things… one good blog often leads to another. When you find a blog that you really like, look for the host’s “Blogroll” or “Links” list. Then check out every blog on the list. Subscribe to the ones that you think you’ll like. Stick with ‘em for a month or so. If you find that you’re not interested again and again, then unsubscribe.
Why Your Favorite Blog Is Not On My List
If you are wondering why your favorite blog or site is not listed, it’s due to one of three reasons:
- I don’t know about your favorite site. The blogoshpere is huge and getting bigger every day. I’m continually amazed by the great sites that I find through other blogs.
- Your favorite site only parrots the content of other sites. Unless a site is overtly an aggregation of industry news feeds, if it mainly posts about the content on other sites, I’ll pass.
- Your favorite site does not have an RSS-feed or email subscription. The reality of the web these days is that without an RSS-feed or email update, I probably won’t discover new material on a website. I may bookmark the site when I first find it, but without a reminder, I’m not likely to return on a regular basis. My motto… “No feed, no traffic.” I have enough difficulty staying up with the feeds and emails to which I’ve subscribed.
So, if your favorite blog or site is not listed and you think it should be, feel free to call me out by adding it as a comment.
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