Disclaimer: I never wanted to start a photography blog in the first place.
And now I'm sitting here in front of the screen on a warm spring day in Tokyo, in a failed attempt to get this site running before nightfall. So what changed my mind?
When I came to Japan five years ago, I knew I wouldn't be doing weekly e-mail digests to keep my family and friends informed about how I was doing here. So, without thinking about it very much I set up a flickr account to show them instead. (A picture is worth a thousand words and all that, right?).
For the first couple of years here, this was all that I was doing - whenever I had a day off and felt like it, I took a walk through the city, taking hundreds of pictures, selecting and processing them when I got back, post them online - wait for a few "likes" from family members, and that was it. Mission accomplished, eh?
And then, about two years later something incredible happened: Google launched their own social network, Google+. I signed up as soon as I could, intrigued by the possibilities. I didn't have many contacts in the beginning, but I started posting my pictures anyway. I soon discovered that there were many photographers over the world using the site to share their art, to exchange information - or simply to socialise. (Back then, I hadn't really grasped that "photography" and "talking to others" could go together in one sentence.)
Well, as it turns out Tokyo is full of photographers. And many of them are using Google+ to organise photowalks - you'd show up at a certain location, walk to another location in a group, and take pictures on the way. Simple, right? Bringing up the courage to join one of these events changed everything for me.
When it used to be mostly strangers, now more and more friends are looking at the work I post online (and vice versa). Because of this I have started paying much more attention on what images to choose and how to develop them to present them in a good way. Through observing and talking with others, I discovered new subjects, learned new techniques - and was able to participate in several interesting events. As it turns out, spending time together with like-minded people can lead to all kind of interesting developments.
A few days ago, a sequence of very fortunate circumstances led to me being able to participate in a photowalk across Asakusa, Tokyo as a one-day assistant for famous photographer Trey Ratcliff from http://www.stuckincustoms.com.
This turned into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with a lot to be learned, and an excellent surprise outcome (about which I'm going to write in another entry). Huge thanks to Trey and the Google people involved in the event for making it happen.
In summary: photography & social networks = good things™ occur.
Go try it if you haven't already.
So, about this never starting a blog thing?
Well, one issue with placing photography in social networks is that the social aspect (liking and sharing, giving positive feedback to many works in a short period of time) makes it difficult to have a single piece of work linger on the screen for more than a few moments. (For a discussion of this topic check out the blog of the incredible Holger Feroudj).
I hope that I can use a personal blog to start developing more coherent thoughts about photography as an art form and find out what kind of photography I would like to pursue from here on. Also, I might use this place to keep track of some of the techniques I use or how I use my stuff to achieve the results I'm after. I'll probably make it up as I go.
Secondly, my flickr site is turning more and more into an image dump without a real system to it. A personal site feels more suitable to the task, and after weighing my options this seems to be the best option to reorganise my work.
This process is just at beginning - but after five years doing amateur photography, I would like to shed some skin and see how far I can take things from here.
Thanks for visiting, and hope to see you again soon!