Monthly Archives: March 2014

Deadline Pressure

White Trees, Series 2, No. 3

White Trees, Series 2, No. 3

Time to share a little bit about my blog writing process.  I’m writing this blog post late on a Sunday night, after a full day of unrelated demands on my time earlier today and before another full day of unrelated demands on my time tomorrow, because it’s the only time I have to write and I’m under the pressure of making my blog posting deadline.

Blog posting deadline?  Well, okay, there’s no real deadline, just a self-imposed one.  No one is cracking a whip for me to get this blog post done, and the world certainly isn’t going to fall apart if this entry isn’t posted this evening.  All things equal, I probably would just as soon shut down the computer and call it a night.  So why am I doing this to myself?

I’m doing this because I want to write a quality blog, and to me, part of writing a quality blog is to keep it updated regularly.  In my own experience, nothing is disappointing in quite the same way as discovering a blog that has content you really like, only to find out the author only updates it once every six months or so.  I think that when you create a blog, you make an implicit promise to your readership to keep it updated.  That’s kind of what blogging implies – if you’re not going to update your content, you may as well just make static web pages.

So, when I created this blog, I did it with the promise to myself that I would regularly keep the content updated.  The question naturally becomes, what’s the right interval at which to provide regular updates, particularly in the context of a blog about photography?

On the one hand, I think it is possible to overdo it.  So-called “picture-a-day” blogs fall into this category for me.  It’s great that some photographers can post a new image every day, but invariably this volume of posts creates two problems for me as a viewer.  First, I find it’s rare that the photographer can maintain a high level of quality at this pace.  With only a few exceptions (see, for example, Gary Nylander, whose near-daily posting of very high quality images is quite impressive!), quality almost always suffers when the volume of output is high, in my opinion.  Second, even for photographers whose work I really like, I tend to get viewer burn-out after a while.  If I see too much too frequently, it tends to diminish the impact of any individual daily image.

Accordingly, it would seem that some degree of restraint in churning out blog posts is appropriate, but where to draw the line?  Again, with reference to my own blog-reading habits, if posts are too infrequent, I lose interest and just tend to stop following the blog after awhile.  Personally, I even feel a little betrayed by the blog’s author, who after all made an implicit promise to me, the reader, to provide content for the blog he or she created that caught my interest.  It’s almost like authors who don’t update their blogs are being inconsiderate to their readers!

(Now, before I get flamed by irate blog authors, I do recognize that most bloggers blog on their own personal time, out of pure passion for their subject, and therefore that they have no true obligation, in any real sense, to keep their blogs updated on any schedule but their own.  I mean it sincerely when I say that I am not criticizing anyone who writes a blog, I’m just sharing my own thinking as it informs my own writing of my blog.)

Returning to the subject at hand, when it comes to balancing too much versus too little, I’ve settled on posting about once a week or so.  A week is a nice even interval of time, and comes around enough to keep things interesting, without happening so often as to create overload.  When I say a week or so, I do keep things flexible for myself.  Throughout most of 2013, for example, I think I kept pretty close to the weekly schedule, but here in early 2014, I’ve had to back it off to about every two weeks or so due to some unforseen personal circumstances.

Still, I do my best to keep this blog on schedule, even if the schedule is entirely of my own making.  That’s why I’m here, typing away late on a Sunday evening.

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What’s in a Name?

White Trees, Series 2, No. 6

Lead the Way (White Trees, Series 1, No. 6)

In speaking with other photographers, I’m surprised at how often the subject of difficulty in naming a work comes up.  It seems that a lot of thought and effort goes into coming up with names, and with good reason, I suppose.  After all, names catch the eyes of viewers, and provide an opportunity to convey information about the work in a way that is separate from the visual communication of the work itself.  Certain kinds of names seem to run in themes over and over again – the insightful name, the ironic name, the funny name, etc.  Not that I’m putting down this kind of approach in any way, mind you, it’s just not how I do it.

For me, naming is pretty simple.  I generally go with the first thing that comes to me when I’m thinking about the concept, and then just add series and numbers for further additions to that concept.  For the image in this post, the concept was very white trees against very dark backgrounds – hence the name “White Trees.”  The first location at which I photographed the white trees was in Rocky Mountain National Park, so all of the images from that location are “Series 1.”  There also is a White Trees, Series 2 (images photographed at the Mount Goliath Natural Area in Colorado), and a White Trees, Series 3 may be in the works (for trees located at the Windy Ridge Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area in Colorado, which I have yet to visit).  Additional series may come as I discover more locations for this concept.

Personally, I like the simplicity of this kind of naming convention (obviously, I’m far from the only person to use it).  To me, the emphasis should be on the image itself, and the name should be just a simple, plain statement of what the image is.  There’s a certain elegance to this, and it also saves a lot of time and effort trying to come up with “just the right name” for any given image.

Of course, if you’re paying attention at all, you’ll notice that I’ve deviated from the convention for the image in this post.  In fact, I’ve done so for all of the images in the White Trees, Series 1.  There’s a couple of reasons for this.  First, this particular series is special to me, because it was the first time I was able to develop and execute a cohesive concept linking together a group of images with a common theme.  Second, I see the trees in this series as having strongly identifiable, almost uniquely anthropomorphic qualities – they seem almost human-like, the way they are situated in their environment.  In the image in this post, for example, I can’t help but see the distant tree as a leader, beckoning to a point over the horizon, to which the tree in the foreground is following.  Hence the name, “Lead the Way.”

Rarely do I like to describe my own interpretations of my own work.  I know what my work means to me, and I like to let the viewer take away whatever meaning of their own they want (in fact, I would be curious to know if my explanation here changed, either for the better or for the worse, anyone’s perceptions about the image).  I thought I would make an exception in this post, though, in the interest of exploring what’s in a name.

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