Thoughts on the Hetherington/Stein Presentation on Blogging

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Jorg Colberg/Andrew Hetherington-  photograph©Andrew Hetherington

Andrew Hetherington and Amy Stein presented their work and discussed ‘Photographers Who Blog‘ last night at the Apple store in SoHo.  By the size of the crowd, I’m guessing there are more photographers who blog than we can all probably imagine.  It was a rather straight forward presentation.  Amy talked about her ‘Domesticated‘ and ‘Stranded‘ projects as well as her popular blog

She said she primarily uses her blog as a promotion tool for her work and the work of photographers she admires, which is probably the most common function for photographers.  She mentioned she also uses it as a type of visual diary, a place to store photographs and ideas that she may want to come back later.  She tries to keep it visually oriented, but also features some interviews, as fans of her blog already know. 

Andrew Hetherington discussed his photographic journey, from the days as an aspiring fashion photographer in Dublin to his days as an in demand editorial photographer in New York.  It’s always interesting to hear how artists climbed the ladder.  As much as I appreciate his work, I was more interested in his thoughts on blogs.  

He started ‘What’s the Jackanory’ after stumbling upon a photographer’s blog while researching self-publishing options for his ‘Made in Ireland‘ project.  He quickly found ‘Conscientious’ and mentioned that he spent 15 hours browsing the site the first night he found it.  After that, he was hooked and decided to give it a go himself. 

Like Amy, he primarily uses his blog for promotion but mentioned that he really started to enjoy the writing element because it was something that was new to him.  If you’re familiar with his blog, I’m sure you’ve read his more personal, journal type entries. 

The most memorable fact of the night for me came when Andrew mentioned the traffic Conscientious can generate for a photographer.  Andrew recommended the work of one of his friends to  Jorg, who liked it and posted it the next day.  Andrew was curious about the traffic the post generated and what impact it had getting new work noticed.  How many hits did his friend receive after after the mention on Conscientious? 100,000.

Whether this is accurate or not, I obviously can’t confirm but it certainly shows the amount of influence one blogger can accumulate.  While I think this is great for photography in general, I also think it creates some new challenges that bloggers and photographers will need confront in the future. 

Whether or not the popular bloggers want the role or not, they’ve become the new gatekeepers.  If these blogs are the first point of entry for many photographers, fans and collectors, what kind of responsibility does this create for the authors?

The online photography community is becoming more diverse and new voices are constantly emerging.  With this trend I think the influence of the prominent, first generation photography bloggers will probably wane a bit as more options emerge.  However, I do think as thought leaders these bloggers have the responsibility of pushing the dialogue and innovation forward.  A Photo Editor is a great example of a blog that continues to evolve and develop new content ideas.  Rob is also incredibly savvy when it comes to social media, content distribution and emerging trends.  

So, what’s next for photography blogs?  My guess?  Bloggers will become more ambitious, brand aware and will attempt to develop multi-dimensional publishing platforms (some already are.)  But who is developing the great photography portal?  Where is the one-stop shop for catching up on photography news and buzz?  Of course, like newspapers and the rest of the publishing industry, the major obstacle is monetization.  If you can crack that equation, you’ll be one wealthy and influential individual.   

INFO

Andrew Hetherington Portfolio
What’s the Jackonary?
Amy Stein Portfolio
Amy Stein Blog
A Photo Editor
Conscientious

  • http://blog.stunik.com s2art

    That idea, the great photography portal, seems like to much responsibility for many people?

  • http://bryanformhals.com/ bryanf

    Ian – sure, i’m certain most people use Google reader or some other form of aggregator right now, but how is someone suppose to filter through 200 or 300 blogs a day? with the amount of content that’s being produced these days, I feel that we probably need more filtering and editing.

    it’s not a novel concept. It’s basically what the Huffington Post does. I think there’s probably opportunity for some type of photography related aggregator, or even better yet, perhaps the larger blogs and publishers out there could form a network and funnel their content into one portal.

    I don’t think every man for himself is the most efficient way of distributing content. A lone blogger is more or less just a columnist. I think there’s tremendous opportunity for large scale collaborations between bloggers and publishers. it would just require some good organization…and the will of course.

  • http://www.ianaleksanderadams.com Ian Aleksander Adams

    hmm… it’s possible that the idea of a one-stop portal is itself out of date. I think more people are interested in picking a variety of sources and then creating their own one-stop browsing experience through something like google reader.