Apr 15th

2009

The Photographer and the Blog, Part 2

blographers2

Yesterday I wrote about the benefits of blogging, and while I gave you three pretty compelling reasons, I’m pretty sure that what I gave you was a short list. But given all these benefits, is blogging a tool you should be spending time on?

I think so. But what shape that takes is different for everyone. I love to write. It’s not usually a chore for me to sit down and communicate. If anything I tend to over-communicate at times. But some of you don’t like writing. Perhaps with time you’ll get better at it and grow to love it. But some of you, well ya know I love you and so this might be hard for you to hear – heck, it’s hard for me to say-  well, you just might want to do a photo blog and speak through your images instead. Look, if you stink at writing in the same way I stink at math, why put yourself – and your readers – through it? Do what you love and do what you’re good at and if writing ain’t either, find something that is. Or don’t, that’s just my two cents worth. But if you’re an exceptional photographer and your writing is simply lousy, then you’re doing a disservice to you work and misrepresenting yourself. If you insist on writing, then find an editor to work with, someone who will respect your voice and polish your writing so it is aligned with the quality of your work. By the way, if this is the route you choose, I have more respect for you than you know, because this is not the path of least resistance and it shows real commitment. Good on ya.

Writing is not the only way to create content on a blog. You could do audio or video podcasts, or simply post an image daily. But closing your eyes to the fact that your work and your words are at odds with each other isn’t going to make that go away. Again, fine if you’re a hobbyist, I suppose, but if you’re a working pro, or aspire to be, then your words and your work need to compliment and support each other and, ultimately, support the goals you have for your blog.

What is missing in the discussion of photographers and blogging is often a rationale. Doing it because everyone else is doing it is a rationale but not one that’s very helpful. So many blogging photographers have no intended audience whatsoever. None. Their design, content, and writing style suggests strongly that they’re just puttin’ it out there in hopes the someone, anyone, will read it. If you’re a hobbyist, then more power to ya, an unfocused blog is groovy. But for aspiring professionals the very first questions you must ask and from which all your content decisions must be made are Why am I doing this? Who am I writing this for?

If you know the answer to that, then you can make sound choices about what should and should not be part of your blog. If your audience is potential clients then long Photoshop tutorials and discussions about your last assignment that blew up in your face and left you frustrated are probably poor content choices. They won’t read them. They shouldn’t read them. If your audience is other photographers because you’re a trainer, lecturer, author, workshop leader, etc, then these are exactly the things your intended audience might get strong value from.

I know I beat this horse so much there ain’t much left of him, but what you do – particularily in the professional arena – will be better served if it is informed first by why you do it. The Why will determine the What and the How. Oddly, so many people seem to be asking “Should I blog?” and fewer are asking “Why should I blog?” Both good questions, but the second one interests me much more.

Comments (9)
  1. JVL

    April 15, 2009 at 6:20 am

    I definitely get personal value out of blogging, even falling into that “no clear direction” category. Though I do know this: My audience consists of friends and family – mostly – and a few other random people with, what seems like, photographic interests.

    With that in mind, I’m happy to post a photo I think I like (and sadly sometimes I know I don’t), and then give an unrelated post about my life, and thoughts and that’s worked for me – because I’m not trying to get a job out of it – but I am trying to connect with people of potentially similar mindsets. Make some friends, and maybe, just maybe, inspire someone to give this photo thing a try.

  2. April 15, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Hmmm… I wonder if I am one of the people that David thinks shouldn’t blog…

    Writing on a blog is an interesting beast. It is a different type of writting. It is so easy to bang out words without clear thought and direction. Very shortly after finding this blog I wrote a horribly concieved and badly written piece based off something David wrote. Somehow I even dragged Matt Brandon into it too. Well, I learned some things. Read and reread posts to make sure you understand what you are commenting on. Make sure you are commenting and not ranting. You are writting. You do need to carefully craft your words. It is not “just a blog”, it is words representing you.

    Anyway, I am still learning how to create posts that read well. I can write well in other things I do, but blogging… let’s say I still need practice.

    Cyberward.net blog

  3. Aleksei Saunders

    April 15, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    @ Chris,

    Having just started blogging myself I was wondering the same thing. “Oh, gosh, did I inspire this series”?

    I think that is a natural feeling when your follower base isn’t as strong as some. I agree that reading and rereading posts is very important. I’ve decided I best not do them when tired and, as Seth Godin says; don’t just say something to say something. It is better to say nothing than just post.

    It has been helping me figure out certain aspects of my photography and I love to just write again. My biggest obstacle right now is chiseling out some time to write prior to posting while still finding time to work on my website, pursue leads, pet my dogs, not eat ramen every meal and spend quality time with my loving and very patient wife.

    All in all I’m really glad I started.

  4. April 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I think there is another beast out there (or maybe I am the one that should not have a blog). It is I, the one who loves the finished product, the blog entry. But, that sweats drops of blood to be able to write it. I know it is something to keep up and keep readers and share ideas and work. But it is a lot of work to do a blog well and take more time than I sometimes can give. I started this response in India and finished it in KL. Life is crazy busy.

  5. April 15, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    One of the reasons I keep this blog in my reader is the “different” type of topics. David seems to have way more things to blog about than I do. His topics are always interesting, entertaining, and informative while avoiding the technical stuff. It’s tough thinking up new topic material but David does on a regular basis. Thanks for the great blog.

  6. April 15, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Thanks David for this post. Hell Ya! Why am I blogging? That brings one more question to look an answer for.

  7. April 22, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I blog about Photography because I love writing and…well, Photography :-)

    I also find it an extremely useful exercise to flesh out thoughts and ideas on a blank page (or screen) as it helps my rational process along. Often, I’ll find myself halfway through a post and realise that I’m writing about something completely different to what I initially intended. Clearly, there was a thought up there in my mind (every now and again one pops out) struggling to get out, but I didn’t know. Writing about something different, yet related, helped it surface.

    All this can only be good for me as a photographer, and hopefully others might find it helpful too.

  8. July 5, 2010 at 12:24 am

    [...] DuChemin on why photographers should — or shouldn’t — blog. (part-1, part-2, [...]