Thanks, Hamish!

Hamish Gill wrote a wonderful review of A Lesser Photographer at 35mmc:

“I suppose you could call it tips, or maybe advice, but that feels like an injustice to it. It’s more sage than those words sum up – it feels more wise, less contrived, less derivative and much less prescriptive than most of what you’ll otherwise read about photography.”

Those are kind words coming from such an influential voice in the analog photography community. If you haven’t been to his site yet, check it out. If you’re a reader of his, please subscribe to this site to keep up with the latest. Thanks for visiting!

I Finally Made a "Now" Page

I don’t know why I waited so long to make a “now” page (Derek Sivers). I read them all the time. If you’re new to the concept, here’s the inventor Derek Sivers:

“It’s a nice reminder for myself, when I’m feeling unfocused. A public declaration of priorities.

(If I’m doing something that’s not on my list, is it something I want to add, or something I want to stop?)

It helps me say no, too. When I decline invitations, I point them to that page to let them know it’s not personal.”

After reading yet another now page update from Patrick Rhone, I figured it was time to finally put up my own. So, here it is. I’ve set a reminder to update it regularly. Hold me to it!

Consistency

This is one of the sentences I say regularly that drives people crazy:

“Consistency is great, but we don’t want to be consistently wrong.”

Consistency really is great when it reinforces good habits in your readers (weekly newsletters, daily posts, etc.).

It’s terrible when it’s used as a crutch to keep making the same mistakes over and over, because trying something new and different (or “weird”) is scary. It’s akin to saying, “That’s how we’ve always done it,” which is the last wheezing breath of a dying business.

The Value of a “Good Old Newsletter”

From Kai Brach, Publisher of Offscreen magazine and the Dense Discovery newsletter:

“Funny enough though, the good old email newsletter is currently experiencing a bit of a comeback. Perhaps as a reaction to the bottomless, anxiety-inducing social feeds, the email sits patiently in your inbox until you deem it worthy of your attention. Not able to read it now? No problem, come back to it later, it's right there where you left it.

That's why I've always loved email as a medium. Sure, I spend a lot of time reading and writing them – which arguably is not the most creatively productive time of my day – but it's still the one digital medium that abides by my rules (or filters). No sudden change in algorithm; no YOU-NEED-THIS product plugs; no strangers chiming in with rude comments. I decide what and when to read. Perhaps best of all: I can have constructive, civilised conversations with other people. Imagine that?!”

Amen. And it’s a really good time to subscribe to mine.

The Mechanization of Knowledge

“Improvements in communication make for increased difficulties of understanding.” — Harold Innis

This quote messed with my head for a while, yet it accurately describes the point we're at with some forms of online publishing. Breaking the barriers and killing off the gatekeepers was supposed to be freeing. But what if it wasn't compatible with our brains?

Also, this quote is from 1950.

A Lesser Photographer Second Edition Is Out!

The new edition of the A Lesser Photographer book is finally out on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats (more stores and platforms will have it soon).

This edition is all about refining the message of the first edition and producing a book I’ll be proud of 20 years from now. Here’s some of the major changes since the first edition:

  1. Formats: the first edition was only available in PDF format (and a year later in Kindle). This edition will be available all formats, including print, with designs made for optimum readability for each format.

  2. The cover for the second edition ebook was designed by renown minimalist book designer Daniel Benneworth-Gray. The paperback was designed by Liam Relph, whose prior work includes titles from Penguin Random House and HarperCollins. I hope to detail the months-long process of creating these covers in future posts.

  3. Each chapter (or essay) was re-edited for a total of 3 editing rounds by 3 different professional editors. It’s as tight as a book can get.

  4. A few additional chapters and ideas were added. My hope is that they’ll blend in so well no one will even notice what’s new.

In short, a lot of care and money were poured into this edition. Most of it should be invisible to the reader — there’s just fewer obstacles in front of the message.

Should We Stop Listening to Podcasts?

When you mention time and attention theft, most creators think of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (which I call Facebook II). They usually don’t think about Youtube or podcasts, which have the same issues: the ad model and all its abuses to the listener, and the lack of quality in favor of burn-out-inducing “consistency” and quantity (something that is also tied to the ad model).

I didn’t give too much thought about it until recently. I quit Facebook and Instagram years ago. I became the lightest of Twitter users.

I hadn’t cared that podcasts were robbing just as much of my attention. Then, while wondering why I was using two apps to manage them (each does something better than the other and both block ads in their own way), I saw this post from Ben Brooks:

“Isn’t the entire point of a podcast that the entire podcast is relevant and entertaining? Why are people paying to get these “features” instead of demanding better content?”

Then this from Matt Thomas:

“The podcast is free but your time isn’t.”

Both were painful to read, because they were totally true. We’re just numb to the Buzzfeed-ification of podcasts, even (especially?) in outlets like NPR.

Then came popular YouTuber CGPGrey (one my favorite podcasters) and his Project Cyclops. In short, this is a well-known, well-liked podcaster who is now advising people to stop listening to podcasts. He has promised to stop listening himself as well — he will only create.

He followed up his announcement of Project Cyclops with an episode questioning why we’re letting attention seekers (arguably the last people we should encourage) have access to so much of our time. He refers to them as the kids from Drama club (nice people, but with a dire need for our constant attention).

To cap it off, Grey posted this excellent video to begin Project Cyclops. If you’d like to dive into the science and philosophy behind such projects, check out Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows and Cal Newport’s Deep Work.

Funny that I haven’t heard much about this on the podcasts I listen to...or on Twitter. These people usually adore Grey and his projects. It’s almost as if they’re chained to a business model that won’t them be open and honest.

Finally! A Photography 101 Course I Can Recommend

Most mainstream photography courses focus on what matters to professional photographers and ignore the 99.9% of us who are hobbyists. Their advice is misguided at best, and scammy at worst.

My book and blog are an antidote to most of these courses. If you’re here, you know the basics, and probably want to unlearn the rules to get to core of what makes you most creative. Think of it as Photography 301: Unlearning Photography.

So when I do get inquiries about where to go for Photography 101: The Basics, I don’t have many places to link to that I know I can trust.

That changes now with The Sweet Setup’s new course Mobile Photography (The Sweet Setup was kind enough to provide this affiliate link after I first posted this). I checked out the course and I like where it takes its students. The examples used are examples actual hobbyists might encounter, which is rare in a photography course. But most of all, I’ll recommend this to beginners because it comes from a trusted source: Shawn Blanc.