Firstly, some statistics: It has been over 16 months since I started posting photos, some iconic, some banal on this blog. I did over 700 posts so far — and has enough to go on for at least another 150 or so. The blog itself is nearing its 500th day. That will fall in ten days from now, but since I am taking a vacation (again! — isn’t August sweet?) I am preempting it with this rather long post, which is more of a laundry-list of things I want to tell you guys for last 16 months.
1. My friends know I blog but refuse to read it; my readers don’t know me — in fact, I kinda enjoy that sort of limbo. Internet is a dangerous place to put too much of your information out there.
2. There are some serious commenters on this site, and usually the discussion devolved into a partisan fight (and to reductio ad Hitlerum). That is one reason I don’t weigh in on my own posts, but I appreciate every commenters’ devotion to the site. Without the comments — and realization that people actually do read this blog — I would not have reached seventeen posts let alone seven hundred.
3. My reply rate may be horrible — or rather non-existent — but I do read all of the comments. In them, I have been called names by both sides of the political aisle (am I too conservative in my liberalism or too liberal with my conservatism or what?). For a person who is not even American, alternately being accused of spreading American propaganda and of bashing American values have some innate funniness. I am also simultenously supremacist, revisionist, apologist, fascist, communist, capitalist, militarist and peacenik. I seriously should go into schizophrenia therapy sessions.
4. There were surprises too. Two photos I personally would say of local-only importance (here, here) were widely considered ‘iconic’, and were re-posted on digg, tumblr, etc. On the other hand, two photos I would consider almost equal in their intrusions into familial privacy (here, here) had different fortunes here on this blog, as they would in the real life too. Popularity of Brooke Shields photos (545 comments and growing) may be due to the fact that she is a famous actress and that many googlers image-searched her using questionable terms.
5. Thanks to Ms. Shields and a few other posts — and once notably for plagiarism, I have been ‘reported’ to the police (well, at least according to some indignant commenters with their moral hissy-fits) no less than 14 times. Fourteen reports and police hasn’t knocked my front door yet, which causes me to worry a wee bit about our law enforcement.
6. There were people who plagiarized from this blog. I myself copy a lot of information from other sources (books, newspapers, etc.) so I don’t really mind this plagiarism. Since my writing is awful, I am just flattered than someone might copy my materials even. But what is mind-boggling is that they kinda stitched five, six, or ten posts of mine in a single huge post together and reblogged it. Appeal of such a thing escapes me.
8. Not all photos are created equal, and some are more iconic than others. But I noticed some categories (fashion, advertisements) remained more unloved than others. War photos were unsurprisingly popular, and so are sports photos too, but the raters tend to affix the ‘iconic’ moniker more on older photos.
9. Many major photo news stories of the last 18 months took place when I was on vacation or too busy to blog about them. (Case-in-point, earlier this week, the most famous of Jazz photographers, Hermann Leonard died when I was away). Luck is a harsh mistress.
10. For the LAST time, I don’t sell any prints here and don’t have permission to authorize republication of these photos. This is a non-profit blog — I will probably get sued to penury by the photographers’ estates if I start charging or commercializing — and I refused a book deal (itself a surprise since my writing is super-bad) a few months ago for the same reasons.
11. The best thing about this blog is the looks I got from friends (at times some girl I am trying to impress) when I say in a understated tone that a few thousand people read it everyday. Maybe some just clicked it and didn’t (can’t) read; maybe some accidentally got here through a dubious search term; maybe one person checks it from thousands of computers everyday; who knows? But I am doing better than some print media, and anyway, the looks are precious.
12. Photography and blogging in general led me towards so many (mis)adventures over the last sixteen months. I missed my train in Brussels because I was too busy obsessing with one photo-exhibition. I led my then-girlfriend on a wild-goose chase across Moscow to find the state photogallery (we never found it, and I seriously doubt it even exists. Muscovites should weigh in). A date turned sour at the Irving Penn show in London. I was arrested for taking photos in a totalitarian-state-that-should-remain-nameless. I randomly ran into an Estonian photographer named Kalju Suur who was once a protege of Henri Cartier-Bresson in Tallinn.
13. To answer a question repeated a few times, I myself do take photos. I just don’t publish them here because they are not only un-iconic but also very bad.
14. Finally, some acknowledgments. I thank all of you for your continued support — and would like to ask you to re-post, re-tweet or re-whateveryoudothesedays your favorite posts from here. Information is worth sharing. I have to thank my parents for their coffee table books, their dinning room gossip and of course my first cameras all of which had been crutches for this blog; Kristen, Emily and Quinn — for I know all of you will be reading this, and for all of you had been extremely understanding; Paul, Josh and Nelson — for all your helpful and sarcastic comments; and lastly, to you, the nameless gift-shop attendant at the Plaza Hotel, New York without whose condescending attitude when asked about a certain Burt Glinn book, all of this would have been quite impossible.
A. S. H.
25th August 2010.