Once upon a time, I set myself the goal of posting a new picture on Instagram every single day, and somehow, I actually managed to keep it up for well over a year. I had long considered myself a photographer, but this was the first time that I had actually taken the craft seriously. For over a year I did not leave the house without my camera, and I usually spent at least a couple of hours each day finding and editing each image. It was probably the only New Years resolution that ever stuck, and the endeavor fundamentally changed my photography.
But it also made it clear to me that something was missing. The daily ritual of finding something interesting to point my camera at and getting it online before bedtime didn’t allow for enough time to actually tell a story. The urgency of this daily grind precluded any real understanding, or any lasting relationships with with my subject. And the relentless transience of social media buries everything anyway.
These days, photography is cheap, and photographers are losing ground. There is a camera in every pocket, and the world has already been captured. Computers are making advanced photography techniques accessible to the masses, and photographers just can’t expect to distinguish themselves merely by being in the right place, and getting a great shot. Social media inundates us with great photography to the point of desensitization, and even if we do stop to notice, we’re quick to swipe on to something else. Photographs need context to survive in this world. They need to be a window into more than just some beautiful moment for people to really pay attention.
And captions won’t cut it. When great photography is everywhere, but much of it is wielded as a tool for self-promotion and branding, a picture’s power and authenticity is cast into doubt. The same applies to the doctored versions of ourselves we show, and the selective versions of our world we share. Of course there isn’t anything inherently wrong with any of these things, but the extent of it does make it harder to be noticed and get your point across.
But put those same pictures in a story, and it will cut through it all; or at least I hope it can. Stories just have a way of holding our attention and sticking in our mind. It’s how we’re wired.
This is what this website is all about. My goal is to create a platform that collects great photography and gives it a lasting purpose by weaving it into a story — to take the moments captured by photographers and fit them into a story arc. I'm using the term photoessay. As it turns out, there is plenty of precedent for this, and as it turns out, my predecessors have offered some useful advice: