Monday morning observations from a (still) working photographer.

this is the 996th post.

If you've been here since the very beginning of the VSL blog you have at least as much stamina as me.  You've lived, vicariously, through my dabblings in the Olympus 4:3rds system (loved the 14-35mm and the 35-100mm;  not so much the e3), the Nikon digital camera family (nice and steady, just like a Buick---and just as sexy), the Canon EOS digital family ("can I please be like everyone else in the entire world?"), the ongoing affair with two flavors of micro four thirds (Panasonic and Olympus) and now the Sony Alpha series.  We spice it up with guest appearances by the Kodak venerable Digital Collection (SLR/n and DCS 760C), several medium format digital cameras, and I provide occasional gravitas by shooting, as God intended: With black and white film in a Hasselblad Medium Format Camera. Adventurous or compulsive?  Does it matter?

We've talked about the differences between film and digital, between phones and cameras, posturing and commitment and mostly we keep swerving back around to the idea of discipline.  The discipline to stay true to your own vision in a swirl of ever changing styles.  The discipline to master the tools that you need to use to express yourself, and the discipline you need in order to stay in shape for the ride.  Not to mention the mental discipline to stay on track and keep producing.

I bring this all up because the Visual Science Lab Blog is about to hit two milestones that seem like important markers to me.  Within the next few days we'll hit the 1,000th blog post.  More pages than a chunky novel.  One thousand forays to the keyboard in hopes of clarity.  1K thinking and writing about photography (mostly).  I've learned some stuff about writing:  the more you do it the more fluid it becomes.  The more you do it the more addictive it becomes.  The more you do it the easier it is to get started and stay focused on writing books and articles as well.  Writing a blog is also like playing scales for a pianist; it keeps the fingers warmed up...

I learned that thinking and expressing stuff is the harder part. I don't always agree with main stream thought and it creates some written work from me that gets lots and lots of push back.  I get frustrated when people don't see what I think of as the "obvious" big picture.  I don't write much about things that I know will enrage my readers and random visitors. I've learned that people are sensitive about their weight, their rationalizations about the happy mindless wonders of the cellphone camera in all of its glory.  Their ability to rationalize laziness when it comes to learning.  The puzzling and disturbing admissions of otherwise smart people that they don't enjoy, or read, fiction.  

Another hard part about thinking is warming up to empathy.  Seems that a good portion of my readers are extremely comfortable with logic and math but totally disengaged from emotion and irrational intuition.  I'll make a statement about how a camera coerces a behavior and the swell of self-righteous proclamations of mindful self-restraint and total mental isolation from any outside influence start to bubble up. "I am the uncontested master of my photographic domain!!!" (apologies to the Jerry Seinfeld show).  And I can't believe that  these people don't care about the opinions of the people around them and are so totally self-contained that their art is protected from any external dialog.  But aren't people who spend their days talking only to themselves........crazy?

But I'm learning which subjects to approach and which landmines to let alone.  Why "frag" oneself in the pursuit of a dialog?

The second, big milestone is the upcoming VAST NUMBERS event.  We will have reached 5,000,000 pageviews in the next ten days (if I haven't already pissed off the majority of my readers with a couple paragraphs above...).  I come from an age, in academia, where the publication of 2,500 books was thought to be explosive bestseller territory.  The idea that either one person clicked on my blog five million times or that a number of readers clicked a number of times makes me feel.....connected.  That so many of you come back to read again and again makes me feel like I'm connecting with like minded people and that my blog posts are NOT the random screaming of a mad man cursing the wind.

I'm not sure what kind of surprise party you all are planning for the 1,000th blog but I'm thinking it going to happen on Weds. and, as it happens I'm not booked with an assignment that day.  I'll be sitting here doing post production on this afternoon's project and tomorrow's full day of shooting and I'll just be waiting to see what you all come up with.  My favorite color is blue,  I like German Chocolate Cake and I'll probably feel like eating Mexican food.  Wednesday is a good day to visit Austin but if you are flying in from Europe, Asia or Oz you might want to get on the road  right now so you have a fighting chance of getting over your jet lag.  

At any rate, I'm happy I've done the work.  I'm happy to have posted over 3,000 photographs (mostly of coffee cups) and I think I'll keep at it for a while.  There's lots of work to be done keeping those cellphones out of your camera bags, pushing some more fiction and hawking my little collection of photo books.  Welcome to the next 1,000.

Buy yourself something nice to read: