7.26.2020

Every so often I mark a milestone for the blog. Yesterday I wrote and made available the 4600th published blog post to VSL. I guess I am more disciplined than I imagined...


I estimate that I write an average of 2,200 words per blog post. Some are much longer and a few are compassionately brief. If you take the 2,200 words and multiply by 4,600 posts this would mean that I've pounded through ten million, one hundred and twenty thousand or so words in the past 11 years. Hell, I could have written a book... (oh wait! I did write six books during that time span...).

By now you should know that I am occasionally given to hyperbole and that I love to use ellipses (because no thought is really ever fully baked and ready to be permanently archived). In the last eleven years I've gone through four laptop computers and three desktop computers. On my last desktop I had to replace the keyboard at the system's half life because I'd worn the paint off the letters. Whether that speaks to my discipline for work or the fact that the keyboard was repeatedly and accidentally doused with coffee is largely immaterial. 

Over the time in question I've accrued fewer and fewer readers but the ones who are here have gotten smarter and more pleasant. I've long since given up expecting to monetize the site which leads to many, many people asking me why I persist. I have to say that I think it's a mix of stubbornness and a desire (somewhat universal, I believe) to share the ongoing story of my life, and my thoughts about how a middle class person in the United States has muddled through a life spent in the commercial arts for the past several decades. Parenting, traveling, marketing, eking out time for my own work and my own visual pleasures.

What have I learned? Not much. That being in good physical shape is good for the brain. That daily practice of writing makes for much faster and much more efficient writing (I spend about 45 minutes a day on posts). That general camera buyers are poorly educated and led by the nose by camera manufacturers who've trained legions of amateurs to think the camera is more important than the process or the vision or the affinity/attraction to specific subjects. That love for the cameras as objects is the overwhelming motivation for most people's avowed interest in photography. And that most people, when pressed can't name 20 great photographers whose work they love right now. Even fewer understand or care about the history of the previous century of photography and photographers. People in general are not very curious about things outside their specific area of vocational training. Technical nearly always trumps Art, for them.

This used to make me sad. Now it makes me understand how lucky I have been. How rich the supporting fabric for my own career has been. 

I've developed a thicker skin for the majority of visitors who wish I would just tell them if this sensor/lens/camera or process is the best and plainly call for me to edit my words much tighter. They want the bullet points and don't want to hear "a story." To most readers all that matters are the facts and the potential prestige that might come from the ownership of this or that. But to me the words are the most important part of the whole structure because they (and the eyes of my portrait subjects) are the only thing I really care about in each post. The images are just gift wrapping here. Bows and decorative tissue. 

On one hand keeping up a blog is work. But work born of passion is easy and happy work. On the other hand I know it will come to an end in one way or another. But not today.  Nope, not today. 

I believe the architect who designed this building got so much just right.
Why else have I returned for nearly two decades to photograph it in every
way I can?

The reflections have featured Leicas, Nikons, Canons, Olympus and Panasonic cameras,
Hasselblads and a bevy of point and shoot cameras. To me it's a reminder that 
I am the consistent part of the equation. All the other stuff is interchangeable. 
I can't make photographs without...me. 

Love the sign but unfortunately not a big fan of fried chicken. 
It's the message that's important, not the chicken.

21 comments:

MikeR said...

"They want the bullet points and don't want to hear "a story." "

I think that I recall this correctly:

In Arthur Miller's "The Price," the antique dealer called in to help settle the estate is asked for 'the price.' He responds, How can I tell you the price if I don't know the story?

Kirk, I come here every day for the story.

Thank you.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Thanks Mike!

Fred said...

But I thought you liked going to Hattie's?

Lenya R said...

Same here, Kirk, another everyday reader. Out of curiosity, are you talking about naming 20 great living photographers or just twenty great photographers? It depends a bit on how generous you want to be but are there really twenty Westons, Penns, Newmans, or Halsmans working now? Can you educate us (no sarcasm whatsoever)? I would genuinely appreciate some guidance here.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Fred, Love going to Hattie's!!! But it's all about the company. And that great bottle of red wine. And the atmosphere. The fried chicken is perfect fried chicken but it's all the other stuff that seduces me. Gotta remember to put that on my list of things to do when the pandemic subsides!!!

Once, when I ate at Hattie's, I later dreamed I heard Bob Dylan playing upstairs; a solo set. I woke up worrying that I couldn't afford the ticket price.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Leyna, I'll try to make a list but I have saved links for many current workers. I'll distill it down to my favs. You could start with Wyatt McSpadden. He's amazing.

Lenya R said...

Thanks, Kirk, yes, I know Mc Spadden from your blog, and yes, he is amazing. It would be great to have more recommendations.

Richard Parkin said...

Since, as you say, no-one reads your blog maybe you could just call it your secret diary ;-). Congrats on the 4,600 posts.

Victor Bloomfield said...

Your words, along with your photos, are some of the highlights of each day. I've been doing blogs, both photo and otherwise, for a long time; but the photos rarely have many accompanying words. Maybe you're inspiring me to try. Thanks.

Hendrik Demey said...

Thank You for this post. It’ll become a classic IMHO.

TMJ said...

Larry Burrows, number one.

A friend of mine, Tim, never made it out of Iraq; but made images that will last for ever.

Tom Devlin said...

Keep persisting, please. It is a pleasure I look forward to every day.

Thanks

Tom Vadnais said...

Congratulations, Kirk! That's a fantastic milestone.

Thanks so much for all you've written. Your site has been a must-read for me for a long time. I enjoy and learn from your photographic posts, but also enjoy other non-photo musings.

Here's to the next 4,600!

Tom

Dick Barbour said...

Kirk,
Just thanks for all the words and photos over the years, and for being a bright spot in the day during these otherwise very depressing times.
Dick

Anonymous said...

I've been reading and commenting since about 2009 or 10. Sure seems like the years have flown by.

Speaking of practicing photographers, there is an article online at the NYT site today about major storms that occur in a remote part of Argentina, and the black and white storm photographs by Mitch Dobrowner accompanying the article are excellent (unless you just don't care for the type of photography he does). His name sounds familiar and I am sure I've seen his work - possibly in LensWork. But he is like many others whose work I've enjoyed viewing and whose names I recognize but do not typically remember until I see more work by them.

Ken

Andy said...

The reflections have featured Leicas, Nikons, Canons, Olympus and Panasonic cameras,
Hasselblads and a bevy of point and shoot cameras. To me it's a reminder that
I am the consistent part of the equation. All the other stuff is interchangeable.
I can't make photographs without...me.

And that is quite possibly the most important post I’ve read recently. It’s all, at the end of day, all about the photographer.

Should be posted far and wide

Andy

Anonymous said...

I recently learned about Bill Jay from TOP and watched his biography on YouTube. His depth of perception on all things photographic is astonishing.

I mention this because I agree with @Andy. "I can't make photographs without...me" is right up there with Bill Jay's "The thing itself".

Thank you so much Kirk for enriching our days for all these years out of the goodness of your heart.

Jon Maxim

Cathal Gantly said...

Kirk,

VSL is my daily first port of call on the web, and has been for, ohhhh, years! I really appreciate and thank you for all you've given us so freely over the years. I have picked up so many little tidbits, suggestions and gems of information - especially concerning video - that if you went behind a paywall, my comment would be "shut up and take my money!".

4,600 posts? Think I've read and enjoyed all of them! And while your swimming posts haven't yet made me get back in the pool, they do make me feel guilty every time I walk past. Time to dip my toes back in I fear, now that they are opening up again here in the UK.

CG in UK

Ken said...

Hi Kirk,

I discovered your blog a year and a bit ago, looking for reviews of the Panasonic G9, that were accompanied by pictures taken for purposes other than reviewing the camera. I stayed for the writing and the stories that I found, many of which had nothing to do with camera reviews :P Now I'm stopping by most days for the latest blog post.

Thank you so much for sharing so many thoughts, ideas, and photos. I take photos as a spare time hobby, and you've given me a window into the life and world of a working professional photographer, and given me inspiration to make time and work on my shooting.

Ken

Michael Matthews said...

That means you've given me 4,600 opportunities to think about photography. You'd think by now I'd have gotten it right.

Even the items on swimming lead to photography, as I invariably dodge around to catch up on comments to earlier posts or hit the search bar to find something regarding a specific camera.

Let's not even consider stopping. Stopping does not lead to good things.

Wayne said...

Hello Kirk.
From down under, enjoying your daily post a lot.
The writings, the images, the musings.
Thank you.