How would you describe the specific flavour and interests of your blog?
JC: It's always hard to talk about the "flavour" of something one creates, because one is so close to it! The blog mostly covers contemporary photography. In general, in addition to posts that
feature single photographers I write about things that I either like or that I find interesting, so I also talk about things that I don't necessarily like. There's no focus on photo "celebrities", and I often write about topics that might start out from individual photographers.
A recent example is the kerfuffle around Edgar Martins and his Photoshopped NY Times Magazine assignment, where I wrote about what I thought were important aspects that were not necessarily tied to just this particular photographer. I mostly avoid the various types of
commercial photography (incl. fashion photography), and I also avoid talking about camera equipment.
A photographer friend once told me that his approach to photography was to say "Tell me something I don't know". That's something I like.
I don't think our world is as clearly defined as it is often seen, and asking questions is something I like doing. I think while many people see photography as something that gives answers I see it as something
that asks questions. Or I suppose another way to phrase this would be to say that the photography that provides answers is just not interesting for me.
Are comments allowed?
JC: Readers are welcome to email comments, but comments cannot be left under the actual posts
Describe your own background in relation to photography and why you decided to start a photography blog?
JC: I started my blog because back in 2002 it was next to impossible to find a site dedicated to contemporary photography. After long and frustrating Google searches, I figured I might as well be the person
who compiles such a site, and that's how the blog took off. I have no visual-arts background, but, instead, a science background.
In your experience what have been the highs and lows of blogging? Are there any particular pitfalls to owning a photography-related blog?
JC: For me, the main "high" is to be able to have conversations with other people who are interested in contemporary photography (and that includes many fairly well known photographers). Receiving emails from people who tell me that the blog has done something for them (motivated them or rekindled their interest in photography or whatever else) is also very nice, since it means I haven't spent years on something that has little or no value.
I usually don't like to dwell on the "lows". I suppose, what is still most disappointing for me are the people who - for whatever reasons - turn their dislike of what I'm doing with the blog into something personal. And often, the small number of nasty, noisy people (who usually prefer to be anonymous) ruin any kind of conversation you can have online (which is the main reason for me not allowing comments on my blog).
What are your top three picks from the world of photography in the last 12 months?
JC: (1) Tintypes. Photography has become such an established art form that for the most part, it has become incredibly commercialized. There are many aspects of this development that I dislike - for example the fact that the gallery show now seems to be the one defining event that most photographers see as the culmination of their work. Many people now think that print and edition sizes are an integral part of photography, whereas, in fact, they are not: They are aspects of the business of selling photography. Tintypes - I'm talking about the late 19th, early 20th Century ones, mass produced for everybody who had a very small amount of money to spare - currently seem the only type of photography that has not been subjected to the craze of the market (I am not too worried about starting a craze, since there are probably millions of tintypes out there). I started collecting tintypes when I realized that they often featured the most amazing portraiture. The photographers and sitters are usually unknown; and since they are so cheap (I hardly ever spend more then 10 dollars for one), they also don't have an aspect of monetary preciousness. They really are only precious as photographic images for me (once you have more than a few, the aspect of them being precious as objects fades away a bit).
(2) Hiroh Kikai's "Asakusa Portraits" - a book with portraits, taken over the span of several decades, on the grounds of the Asakusa temple. As I said, I'm very interested in portraiture, and this book contains some of the best portraits I've seen in a long time.
(3) Richard Renaldi's "Touching Strangers", again portraiture, albeit one with a twist of sorts: Richard asks pairs (or groups) of people who don't know each other to pose for a photograph and to touch each other (in whatever way). Of course, the photographs are great because Richard is a master photographer, but they also live from what the subjects make out of their "assignment".
If you could only subscribe to one blog (other than your own of course) which would it be and why?
JC: For the most part, I think the experience of following blogs does not derive from individual ones, but instead from the sum of all the different contributions (excluding mere PR blogs, of course). Because of that I am unable to single out one particular blog that I like better than all the rest.