How would you describe the specific flavour and interests of your blog?
MGG: I mostly write about contemporary fine art photography by emerging and established photographers. I also sometimes highlight work by photojournalists that I find compelling and specially relevant. Less often, I cover topics not related with photography like projects or efforts supporting humanitarian causes. The selection of the topics and photographic work that I mention in the blog is entirely personal and determined by my own aesthetic preferences and interest. Sometimes I select work that I find myself, sometimes it is a selection from submissions I receive. The blog is a personal editorial effort to share work I find inspiring and by doing so, a path for me to learn and be in touch with the vibrant field of contemporary photography.
Are comments allowed?
MGG: Absolutely, I welcome comments and personal e-mails from anyone. The only problem with comments is to control spam, that unfortunately happens more often than I wish, but so far I am able to manage it.
Describe your own background in relation to photography and why you decided to start a photography blog?
MGG: I don't have a formal education in arts or photography (besides a few workshops now and then), so my understanding of the media is from practicing photography, reading (books, magazines, blogs), listening to experts and mostly from my obsession with looking at photographs. The main reason I started the blog is because I felt the need to reach beyond the image and think about the significance of the work. The blog creates a discipline to think, to observe, and to try to understand. Looking at photographs allows me to gain visual culture, to question my own aesthetic preferences, and writing about it in the blog helps me to understand the purpose and the thinking of photographers. For me, the process of thinking about photography is as interesting as it is looking at photography and the blog helps me to do so. As you can see, the start of the blog was driven merely by personal interest but with time, as the blog became more popular, it turned out to be a platform to provide visibility for the work of artists.
In your experience what have been the highs and lows of blogging? Are there any particular pitfalls to owning a photography-related blog?
MGG: The biggest surprise was to discover that the blog is a channel to meet new people, to connect with many photographers, bloggers and lovers of photography. It is a fact that photography and art are unifying concepts, both define and create commonalities between people and cultures. The blog therefore has allowed me to connect with a community of people I would have never had a chance to talk to. It is specially gratifying to receive e-mails from people who share their interest and appreciation for the blog, people who share ideas or just like to share their work. I am always amazed by the generosity and kindness of the people who contact me. I would say that there are no real lows to running the blog, but certainly keeping a blog alive requires time, and the time I invest in the blog is time I can't dedicate to other activities of interest.
What are your top three picks from the world of photography in the last 12 months?
MGG: This is a challenging and interesting question. Rather than taking three picks I will mention several trends related with photography that started recently and will have an impact in the future and I will highlight some selected work from the last 12 months that I find exceptional.
First, one of the most interesting transitions in photography is the unification of still photography with video. The last 12 months have seen a technical revolution with the commercialization of the Red Camera and the inclusion of high definition video in consumer DSLR cameras. At this stage photographers are using these tools mainly to produce multimedia and short documentaries. But what I find intriguing is the potential to blend video and still images to create fine art images of any kind, including portraits, including landscapes, including abstracts, etc. This is a new path, full of creative potential. We have the means to display the visual work of video and still images online, in galleries and in portable devices, this last being an area that grows exponentially.
Second is about magazines. We all know that printed magazines are struggling to reinvent a media which can't produce high quality at the low cost that we were used to. The future of magazines follows two paths which will affect the world of photography in positive ways. One is the specialization of magazines that target an audience that is more demanding and is willing to pay more for quality. The release of Dispatches, a magazine-book published quarterly, demonstrates that there is significant interest in publishing extensive photographic portfolios alongside excellent essays. The combination of both is quite unique and elevates the value of photography to a level on a par with the written text. The other path which magazines will follow is the transition to electronic media, targeting upcoming portable devices. Once this happens, the use of photography in the reformatted magazines will be far more extensive than in prints, as the limit from printing costs will be gone. In addition, portable devices, as the computers enable now, will also blend audio with still photography and video, a combination that is very powerful. Most interestingly, these upcoming technologies will expand to the publication of photobooks in electronic format to be viewed on portable devices. This will enable anyone independently to release photobooks and commercialize them on demand. The price will go down, the volume will go up, and everyone will benefit to have access to more photobooks. The computer enables this already, but I believe that future release of inexpensive portable devices that feel like a book (like a Kindle but with high quality color displays) will be the breakthrough for photobooks (and magazines).
Regarding photographic work in the last 12 months, I would like to highlight two projects by Paolo Pellegrin, from Magnum. I think these two projects define him as one of the best photographers around, an artist who is not only able to excel at photojournalism but who also provides a new vision. The projects are Olympic Athletes and Great Performers. Both series are very different, and both break the cliché of what to expect from sports photography and images from artists.
Two books from the last 12 months that I found fascinating are The Regulars by Sarah Stolfa and All the days and nights by Doug DuBois. Both depict the human spirit in a very sensitive manner. Very different subjects but both show the commonality, fragility and empathy of people and connect with the viewer.
The last mention goes to Getty & Flickr. The partnership between the old and the new, the socialization of photography now reaches all aspects of the commercial world. This is the final realization that the market of photography should not be limited, and can reach creativity wherever it is in the world.
If you could only subscribe to one blog (other than your own of course) which would it be and why?
MGG: This is a hard question because if I could subscribe to only one blog the richness of diversity would be gone. This diversity is the greatest strength of the blogging community. With this said, I would recommend Burn Magazine, a blog run and edited by Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey. Why did I choose this one? Well, it is cohesive, it has a message, the photography comes from the community and it is excellent. But mostly I recommend this blog because of its purpose. David Alan Harvey is an extremely generous man, a true master who dedicates his time to teach, to mentor, and to support up-and-coming photographers who will define the new generation. There is nothing more generous than to dedicate time, to share knowledge and nurture new talent. David Alan Harvey has mastered the potential of a photoblog to create a community.