I recently discovered Vincent Laforet’s blog via the Jackanory, I know I am a few weeks behind the curve, I have found myself unable to motivate myself to do much more than read, go for walks and eat in the midst of such beautiful surroundings and weather. But I did take a peek over the weekend, to see if I had missed anything. I have been thinking quite a bit about blogging up here, strange how as you remove yourself from something your feelings and perceptions change. When Shoot the Blog launched, I understood that the photo blog would inevitably be co-opted by mainstream media outlets. However Rachel Hulin has managed to maintain a relatively corporate free attitude and I never read it and think “this is an ad for Photoshelter.” A very smart decision by them and to Rachel’s credit.
However, when I clicked on the first Olympic photo on Laforet’s blog and was taken to the Newsweek site, I knew that something had shifted. Laforet’s blog is absolutely a commercial endeavor, and it is backed a major media corporation, even if they are not paying for it (as most blog hosting companies are free). When you click on the images and texts on his blog, they are hyper-linked directly to the Newsweek blog. The sites exist both as the Newsweek blog about their assigned photographer at the Olympics and as the blog by a Newsweek assigned photographer at the Olympics. Confused yet? There is definitely something really interesting about Newsweek site, it is rare that a major news magazine lets a photographer write about his experiences. It is a very successful addition to their website, and similar to the NY Times blogs, it functions as a place online to feature mini stories.
Laforet’s blog in contrast, is a miss. Part of why the blog disappointment to me, is that I have always found his work to be the most visually interesting and whimsical of the NY Times photographers. So, I want to see the pictures Newsweek doesn’t pick. The ones that are too racy, too weird for publication. Or his favorites, or the ones he thinks failed and why. I already know that Vincent Laforet is an amazing, successful and talented photographer and I know he has to protect his status, but why start a blog to just show images that are already so accessible in other venues. On the Newsweek blog, he is giving us an edited and professionally produced “inside view” of a super successful magazine photographer, which in that context works very well. But in the context of the personal artist blog, it functions like an infomercial for him. I think this raises some very interesting issues about the nature of the photo blog. So far, the most successful blogs, have either been very personal in nature or curatorial.
My fear is that big companies will see blogs succeeding and will jump on the bandwagon to create what they deem as safe replicas of the blog genre. I think there should is a definite line between a blog sponsored by a major media conglomerate and the blog of an individual artist. When the two are blurred, something is lost. Even though I know the change cannot be stopped, to me the blog should remain the wild west. A place where artists can meet, share information, show their work, and connect with the world around them. If that helps their career, great, but please leave the unremitting self-promotion for your website, or for dinner parties.