Walking Away From Photography Writing
For seven years, I’ve written about photography here on Medium. It’s been amazing. More than anything, writing about it has a been companion to doing it. A document of sorts. But these days, I struggle to add to the discussion. In truth, I’ve probably carried on with it longer than I should have. A year ago I noticed a drop in engagement — some of which I chalked up to varying desires from Medium itself, but also a sea change in engagement for the subject. Not for entirely bad reasons, either.
I think, in some ways, everyone really is a photographer now. It’s as if everyone went to photography school together for the last four years and, for the most part, society is now filled with a whole bunch of talented graduates. And this has meant that photography writing, as a whole, has a dwindling audience. Very rarely am I able to impart anything that doesn’t seem available in some other form. And nor do I read anything that seems new on the subject. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, after 25 years of writing about photography, DP Review is laying off employees and shutting its doors at the same time as I write this.
Dare I say, photography — as a subject — is just kind of played out. How many times do we need to talk about something’s “democratization” before the democratization of it eliminates the need to talk about it?
AI hasn’t helped the cause much, either. Photography discussion is ages old, so in order to add something new that hasn’t been discussed ad nauseam, one has to pull from popular culture and current trends. And, well, AI has dominated that conversation so much as to make actual photography trends irrelevant.
Furthermore, my own work has evolved. I certainly identify as a photographer still — and do a fair amount of it, when asked — but I’m seeking out different kinds of work now in earnest. Filmmaking has kind of taken over my life recently, and so I just don’t wake up as inspired to talk photography shop as I used to.
Does that mean I’ll start writing about filmmaking? Storytelling? I’ve thought about it a little, but not enough to make a proclamation. I think, for a bit, I’ll loosen up my own self-imposed restrictions on subject matter and explore my own feelings on topics as they come to me.
For me, writing has never really been about photography anyway — it’s always been about life. Photography is just the door through which I discuss the things important to me. But there are many doors in to that house. Perhaps it is time to just open them all up for a bit, and see what the wind blows in.
I’ll say this, though: it all feels good. It feels right. I wouldn’t say that photography, as a subject has been any kind of burden on me, but the idea that this is what I write about, as some kind of dogma, or even badge, feels ready to evolve. Thinking about un-tethering myself from it has the right amount of scariness and excitement that I’ve always associated with growth.
And anyway, it’s April.