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Thursday, 05 October 2017


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Agree 100%!

So, Mike, start one. You've got the editor's eye and you've got the fan base to get such a site off to a great start, and even attract advertising. I'd be a regular reader.

If Mike were the editor-in-chief and assembled an editorial board, selected from his friends/readers ...

And if there was a web framework that allowed authors to submit their photo essays to the editors ...

... I'd visit the site every day, eagerly anticipating each next "issue"

Curated and Edited? Random Excellence is great, but C&E would be the cat's pajamas.

Patreon? Advertising? whatever.

This is exactly the reason I read your posts first thing every morning. Sometimes I reread my own posts just to fill the void:




There is http://www.fractionmagazine.com, which is a curated online monthly magazine focussing on 3-4 photographers every issue. Not exactly what you were writing about though.

Great idea, and I am all ears, but the devil is in the details.

National Geographic, Life, others employed paid photographers and editors who could devote significant amounts of time to telling a story and curating the photos. How would that be translated to an online [presumably free or low-cost] display site that's open to all, with potentially hundreds(?) of galleries uploaded daily unless there are dedicated gatekeepers to separate the good stuff from the inevitable dreck? And I would think it'd need a display hierarchy decided by something other than popularity, lest it end up mostly with "photo essays" of HDR landscapes, babies, cats, and young women in various stages of undress.

Try LENS/CRATCH. It's a curated site but daily featured work from an individual picture maker.

It’s an attractive idea, worthy of discussion and refinement by the TOP audience.
* Many of us, I’m sure, make relatively focused collections of photos when traveling or participating in workshops. How would that fit with your idea?
* Are we to think of Eugene Smith or Sam Abell as models of ambition and dedication, or something much more limited?
* A big part of a photo project is access. Working for a well-known magazine helps to validate the project and gain access. Could a relatively informal collective do the same thing?

The current "economy" of faves, and likes and thanks drive picture sites towards a focus on single pictures, which strive for impact and uniqueness. Which is a shame as I think in terms of photoessays. Maybe these need to be shot in a single period, or maybe they arise over time as a theme emerges, but I love to see pictures tell a story, and there is no good place to show them unless you run your own website, and even then...

I hear you. We really haven't created very many good, well moderated and edited online photography presentation sites that "enthusiasts" can participate in (both on the editing side, and the photography side). Almost anything that involves voting, favorites or likes results in most of the photos looking the same.

Good concept, sounds like it would be in the wheelhouse of Brooks Jensen at Lenswork. I imagine he's booked up with existing responsibilities, but you might want to bounce the idea off him for a bit of refinement. Maybe he knows a small group of people who might be willing to take up the challenge.

That would be wonderful, but it requires some things that are in somewhat short supply now, time, patience, and the 'active humility'to make pictures that tell someone else's story.
I read somewhere recently that words like I & myself had crept into the top ten of words based on usage. In pictures 'selfies' out number most other categories.
Stories, take time and the privilege of accesses as well as the patience to go back again and again.
There is also an element of unsettled technology,Digital tech became more capable by the day, we are now able to do new things and (over) do them because we can, or because it is new and interesting. The pictures you describe, are About the technology as much as they are about the subject. Who among us hasn't ever pushed a slider too far ? And how far is too far?
New technology often brings a new aesthetic view into vogue.
Essays where the story comes first are certainly not dead but as you say , at least relatively speaking, increasingly rare.
Each of us has stories worth telling around us but few of us have the time, inclination, desire to do so.
The resurgence of 'street' photography to some degree reflects this.
I'm not making any value judgements about street photography, nor am I saying that some doesn't evolve into essay worthy stories but really only that most of it remains individual 'moments' , rather than a photo essay.
It is almost odd, because we have all felt the power of a strong essay, and there are many people who have the ability to do them, but by and large we don't
Perhaps we'll know when digital photography 'matures' because preoccupation with new technology will take a back seat to things like Photo Essays.
The digital revolution has been both interesting and exciting. There is nothing wrong with enjoying it, --even getting caught up in it---it's a very exciting time with rapid fire improvements.
It's really no wonder that there has been a (temporary ?) shift towards shorter term personally focused activity that highlights new technical capability.
It was always a big tent, now it's bigger.

Mike you really need to get out more, trawling through photo sites on a ongoing basis is damaging to the mind and soul apart altogether from the damage to one's physical wellbeing.

Sounds like a great idea. It would need to be easy to search for subject type/subject, author(s), countries, date photographed, date posted, and be as easy to browse as a paper magazine.

It could support itself from adverts quite easily; perhaps Leica could support the street photography section...

I'd use such a site. For consumption and creation. Heck - I'm a software engineer and I'd help you build it.

Absolutely agree. I think Medium can be leveraged for that, but it's always iffy to rely on a site that looks to "monetize".

To do a small bit of "photo education", I have a FB group call "On Photography" that I post an impactful image (IMHO) image a day.

It is hard for me to understand how the internet community could suddenly change from sharing too much drivel to supporting an ad hoc picture magazine of substance. There are plenty of photo essays on the web. Perhaps someone like you could curate and aggregate a link list or include commentary on a theme with a list. There are always plenty of people willing to suggest content.

If you like to tell stories with pictures and narrative or vice versa then start a blog. You probably will not get rich or famous or noticed. You will be able to tell the stories that are important to you with pictures and words of your own choosing.

I know it’s not exactly the same you are looking for, but Lonely Planet has an app called Trips.

You upload mini photo essays of your travels, including small captions and any text you want.

Users can search using hashtags or browse categories (people, cities, NY, and so on).

You could say its like Instagram, but you get blog posts instead of random pictures.

So far, its a small community, but i kinda like it.

There used to be a website called Pictory (http://www.pictorymag.com) that was started by a former editor of JPEG magazine. It sadly went dormant in 2012. I haven't seen anything in that format since.

You might also like Daniel Milner's site: http://shifter.media
He has photos,essays, interviews, poetry, etc.

That sounds vaguely like something they used to call a "blog". Doesn't it?

In particular, you could do such a thing easily on Tumblr. One Tumblr, one essay. I believe I have seen such things.

Great idea. Sort of like https://medium.com for photo essays. I'd love to see a platform where we could tell stories. There you go Mike, your next publishing project!

This is one reason why I follow collective sites such the Kage Collective. While it is not an open site, the group does choose themes for story telling assignments.
Unfortunately, there are too few sites for this type of story telling.

Dave Harvey's "Burn Magazine" seems on that track. But it's just one and limited in publication. I think it has a staff of 2 plus Harvey as editor?

I'd love this too. An annual fee to be able to post (while being free to view) would cover hosting and bandwidth costs without needing adverts, and ensure people posting content took it reasonably seriously.

Small groups of users might commit to curating themes for a period of time, to bring order to the material - time limited calls for work on a particular topic (as well as unthemed areas of the site) would again help people navigate and find material they are interested in.

The closest thing I've found to what you are talking about is Brooks Jensen's "Lens Work". Unfortunately all we see are the few submissions that make it into the publication. There was an online magazine from Australia (f11??) that I subscribed to for a while but lost interest in as all they seemed to be interested in were big name high profile photographers; they've since shut down. I like your idea, but how would you avoid the senseless, banal clutter that's likely to swamp an open un-curated site. This sounds like something that might be up the alley of someone like Andrew Molitor. Just my 2cents.

I don’t see how something like this could possibly work without some form of curation to prevent the site from being overrun by Internet fringe posters. Porn? A gazillion cute-cat collections? Advertising disguised as photo essays? Trading of ‟likes” to increase visibility? The Internet is Dodge City; you’d need to have a Marshall Dillon. (Apologies to younger readers who may have to Google that reference.)

It seems to me the most practical way to implement your idea would be to find someone with deep pockets—perhaps a major photo retailer—to host the site and pay for the services of a few professional editors.

Both this insight and the one which follows, respecting the surreality of so much of today's imagery, represent what I would call the cultural void that has been replacing the relative [emphasis desired] sanity of even a few decades ago. While this sweeping statement has a huge compass, viewed from a standpoint from which millennia of human civilization may be seen in broad brush stroke, certain characteristics are revealed that are not apparent from the closer view of the immediate present, or even that of a decade or so. To put it very succinctly, the new normal isn't really, but is accepted as such.
One way of taking this very large bull by the horns, is to wrestle with the utterly false, but widely accepted, notion that art and science, as classically understood, have nothing in common, a proposition I like to refer to as The Curse of Savigny (F. Carl von Savigny, 1779-1861). The reality is, that both art and science require a uniquely human quality of creative mind. That quality, which came naturally to Leonardo, scientist-violinist Einstein, and countless others, is the subject of what was once known as the American system of economics, an economics in which the cultural education of the population was understood as a necessity for the society's advances in living standard through the technological application of scientific breakthroughs. Value came through that.
Our society today is largely disconnected from the physical means of its own survival, and the counter-cultural change that burst forth in the 1960s has run a course we see reflected in the results referred to in Mike's two observations.

Mike, and readers, check out this online publication. It is focussed on adventure cycling. The stories and images are (IMO) excellent.


Isn't that an art gallery?

A great sounding idea, I'd welcome such a place to display small series works on a subject or theme. The idea of a bit of writing to go with it sounds good too. Kind of like a blog, but open to all who want to create content.

This sounds vaguely like an online version of LIFE and Look, maybe Colliers, doesn't it?

As always the problem revolves around money. Very few people are into online subscriptions 'cuz information wants to be free—I'm sure I read that somewhere on the 'net. The alternative is advertisers, who want to control the flow of information.

I like your idea. Speaking as a person who likes to work on projects rather than single images, I would truly appreciate a site that would specialize in bodies of work. While in practice it may be difficult, it would be great to allow constructive feedback on the portfolio.
Maybe allow folks to collaborate online on a single project through a team room or other means. Someone could write a statement of a project that they would either like to work on or are struggling with and post to a “forum”. Interested individuals of same or other disciplines could make contact and see if there is a fit.

Mike, take a look at Medium. It's a platform for publishing visual stories, with equal emphasis on photos and words. It apparently allows for branded sub-platforms that can crowd-source their own content. Several that I follow and enjoy are Vantage and Re-Picture. See what you think:


Something like Silvershotz? But it requires time, cost, taste and commitment to curate such a collection, so I don't think you'll ever get it for free.

Magnum and NYT Lens feature are good resources. Leica M Magazine for iPad is also terrific. -John

There is such a site: its when a documentary photographer has his/her own website.

I've been doing it for 15 years; long term projects combining words and pictures to tell the stories of the people and places that I document. All presented on my website!

I'm a great believer in photo projects, the outcome of which is/aims to be a set of prints that are themed, or tell a story. My love is monochrome landscapes, and I have several ongoing projects with titles like: "The Love of Trees", "Shoreline" (life along the ocean shore), "Streams" (long exposure streams)"Mono Blue" (landscapes from my geographical region), "From Above" (aerial images), and just to prove that I do still like colour images, "Change" (documenting the progress of the season of Autumn/Fall).

An avenue for showcasing themed work sound like a great idea Mike.

THIS. It's the work of photo essayists like Gene Smith that got me into this hobby in the first place. Storytelling is such an integral part of the creative arts, and yet I can't help but feel that in the modern photographic age, this kind of narrative is being forgotten. Suddenly, nearly everyone has a camera with them at all times, and the documentation of ephemera is just that much more prevalent. Professionally speaking, I can only assume that the dearth of photo essays is in direct correlation with the seemingly eventual extinction of print media (especially magazines) and the proliferation of bite-sized electronic media intended for instant consumption (isn't that why they're called "feeds"?). Everything's ephemeral in today's 24/7 news cycle.

www.rfotofolio.com -- It's a juried site that in their call for work this year, called for a group of no more than 7 images, with the specification being that the images have a coherent relationship. They have been showcasing a wide range of photographers for over three years now, including digital, silver based and alternative processes, both online and in annual print exhibitions, which have been in different cities. They function as a not-for-profit entity presenting a wide range of well established, as well as emerging photographers. They feature individuals on about a weekly basis, besides the annual call for work.

https://kwerfeldein.de/ is one such site.

I think you would have been pleased with Storehouse had you found it before the service shut down about a year ago. The profile in Wired (https://www.wired.com/2014/09/apple-alum-creates-slickest-app-sharing-photo-stories/) might give you a bit of an idea of what it attempted to be.

It was about telling stories, not streaming photos, and some of the galleries were quite good. Unlike so many things you find on the web, and completely unlike photo-stream sites, what you found there had a beginning and end, and the good ones had a delightful arc connecting them.

This is why I moved from sites such as Flickr to a blog - maintained at some personal cost because I believe that advertising, affiliated sales or sponsored posts would detract from and distort the photography and writing.

But sadly, the vast majority (90%) of web search impressions are for equipment related posts, such as occasional hardware or software reviews. Interest in photographic content is low at best, even with the most recent material covering the ongoing political protests in Catalunya/Spain.

Another difficulty is that vanishingly few people seem to understand visual narratives, and "pretty pictures" are usually far more popular than attempts at anything more sophisticated.

Ultimately, there is less "exposure" (for want of a better word) in taking the blogging approach than there is from posting single images to Flickr, Facebook and Instagram. But from a personal perspective, trying to construct narratives is probably the most enjoyable part of photography.

There once was the ContaxG pages site. But sadly its server crashed with all the content and it was never revived. It was wonderful

Take a look at http://www.theinspiredeye.net.
They produce a monthly digital magazine which features curated photo essays. You can either subscribe or buy an single copy. Either way it's not expensive.

Have you seen Exposure.co, Mike?

It doesn't quite nail it, but it's the closest thing I can think of to what you describe. A curatorial eye over all the content could complete the circle: https://featured.exposure.co

Dave Allan-Harvey's http://burnmagazine.org and Leica's online version of LFI have the curator's eye, but not the open access.

There is https://exposure.co/ which is a bit like what you describe.
It is not really curated but since you have to pay to upload essays, that will at least get rid of the very bad stuff.

Flickr has an under-utilized feature called Galleries where you can curate your own little show with photos from other Flickr members. I've created a couple and hope to create more.



The site at
might fill the bill for some.
The site hosts new, coherent essays reminiscent of journalism and publications from times past. The essays span a wide range of subject and quality and most embody a social activist bent either directly or implicitly. Some are thoughtful with fine photos, and the best get published in a print magazine. The site's Advisory Committee includes a few big names in photojournalism.

Adding to what Thom wrote about editing difficulty... while I have no problem quickly looking at 100 photos from a less experienced friend or beginner student and picking out the five photos I think show promise, sorting through a large number of technically excellent photos with the goal of presenting an interesting and perhaps cohesive selection...that's a real job.

If it's still going, Pedro Meyer's ZoneZero might hit the spot. Some of the portfolios are a little NSFW, but I recall there being some good work there.


There are people out there trying to get photo stories seen.


I teach interactive media at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I've been noodling with the idea to task some of my grad students to build a tool which would allow a photographer to 'show' this kind of essay. But I don't know anyone who could advise me (the students) on what kinds of tools an editor might want, and/or what kind of navigation might be best. If anyone would be willing to chat about this, reach out to me at http://www.etc.cmu.edu/ and use the faculty drop down to send me an email.

How about http://www.burnmagazine.org although they tend to be advocates of Out Of focus, Black and White, Central-East Europe, fringe politics, up and comers. The comments section tends to have about 10 loyal pundits who constantly refer to obscure French "artists" and other photographers who "did the same thing only better".

I have found 2 sites that fits perfectly to topic.



Mike, I agree, but I also disagree. I see the structure in curation, story telling, a theme, a subject to string images together into something 'coherent'. The hook of 'order'.

In my own work I value the chaos that is the 'natural order'of day to day life. Not too much interference by the human brain and all its desire to 'organize' everything.

Life is messy.

The accounts that I follow most closely on Instagram are curated streams. These are very popular precisely because they present high quality work. You can also use the multiple photo option on Instagram to present related images (with text).

I think the biggest obstacle, as mentioned, is the time and effort required to do the work well, which of course would be less of a barrier if it came with a payday.

The question is, would people, i.e. not photographers, be willing to pay subscriptions for an online equivalent to Life magazine? Ok, that's a leading question.

Most photo sites cater to the diy prosumer. I think you'd want/need a broader audience but that runs counter to the current trend lines - and the mantra of disruption, aka making the user the product. I think this is essentially the bind most traditional media companies find themselves in, and one of the reasons for the increasing Balkanization of our culture.

In short, we need this and things like it but the current business environment precludes the possibility of its existence.

Terra Quantum Territories at https://territories.terra-quantum.net/ and its sister site Terra Quantum Life focus on a particular subject only (landscapes, animals) and use a jury to curate submissions.

When a submitted photograph is rejected, a rationale is given that may help the photographer to improve his work.

(thanks to an article in the French Réponses Photo magazine)

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