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Thursday, 21 February 2019


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Kirk writes a compelling window into his world of commercial photography, combined with personal bits and gear observations and of course his wonderful portraiture. It's a very different site from TOP, which is more like time-travelling to a nice print magazine with mostly one author/editor who has to do everything and sometimes gets tired. Both sites are "must reads" for me, and I hope Kirk takes you up on your offer.

I am one of Kirk's daily readers, and was extremely saddened when read his post. We're losing so many things, as you well pointed out today. I tried to convey my feelings to him but, honestly, I felt I needed my own language to be accurate and articulate. English didn't suffice this time so I just left a note of support.

I do hope it's only a temporal closure and we are subjected to his usual torrent of words we never tire to be drenched of!

.......Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works..........

My black and white photo essays were already out of date when I started my website about 25 years ago. Now I'm looking forward to the photos being archived (or buried) at a university.

The Golden Age of (Photo)blogging, and blogging in general, have long left the building. Fun while it lasted, it was a great way of: staying current, exchanging ideas and establishing community. It was much needed- and still is. Most have folded shop and gone on to other pursuits or venues (eg- FB, Twitter, Intstagram, whatever). And as you well know- it is work, and time consuming at that (and for most of us, unpaid at that).

The Golden Age of Photoblogging came just at the right time for me- when I no longer had access to NYC galleries. The access it provided to so much of what was going on in contemporary photography, now reduced to memories. Congrats to you for being one of the (very) few soul survivors...

My prediction: Kirk will be back within a week. He can't not write.

Wow! First, the Luminous Landscape, which was never the same after Michael Reichmann died despite Kevin's best efforts, has now taken a strange and I think negative new direction. Now Kirk Tuck is feeling irrelevant as a blogger. I don't think that is true but what I think matters not. For me there were three daily stops on the internet photo highway. LuLa, VSL and TOP. Stick around Mike! You're an important inspiration for many. And I don't even like tea.

I'm sad. Sad, sad, sad. I love the written word, but videos are a thing that makes my blood pressure go up and my mind doubt the overall brainpower of the world. So at least I will have more time to get things done that need to be done, as I will have one less blog to read. But understand, MJ, that you will have more to carry on your shoulders now.

That said, I can understand how Kirk feels. My career was in photography and in broadcasting, often overlapped, as the markets ebbed and flowed. From my broadcasting experience, I clearly understand what it takes to feed the monster. I'm hoping that Kirk will return soon with a new energy.

I congratulate Kirk Tuck for walking away when he felt that he had no more to say

I don't know how old the man is, but I can assure you that we can reach a time when we realise some things are more bother than they are worth.

Today, despite a lifelong connection with photography, including it being my only work since 1960, I can easily stop shooting because I slowly realised that much of what I shoot - and that's possibly the case with many "photographers" - is now always just a substitute for what I used to shoot because I loved it so. For some others, maybe they never got to shoot what they really desired, and a permanent diet of alternatives eventually palls...

I refer folks to that swamp pop rock/country song with that beautiful line: once you've had a diamond, a rhinestone just won't do.


Off topic as well. In his newest novel John Sandford has Minnesota BCA Agent Virgil Flowers going online to check THE ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHER for relaxation as he investigates a series of murders. Looks as if your friend, the successful Author is giving you a boost. And yes, the novel is a good read - as usual.

As for Kirk Tuck - a solid professional who produces good work and posts some interesting topics, ideas and opinions.

I'm saddened to hear that, OTOH I understand his feelings. I have had similar feelings and once left my (far less read) blog untouched for an entire year. Kirk is a prolific writer and I predict that he will indeed return to it (he did once before) and I look forward to that day.

I notice that things are tougher than originally planned at this age. I believe that Mr. Tuck, yourself Mike, many of your readers, including me are going through not so easy times. Being sixty is a tougher moment be a commercial photographer.

Meanwhile, the biggest photo store here in Montreal, aimed at well heeled amateurs and wedding photographers, is downsizing quite spectacularly by selling a big chunk of its commercial space. The second biggest one, where are the local pros used to buy they Polaroid 669 and Ektachrome by the crate, has been renting quite a chunk of the main floor to a souvenir merchant.

The times, aren't they changing?

First shutterfinger now VSL, to say nothing of the passing of Mr. Reichmann, the written salve for my pixel pursuits is getting thinner every year. I even imagined(?) that Kirk had already taken a break from his blog... or was that someone else?

I think there's plenty of room for sites like yours (and Kirk's for that matter), because by and large you're not writing about highly-detailed technique (usually).

For example, spending a lot of time writing about specific Photoshop methods, or specific printing techniques, or even specific gear doesn't age so well. You dip into that from time to time, and that's fine, but that's not where your bread is buttered.

Instead, what makes me come back for every post is the fact that you actually write about photography. You write about seeing, and ways to improve that. You write about craft, and how to hone that. You write about how to appreciate photography as a consumer of art. All of these things hold true whether we're using view cameras or 35mm film or DSLRs or computational photography.

T.O.P. is one of the few sites that still does that. (And it's one fewer, now, with Kirk taking a break). Keep it up.

“But I digress. (Can we be generous and say that digression is part of my charm?)” - It is, indeed, one of your many charms, Mike. And one of many reasons that I have read your writings for these many years. May you never cease in your digressing...

It was, indeed, very sad to read his piece yesterday, he became a daily presence for many of us. One consolation is that this is not the first time Kirk hangs his spurs (is that what you do with the spurs in English?), and so far he always came back, refreshed and his usual charming and occasionally combative self. How one can write daily and keep things interesting the way you and Kirk do is a total mystery, so no wonder one needs an occasional recharge.

Oh, he'll be back. Kirk has an attention span of about five minutes and needs to have an audience for his thoughts. "Break" as in coffee break or swim break, not a break-up.

We'll see. This is not necessarily the end. Kirk is a compulsive writer. If he doesn't write his blog he'll write something else worth reading. But if I were betting, I would bet he will be blogging again before too long.

This is quite sad. The Online Photog and VSL are the two general photo websites I turn to first for thought-provoking stuff, without the obsessiveness and occasional aggression that one runs across in the forums run by a certain organisation seeking world domination. But keeping a blog going is hard work (I've tried it), and maybe a bit soul-destroying if you have an economic motive. Anyway I hope Kirk comes to life (metaphorically) again, and Mr Johnson doesn't lose heart.

Thank you for offering this option to Kirk. Along with TOP, his is one of a few sites visited daily as part of my online browsing. It will be missed. It always felt like I was reading letters from a friend traveling through life, sharing his thoughts and adventures.

Great article about Kirk, thank you, Mike.

Fully undestand the need to take a break...wishing Kirk the best.

I really, really hope he continues to participate and post comments on TOP.

If you have 682 supporters and could use maybe 50% more, I would suggest you also consider asking your current supporters consider doubling their contribution. If the right half do that, or all go up 50% you will be covered.

It’s always smart to ask the people you already have, for MORE.

As one of your supporters, I would consider increasing my bit. But you have to ASK us first.



I miss Kirk's columns already, and don't think he can stay away for too long. He's mastered commercial web-scale video without turning into a movie studio, and shared much of that learning. But it's clear his heart is in portraits of interesting people (from the frequency with which Kinky Friedman, Renee Zellweger, and his family keep turning up) but in a style which does feel old-fashioned. Not as extreme as Yousuf Karsh, of course. I wonder if he will satisfy his need to break some walls by coming up with some radical new approach to portraits that still gives him a chance to express a relation to his subjects. I'll be checking his url from time to time, waiting to see what happens next.

P.S Kirk's posts never, that I know of, ever had a wrong spelling, or grammatical error, or syntax error. ( Mind you, neither do yours, Mike Johnston) Astounding!! I wish I had his typing ability!

From reading his blog, I somehow can’t see Mr Tuck not writing for a sustained period as it seems to be in his nature. Maybe he can channel it into another novel.

Kirk is a local guy and I did meet him once via a 1 day seminar/class event he gave some years ago on portrait photography. I always figured I'd bump into him someday, camera in hand walking the streets of Downtown Austin as that is my turf as well.

My money says he will be back as soon as he buys a new camera and tells us why he likes it :)

Kirk and yourself have been staples for me for as long as I can remember. Not because of camera reviews or gear discussions (which I barely ever read) but for the insight into the practise of an art form.

I think the perspective of the artist is very valuable particularly to those of us who aspire and I can say with confidence that my mental approach has already been developed by writers like yourself a Kirk Tuck (and a few others like Michael Reichmann).

We can't afford to lose photography writers like Kirk, but he's taken pauses before. Hopefully this will be another of those temporary breaks.

A little off-topic maybe, but you are so correct about email vs "social media".

The literal translation of carte-blanche never occurred to me. But, of course!

And, yes, Germans have a strung-together word for everything. You probably know scharfentiefe
(very roughly sharpness-depth: DOF), or also tiefenscharfe.

Then there's geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung: speed limit.
And gaspedal: gas pedal.

Mike - I agree entirely with your comments about Kirk and also with the others here. I did comment on his blog to that effect and recalled the time (about 6-7 years ago I think) when he took down his whole blog but was back within a few weeks!

I really do hope he returns to finding enjoyment in writing and blogging. That should be what it's about after all, should it not? He owes us nothing. VSL is/was the first blog I read every day. Yours is second (sorry ;-) ).

I can't agree with his feeling that the blog was becoming irrelevant. He was the first professional (at least as far as I know) to recognise how important video work would become to his 'industry'. He is also I think one of the very few full-time professionals who has blogged about his industry experiences with a completely neutral and independent viewpoint. His openness about his personal life was the icing on the cake for me. I feel like I know the guy as a friend.

I get the feeling that the financial side of things wasn't his main issue, but if it was, I would definitely sponsor him through Patreon like I do with you. Even if he was only posting once every few weeks. He was very prolific beforehand so I'm not surprised if he's a bit burned out!

I do hope he takes you up on your offer to host some guest posts. Whatever happens, I wish him the best of luck. And the same to you!


I'm saddened when a creative person like Kirk Tuck decides to quit because it means his audience has failed him. He wasn't blogging for money, but something that he was getting from writing VSL all these years has gone missing. Perhaps it was the engagement of his readers and maybe (as he wrote) that his lighting aesthetic is no longer appreciated.

Kirk's photography looks natural to me. I hardly track current fashions, but if it's true that the trend is toward a more obviously lit style, I hope that it's a temporary excess that people will soon tire of.

I enjoy Kirk's writing and hope to see more of it in the future, but only if he has a good time doing it.

Kirk took time off at least once in the past, as I remember, but soon came back. I hope the same happens this time! TOP and VSL, always on my bookmark bar.


Now all I have is TOP and Ming Thein for more philosophical blogs. There are still some "news" sites, but as far as art and philosophy in photography, they fall short.

I hope this gives Kirk time to write his second novel. The first one was terrrific!

I am a great Kirk Tuck admirer too. Though to everyone who wonders how he has the energy, I think he straight up tells you in his blog. He swims hard every morning.

I will miss his thoughts. Though, I suspect it won't be so bad, I bet I'll still see his stuff come up every so often.

Tuck is a national treasure. This is a tough loss to take. I do wish him well. His work and writing are part of me. He made me a better photographer.

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