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Tony | March 16, 2014

If you are a fotografer (and, briefly, by that I mean a person who goes
out of their way, who puts time, energy, thought, emotion and, yes,
money, into creating series of fotos that define their intelligence) it
would seem that social media (and here I’m talking about Facebook
and Twitter) would be the perfect place for throwing up your images.

After all, who doesn’t love scrolling down (or is it up) past all those
random thought bubbles, stopping when something catches your eye.
And fotos are great at that, catching the eye. Social media is a perfect
distraction in that it has some kind of meaning but is usually pretty
disposable too. Let’s call it: small talk.

And that’s the problem.

Would you, in the middle of some conversation about, say, Miley
Cyrus or what’s happening in the Ukraine, stop and say, “Hey, look
at this foto I just shot for my project”?

I suppose you could, and it might be a worthwhile change of subject,
but for the fact that you know the subject will be re-changed again
almost immediately. So you would be just joining the stream of pass-
time and diversion.

Hy’s Steakhouse. from: Official Ottawa

(Now, I know I’m being a hypocrite. I’ve been “guilty” of throwing
up pictures from my projects onto Fb and Twitter. I’m as weak as
the next person and feel the pull of being, which so often these
days means posting something. Yes, mea culpa.)

And there are, certainly, interesting projects being published on
Fb, etc., by fotografers. One I’m looking at is what Jon Lowenstein
is doing in Chicago. XXXX

There, in his feed, is an ongoing, deep look at Chicago, often the
South Side, complete with extended captions.


But for serious consideration, it’s still the longform internet platforms
that rule, even though they (by and large) are going out of fashion.
They are a place where you slow down and devote certain amounts
of focused brain-power. Yes, as a fotografer, you will probably reach
fewer eyes with a blog than you would if you just post an endless stream
of fotos on Fb and Twitter, but you will reach many, many more brains.

And, for me at least, it’s the brain I want to reach. Both my own, and,
yes, yours.

Here are a few long-form internet foto-things that I consider . . .

What the Boreal Collective folks are doing on their Tumblr. Playing the
Surrealist game of the Exquisite Corpse. Wherein each added foto is a
reaction to the preceding one. XXXX

Conscientious Photo Magazine, by Jorg Colberg. More to get your teeth
into since this blog changed from just plain Conscientious to being CPhMag.

Colin Pantall brings things from left field into the center for contemplation.
That catholic mix brought into focus will feed your head. XXXX

And one of the most niche of them all: Pete Brook’s Prison Photography. XXXX


And then there are fotobooks.

When you commit to print, everything comes in to sharper focus, there’s
more at stake. After all, you are spending the fabulous moolah to make
these things and asking folks to spend their moolah to buy them. And if
that doesn’t sharpen your mind, I don’t know what will.

I’d like to point out some books available at STRAYLIGHT. And mention
that we will be switching from Canadian bux to US$ tomorrow. That’s
Monday, March 17th. So if you want to save the difference (approx. 10%)
get on over to the STRAYLIGHT webstore and order a copy or two. XXXX

Now available at STRAYLIGHT Press (except Back to me., which is coming soon.)


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Tony | March 9, 2014

drool has been a lot about STRAYLIGHT lately. That’s because I’ve been
thinking about (and a bit consumed by) STRAYLIGHT for the last little
while. Just like when I was ensconced in LIVE THROUGH THIS, drool was
about that, and when I’m working on OFFICIAL OTTAWA. drool is about
that. And thrown up and into the mix are random thoughts and stuff.
I do drool, like much of what I do, for selfish reasons; to work stuff out
(out loud, as it were), and to hype what I’m doing and what I’m into.
Doesn’t matter to me, too much, if anyone’s paying attention or not.
Though some attention is mostly swell.


And I do STRAYLIGHT for a few reasons. I like to support work that I
think is important (others work and, yes, my own). I enjoy quite a few
aspects of the whole endeavor, from finding other fotografers work
that I’d like to publish, working with those fotografers, the design bits
of the process and, finally, selling and shipping the books.

Here’s a sampling of the locations we’ve sent books in the past month:


So, while it looks like we’re moving books and doing our bit to contribute
(whatever that means) we still need your support. Thank you to all those
who have already bought a book or three. And to those who have been
looking on . . . please consider buying something. I know that the kind of
work STRAYLIGHT publishes is not to everyone’s taste, that we are working
on the margins of a niche. If you are intrigued by something we publish, I
suggest you buy it. We need the support.

All the profits (such as they are) get plowed back into making more books.
And without support independent publishing and voices can’t survive. So
give us your money. We’ll use it well.

And speaking of . . .

There is one copy left of the GasGaz Special Edition of SAME OLD STORY.
Get it while the gettin’s good.

Print that comes with GasGaz Special Edition, 6×9 inches on real nice paper. Signed and numbered.

Here’s what some are saying about that book:

Really good. Love the way it picks up speed as it
pitches forward, I can feel myself getting short of
breath. Great rhythm. And the scary photos too.
Skeletons and lines of people and police line-ups
and people-less shoes and body-less hand etc. etc.
Really well done, both of you.

Now I’m afraid to go to bed and fall asleep.


“Same Old Story” arrived in the post this afternoon.
The old fashioned reinforced envelope kept it safe
and secure. The contents are a delight, beautiful
presentation. Much more than I expected. I peeked
at the photos and am now in the process of making
a nice cuppa tea to sit down for what will, most
definitely, be a good read.

Thank you!! My daughter will love this.


I couldn’t believe it was only twenty dollars.


Page spreads from SAME OLD STORY

Visit STRAYLIGHT Press here and do some shopping.

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Tony | March 2, 2014

Further to last week’s thing about low-risk fotography/living . . .

I talked a bit about my admiration for anyone who embraces a bit of risk
in their lives and mentioned how events in Ukraine and what Pussy Riot
are doing are examples of how to shake things up. (And things do need
shaking up. Come on . . . admit it, even from your comfy perch, sitting
in your heated or cooled home, reading this on your day off from an
actual job, deep down you are dissatisfied.)

Anyway, a thought occurred to me after I posted that thing . . .

Pussy Riot’s actions and, to a lesser extent, the events in Ukraine, don’t
exist in a vacuum, they need to get out into the world to really have an
effect. And this is where fotografy (and media in general) play a part.

While fotografers (and other media-types) assume a certain amount of
risk reporting upon troublesome events, most often what gets seen is
the same old, same old. I suppose there are a few reasons for that. One
would be that there is a definite lack of imagination in the news biz.
Couple that with the fact that, by and large, we like to be comfortable,
even when consuming horror and tragedy. We want the images coming
from these events to be familiar, to have a narrative we can easily under-
stand. Complexity is too risky and we eschew risk, even in the images and
stories we like to consume.


After a problem or two at the printers, SAME OLD STORY has been delivered.
We’ll spend some time this weekend packaging all the pre-sold copies and
drop ‘em in the mail on Monday.

All the pre-orders come with an original 5×7 print. We will be continuing that
offer the next week. So if you want the print, order your copy of SOS soon.

Here: XXXX


The image that comes, as an original print, with pre-orders

And then it’s on to the next thing: “Back to me.” by Christina Riley.

Christina, who lives in California, is visiting Kapital City for a week or so and
while she’s here we’re getting her book firmed up.

A dark, haunting, a tale of love and madness. Coming soon. Sign up for the
STRAYLIGHT newsletter (below) to be kept abreast of its release date and
Special Edition offers.

Christina, on the way to the printers.

Proofs, and the cover.

Christina holds a cover proof.

And, finally, not a STRAYLIGHT publication, but also available at our webstore: “Strength
in Disorder”, by Olivia Johnston.

This photographic portfolio presents portraits of women who have suffered through,
and recovered from, an eating disorder. These portraits are paired with selections
from interviews conducted with each woman about her illness.


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Tony | February 23, 2014

First of all, let me tell you that I don’t really care (too much) what you do with
your camera. If you want to execute some formula, over and over again, knowing
in advance you’ll arrive at a foregone conclusion you deem successful, fine. If you
want to shoot the surface of the obvious world in a cliché way and be happy the
image is sharp and has nice colors, be my guest.

My one apprehension (see inside the brackets above) about this approach to
fotografy is that it just cements the status quo, and in my opinion, every time
that that (the status quo) is reinforced is a time that precludes evolution. And
if we don’t evolve we die (or turn into Koala bears, which are cute but pretty
much useless; good only at eating Eucalyptus leaves).

I look (outside the fotografy-realm) at what is going on in Ukraine, at what
Pussy Riot is doing and see that there are those who will lay it on the line,
will take a stand and agitate for something other than what we now have.
These (direct) actions, of course, really show how anemic fotografy, and
other “civilized” activities, are when it comes to trying to change the world.

And, looking at history, we will see that most often popular uprisings are
really only a hiccup in the grand scheme of things. Look, for example, at
the 1960’s, when revolution was in the air all over the world, USA, France,
China, and the ripples of those revolutions spread far and wide. But given
time, it all almost always settles back to the way it was. Sure, some things
change for the better, some for the worse, but somehow or other the power
always ends up in the hands of those who want it the most. And those who
want it the most are those who should least have it.

And, yes, history also teaches us that some revolutions do end up benefiting
many, that things can get better. And we see, too, how over time the slow
pull of what is obviously right somehow takes hold and gets a grip. See,
for instance, gay and women’s rights in many (but not too many) places.

But I really believe that if one takes a step towards risk in any aspect of their
life, the whole species will be better off. And that can include taking risks
when you think about what you want your relationship to your camera, or
iPhone, to be.

I’m not suggesting that you live your life and take every single photograph,
in revolutionary fervor. What I am suggesting is you think about it. More or



Thank you to Aline Smithson, at Lenscratch, for featuring SAME OLD STORY.
A swell intro by Aline, some words about it by yours truly and a bunch of pix.

Read/see it here: XXXX



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