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|| News Item: Posted 2009-10-13

Why Blog? — Round #2
Plus two blogs you'll never read, but wish you had

By Jim McNay

Photo by
From an informal poll of photographers, the drive to be better photographers or simply to be amazed by on-line work seems to be one reason photographers read other photographers blogs.

Florida’s Chad Pilster (, formerly of the newspaper world and now on the wedding beat, pays attention to business blogs, especially if they deal with the weddings. "I'm trying to run a business and these really give me a lot of great insights," Pilster says.

Beyond that, he wants to see good work and be excited. "I look at a lot of photographer’s blogs, but usually to get a feel for what they are doing," Pilster says. "I am always trying to find a photographer who has a different way of looking at things to give me inspiration."

Sports photographers have long known the better they understand the game, and especially their next assignment, the better their chances of making a Very Fine Photograph.'s Brad Mangin ( checks out the newspaper sports beat writers in the Bay Area because he wants to keep up with the sports he photographs most. Says Mangin, "They have so much great stuff to write about and not enough room in the paper—thus their blogs are full of great content that changes every day." And with those insights, Mangin can take that knowledge straight to the field.

And apparently it’s OK to just look at someone’s site to have some fun, have one’s mind blown. San Francisco AP photographer Jeff Chiu does not look at many blogs, but he enjoys how photographer John Lee regularly raises the bar with his photographs. "(It’s) always nice to see how he makes better pics with his iPhone than I do with my expensive Canons," says Chiu. (

And then there is the writing. (Gasp!) Yes, sometimes photographers find blogs interesting because of what photographers write.

While Central California’s Joe Gosen ( says his blog is mostly about his son Jack, he migrates to another blog for the good writing he finds. "The one blog I check in on regularly is 'We're Just Sayin' by David Burnett and his wife Iris," says Gosen. He pays special attention during the Olympics and the presidential campaign. "It's entertaining and their blog offers a little glimpse into their world of photography and writing," Gosen says. (

One of this informal poll’s most intriguing responses came from Sports Illustrated's Bill Frakes ( He reminds us of two blogs we’ll never read.

"You didn't ask this," says Frakes, "but I wish blogs had been available when Eugene Smith and Gordon Parks were alive. They were both prolific writers, and brilliant men. Obviously very different, but can you imagine what they would have contributed?"

Speaking of Parks, the photographer, filmmaker, writer, poet, composer, Renaissance Man, Frakes says, "With Gordon it would have been so multi-dimensional. I am certain he would have somehow reinvented the medium."

Turning to Smith, whom many consider the ultimate visual storyteller, Frakes says he has "…so much respect for him. His mind was incredibly complex. If you haven't read his letters, especially to his mother, you should."

So for some, looking at other photographers’ blogs is a bit like checking out someone’s portfolio. We can see what they are up to, we gain a little insight about our own work, and best of all, we can be amazed.

Jim McNay teaches and writes about photojournalism in California—while fantasizing about running a charter fishing business in Key West. He has a toe in the blogging waters at:

Related Links:
McNay's member page

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