I really can’t believe that it’s already February, kids. Even though I’ve not been traveling nearly as much as I did at the end of 2014, it feels like things have been just as busy! But it’s been a GOOD busy. I went to Sundance to see the premiere of a film into which my brother put a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I met Jon Krakauer, ran face first into Tobey Maguire, and tried so many delicious whiskeys. And I finally launched a new website!
Along with the January Cure project that seems to be turning into my annual thing (nevermind that it is stretching WELL into February now – update soon!), I had a long-overdue goal to launch a new personal site for my photos. For the last couple of years, I’ve been digitally tossing and turning between different approaches and it’s been driving me crazy. What can I say? I’m a commitment-phobe. Even though it’s annoyingly self-indulgent, I thought I’d share a bit of my journey launching this new site. I’ve commiserated with so many photographer friends who wrestle with these same issues, and if I can help even a tiny bit, I’m happy to. The existential angst these decisions caused me was real and paralyzing. I’ve had photographer’s block for a long time now. I’m finally pulling through.
My first problem was the platform of choice. Where did I want to run the portfolio site? I originally built it out on WordPress via a .org installation to my own server (which I do love dearly and on which this site is run). I cobbled together as much PHP and CSS as I could manage and probably customized three or four different themes I thought could halfway work. I dragged this out over probably a year and a half, maybe longer. I reached the point at which the coding of the site was becoming a greater focus and way more time-consuming than the editing of the photos, which should’ve been my first priority. I was using these technical challenges as a way to avoid making any sort of artistic progress. I made three or four very passable sites, but because I couldn’t get the site templates to render perfectly, they went to the scrap pile. Basically, I was deluding myself and wasting my own time.
To solve for this, I took the technical considerations out of play. I signed up for a Squarespace account and cut myself off from playing technical support. But then came the existential questions. Why the heck did I even need a portfolio site? I’m not a pro photographer, so why would I need to organize my work in a way that pretended I was? Aren’t portfolio sites kind of boring and overly circumspect in the first place? What about FTLOB? What do I do with this space here? Do I still want to write about Brooklyn or should I just give up everything altogether? I had found yet another way to waste my own time, now with much greater proportions of psychological drama! Are you sensing a recurring theme yet, or what?
Sensing that all this self-talk was possibly not the healthiest nor the most productive, I gave it a rest for awhile. I tried to be optimistic and kind to myself. I asked myself simpler questions, like what exactly do I want to do with this personal site? What do I want to share there? I eventually realized that, at the root of it all, I have missed sharing stories – both my own AND others’. More specifically – and this is where I finally started unlocking the use case I was trying to solve for – I want to be able to share cohesive sets of photos from my travels. This type of work doesn’t really translate well to an Instagram stream or the new Flickr UI and I needed a solution. (Side note: since when is there an internet war against white space?)
In an attempt to focus in on what I’ve been missing, my new site will serve one simple purpose for now: short travel essays and image galleries! (And also URL sentences. So sue me.) So many of these images have been locked up for far too long and I want to share. Once I landed on this laser-focus, everything came easily. I gave myself a manageable goal and started by building galleries and writing essays for three of the mind-blowing trips I took last year: my first backcountry hike into Glacier National Park, a long weekend trip to Alaska and Kenai Fjords, and a solo road trip I took down the California coast to check out Big Sur. Ah, I love the smell of the redwoods — almost as much as I love the feeling of releasing these photo essays to the wild. I’m so happy to share them with you. I expect to add some fun sets over the next couple of months (Ticino! Madrid! New Orleans!), but I already feel so much relief at having a space to share things in this format. Yay for progress!
Along the way, I also sadly realized that what got lost in the shuffle of these decisions was this site. For the Love of Brooklyn was started to celebrate all the awesome photographers I’ve encountered and share their stories as a love letter to the borough where I’ve made my home for the last ten years. Somewhere along the way, this mission was lost. Somewhere along the way, I stopped organizing the photo walks I grew to love so much and which brought amazing new friends into my life. I desperately miss it all.
This year, it’s coming back. Just as soon as my face doesn’t instantly freeze the moment I walk outside. Promise.
Who’s in for the next photo walk?!