Issue 01: Social Media Exhaustion
or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Quit Chasing Likes
As a relic old enough to remember a time before the internet, I have lived through the exciting rise and often undignified fall of everything from newsgroups, ICQ, and AOL to Livejournal, Myspace, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, and now - to my deep dismay, Twitter. When a platform was ruined for its community in one way or another, I followed the often lightning-quick migration on to the next. I've flirted with other platforms, but this time learning - then fighting with - a new algorithm feels exhausting. Instead of craving likes, hearts, comments, and RTs, I want to relax and take photographs, so I opted for something different.
Much like the music industry's retro return to vinyl, there seems to be an online shift back to simpler times. Fewer ads and less algorithmic interference, please! Newsletter platforms are beginning to make a resurgence and now seems like as good a time as any to take at least 1 foot out of the social media waters to try something slower, with less pressure, and fewer demands on my time.
My, possibly quixotic, intention is to focus my online content around my website, my blog, and this newsletter. The latter will include a digest of recent content posted to my website and elsewhere, but I want it to be much more.
I will concentrate on the philosophy and practice of street photography and may sometimes switch lanes to live music photography on film. In addition to essays, I will share tips, photos, and experiences - both successes and, er... teachable moments. Nothing if not opinionated, I'll chime in on notable events in the photography world. And, as the newsletter develops, I hope to build a small community. Closing it out, I'll throw in some recommendations of other photographers, music, podcasts, movies, films - whatever is exciting or entertaining me at the time.
Before we kick off, I should introduce myself. I'm Neil, a Scottish Varsovian street and live music photographer. I teach, and write about photography for Shoot It With Film, and 35mmc. I was formerly the owner of too many fireworks, a Glaswegian indie record label, from 2001 until 2021, and I’ve played in several bands. For a time, from 2006 to (almost) 2011, I moved from music to photography, beginning in live music but eventually moving to documentary and street photography.
After my move to Poland, I found myself back in music for a decade, however, the pandemic called an end to that and late 2020 brought me back to street photography, with occasional forays into live music. And that's me. So here we are together. And thank you for joining me. Let's see where this newsletter takes us.
Digest, November 2022
If you're new to me and my street photography, there's no better place to start than the archive of my exhibition, "Le Retour", that was shown at Ckio in Podkowa Leśna in winter / spring this year. You may also want to visit the second and third links, "People, mostly" and "Places, mostly", 2 continually evolving galleries of my favourite photographs.
In Autumn, I joined the team at Shoot It With Film as a regular contributor focusing on street and live music photography. I began with 2 posts bringing together some fundamentals of street photography for those who want to get started.
In the opening post of a series of blogs on my return to live music photography, this time photographing on film, I describe some first impressions and write a little of my experience so far.
In my first post for 35mmc, I reviewed Adriana López Sanfeliu's affectionate documentary portrait of her friend, and an idol of mine, Elliott Erwitt.
Finally, something for fun. Every few years, I fill in the "Proust" questionnaire in a wee notebook, to see how my answers change over time. Last year, I posted the most recent to my blog.
In memory of Mimi Parker
Last week, Low's singer, songwriter, and drummer, Mimi Parker died at the age of 55 after a battle with cancer. The band's music has had a deep, emotional presence in my life since I was 20 years old, so I wanted to share something here for you to enjoy. Mesmerising, beautiful music.
Each issue, I want to introduce readers to a photographer I love. Some will be legends of the genre, others maybe less well known but possibly even more deserving of your attention. In this first issue, I have two for you - a pair of longstanding members of Magnum that have had the strongest influence on my own photography.
The first is the aforementioned Elliott Erwitt. You can read more and see his photographs on his website.
The second, Richard Kalvar, I had an opportunity to spend some time with in Paris earlier this year. You can read about him and see his photographs on his Magnum profile.
Between 1966 and '67, John Cage and his friend Morton Feldman had four open-ended conversations recorded at the studios of WBAI radio in New York. Relaxed in each other's company, their soft-voiced conversations journey through the pair's thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in the creative process and society, politics, and art as a whole. I return to these recordings often and I find them moving, beautiful, and inspiring.
I’m in the early stages of growing this newsletter, so if you’ve enjoyed this first issue, I’d be very grateful if you could recommend it to any photography-loving friends.
This newsletter is free to read, however, I've recently left corporate life and returned to school, so if you like what I do, please consider buying me a roll of film. You can do so by clicking here, or by aiming your camera at the QR code below.
I'm partial to some of that Tri-X 400 if you're asking. Thank you!