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Tony | September 14, 2014


Tony | September 7, 2014

As you may or may not have noticed (who reads this anyway?) drool was only
sporadically published this summer. I kind of felt I had run out of things to
say. I also felt myself caring less. Couple this with the browning out of foto
blogs in general and it seemed like the right time for a re-think.

I also started an Instagram account this summer. I have mixed feelings about
that, Instagram, in general. It seems pretty sketchy to me, in a few definitions
of that word: Sketchy.

I also Tweet, but not in the conversational way that seems to lead to Twitter
success. (Not that I ascribe to the, perhaps generally accepted, definition of
what “success” actually is.)

Finally, I’ve restarted the STRAYLIGHT blog, where I have been posting various
and sundry words and pictures about the fotobook biz, processes, procedures
as well as some hype about STRAYLIGHT publications.

Couple this with trying to make a living (shooting assignments), working on
personal projects and running STRAYLIGHT (did I mention we have 2 new books,
neither of them mine, in the works for release this fall?) and the fact I’m getting
old (turned 60 this year, motherfuckers!!!) and have always had an existentialist
bent, and I’m left wondering again (damn you, eternal recurrence): what’s the point.

Okay. There’s the preamble.

Now, where’s the meat? What about drool? Or the foto-blog-in-general?

I guess we all know that Facebook killed the foto-blog. After all, why spend
time crafting a whole bunch of words into a long-form thing when you can
hit and run on Facebook, smash and grab on Instagram or just plain post
fotos on Tumblr? Why spend time writing when this accelerated society we
find ourselves in just keeps accelerating . . . propelled, no doubt, by some
kind of weird, unknown human dark matter?

Back in the glory days of drool, I wrote to discover for myself what I was doing
and how I might think about that. Granted, I was in the midst of some projects
that were pushing me to the limits . . . USER and Live Through This. I needed
to write to approach an understanding of what I was doing. And that (I think)
makes for something vital. drool was like a serialized, high drama soap opera:
tune in and watch Tony struggle.

Lori and Jeff. From USER

And then that was over, I needed time to recuperate from what I had done.
There was a year or so of essentially laying fallow. Not exactly great source
material if you blog, like I do (did?), about inner workings. I found myself
struggling to come up with something (anything) to say. And what I did
say felt rote, a sham. But tradition (publishing every Sunday) is difficult to
overcome, get around, so I kept on keeping on.

(Of course, if you are interested in writing about, say, the history of fotografy,
or reviewing fotobooks and/or shows, there is a different struggle . . . the
impetus comes from (generally) external sources, you react to what others
have done. Yes, you apply your philosophy, et cetera, but the source material
comes to you, not from you. That’s a whole different (if you ask me) can of

Okay . . . enough for now. Once again I’m sitting here pounding out words,
essentially making it up as I go along (my modus operandi in life), and have
come to no conclusion. Typical and (for me) invigorating.

Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion. If there is one.

Embassy of The United States of America, Sussex Drive. From Official Ottawa.


Tony | August 3, 2014

drool is thinking about, well . . . drool. And the future of the good-old fotoblog
in general.

I won’t flesh this out here, because I’m not sure yet what I think. And while that,
not knowing, hasn’t stopped me in the past from spewing here, I’m gonna take
a few weeks to ponder.

Back with news the first Sunday in September. Until them . . . enjoy your summer.

Mom, me (holding a movie camera) and my sis, Geri. 52 years ago

I wonder if fotos from now will look as other-worldly in 52 years as this one does


Tony | July 27, 2014

Fotos. You take them, but what do you do with them?

These days you probably throw them up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And you probably throw them up just about as they happen. Those singles add
up over time, give the folks following you a non-verbal insight into your insight.
If you’re more ambitious you’ll have a Tumblr, an actual concise, consecutive
flow of images.

But if you’re serious about fotografy you’ll edit them, edit in the old-fashioned
sense of choosing the ones that best move forward your thesis (you do have a
thesis, don’t you?) and put them in a sequence that provokes thought and/or
reaction. Of course, you’ll never be able to predict or control how any viewers
will think or react, but that’s beside the point. The point is to take your practice
to a conclusion.

And we all know that conclusions are tricky.

The reason I’m thinking about this today (well, there are a bunch of reasons),
but the main reason is: I have 7 sheets of 4×5 film left and when that’s gone
I’m calling OFFICIAL OTTAWA done. Or at least shot . . . it won’t be done until
its been edited and sequenced. Pushed and pulled into a final shape.

7 sheets of 4×5 film

Some Official Ottawa

Possible page spread: Jeffery Simpson, nat’l affairs columnist; Banners celebrating the War of 1812

Possible layout, Official Ottawa

Some Official Ottawa. Prints for the editing wall

The fotos are the nuts and bolts of the thing. But nuts and bolts are only really
useful for assembling a larger thing. And that’s what an edit is, something that
is larger than its component parts, something that sums another thing up. And,
if you ask me, something any serious fotografer must spend time and emotion

And while I’m contemplating the end and the final shape and look and feel of
OFFICIAL OTTAWA , we at STRAYLIGHT are whipping the next book into shape.
SadCity, by Scot Sothern.

Possible cover

We’re waiting for some bound, blank, pages to see if the look and the binding
will work. At the same time we’re figuring ways to combine the fotos and the
stories into a book.

Nuts and bolts. But it’s definitely not like assembling some Ikea thing. There
are no instructions.