A Camel, a Recycler and a Simple Picture-Taking Request: Piran Café’s Top Posts for May 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately.

About where it was when I began occupying this (and another nearby) corner of the interwebs more than a decade ago, how the concept has evolved and developed in the wake of social media’s rise, and what I’ve missed in the shuffle.

That was partly prompted by this post, A Renewed Case for Blogging, by Jörg M. Colberg on his photography site Conscientious Photography Magazine. Colberg suggests that the boom-and-bust culture created by Silicon Valley, one that everyone is being told they need to keep up with lest they get left behind, really isn’t helping anybody but the corporate sites and apps behind the hype.

That’s nothing that new, but I appreciate the way he said it. He was writing with photographers in mind, but it’s true for most creatives. That drive to keep up with the latest fads, to hang out where others are hanging, amounts essentially to a massive time suck, one that chips away further into the limited time we have to really spend time creating – our own blogs, for instance—instead of contributing to another where others write the rules and decide who sees what, when and how often.

That’s all fed and contributed to what’s become a drab uniformity on the web, both within social media giants like Facebook and Instagram, and I’d argue, has even seeped into blogs themselves, many of which have little in common with what a blog was a decade ago.

And what exactly was that?

I described it this way when I was blogging about Slovenia’s role in the refugee crisis last fall after I received several emails from readers clamoring that my “articles” weren’t complete or, worse, one-sided:

As a blog, it’s made up of blog posts — not articles. While the distinction has become blurred over the years, I still essentially subscribe to what blogging was at the “beginning”, what made it exciting and attractive to me, what Andrew Sullivan describes as “its conversational essence, its essential errors, its ephemeral core, its nature as the mode in which writing comes as close as it can to speaking extemporaneously.”

That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with evolution and change in blogging; I welcome it. But not when the result is drab uniformity resulting in too many sites that are mirror images –and poor ones at that– only because social media tells us that’s how it should be.

Colberg writes:

Ten years ago, blogging was all the rage. I’m very happy to have been part of what happened back then, to a large extent because experiencing (and being part of) the general excitement that existed among the bloggers was just great. Back then, my main concern was that once corporations would make people move from individual blogs to centrally controlled sites a lot of that excitement would disappear, in part because things would become a lot more homogeneous. That’s exactly what happened once Facebook took over.

He’s not pining for some ‘good ole days’ pre-Facebook or even pre-Instagram. Neither am I. I’m just starting to see much more clearly what I’ve felt for awhile: that the era of social networks isn’t necessarily what it’s forebears hoped it would be. I’m resisting most of the new tools because I don’t see the point. I really just want to spend more time blogging and less time liking.

More from Colberg:

The last thing I’d want this piece to be is some sort of “told you so.” Instead, as someone who has been heavily involved in blogging about photography, I thought it would be worthwhile pointing out that we simply have a choice: we can run after the latest fads and buy into the latest tech bullshit coming out of Silicon Valley. Or we don’t. And thinking about blogging really is not just pining for the good old days. I think by now we have seen enough things to assess what is useful for photography and what just adds noise (and funnels more cash into corporate coffers).

If you’re a photographer or photography buff, spend some time on Conscientious Photography Magazine.

I count at least half a dozen themes in this rambling and somewhat incoherent rant –mine, not Colberg’s– for blog posts of their own. I’ll get to them once I start blogging more again.

~~

That’s all by of introduction to this rundown of Piran Cafe’s top-five most-visited posts for the month gone by, one which saw a large heaping of photos but few longer posts.

One I planned but haven’t yet got around to was another Doha, Qatar gallery made up of shots from my most recent visit there early in the month, which I planned to head up with today’s lead photo, above.

Those are the resting hands of Omar McLeod, a Jamaican athlete who is currently the finest high hurdler in the world and one of the medal favorites for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio. It was my favorite photo taken in May 2016 so I decided it belongs here.

The countdown:

5. Newspaper Readers, Ljubljana

A Pic du Jour taken just a few blocks from the home office to serve as a simple reminder that people do still read newspapers.

Newspaper readers Ljubljana, September 2015
Newspaper readers Ljubljana, September 2015

4. Eleven Minutes With Tori Bowie

Tori Bowie is one of the fastest women on the planet, a medal favorite in the 100 meters at the Rio Olympics later this summer. She also owns one of the planet’s most infectious laughs. I caught up with her briefly in Doha, Qatar, early last month on the eve of the kick-off competition of the 2016 IAAF Diamond League series, where she sat with a few reporters to discuss her season, her history, and what she’s hoping for her future. And to laugh.

Tori Bowie, Doha, Qatar, May 2016
Tori Bowie, Doha, Qatar, May 2016

3. Recycler II, Bogota

Another shot of one of world’s ubiquitous recyclers. This one was taken on Carrera 13 near Avenida El Dorado in Bogota, Colombia, but could have been made in any one of at least 150 countries where anonymous armies of trash separators and collectors fulfill a role that their local municipality won’t or adequately can’t.

Recycler, Bogota, July 2015
Recycler, Bogota, July 2015

2. A Camel at Sunrise

As the title suggests, simply a picture of a camel, with its face partially covered, taken about an hour after sunrise in the desert of southern Qatar near the Khor al Adaid Inland Sea. Because one of the last things anyone wants just after sunrise in a desert in southern Qatar is to be spit on by a camel.

Camel for rent, near Khor Al Adaid inland sea, southern Qatar
Camel for rent, near Khor Al Adaid inland sea, southern Qatar

1. Hey – Please Stop Taking These Kinds of Photos

Given my mini rant about social media, I was delighted to see this one strike a chord large enough to be shared and liked enough to see it come in at No. 1. It’s a brief open memo aimed primarily at travel and lifestyle bloggers requesting that they stop taking stupid photos. Or, to at least stop unleashing them upon the world. Many have thanked me. You’re welcome.

The photo? It’s got nothing to do with the post, just a suggestion that a photo of a mirrored reflection of a penis with flippers crawling to a piece of land a la Darwin wrapped in a boa-type thing is a much more interesting subject for a photo than one of your feet dangling from a hammock.

From A mort l'infini by Philippe Mayaux, Centre Pompidou, Paris, July 2007
From A mort l’infini by Philippe Mayaux, Centre Pompidou, Paris, July 2007

 

Looking Ahead

Travel-wise, I’ll be back in Oslo for the first time since 2011; given the early summer timing, I was hoping to be able to pull off a longer stay to take advantage of Norway’s insanely long June days. That won’t come to pass this year unfortunately, so I’ll try to make the most of this week’s three night visit.

As always, many thanks for reading, sharing and commenting. Please don’t stop. :) Your interest is very much appreciated. Happy June and even Happier Summer to you.

Bloggers and readers: What was your most visited blog post published in May? Feel free to drop the link in the comments. Would love to check them out, too.

 

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  1. Manja Mexi Movie says

    I think that everybody must be responsible for staying their own person and not got swept into all sorts of fads and fashions and must-wear-watch-read-shoot-speak-laugh-write-like-love. It’s not so hard to say “talk to the hand” to all who want to milk you. Or is it.

    1. Bob R says

      Sometimes, apparently, it is. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says

    I agree. It isn’t difficult to stay off the bandwagons leading nowhere. There are many creative bloggers and photographers making up their own rules about how to use their time and their web space. It’s good to make blogging and posting what you want it to be, because the minute anything is defined, it has already changed by becoming an entity. It is already over as anything original. I really enjoy your photos and your writing, Bob. Thanks for posting to your own drummer. I stopped posting for the last month for exactly the conundrum you discuss. After deleting about half of the sites I follow because of the stress of their manic liking and posting pace, I am ready to renew my own posts, continuing in my own way. Thanks for including some of the articles and insights above. Happy Oslo.

  3. Angeline M says

    I like Andrew Sullivan’s definition/description of blogging in its pure and exciting essence, mostly in days gone by.
    Thanks for the link to Conscientious Photography Magaziine, I’ll be taking a trek over there now.
    Your photo of hands at the top is wonderfully composed.

    1. Bob R says

      I really enjoyed Sullivan’s blog, miss it at times. I didn’t always agree with his politics, but I guess that’s the point. Watching/reading him as he changed his opinion on certain issues was also interesting as well.

  4. rlandau says

    I favor your street scene observation of the inter-generational newspaper readers on the sidewalk (Newspaper Readers, Ljubljana). Thank you for the final point in today’s post regarding the ilk of insipid images on lifestyle/travel blogs. I could rant on the same topic, too!

    During the month of May 2016, I had two posts tie for reader visits:
    https://snapmammas.com/2016/05/01/bellagio-fountain-rainbow/
    and
    https://snapmammas.com/2016/05/22/heaven-or-las-vegas/

    My feet don’t appear anywhere in the frame of my photographs 😉

    1. Bob R says

      Great shot — and thanks especially for the reminder on the Cocteau Twins. A most pleasant blast from the past.

      Happy to hear that yours is a feet-free zone.

  5. paula graham says

    To blog or to like..that is the question…Ha, ha, it can be longwinded if you follow many of your wonderrull followers..but..they are worth it!! xx

  6. Mick Canning says

    Commenting and sharing – i.e. interacting – that’s what makes a blog different from an article, I think.

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