I’ve been struggling with this blog for a number of years. I think once I started really looking into photography and realised that it was more than over-processed sunsets I struggled to find purpose and content for the site. Was I building a blog about Liverpool? About architecture? About street photography? A tech review site? I couldn’t decide and indecision held me back. Last year I had a portfolio review and the woman doing the review simply told me to keep doing what I enjoy. Don’t be something I’m not. It’s taken a while for that to really really sink in and I feel like it’s starting to have an effect. That’s why I’m trying to take pride in this site again.
For the most part it feels like the world has moved on from blogging to podcasts and YouTube. That’s where the ad revenue has gone so it is easier content to monetise but they’re also intimate mediums. A podcast strips away all the noise leaving only a voice through which passion is heard. It’s a medium I really enjoy but doesn’t work all that well for a single person. But blogging does. So I blog.
Social media has been around long enough now that people are having the 7 year itch. The excitement has gone out of the relationship and privacy concerns are becoming more and more of an issue. I’ve never felt at home on Facebook but I have on Twitter. Recently though I’ve found myself crafting a toot only to copy the thought into my “To blog” folder in Ulysses. Sometimes 140 (280) characters is enough to spark an idea and sometimes that idea shouldn’t be dropped into the stream that is Twitter. Sometimes it should be expanded upon and kept in a place that I’ve built. Somewhere that can easily be searched, tagged, archived and basically somewhere that I control. That’s here.
I’m taking pride again in this site. I’m taking pride in the photography and the words and I plan to add to that with audio and video. Who am I that my voice should be heard? No-one really but photography has taught me that what we photographers do is go “Huh” at things others might not. This site is a place for me to put those things.
Before going to New York I had this idea to start a journal. On our previous trips my wife had done one of these and I quite liked it. I’ve never done one before for the simple reason that my wrist hurts if I write for any real period of time. The idea of writing notes of my day has never really appealed. But when I looked into the journal scene I found that it was more important to be creative than to write an essay. People create all sorts of interesting entries in their journals using stickers, drawings, stamps, scraps of stuff from the day and even use little printers to add photos. The important thing, it seems, is to spend time making something for those times in the future when you want to look back.
So I did some research into notebooks and journals. My everyday notebook is a Field Notes but they’re not good if you start adding things into the notebook. I needed something flexible that could grow as I added memorabilia to it. What I found was this beautiful Japanese product called the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It’s not really a notebook but more of a system. Expensive, yes, but it’s not a one time use product. It changes and grows as you need it to.
It’s beautiful. The leather has aged wonderfully over the past year and that outer cover is what stays with you on all your travels. Inside you simply replace the journal with a fresh one for the new trip. I love that idea so much because I love to infuse objects with story and history. I would sit at the posh desk in our hotel room with a view of Manhattan and Central Park and doodle.
On the outside I’ve added a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop to hold my pen. I used a Lamy Safari fountain pen which doesn’t bleed much through the paper. It’s a good cheap fountain pen that is very nice to use.
So inside I have a little zipped secure area so things I collect don’t fall out. There’s also another card area for holding things like important documents and such. I stored tickets and flight information there. I have a few cat shaped paper clips to hold other things together and some NYC Washi MT tape. The great thing about the tape is it’s non-destructive so I can move things if I make a mistake. I’m a total journal convert.
It’s all about the joy of spending time making an entry. I can’t write much so I use a stencil to do the dates. I draw the weather. I add Polaroids. I make bullet points. All that I can manage. A year later it’s one of my favourite things from our trip. It’s imprecise and totally unperfected. I’d spend weeks making the perfect Instagram print on demand book and it would be too clinical. This journal thing. I love it. I need to buy a little Fuji Instax camera or printer for our next trip.
Things I use
In my final vlog of 2016 I mentioned a 2017 plan. It was this;
- Instagram daily
- Blog daily
- vlog weekly
It’s 11th January and this is my first blog post of 2017. Shazbot!
Ok, so what went wrong? Well there’s a few reasons why I never got stuck in. I was quite ill last week and also I was in New York. When I wasn’t ill I was distracted by trying to be a New Yorker, which mainly involved eating bagels and tooting my horn (not an euphemism). I was so ill I couldn’t go through the photos I had taken. The worst kind of ill.
I did manage to write in my journal though. I need to finish it off and print some photos but you know what, I freaking love having a travel journal. I’ve got receipts, cards, photos, memories, weather forecasts, and all sorts of information taped and written down in a book that won’t be bought out by Facebook and sunset shortly after. It’s my real world representation of our trip. I really love it. I plan to journal more using Field Notes and print out photos because it’s really nice to have real world things of note. I just don’t print enough of the billions of photos I take. 1 a day would be plenty.
Anyway… Hello blog. It’s good to be home.